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“Rusty Young of Poco asked, ‘Why are you crying?'”

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[Gigi Shapiro has spent her professional life in the music industry, working alongside the biggest producers, promoters, and artists in the business. She has some awesome stories, which we share here in an ongoing series.]

You could say that my career in the music industry started at a 1974 Poco concert in Central Park. I was fifteen years old and sitting right down front.

Their music moved me to the point that I started crying when they launched into my favorite song, “A Good Feeling to Know.” I could see Rusty Young looking down at me from behind his pedal steel guitar.

He mouthed, “Why are you crying?” I managed to convey back that I loved the band and the song so much. Music was everything to me. Rusty let me know that I should head to the backstage door to meet them after the show. I did, and was greeted by a gentle giant named “Big George.” I told him that Rusty had asked me to come back, and to give him the message, “The girl with the long blonde hair who was crying is here.” Big George had a smirk on his face, but when he returned, he gave me a backstage pass and said, “Come on back, young lady.” Rusty came over to me, gave me a hug and asked, “Now, why were you crying?” I explained that they were tears of joy.

He was really moved and commented, ”If our songs can do that, it makes it all worthwhile.”

Related: “If It Wasn’t for You…” Richie Furay

I was introduced to the other band members, including my first real crush, Timothy B. Schmidt (who later asked for a cigarette!), their managers and the promoter, Ron Delsener.

I asked Delsener if his daughter went to my school since there was a girl with the same last name a few grades below me. He said, “Yes” and I smiled. I wasn’t shy and knew this might be my only chance, so I asked, “Mr. Delsener, do you ever need any summer help?”

He said, “Not this summer, but call me in a few months – things can change,” and gave me his business card. I was happy!

Just three days later, I was in the front row at an America concert. John Hartmann, one of the managers I’d met during my time with Poco (and brother to SNL comedian Phil), recognized me and asked, “Hey Gigi – want to come backstage?” He and his partner managed both groups. He tossed me a pass and I went back and got to sit on the side of the stage. As Gerry Beckley sang “Sister Golden Hair,” looking in my direction at various points in the song, I thought he was really singing to me.

Related: “America: The Capitol Years”

America’s tour manager, Larry Penny, asked me and a friend if we wanted to go back to their suite at the Sherry Netherland Hotel (during the day) for a party. We agreed and walked over. Yet around 6 PM, I got ready to leave, telling my hosts that I had a big math test I needed to study for. They were impressed that I didn’t want anything, and then offered a special pass the next time either Poco or America came through town. I was apparently now “their favorite NYC fan.” Are you kidding? Of course, I said “yes” to that pass!

A few weeks before either band came to NYC, I’d get a call from the office manager with the dates and places of the show. There would be two tickets and backstage passes waiting for me. Even when I went to Miami to visit my grandfather over Christmas break, I called the office. They arranged a car for me and my cousin to get to the stadium –and later, a helicopter ride to get to the hotel where they were having a party (I was so scared, never having been in a ‘copter before). Remember – I was in high school!

No one ever pressured me to do anything. They must have known I was a virgin – or at least, not a groupie. I always left the concert or party with just a simple smile or hug.

‘Cause for me, it was all about the music. And it still is.

[PSHow did NOT wanting to meet one of the biggest rock stars on the planet lead to my gig with Delsener? Stay tuned…]

-The CS Team

Photo: Members of Poco, circa mid-1970s (L-R): George Grantham, Rusty Young, Timothy B. Schmidt, Paul Cotton

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38 comments on ““Rusty Young of Poco asked, ‘Why are you crying?'”

  1. Avatar
    Clayton Breazeale

    Another great story by my friend Gigi Kulick who has so many stories about the music industry, especially in the 79’s, in my opinion, some of the best music ever created. Fascinating.

  2. Avatar
    Gil Ross

    … An amazing story, from someone who had a front row seat to the soundtrack of our lives

  3. Avatar
    Teresa Camara Pugh

    Gigi always has juicy and fun tidbits to share of her time in the music biz. Her stories are interesting and insightful and her photos are wonderfully candid. I look forward to more exclusive, inside scoops of my favorite artists!

  4. Avatar
    Matt Hurwitz

    What a great story! Would love to hear more about her experiences in the music business.

  5. Avatar
    bruce bernfeld

    Great great story by a wonderful story teller.

    I was at the same concert …. but no one invited me backstage LOL!!

  6. Avatar
    Tom Guerra

    A beautiful story, like a real life, G rated “Almost Famous!”

  7. Avatar
    Valerie Munz

    I had not heard about the VERY beginning of Gigi’s music career and I can’t wait to hear more. She obviously made a huge impression by just being her fascinating self with a huge heart.

  8. Avatar

    Great story of course. Keep ’em coming.

  9. Avatar
    Joe Reney

    Very nice story. Good music should move us emotionally.

  10. Avatar

    Very cool story about a great time in the music industry – real insider’s take. Fascinating.

  11. Avatar
    Max Spector

    The living history about the genesis of our industry comes to LIFE when GiGi opens her book of true tales. Who’s making s’mores before the next installment of RnR Campfire Tales?? Keep spilling the beans GiGi.

  12. Avatar
    Stephen Dwire

    Loved hearing Gigi’s well written first hand story about a great band.

  13. Avatar
    Raymond G Paret

    Keep those stories coming Gigi – love reading them!

  14. Avatar

    As a performer and singer myself, it’s really cool to be able to read stories like this. I hope to read many more!

  15. Avatar
    Lisa Winston

    NO ONE I know has more amazing stories to tell, or tells them with as much heart and sincerity, as Gigi. I’ve repeatedly told her (as have many) that she needs to write a book. But for now, at least, her series here is a good start!

  16. Avatar
    Andrew G Kent

    You are the best storyteller Gigi!!! It’s like going back in time…with all the bands we love..but the icing on the cake??? Your personal experiences told with such verisimilitude! You really bring it front and center and make the reality of those times come to fruition!!

  17. Avatar
    Sue Benjamin

    Amazing experience! You were so young yet unafraid to hang out with your idols! The fact that they respected you and followed up with more invitations shows how much of an impression you made. Glad to know the origin of your music industry connection! Keep writing and sharing, Gigi!

  18. Avatar
    Ed Fussell

    Gigi is amazing. She’s been there behind the scenes while some of the world’s great music has been born. Great article. Enjoyed it very much. Looking for more. . .

  19. Avatar
    Pamela Singer

    What a fabulous story, Gigi! Love that no one pressured you to do anything you didn’t want to do. Good guys! I would have fainted if Gerry sang Sister Golden Hair to me! 😍😍👏👏

  20. Avatar
    toni vincent

    WOW! Great story!!!!!!!!!

  21. Avatar
    Scott Rose

    What terrific experiences!

  22. Avatar
    Mike Visceglia

    I miss the days when fans could get close the the artists and the music they love. Once again, Gigi was in the right place at the right time during more innocent days.

  23. Avatar
    Catherine T

    Yet another great story! Gigi has that wonderful combination of the knack of being in the right place at the right time, and the magic to turn it into an adventure. The woman (or in this story, girl) you’d love to hate from envy, but you end up just loving. Can’t wait to hear more of her adventures!

  24. Avatar
    Melissa Friedman

    Love the sweet nostalgic feelings brought on by Gigi’s adventures. Keep em coming!

  25. Avatar
    Steve Rapetti

    Gigi, most people only see a persona, but you get to meet the people. That’s prescious. Especially when they are nice. You got season tickets. Hope you kept a diary…

  26. Avatar
    R. Aldridge

    A Great Trip Down Memory Lane!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait for the next one!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Avatar

    Wow, great story Gigi ! Keep the stories coming , PLEASE !

  28. Avatar
    Michael G Harrington

    Gigi keep those great stories coming. MH

  29. Avatar
    JoyToKnow

    I love hearing stories about our rock and roll heroes! And to hear them from people who were right there, in the front row, back stage, in the helicopter! Fantastic! Thank you Gigi. Can’t wait to hear more!

  30. Avatar
    Hildy Levitt

    I met Gigi through a mutual Facebook friend and I feel like i’ve known her my whole life. Gigi has shared some stories on FB, but I never read anything quite as in depth as this. I felt like I was a fly on her shoulder sharing this with her. As someone who was bullied for more years than I care to say, I was thrilled to read great things happen to great people. Gigi, you need to write a book that details all the amazing things that you’ve experienced throughout the years!

  31. Avatar

    Aw thank you all so much for your supportive and introspective and encouraging comments.. I hope to have many more stories to share with you here and hopefully soon a book… I adore you all!

  32. Avatar
    Dan Nash

    What a TREAT, Gigi… love your casual, informative, and always fun writing voice, artfully weaving your wonderful memories and insights. Eagerly looking forward to the next one!! 🌬♥️

  33. Avatar

    Love this…Such an innocent time. I will never hear “Sister Golden Hair” in quite the same way.

  34. Avatar

    I have been in the business of music since 1965…a player all my life. Among others, I toured and recorded with The Sunshine Company, Loggins and Messina, Chris Hillman, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Pure Prairie League, and Gary Morris. As you can imagine, I have many stories.

    I say this because Gigi has many as well and she tells them one hell of a lot better than me. I am sure we bumped into one another more than once along this crazy path we have chosen to be on. I suggest that we push her to write an autobiography. I, for one, would be a buyer. The scene she was in was…as flipped out, crazy, weird, wonderful…exciting, as perfect…as any you could possibly imagine. When real shit was happening. Music was king…and rehearsal…far more than a four letter word.

    Gigi, m’dear, you rock. Keep it coming. Makes me smile.

    Peace to all,

    M

  35. Avatar

    Thanks for sharing this story Gigi! I love your Facebook posts about your NYC music adventures and look forward to more “long form” stories! Hope all is well with you!

  36. Avatar
    Dean Parker

    Enjoyed the read. They knew you were special, Gigi.

  37. Avatar
    Rick Ryan

    What a wonderful remembrance, Gigi. Can’t wait for the next one!

  38. Avatar

    Wonderful story. Gigi. And I am pretty sure I attended that show. Just love all those beautiful memories of summer days in the park. Please share more! Best. -Corey

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