Jon Crispin's Notebook


Posted in Friends, Music, People by joncrispin on 20/10/2011

I was walking the dog today and thinking about REM for some reason.  They announced a couple of weeks ago that they were calling it quits.  It brought to mind having seen them very early in their career on several occasions.  This gig was on 17 October, 1983 at a place called Drumlins somewhere just East of Syracuse.  I think it used to be some kind of country club and I believe had a connection to Syracuse University.  It was weird because the band was very late in starting and no one was sure what was going on.  At some point someone came on stage and announced that Michael Stipe had injured his eye doing something with a contact lens.  Mitch Easter’s band had opened up, and when REM finally made it onstage Michael was wearing an eyepatch.

It was a great set though.  The band had tons of energy and seemed really tight.  And lots of Rickenbackers!

Mitch Easter played with them the whole time as I remember it.  At one point Michael asked the crowd if anyone knew what a drumlin was.  (I actually knew because my girlfriend Ren seemed to know stuff like that and we had talked about it on the way up.  I was too shy to speak up though.)  After the show Pete Buck came out and talked to the crowd and was very nice.  I saw them again in London at Dingwalls a couple of weeks later.  I was chatting with Peter when Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzie walked by and Pete was totally star-struck.  It is funny how things turned out, as REM became so huge  and Lynott died so young.  A very cool memory though.

12 Responses

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  1. Bart A. Solenthaler said, on 21/10/2011 at 11:48 am

    Wow. I was attending Syracuse University in 1983 and attended this show. And I remember the eye patch. Sometimes I wondered if it really happened. Thanks. What a blast.

    • joncrispin said, on 22/10/2011 at 10:03 am

      Bart, I am so glad you found this. It is always cool to me how the internet helps remind us of our past. I know what you mean about not being sure that something in our memories might or might not have happened. / I am guessing that there were probably not more than 400 people at this gig. Amazing to think that REM became one of the biggest bands ever. Best, Jon

  2. lisalegrand said, on 28/10/2011 at 4:59 pm

    LOVE these early REM shots… what a neat experience. Nothing like being in the right place at the right time… especially as a photographer! I would have loved to have seen them back them. Their early stuff is some of my favorite music ever! (Unfortunately, I was only able to see them much later in their career – and it just wasn’t the same.)
    By the way, I stumbled upon your site after seeing your Willard Suitcase project on Kickstarter – which is so completely amazing and interesting! I absolutely love the project and am going to make it a point to follow the progress so I can see the final result. Good luck and keep up the good work!

  3. Liz Hughes Wiley said, on 02/11/2011 at 8:05 pm

    Lovely work, on this project and so many others. Maude’s case of tools keep nagging at me, then it suddenly dawned on me — leather tooling. The hammers, tools, inks, laces….Tooling leather used to be popular hobby — and it looks like she took it very seriously. Would have loved to see her finished work — purses, wallets, perhaps? Hope she was allowed to do it, but I wonder, given the nature of the tools and all, if they allowed it. Thanks for sharing this little part of her life with us.

  4. David Hall said, on 17/04/2012 at 9:56 am

    Great pictures! I was at this show as well, right in front of the riser that they used as a stage. I was just talking to somebody about seeing REM with Michael Stipe wearing an eyepatch and googled hoping to find some grainy pictures of the event and yet here I find these wonderful testaments to a time almost thirty years in the past. By the way, Drumlins is still a country club, but it’s owned by SU.

    • joncrispin said, on 18/04/2012 at 2:27 pm

      David, So great to hear from you. We must have been standing very close to each other. The internet is amazing, and it makes me happy that you were able to stumble on my photos. Best, jon

  5. Jon Adelman said, on 24/05/2012 at 10:32 pm

    I was the Production Manager for this show. Michael arrived in town with an injured eye. As I remember it, he scratched his cornea and went to the hospital but they refused to give him any painkillers since they assumed he was just a musician trying to get drugs.
    I had a great afternoon passing the time with Peter Buck . We “borrowed” a golf cart from Drumlins and I was surprised we made it back to the country club. That’s about all I can reveal.

    • joncrispin said, on 25/05/2012 at 7:01 am

      Jon, we’re you a student at the time? It must have been a wild day for you. Thanks for the comment. Jon

      • Jon Adelman said, on 25/05/2012 at 8:05 am

        First, thanks for posting these great pics. Set off lots of memories.It was my first REM show. I was a Senior at SU and was part of University Union, who produced the show and many others. I may even have a ticket stub for this show. I’ll have to look through my collection.
        I remember doing two shows at Drumlins. The other was Evelyn “Champagne” King. Not really my type of music but we had fun back at the Holiday Inn (now the Crowne Plaza) celebrating her sister’s birthday late into the night. Somehow they got the manager to open the indoor pool around midnight.

      • joncrispin said, on 25/05/2012 at 9:18 am

        Jon, are you still involved in music or theatre? Did your brush with REM lead to a career? Jon

      • Jon Adelman said, on 25/05/2012 at 10:10 am

        In a way. I’m the Managing Director of Nutmeg Post in NYC. We do audio post, video editing, graphics and color grading for commercials, promos, movies, cartoons, etc. I was very lucky in that I knew what I wanted to do when I was still in high school. That’s why I went to The Newhouse School and joined Concert Board @ SU. How about you?

      • joncrispin said, on 25/05/2012 at 10:16 am


        I’ve been a freelance photographer since 1974. Lived in Ithaca from then thru 1986. Moved to Berlin for a bit then NY City. Still working and doing some long term documentary projects. I work a lot with a good friend from Ithaca who does amazing video work. Still having fun and into music.

        Check out my work below if you are interested.


        Jon Jon Crispin Photography PO Box 958 Amherst, MA 01004 0958

        413 256 6453 413 237 4572

        Thanks for checking out my Kickstarter project,

        If you want to see what I have been up to lately,

        My regular sites,

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