Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Country-rockers a winning $13 bet at the track 31 years ago

  • Print

SOME fans of the Eagles have shelled out $239 -- the highest ticket price yet at the MTS Centre -- to experience the iconic California country-rockers live on Friday night.

Even the "cheap" seats for the sold-out concert went for $96 (including GST and service charges).

Now flash back to the first and only time the band has previously touched down in Winnipeg. It was July 27, 1978.

Don Henley, Glenn Frey and company were riding the massive popularity of the album Hotel California. They played the Assiniboia Downs racetrack, drawing more than 27,000 ticket buyers to what was billed as Winnipeg's biggest-ever rock event.

At least 1,000 more fans crashed the show by scaling fences, especially on the Perimeter Highway side of the Downs, or sat outside the barriers to listen.

Legendary local radio DJ Howard Mandshein was there. He remembers the giant images of the Hotel California album cover that flanked the 150-foot stage. But he's stunned to be reminded of the ticket price for the five-hour show: $13.

"That's absolutely incredible!" says the DJ, now in his mid-50s. "Thirteen dollars? And there were no gouging taxes, as they have now....

"It was a spectacular summer Manitoba night. It truly was special."

In the weeks before the concert, it was rumoured first that Linda Rondstadt, then Pablo Cruise, would precede the Steve Miller Band as opening act. It ended up being country-folky Jesse Winchester who started the show.

Reviews mentioned that four skydivers descended on the site -- apparently earlier than planned -- during Winchester's final song. Mandshein recalls that the singer had a "hissy fit" about being upstaged by parachutes.

Local rock star Burton Cummings joined Steve Miller on his final song, The Joker, before the Eagles thrilled the crowd by opening with a 10-minute Hotel California.

There were, of course, plenty of tokers as well as jokers and smokers in the crowd. But news reports said the security-heavy event had a peaceful, easy feeling, with no "serious trouble" and only about 20 arrests for drug and alcohol offences. There were numerous noise complaints from St. James residents, but some homeowners said they enjoyed hearing hits like Lyin' Eyes for free.

Mandshein is waiting to confirm whether he's got a seat for Friday's long-awaited return by the band, always admired for exquisite vocal harmonies, superior musicianship and fine songwriting.

All four current members have passed their 60th birthdays.

"Their vocalizing is absolutely spectacular -- mathematical -- precision vocals," says the DJ. "They're the soundtrack of my life in the '70s, and for anybody that's a baby boomer, their songs have truly stood the test of time -- phenomenal, phenomenal tuneage."


  Tell us what you thought of the show at

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2009 D1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Inside peek at Real Pirates, new Manitoba Museum exhibit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Challenges of Life- Goose Goslings jump over railway tracks to catch up to their parents at the Canadian Pacific Railway terminalon Keewatin St in Winnipeg Thursday morning. The young goslings seem to normally hatch in the truck yard a few weeks before others in town- Standup photo- ( Day 4 of Bryksa’s 30 day goose project) - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.

View More Gallery Photos


Will you get out and vote for a new mayor and council?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google