After serving a year as a youth minister while attending Auburn University at Montgomery I transferred to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and took up residence at Paty Hall on campus. With the success of the earlier Petra concert in mind and more than 20,000 college students residing in town, it wasn't long before a group of us at the dorm began discussing the possibility of bringing Christian concerts to Tuscaloosa.
I spoke at the Baptist Student Union and Campus Crusade for Christ and met some people who ended up becoming the core of our team. They brought their friends and we soon had eighty people ready to help bring concerts to Tuscaloosa, and several chipped in enough money to finance a concert. We chose the name Dragonslayer and started figuring out how to organize a production crew.
After being turned down by many booking agents because I was new, I eventually managed to book David Meece and Connie Scott for an April 1985 concert. We rented Foster Auditorium on campus and began promoting the concert. Everything was fine until Mylon LeFevre's manager called me. Mylon was returning to their home base in Atlanta from a Texas tour but a Mississippi date had just been canceled, and the band wanted to play Tuscaloosa instead. In two weeks. I immediately agreed.
The Dragonslayer team tried to kill me but then found an auditorium for the show. We started publicity the day we booked the concert and began training personnel. Mylon was very popular and tickets started selling, with many people buying tickets in Birmingham. Two weeks later we were ready and 800 people had purchased tickets.
Then the ice storm of 1985 hit. It covered everything in ice and was so bad the Birmingham Christian radio station, WDJC, unilaterally announced that we'd canceled the concert. A phone call to the station fixed that problem, and work continued. When the band showed up for load-in the stage crew cheered and we began our first concert.
After Mylon we did the David Meece concert and five more concerts, including a much larger Mylon show on the Alabama campus. We managed to break even on all of these and the team kept increasing their proficiency. We had after-action reviews after every concert to discuss what worked, what didn't, and what needed to change, and introduced improvements at each concert. Lots of people were walking down the aisles to talk to our counselors at each concert's invitation, we had built up a solid bank balance, had big plans for upcoming events, and the future looked great.
But there was a negative side too. Now that Dragonslayer was active and promoting multiple shows the bands started calling me. I received at least two booking calls a week from various Nashville agents plus calls from the road managers and promotion staff from the bands we were doing concerts with. There were also meetings with radio stations, lawyers, churches, insurance companies, venue managers, printers, and book store owners. Everyone needed to talk to me and there was always a meeting to attend or concert to plan.
Managing all of these concerts was taking a lot of my time but concert work was not all that I was doing. I was working three jobs to cover my college expenses while going to college full time and working on my application to join the Navy as a pilot. There was so much to do that even with the Dragonslayer team helping the burden of all of this extra work was becoming difficult for me to carry. I was on an unsustainable course.
As 1986 drew to a close we had one last big concert to do. The very popular band Whiteheart was lined up to play just before Christmas break and we were well positioned for the concert. Everything looked great...