Black Sabbath in San Luis Potosi on October 28, 1989


A week after completing their Japanese tour, Black Sabbath flew to North America in hopes of playing their first ever shows in Mexico. Originally scheduled to take place in Guadalajara, the band would learn on the day of the show that it had been switched not once, but two times! Promoters first settled upon Leon before opting for San Luis Potosi in the end. When the band arrived at this ill chosen city, they found themselves dealing with all sorts of ugly prospects. Both the mayor and the Catholic Church were petitioning against the planned concert, believing the band were there to do the devil’s work (or something equally ridiculous).

The final decision to cancel was made once the band discovered that their venue (allegedly a soccer stadium) was actually a rather shabby playing field with virtually no security or decent equipment. It was simply too risky for Black Sabbath to go ahead with a show under these very sketchy circumstances. To make matters even more difficult, word had spread quickly that the band was in town. When the band finally did leave Mexico, they were retreating from a literal mob of disappointed fans.

Tony Iommi: “Yeah, we arrived there and all of the crew went to set the gear up and suddenly they got arrested at the site. I think somebody was drinking beer or something. They wouldn’t allow the show to go on purely because the police were worried about riots and God knows what else. So they stopped the whole thing and consequently we didn’t play. We were there for three days and waited right until the last minute in case they lifted the ban. But they didn’t, so we had to come home. It was a shame because the turn out would have been terrific. There were several thousand kids outside the hotel and they knew what was going on. They knew it wasn’t the band and that it was because of the government.” [from BSAS Volume 5 – 1990]

Antonio España: “I’m a Mexican Sabbath fan and I have very clear memories of the cancelled show scheduled in México for the Headless Cross Tour back in 1989, so here it goes:”

“First of all, at that time I was 18 years old, and I was working at the most prestigious record store in México City at that time (Sonido Zorba S.A.) and we were actually selling the tickets for the show. We weren’t the promoters, but the owner of the stores (Mr. Salomon Kleiman Stoliar) had a deal with the promoters on a percentage over ticket sales. At that time we didn’t have Ticketmaster in México, so the tickets were printed on rough paper with black ink only and they had a big dragon and info on date, price, venue, etc. It was general admission for the whole stadium, field and seat rows.”

“I just saw the date you have for this gig and I need to make a correction. The date you have is October 28th, 1989. I reviewed the calendar to that date and I’m pretty sure the show was scheduled for November 4th 1989, one week later. Let me tell you why.”

“At the store we used to put us in disguise for certain dates like Xmas, Independence day, and Halloween. I remember that the day before the gig I had my face painted like a dead man and I took a promo sleeve of Motley Crue’s “Doctor Feelgood”, cut it down with a knife and split it in two. I managed it on my head like if it was entering my head on one side and coming out from the other. It was Friday and the gig was scheduled for Saturday. We were in disguise for the whole weekend, 5 days!! So that’s why I’m sure the right date was November 4th.”

“Venue changes: Yes, originally was supposed to be in Guadalajara (Jalisco state, 8 hours drive from México City at that time) and then was officially moved to Leon (Guanajuato State, 4 hours driving from México City).”

“A week and a half before the date, it was moved to San Luis Potosi (Same name state, 6 hours away from México City) and we had to gave money back to a lot of people who already bought the tickets, because they weren’t able to make it to the new city.”

“I have to tell you that at that time we had just a very few big rock concerts in México: Santana on Leon in 1987, Queen in Puebla in 1983 (Flash Tour), Johnny Winter in 1981, and on April 1989 Rod Stewart in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Querétaro. Queretaro’s first night was a big riot, I was there. There were also a lot of last minute cancelled shows (KISS 1980, Blue Oyster Cult 1985, Scorpions 1986), so the general impression on rock concerts was like this: Rock Concert = RIOT. Therefore, Black Sabbath had a very hard time by the national press.”

“Actually, one rumor was that the change of venues was because local police, the government and stadium owners were afraid of riots and they declined the cities / venues at last minute.”

“At the bus station, if you were young and wanted to buy a ticket to San Luis Potosi (from México City) they were denying the tickets, because bus companies were afraid of riots on their buses!!! Believe me, I was denied for a ticket so my grandmother had to go to the bus station and she purchased the bus ticket for me. Since actually I was a little bit afraid of the bus back home after the gig because of a potential riot or alcohol/drug abuse (I was traveling alone on my own) I decided to get back home by plane on Sunday morning, so I spent a lot of money on a plane one-way ticket and a night at a fancy hotel.”

“Friday, the day before the gig, I saw in the morning news that Black Sabbath had arrived to México City on their way to San Luis Potosi and they had a sound check scheduled for Friday. I also saw images from the day before on the stage construction. Remember that rock concerts were “BIG” events here at that time, so every detail were covered by press.”

“Around 2 PM on Friday, the phone rang at the record store (located at Perisur, a very fancy mall). When I picked up, it was the owner (my big boss) and since I was the one in charge of the ticket sales, he asked me to give back the whole amount of money to everybody who asks and also to stop the ticket sales, because the show was just cancelled. An hour later, someone from our head quarters arrived with a seal that we had to stamp on every given-back ticket with a legend regarding a legal suit against the promoters. When someone came with a purchased ticket asking for his money back, we sealed the ticket stub and asked the purchaser to sign the legal allegation against promoters. This was because we put money on the promoter’s bank account on daily basis for the ticket sales, and we were protecting ourselves just in case.”

“When I asked the owner about the reason for the cancellation, he told me that the local government denied the permissions at the very last minute (well, a day before) and that was it.”

“I remember the date thing because I cried when I knew it was cancelled, and my dead-man-face painting dripped down over my face because of the tears, and my partners made a lot of jokes about that.”

“My money!!! I managed to call the travel agency and I got a percentage back on the plane ticket and the hotel room, and on that Friday night I went to the bus station and (yes, I acted like a jerk) I sold my bus ticket for the double of the original price to someone. I told the guy that I was unable to be there due to a conflict with my job. He believed me and he bought me the bus ticket. Of course the guy didn’t know at that time that the show was cancelled.”

“Now, the strange thing: Years later, around 1995-98, I was talking with a prostitute (don’t ask, ok???). She told me that she was born in San Luis Potosí. I told her, “I hate your city, because years ago they cancelled a rock concert there!!” and quickly she said, “Yeah, the Black Sabbath concert in 1989. At that time, my father was the mayor of the city, and since promoters refused to give extra money straight to my father’s pocket, he denied the permission. I remember well.”

The prostitute’s word may not be 100% credible, but mine is – believe me. I just wanted to share this info with you, I hope it contribute on your website.”

Posted at May 7, 2010 1:59 AM

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