The date was Aug. 5, 1966. The place was Dayton's eighth floor auditorium. As part of the Super Youthquake celebration of fashion and music at the downtown Minneapolis department store, the Yardbirds, the latest in the British Invasion, were booked for two afternoon performances.
John Morris, 15, of Edina, was such a big fan that he headed downtown hours before the 1 p.m. show. Hoping to sneak in early, the undaunted and resourceful teen circled Dayton's building and discovered the freight elevator in the alley.
"I pushed the button. The door opens up and there stands Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck," Morris recalled this week after Beck died at age 78. "What are you guys doing?"
They invited the youngster to go inside and meet the rest of the band. A budding musician himself, Morris hung out with the Yardbirds for about an hour on the Dayton's rooftop. After getting acclimated to their British accents, he heard them talk about skiffle bands, a style foreign to him, but bonded talking about early acoustic Delta blues of Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson.
"Chris' [Dreja] sunglasses never came off in the hour I spent with him," Morris remembered. "Jeff had the perfect rock-star rooster shag haircut of that era. I got a great shot of Jimmy on the roof. I was fascinated with two or three buttons on his coat. One was the hippie [slogan] 'make love not war.'"
As for the Yardbirds' performance, "it was just incredible chops. It was so tight, so good. They opened with 'Over Under Sideways Down.' On some of the bluesy jammy kind of stuff like 'I'm a Man,' Jeff did that ticka-ticka where he mutes his guitar so it almost sounds like a train rolling down the tracks. With deepest regrets, that's all I remember. The rest of it was kind of a blur."
Though he idolized Beck, Morris never saw the guitar god in concert again. However, he became a professional musician himself known as Johnny Pineapple. He plays the ukulele and leads the Minneapolis-based Johnny Pineapple and the Waikiki Wildcats.