by Chris Pina

Sneak Peeks. That's what my high school friends and I called our brushes with the rock and roll heavyweights in Los Angeles during that incredibly time in rock history where sneaking into sold-out concerts was cool to do, almost Communistic!... Of course, I'm referring to the wild and wooly '60's.

It was about three weeks after their Woodstock performance, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were to return to their home, Los Angeles, for a much-anticipated concert at the Greek Theatre. Neil Young was going to join them for their first full set together. All the tickets were sold out weeks before and me and my peeps needed to go to this. We tried to score tickets, but we failed by all the conventional methods. Scalpers were out of the question. We had no money but plenty of misguided conviction, so we proudly roared, "Music is free for the People, man!" Basically, we were too cheap and irresponsible to buy the friggin' tickets ahead of time. And we weren't about to resort to paying those bottom-feeders seven, possibly ten dollars for a ticket! Highway robbery, man! No way, we had to come up with a great sneak-in plan. A visionary sneak peek that tops all of 'em! We needed a story to tell our kids one day... or maybe an audience...

The concert was on Saturday. It was lunch, Thursday, high school. There were five of us - Me, Larry, Neal, Jeff and Gary planning every step of the "job". There were others who wanted in, but dropped out at the last minute from an extreme deficit of imagination and a very keen sense of mediocrity.

Our plan was like Mission Impossible, but the corny Peter Graves TV version. It was simple, yet uncannily clever. We thought if we dressed up like the folk rock group Buffalo Springfield - complete with fringe jackets, cowboy boots and scarves, we would pass as if we were adults and in the group's entourage.

We actually thought we could do this. Was it realistic or was it a hopeless plight shared between a close group of diluted and deranged teenagers?

The night started off poorly the minute I stole my Dad's scarf from his dresser drawer. He caught me red-handed and gave me a sermon about how I need to ask him first to borrow it. I then asked, May I borrow it?" "No", he snapped. Then, he broke into a smile, saying, "Don't lose it". I immediately entered my brother's room and swiped his beige fringe jacket. He wasn't home, so I didn't have to ask for permission. Neal stole his father's cowboy hat and a Western matador jacket that had piping and designs around the lapel that would make Hank Williams say, "A bit much". Jeff wore a Western suede jacket, boots and a straw hat - with his pants tucked in the boots. He looked like he was ready to milk something. Jeff was the king of sneaking into movies, shows and dressing rooms. Once Jeff and a friend wanted to see Joni Mitchell at The Troubador so badly that he propped a ladder under her dressing room's open window and climbed into her chambers, Joni giggled and helped both of them inside. They sat, chatted and saw the show ten minutes later. That's Jeff - huge balls, 12 inch balls... My friend Gary went to great lengths with his wardrobe for the sneak peek. He wore a t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. We told him that if we get caught - it's because he went off script and dressed like a teenager, blowing our cover. "Cover?", he laughed. "You idiots look like rodeo clowns". ... All we could say in response was sumptin' immature like... "Oh yeah...You'll see, asshole".

Our mission began. (DO M.I. MUSIC). We drove through Griffith Park, up to the Greek Theatre, when it suddenly hit us. WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING!? ARE WE CRAZY?! THIS WILL NEVER WORK! No tickets! No way! We look like the cast from Hee-Haw! Gary just smiled. (MUSIC again)

We straightened up our duds and plowed into the Greek. Wait, that sounded really gay... We entered the theatre's gates. There stood our first hurtle. A red-eyed, flaxen-haired, 16-yr-old freak who was 6 foot 3, easy, with an undersized employee blazer with "Doug" scrolled on his name tag seemingly from a child's hand. Jeff went up to him and in full bravado said, "We're friends of CSN&Y", and he handed him five joints, one from each of us, and in strictest secrecy, he added, "Mr. Crosby said Doug would like this". Doug's face turned red with an impish embarrassed smile, and gladly, he unhooked the velvet rope, letting us pass. Our plan was working (LAUGH MANIACALLY).

We were in. We all gave each other congratulations of some kind, I can't remember, because this was way before "high fives" were invented. There was a full hour left before the show, but we had to case the joint for easy access to the dressing rooms. I found a pamphlet that showed the entire layout of the Greek Theatre... (MUSIC from M.I. again) We thought it better to break up into two groups of two and let Gary go by himself, since he wasn't dressed like Joe Buck from Midnight Cowboy.

Jeff and I were at the entrance to the Backstage Area when I went into one of my best diversionary tactics. I dropped three dollars in nickels and dimes on the ground, where, in turn, the two ushers turned to the noise and walked over to me as Jeff hussled backstage. I then thanked the ushers for helping me pick up the coins, tipping each a dollar...

And as I sauntered through the velvet curtains to freedom, I heard a faint, half-hearted voice trailing off saying, "Hey, there, I need to see your... Oh, nevermind...".

Now, I was backstage. (M.I. MUSIC) But where were the boys? Then I spotted what looked like a rodeo groundskeeper creeping down a corridor. I realized it was only Jeff in his little outfit. I caught up with him and asked, "Where's Larry, Neal or Gary". Jeff didn't know, but knew we had to keep moving.

Backstage, everyone, everywhere was an adult. So, we walked and talked around like adults, like bad impressions of Sam Elliot or your dad. As we passed through the labrynth of decending halls, we strolled by the likes of Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Joni Mitchell, and Eric Burdon.

Then, out of the blue, we saw Gary, Larry and Neal being hassled by a "rent-a-cop". I immediately cornered the security agent, quickly flashing my student I.D. and demanded in a baritone voice, "Where are the passes for us? For the last ten minutes we've been waiting for the guy to give us passes!" Then, I spotted a guard down the hall sitting behind a small table. "HIM... Ask that guy!", I insisted. The security guy blankly gazed into my eyes, the same eyes that tried to never blink or crack during a Sneak Peek. The guard then said, "Wait here, I'll check it out". He left us standing there, trusting us to patiently wait to get busted and tossed out. We all lingered for a few seconds and then ran down the corridor... "Wait here? Was he kiddin'?""... We laughed the whole way down the long, green-mile-ish ramp deeper into the Greek... Sorry.

We got to a converging corridor. There were sounds of men milling about. The voices became louder and closer. Instinctively, we all crouched under a stairwell, cowering like a bunch of Anne Franks. The voices passed us and we darted to a big open room.

We stopped dead in our tracks. We were in! In their dressing room, Our eyes bulged and we froze when we saw the banquet table and free refreshments. As we stalked the food table, a blast of an electric guitar chord scorched the room. We turned toward the music. Those blistering notes were coming from Neil Young's guitar that was plugged into a tiny "pig nose" amplifier. He was lying on a couch, stretched out, with his head on a pillow and his skinny legs dangling over the sofa's arm. We stood there listening to him practice like a bunch of stunned tourists. He smiled when he saw us. We immediately were embarrassed and self-conscious by our outfits and began to subtly remove items from our bodies. Slowly the hats were taken off, jeans were placed over the boots and jackets were slung over our arms. Now, we didn't look like carny workers from Frontierland.

We grazed the buffet table for a while and indulged in the array of fabulous livations. Friends and family of the group and their side musicians floated about, entering and exiting. David Crosby shared a spleef with the drummer Dallas Taylor as Steven Stills tuned his acoustic guitar. I began to stare at Stills. He was my favorite of the group because of his sweet, soulful voice and his masterful and crafted guitar playing. He must have sensed me staring at him because he looked up and gave me the oddest look. An expression mix of like pissed-off and curious. I broke my gaze and turned away. I began to walk over to my buddies who were partying with Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell. By the way, Joni remembered helping Jeff through the Troubador's window. Graham Nash rolled with laughter when she recalled Jeff's adventure. It was weird and wild.

We actually started to believe that ; 1.) We were adults 2.) We were entitled to be there and 3.) Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around. It was Stephen Stills smiling. "Hi", I chirped, and in his light, raspy, Texas accent, said, "I really like your scarf and I was wondering if I can borrow it for tonight's show." Immediately, Larry offers, "You want my jacket?". Stills refused and kept his eyes on me. I could hear my four buddies hyperventilating. I stood there, not knowing what to tell Stills. I mean, how could I loan my dad's scarf out to a stranger after his long lecture on responsibility and stealing? "I don't know..., I cautiously answered. Stephen grinned and said, "Let me borrow it for the show, and after, come backstage and I'll return it." "Sure, but how do we get back in?" Stills then trots over to a large roady and tells him to get five backstage passes for his friends. My peeps began hyperventilating again. Stills returned with the passes and I gave him my scarf, I mean, dad's scarf.

Well, now at this point we were in tight with this crowd. We milled about, ate shrimp and sucked down beers. It was going great until a tall, bloated, bearded man dressed in a long black coat entered the dressing room. He looked pissed-off. The entire room became quiet. It was Jim Morrison. He came to do drugs. And he wanted the room cleared.

Suddenly, everyone, except the band, were marshalled out of the room by security guards. I turned back to Stephen Stills to tell him to have a great show. He glanced up, not really connecting with me and waved his hand, like "yeah, right". Suddenly, I'm like... Oh, shit! Am I ever going to get my dad's scarf back?".

The show was about to begin. Joni Mitchell opened for the group, so we all split up and found ourselves the best place NOT to get caught by security. Larry, Gary and Neal made their way to the upper levels as Jeff and I found crouching positions in the orchestra pit where the press was busy covering the event.

Joni Mitchell played so beautifully and sang like an angel while we kept moving around in the pit, avoiding getting caught. I found a spot next to a young photographer who went to my high school. I nodded and smiled, recognizing him from my geometry class. He didn't smile. He looked down to where his film canister WAS and peered at me. "You're on my film". "Oh, you took a picture of me?", I happily responded. "No, you idiot, you stepped on my film roll". "Oh shit, I'm so sorry", I replied. I removed my foot and sure as hell, I stepped on his film. I apologized and handed him the messed-up roll. I asked, "Aren't you in my geometry class?". "Just leave", he said. "Sure thing", I said. Two years later that same photographer became my friend and roommate at a house we rented together in Benedict Canyon.

After Joni Mitchell's amazing set, Crosby, Stills and Nash stepped on stage and sat themselves on three stools and did a 30 minute "wooden" set. That's how they described their acoustic guitar songs. They sang in sweet harmonies as Stills'spirited guitar rang out. They ended their set and I began telling everyone around me that that's my scarf! They looked at me like, "Who the fuck cares?".

Then the pale, lanky Neil Young strolled on stage and proceeded to perform his own songs on the guitar and piano for about 30 minutes. He actually snorted coke during his piano performance Between songs he would dip his finger into his top jacket pocket and sniffed whatever stuck to it. I thought that was pretty brazen, but then again, it was "Neil Young".

Finally, all four of them returned to play an electric set. It was probably the third best live show I've ever seen...after Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix.

At the third encore, Larry, Neal, Gary, Jeff and I hooked up, and with all the swagger and confidence of Donald Trump, freely admitted ourselves backstage with our "All Access Passes". Now, out of extreme necessity and embarrassment, we held our western wear in our arms as opposed to looking like the touring company of "Oklahoma". We were so excited that we were going to party with the band and I imagined how grateful Stephen Stills would be to me for letting him look so damn good in my dad's scarf.

We arrived outside the group's dressing room where a hoard of fans and friends waited outside. I turned to my buddies who looked concerned that we wouldn't get in, but I reassured them that Stephen will get us in.

I tore my way through the crowd and made it to the big double doors of the dressing room. I knocked like a real adult, with maturity and purpose. A large security guard answered and asked, "What do you want?". I looked up into this impatient man's eyes and confidently said, "I was partying here earlier with Stephen and he borrowed my scarf and told me to come back later, so... " The door slammed in my face. I turned around to Jeff, Larry, Gary and Neal and told them not to worry. Ten minutes later, the door swung open and the security guard tossed out my dad's scarf which hit my left ear and landed on my left shoulder. Pathetically, I looked up as the guard slammed the door shut. I made my way through the crowd and dejectedly approached my friends. I apologized to them for not getting us in the dressing room. My friends didn't care. They had just experienced a night of music and intrigue that they'd never forget.

Four years later, I was living in Berkeley and worked in San Francisco as a writer of educational films. It was a sunny, Saturday afternoon on Telegraph Road where streams of students, residents and tourists strolled freely through bookstores, cafes and head shops. I came upon one such head shop which made me stop in my tracks. I pressed my face flush against the display window and cupped my hands around my eyes to peer in. What had caught my eye? I couldn't quite understand what I was looking at. I entered the store and gravitated toward the poster wall. It was among many posters, but this one stuck out for some reason. I removed my sunglasses and walked up to the display wall. There it was! A poster of Crosby, Stills and Nash from that night, sitting on stools, singing. A walked closer. I gulped, yes, it was my dad's scarf being worn by Stephen Stills. My heart raced and memories of that night returned all at once. I bought the poster and as I was being rung up, I told the cashier that that was my scarf on Stills. He looked up and said, "Great. That'll be $5.42".