The Monkees came to town for a concert last night, and had 10,000 teeny-boppers swinging from the rafters.
For an eternal hour, what are normally only a bunch of electronic particles on a television screen became oh so real to an enthusiastic, youthful, predominately female audience which turned the Civic Center into a temporary insane asylum.
The turned-on generation turned out in force and fashion and did just what is normal for such occasions: screamed, applauded, cried, charged the stage and generally went hysterical.
From the moment the quartet appeared onstage, wearing red velvet suits and white turtleneck sweaters, the massive center echoed to screams of thousands of shrill voices, sounding much like a million amplified katydids.
Like a group of ersatz Marx Brothers, they are wild, wacky and wonderfully popular: so popular, they have all become millionaires.
Put together as a singing group by the marvels of the mass media, there have been rumors that they couldn't even sing or play musical instruments.
They put that to rest last night with a performance which, unlike some teenage rock group shows, exhibited a measure of talent. Fourty-five thousand dollars worth of sound equipment, a backdrop screen with huge color pictures of the Monkees and special lighting effects added to the show.
But the fans never really needed all that -- those four boys and their electrocuting guitars and pounding drums were more than enough.
They spent up to $7.50 a ticket to see the Monkees, but they obviously had no intention of hearing them. The pulsating synchronization of the music was lost under the multi-decibel screams, as much of the audience jumped on chairs, leaped about the arena and ran pellmell toward the stage in valiant but unsuccessful efforts to reach the heroes of the airways.
"I can't hear the --- ---- music," said a police sergeant. The patrolman next to him didn't hear -- he had a .38-caliber bullet in each ear.
Baltimore police had relatively little trouble controlling the crowd at the concert or throughout the day as thousands of teenage girls searched for the Monkees at almost every hotel.
The group was actually safely tucked away behind dozens of security guards at the Sheraton-Baltimore Inn, relaxing in the midst of a 60-day tour, after an almost secret arrival.
Kathy Lee, 14, of the 100 block Decker avenue, came to the concert with her National Monkee Club Button. Like most of the girls, she was wearing Mod clothes.
"I think the Monkees are the most wonderful things in the whole world," she said, summing up the views of many others.
Mary-Jo Liberto, 16, of the 6700 block Brookmont drive, waited four hours at the stage door to catch a glimpse of the Monkees, holding a sign which said "I love David Jones."
Inside the center, signs abounded, hanging from the rails of the balcony and held aloft like political convention posters, all vowing allegiance to the Monkees.
And whatever happened to the Beatles, one teeny bopper was asked, "Oh," was the reply, "they belong to an older generation."