The first thing cousins Doug Akers and Jake Hall will tell you is that music is in their blood. Third generation musicians, the pair has aspired to the greatness achieved by legends like KISS, Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent since childhood, the marker of that success always being their first time playing Cobo Hall.
So when it came under question a few years ago whether or not the venue would even continue to stand upright, the duo knew they had to do something to commemorate the arena that kick-started so many musical careers.
But when they started reaching out to people almost four years ago, Hall says they were staggered by the number of big names who were incredibly eager to travel to Detroit and rehash their memories of Cobo for Akers, Hall and their cameras.
"I guess what we didn't realize is that it wasn't just us that saw playing there as making it big, all these really famous people did too," says Hall.
The fruition of those hundreds of hours of interviews with not just musical greats, but power players like Dave Bing as well, is a documentary created and funded entirely by Hall and Akers, the soon-to-be-complete Legendary Cobo.
Although the movie will have a heavy musical influence, Hall says there will be a historical orientation as well, an aspect that definitely deserves some notoriety.
"What people don't realize is that Cobo actually helped change history," say Hall, citing the 1972 U.S. table tennis team's invitational with China during a time when the Asian country was closed off to the rest world.
"It wasn't until after the team visited Cobo, which was the beginning of their ambassadorial tour, that Nixon started making talks with China again," he says.
Civil rights history was also made at Cobo when Martin Luther King Jr. made his "I Have a Dream" speech, two months before extolling it on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
The success of the recording of that speech was just a predecessor to the live albums that would be made in the same arena that would solidify the staying power of names like Journey, Bob Segar, The Doors and many, many more.
And although Hall concedes he never realized his dream of playing to thousands of people in that same arena, since beginning the filming of Legendary Cobo, he's gotten to explore every nook and cranny of the building with idols he may have never met otherwise as well as travel as far as Ireland to interview Fin Costello, the man who photographed the iconic image on the back of KISS's Alive record. And now he's eager to share that experience with the rest of Detroit and the entirety of the world.
To finance the completion of the dream, Akers and Hall have set up a Kickstarter fund, hoping to raise the $45,000 they estimate it will cost to complete the 90-minute documentary. Most of the work left to be done, according to Hall, is the digital conversion of 16 mm files found at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University and the Nixon Presidential Library in California along with some post-production as well.
Hoping to complete the documentary by film festival season, Hall says he and his partner plan to enter the movie in all the major festivals. But where the film screens is of little importance to them, actually.
"We just want people to see this movie and for anyone who is from Detroit or Michigan, for them to be able to say 'That's where I'm from.' And be really proud of that," says Hall. | RDW
FOR INFO, and to find out how you can CONTRIBUTE, VISIT thelegendarycobo.com