The forgotten tour: US band that rocked Saudi Arabia

The rock band Starbuck was formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1974 by lead vocalist and record producer Bruce Blackman. Bandmates Darryl Kutz, Johnny Walker and Bo Wagner played gigs throughout their 1978 trip to Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province.
Updated 12 January 2019

The forgotten tour: US band that rocked Saudi Arabia

  • Photos of an American rock group’s trip to the Eastern Province in the 1970s spark nostalgia on social media

RIYADH: A series of photos of the US band Starbuck on tour in Al-Ahsa in the 1970s has been doing the rounds on Twitter. And by the looks of it, they had a rockin’ good time.

Starbuck was formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1974 and rose to fame with their 1976 hit “Moonlight Feels Right,” which reached No. 3 on the US Billboard Charts. 

Oil giant Aramco invited the band to perform in Saudi Arabia in 1978 to entertain the American geologists it employed. Their tour lasted two weeks, during which time they played at Aramco outposts along the Kingdom’s east coast. 

Although pictures from the tour were posted eight years ago on Facebook, they grabbed attention when they were posted to Twitter in early January by Mohammed Al-Khalifah (@desertlover79), who is well known for posting vintage photos of Saudi, particularly the Eastern Province.

Al-Khalifah came across them while searching for old photos of his home region of Al-Ahsa. In the first two days they were on Twitter, the photos had garnered over 700,000 views.

The photographs were first shared on Facebook by Davie Holifield, daughter of Starbuck’s lead guitarist Darryl Kutz. On a tribute page to the late musician, Holifield has posted more than 800 photographs chronicling her father’s life, including those of the band’s Saudi tour.

“My father was a career musician and we had so many photos we wanted to share with friends, relatives and fans of all of the bands he was in. When he died suddenly of a heart attack at age 46, we were devastated. So we started the page as a place to share his photos,” said Holifield.

The album dedicated to the Saudi Arabian tour contains almost 200 photos of the various band members, mostly taken by Kutz. And judging by their quality, he could have made it as a photojournalist if he hadn’t been a musician. 

The pictures feature the pristine beaches of Ras Tanoura, the blooming bougainvillea trees of the Aramco compound in Dhahran, and the magnificent rock formations at Jabal Qarah. The pictures also show the members of Starbuck, along with their interpreters — Mohammed and Alawi.

Kenny Crysler, Starbuck’s drummer, expressed how fondly he remembered the trip. “As you can see from the beautiful pictures that Darryl took, we really had a good time visiting and experiencing the country,” he said. “Everyone we met seemed to really appreciate our being there. It was quite an adventure being able to just walk around and visit some of the old towns.”

According to Crysler, the band mainly stayed in Dhahran, though he recalls visiting several different towns during the tour. Kutz’s photos show them taking one of Aramco’s F-27 planes during their stay, and Crysler recalls them taking planes to get around.

“I remember flying to one concert and, shortly after taking off, Darryl had a problem with his inner ear and we had to land. We left Darryl on the ground and then flew to the next concert venue. Darryl was able to make friends and somehow get a ride to the concert without speaking the language. He was amazing at making friends wherever we happened to be,” Crysler said.

As the photos continue to gain traction on Twitter, there have been numerous responses from people pleased to see the region in the spotlight.

“These are beautiful. Long live Al-Ahsa!” tweeted one user.

“Weird to think that when these pictures were taken, 70% of Saudis weren’t even born yet,” pointed out another.

Holifield hopes that the pictures will help her father’s memory — and that of the band — live on. “Maybe others who remember that trip will get to see them,” she said. “And as for my father, we miss him terribly, but we love being able to keep him alive in the memories from those days.”

World Alliance of Religions for Peace elects KAICIID chief as honorary president

Updated 25 August 2019

World Alliance of Religions for Peace elects KAICIID chief as honorary president

  • Secretary General Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar was elected in recognition of his efforts to spread the values of dialogue and tolerance
  • The Alliance consists of a World Council of Senior Religious Leaders from all regions of the world

RIYADH: The World Alliance of Religions for Peace announced on Saturday the election of secretary general of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar as the honorary president of the Alliance.
The announcement was made at the 10th International Conference of the Religions for Peace General Assembly in Lindau, Germany, from 20-23 August 2019.
Alliance officials noted that the election of bin Muammar, along with the group of honorary presidents of the Alliance for the next five years, comes in recognition of his efforts, through the King Abdullah International Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, to spread the values of dialogue and tolerance and to promote cooperation between religious figures and makers.
Bin Muammar expressed his thanks and appreciation for the trust of the Religions for Peace General Assembly.
He said: “I am proud to be elected as the honorary president among other honorary presidents, and joining an international multi-religious group of leaders committed to interfaith dialogue.”
He concluded his speech by expressing his sincere thanks and gratitude for the support of the founding countries of the Center, especially Saudi Arabia, the initiator of the initiative, Spain, Austria, the Vatican and the Board of Directors of Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus, and the advisory board of forty-six members of fifteen religions and beliefs, and employees of the Center in 30 countries around the world.
World Alliance of Religions for Peace, founded in 1970, is one of the most important international non-governmental organizations interested in world religious affairs.
It consists of a World Council of Senior Religious Leaders from all regions of the world; representing six regional interfaith bodies and more than 90 national bodies.