by Alex Cosper (7/21/13)
The first concert many people think of as the "greatest concert of all time" is Woodstock in 1969. In many ways it was the festival that many rock concerts have been patterned after. The Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 was the key show that inspired Woodstock, but there were still big music festivals prior to the shows, such as the Newport Folk Festival series in Connecticut. The first big benefit show was the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. Below are a partial list of some of the biggest concert festivals and tours of all time, loosely in order of influence. Some of these events became regular annual shows over many years.
Woodstock (Aug. 15-18, 1969 in Bethel, NY)
Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Credence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Country Joe and The Fish, The Band and Ten Years After.
Monterey Pop Festival (June 16-18 1967 at Monterey County Fairgrounds)
Jefferson Airplane, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, The Mamas & The Papas and Ravi Shankar.
Concert for Bangladesh (Aug. 1, 1971 at Madison Square Garden, NY)
Cause: relief for cyclone victims and refugees.
Orgnanizers: George Harrison and Ravi Shankar
Performers: George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Badfinger, Leon Russell and Ravi Shankar.
Live Aid (July 13, 1985 at Wembley Stadium in London, UK and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, PA)
72,000 attendees in London, 100,000 attendees in Philadelphia
Estimated global satellite TV audience was about 1.9 billion viewers
Cause: famine relief for Ethiopia
Organizers: Bob Geldof and Midge Ure
London performers: Sting and Phil Collins, The Who, U2, David Bowie, Elton John, Dire Straits, Freddie Mercury & Brian May and Paul McCartney.
Philadelphia performers: Led Zeppelin reunion, Duran Duran, Mick Jagger, Hall & Oates, Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Neil Young, The Cars, Eric Clapton with Phil Collins and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.
Farm Aid (Sept. 22, 1985 at University of Illinois Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL)
Cause: raised money for American farms, inspired by Live Aid
Organizers: Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp
Performers: Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Alabama, The Beach Boys, Bon Jovi, Glen Campbell, Charlie Daniels Band, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Emmylou Harris, Don Henley, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Rickie Lee Jones, B.B. King, Huet Lewis, Loretta Lynn and Bonnie Raitt.
Woodstock 25th Anniversary (1994 in Saugerties, NY)
Performers: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Santana, The Band, Joe Cocker, Country Joe McDonald, John Sebastion of Lovin' Spoonful, Joma Kaukonen and Jack Cassady from Jefferson Airplane and Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead. Other acts included Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Tibetan Freedom Concert (June 15-16 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco)
100,000 attendees over two days
Organizers: The Beastie Boys
Cause: funding for a network called Students For a Free Tibet. Performers: The Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bjork, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine and De La Soul.
Note: This festival series lasted through 2003.
Lollapalooza (July 18, 1991 in Pheonix, AZ)
Organizer: Perry Ferrell
Performers: Jane's Addiction, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Ice-T, Nine Inch Nails and The Jim Rose Circus Side Show.
Bridge School Benefit (October 19-20, 1996 at Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View, CA)
40,000 attendees over two days
Cause: Raised money for children with disabilities
Organizer: Neil Young
Performers: Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Idol, Pete Townshend, David Bowie, Patti Smith and Cowboy Junkies.
Coachella Festival (Nov. 5, 1993 in Coachella Valley, CA)
Performers: Pearl Jam, who were testing new alternative ways to sell concert tickets outside the established system. Note: In 2012 this annual festival had grown to over 250,000 attendees
Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert (Oct. 16, 1992 at Madison Square Garden)
Note: This concert paid tribute to Bob Dylan's 30th anniversary as a music industry songwriter and performer Performers: Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, John Cougar Mellencamp, Lou Reed, others.
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