The Most Important Concerts in History

Today we think nothing of going to concerts, we have a well-established network of touring acts and we know what to expect. Imagine you’d never been to a concert before. This was a very real experience for lots of people around the world. In this blog, we’re going to look at groundbreaking concerts.

Zaire 74

A promotional event for the boxing match between Muhammed Ali and George Foreman, the concert took place in the Stade du 20 Mai in Kinshasa on 22nd-24th September 1974. It was scheduled to precede the “Rumble in the Jungle” on 25h September. The fight was postponed for a month due to an injury to George Foreman, but I didn’t stop the festival going ahead. The bill was made up of 17 artists from Africa including Miriam Makeba, TPOK Jazz and Tabu Ley Rochereau and 14 American artists including James Brown, Bill Withers, B.B. King and The Spinners. Intended to promote racial and cultural solidarity between African and African American people, it was attended by 80000 people. Footage from the festival can be seen in the


Johnny Cash at San Quentin Prison 1969

Johnny Cash’s reputation as a wild man is famous and he played prisons various times with his first visit coming in 1958. His most famous prison performance took place in San Quentin Prison, California – home of the State’s Death Row-  in 1969. The live album of the concert outsold the Beatles in that year, which given their popularity at the time is incredible. One of the most famous concerts in history, it defined Johnny Cash’s outlaw reputation and added to the myth of the man.


Isle of Wight Festival 1970

The Isle of Wight Festival had been running since 1968 and had been attended by The Beatles and acts including Jefferson Airplane, Bob Dylan, The Move and The Nice by the time the 1970 version came around.  Attended by 700000 people, the 1970 festival had acts including Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, The Doors, The Who, Free, Donovan and Miles Davis. At eth time it was thought to be one of the biggest gatherings of people in history and eclipsed the attendance at the Woodstock festival the previous year.


Moscow Music Peace Festival 1989

The late 1980s was a period of massive social change in the Soviet Union with the Revolutions of 1989 resulting in the dissolution of the superstate by 1991. Bands like Jethro Tull and Iron Maiden went “behind the iron curtain” in the 1970s and 1980s but it was in August 1989 that Russia held its first major rock concert. Organised by American music manager Doc McGhee and Russian musician Stas Namin it was held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 12th 13th August 1989. The event featured massive rock acts of the era including Bon Jove, Cinderella, Skid Row, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne and The Scorpions. This was the first time a bill full of stars played in the Soviet Union and the event inspired the Scorpions to write Wind of Change which became synonymous with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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