Concerts have played an enormously significant role in rock music history. Not only were these concerts important in shaping its development, but they also inspired new musical genres like rap-rock – which combines hip-hop vocal elements with various forms of rock.
Woodstock may have been a commercial failure, but its legacy lives on through an annual arena rock festival held each summer.
The summer of 1969 marked an unprecedented cultural upheaval: from Stonewall riots, which marked a turning point in gay rights activism; to Apollo moon landing inspiring hope and optimism across America; and Woodstock gathering together young people of a generation to celebrate rock music and peaceful revolution as it emerged through peaceful means. Today Woodstock stands as one of the most memorable musical events ever witnessed and continues to serve as an inspirational moment for millions around the globe.
Woodstock organizers were hoping to capitalize on the youth counterculture movement sparked by protests against the Vietnam War and other social injustices, so as to attract hippies who had attended Monterey Pop and Miami Pop festivals previously; their aim was for Woodstock to become as big and as popular as these events – an audacious yet risky attempt that paid off!
Woodstock was the inaugural major music event to be broadcast live on television, and at its time was also considered the largest outdoor concert ever held. Although named for Woodstock in New York state, it actually took place on a farm owned by Max Yasgur in nearby Bethel. Before coming across their venue at Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, organizers had first explored locations such as Woodstock, Saugerties, and Wallkill before finding Yasgur’s farm as their preferred option.
Woodstock stands out among music events by choosing not to charge attendees any fee to attend their festival; instead they gave tickets away freely. Although organizers lost out financially as a result of this choice, their wise and heartfelt decision has left an indelible legacy on Woodstock that might otherwise have been much different had tickets been charged for.
Although organizers had planned for a smaller event, they were overwhelmed by the number of attendees. Expecting only 50,000, over one million showed up, creating a traffic jam which became legendary. Many brought signs and clothing with antiwar messages; bands including Wavy Gravy’s “Please Force” also spoke out against Vietnam War.
On July 13, 1985, over 1.9 billion people turned on their televisions to watch Live Aid – an unforgettable rock concert staged simultaneously in London and Philadelphia that raised money to fight Ethiopia’s 1984-85 famine. Organized by Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof and Midge Ure after Geldof was deeply alarmed at an African news report about this catastrophe, Live Aid became known as The Global Jukebox; later dubbed as “The Day Rock and Roll Changed the World”. One of music history’s most iconic events ever.
At that time, each band was an iconic star in its own right; and for this defining show they all pulled out all the stops. Madonna, Queen, U2, Paul McCartney and Phil Collins led off at Wembley Stadium while Phil Collins took to Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium; others like Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, the Hooters and Teddy Pendergrass all provided stellar performances as part of an equally remarkable lineup.
Geldof had only 10 weeks to plan an extraordinary event, yet managed to assemble an extraordinary lineup of artists. Enlisting help from legendary concert promoter Bill Graham and Electric Factory co-founder Larry Magid in finding suitable venues, the result was truly outstanding.
Though there were a few unexpected setbacks – Bonham’s drums broke during one performance and Bob Dylan accidentally dropped an F-bomb during his set (for which he later apologized), overall, this gig was an overwhelming success and all proceeds from ticket sales went toward sending food, medical supplies and livestock directly to famine zones around Africa.
It also provided a major boost for many performers. When CD sales began booming, their careers saw significant momentum and they soon became household names. Furthermore, due to global viewing numbers of concerts broadcast live around the world, these concerts dramatically altered popular culture forever; pop music played an increasingly influential role in politics than ever before.
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen was an international hit in 1976, topping charts across Britain, Australia and New Zealand, among many other nations. This song became Queen’s inaugural number one song worldwide; even after Freddie Mercury passed away it remained popular – topping UK charts for several more years afterward.
When released in 1975, this song was an elaborate, operatic and tempo-shifting epic that seemed like multiple songs combined into one. The band’s record company believed it would never catch on radio as an airplay hit but were proven wrong on both counts.
After an instrumental section with alien harmonies, the song transitions into a rock interlude featuring a guitar riff written by Mercury himself. At 4:15, an angry quartet-tracked Mercury sings vocals addressed towards an anonymous “you”, accusing them of betrayal and abuse while accompanying himself by ascending runs on piano as well as an ascending guitar riff – his final line is: “any way the wind blows”.
This song remains timeless, having been honored with induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame and considered an essential rock classic. Additionally, it is currently the third-most-streamed song ever and boasts one of the greatest live performances ever seen in rock history.
Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie, is an ambitious undertaking with a vast budget that stars Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, Ben Whishaw as Roger Taylor and Lucy Boynton as Lucy Boynton (band manager). However, its production has been mired by controversy and criticism – including sexual assault accusations against director Bryan Singer as well as whitewashing claims by screenwriter Anthony McKay in regards to tweets associated with Bohemian Rhapsody.
Producers have strongly denied these allegations against the movie and some actors involved have shared their experiences working on it. Still, the film has proven a hit at the box office and could become an Oscar contender; yet its impact remains to be seen whether this controversy will harm its chances of victory.
Metallica formed in 1981 with James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton and Dave Mustaine at its core, quickly creating an impactful brand of metal music that resonated with fans worldwide. Their debut album Kill ‘Em All quickly garnered them support before subsequent albums Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets allowed them to hit the road and perform to packed arenas around the globe.
Metallica crossed over into mainstream rock with 1991’s self-titled effort, featuring slick production from Bob Rock and moving away from brutal thrash of their earlier days, this album proved immensely popular, becoming their biggest success yet and producing hits like Enter Sandman as well as becoming one of the highest selling metal albums of all time.
Metallica quickly rebounded after their brief hiatus with 1994’s 51-date Shit Hits the Sheds Tour and subsequent work on their next release, 1996’s Load album was an overwhelming success and helped set the stage for their World Magnetic Tour; Load also generated top-selling singles Fuel and The Memory Remains; additionally Garage Inc. provided double disc of B-sides and rarities released between 1998-2003.
By the time Metallica released their eighth album, Death Magnetic (2008), they had become one of the most beloved acts in music and received widespread acclaim from critics and peers alike. Death Magnetic marked a departure from their earlier thrash metal roots with songs such as Creeping Death and For Whom the Bell Tolls featuring hooks that could make Moby Dick quake in his boots; other moments included grandiose semi-ballad Fade to Black that embraced subtlety – some diehards complained; most were simply taken aback by what had come forth!
Metallica quickly found success after releasing studio albums; in 2012 they set forth on an ambitious live film project called Metallica Through The Never and recorded full concert video for their World Magnetic tour sold-out run in Quebec City. Metallica continued playing high-profile shows, playing several expanded reissues (deluxe versions of earlier albums as well as Hardwired… To Self-Destruct which debuted as number one globally upon its November release).