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Great Rock Concerts of the 60's

Updated on October 3, 2013

I attended my first concert in 1964 at the age of sixteen. It was in Seattle but for the life of me I don’t remember who I saw play. There have been so many over the years, especially during the 60s, and some just fade into that hidden place in my mind to be later recalled when I’m in a rest home. Someone will be feeding me strained peas and I will suddenly blurt out, “I remember in ’64 when I saw_____ play.”

Since I have seen my share of big-name groups play over the years I thought I would dazzle you with the ones that remain “special” for one reason or another. I have listed the Top Five in my lifetime that I have seen in person; only one was not a group but he gave such an incredible performance that he will forever appear on any list I make.

I have always loved music; when I was a child my family had a recording device that made vinyl LPs and I remember standing around the machine singing with my family and making records. I was raised on the big band songs and although I never liked Elvis I was still thrilled by the vitality he brought to music. Then along came The Beatles and my love for music rose to a whole new level.

I spent many an evening during the Sixties and Seventies attending concerts. Many of the legends of Rock came through the Seattle area; of course, they hadn’t reached legendary status at that time but their talents were readily apparent even at the early stage of their career.

Enough of the foreplay; let us now turn our attention to the Top Five Concerts You Should Have Attended.

Born To Be Wild

#5 STEPPENWOLF

July 26, 1968 at the Eagles Auditorium in Seattle. By that time music had been turned inside out and upside down and very little could have surprised me; Steppenwolf did their best, however, to do so. Their music was so raw, so brutal, so LOUD, that I remember leaving the auditorium that night wondering if I had just witnessed something incredible or if I had been assaulted and I should report it to the police. It was not so much their stage presence because in truth few bands during the Sixties had any showmanship; bands at that time usually came out, grabbed their instruments, ran through their set and called it a night. Steppenwolf followed that format perfectly but their music….God, their music! It literally left you gasping for breath and checking your body for bruises and cuts. In the span of five years we had gone from the Chad and Jeremy with music so saccharine you wanted to upchuck to Steppenwolf with music so abrasive you longed for saccharine but knew you could never return to it again.


#4 Monterrey Pop Festival

June 16-18, 1967 Monterrey, California. My buddy and I drove down Highway 101 in his VW van to be a part of the first “nationally-promoted” outdoor rock concert. We had no idea what we were expecting but we had a sense that it would be unforgettable. After all, this was the first American performance by Jimi Hendrix, the first by The Who; the Jefferson Airplane had just scored with two huge hits and they were headlining. Joplin was there, Redding was there as well as Country Joe and the Fish and the Mamas and the Papas. These were giants in the industry in a setting so laid-back as to seem like a neighborhood barbeque. I was awestruck, dumbstruck and in hero-worship mode as I ate my hotdogs and watched these immortals walk among the 55,000 in attendance, talking music, laughing, playing impromptu sets to the gatherings whenever they were asked. It was a revelation for me and reminded me that music is supposed to be fun and shared with all. I never attended Woodstock but this was as close to that iconic rock heaven as it was humanly possible to be and if this was the second best rock festival then number one must have been a hell of a show.


White Rabbit

#3 The Fillmore

1968 The Fillmore, San Francisco. My college roommate, who was from San Francisco, invited me down to his home for a few weeks and surprised me by telling me that he had somehow arranged for the two of us to work as stage hands at The Fillmore, that legendary venue that hosted some of the truly greats in Rock during the Sixties. While working those two weeks I watched up close and personal as The Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Country Joe and the Fish, and others played to adoring crowds. I handed a guitar to Hendrix before his set and he said, “thanks, dude!” At that age, during those times, that was about as cool as it got for this boy. For me it was like having the Fifties run head first into the brick wall called The Sixties. For a Catholic kid from a middle-income family in Tacoma, Washington, to rub shoulders with those performers, in that smoke-filled auditorium, drugs everywhere….well….I don’t think I need to describe it any further. Anyone who has an appreciation of music and culture and change will understand what I was feeling at that time. It was a complete psychic alteration for me and all that had seemed important to me prior to those two weeks paled in comparison by the time I returned to Tacoma. Above all I came away realizing that musicians of that stature are still just people; incredibly talented people but still, in the end, just members of the human race.


#2 Garth Brooks

I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. No, this was not during the 60's, but it was one of the great concerts I have ever seen, and hey, this is my article, so I can include it if I want. :)

July 17, 1998 Seattle, Washington. I know, you are all wondering right now what in the hell is wrong with this picture? I parade out the legends of Rock N Roll and then throw a ringer at you, someone so removed from the others on my list as to seem ridiculous. However, let me tell you straight out and with no feeling of shame at all, that hands down Brooks gave the greatest performance I have ever seen. For two-and-a-half hours he was poetry in motion, running around the stage, flying above the crowd, falling to the ground, all the while singing with a voice seemingly unaffected by the physical exertion. He talked, he laughed, he cried and God did he ever sing. There is a reason this man leads the pack in all-time record sales; when he is performing he is one with the crowd. He appears to be the guy next door, the neighborhood class-clown who in a five minute span could help an old lady cross the street and then fire off a cherry bomb at the neighbor’s cat. Few performers have the ability to make it appear that they are singing a song solely for your pleasure, that they know what you want to hear and each song is dedicated to you alone. This was an artist at the top of his game giving the performance of a lifetime and I thank the gods of music I was there to see it.


Play a baseball game and see the Beatles...a good day
Play a baseball game and see the Beatles...a good day

#1 the Beatles

August 25, 1966 Seattle, Washington. OMG! Let me say it again: OMG! I had adored The Beatles; truth be known I think I still do. I remember the tickets cost $12 and my buddies and I camped out to get the tickets because there was no way in hell we were going to miss this concert. We left Tacoma early because we just wanted to soak it all up for as long as we could. We arrived at the Seattle Coliseum early and sat and watched as girls cried and screamed and passed out and that was before the concert started. I remember the preliminary acts were Bobby Hebb and The Ronettes; can you even imagine what it must have been like for those two prelims to play before The Beatles? Talk about feeling insignificant. They could have given the greatest performance ever; hell, they could have walked on water, and nobody would have noticed or cared. We were all there for one reason only and the sooner Hebb and The Ronettes got off the stage the sooner we could see what we came to see. Finally the moment arrived and to say the scene was bedlam would be the understatement of a lifetime. You simply could not hear most of the music; the screaming was so loud that it assaulted your ears. And do you know what? Nobody cared! The Beatles only played a ten-song set that lasted a half hour and nobody felt cheated. It was the most exciting and exhilarating experience that I have ever witnessed. You should have been there!


Too old for concerts now
Too old for concerts now

It's Been One Hell of a Ride

So that’s it, my top five. The last concert I attended was in 2000 or 2001 when I saw one of my music idols, Dan Fogelberg, play towards the end of his career at St. Michelle Winery. He had lost his voice by then but the thrill of seeing one of the great lyricists and composers play his tunes still gave me a thrill reminiscent of the old days. That’s what music does by the way; it grabs us by the short hairs and doesn’t let go for a lifetime. Music burrows into your bloodstream and homesteads in your gray matter and will appear at times to change your heartbeat. It elicits laughs and tears and resurrects fond or crushing memories and all the while leaves you wishing for just one more song. I wish for all of you that someday you can look back and remember concerts like those I just listed

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    • kingmaxler profile image

      kingmaxler 5 years ago from Olympia, Washington USA

      What wonderful experiences you have had. Your writing brings much laughter. Thank you.

    • profile image

      TonyA4 5 years ago

      I must say I'm not that impressed with your list.

      1. Woodstock will always be #1 East or West Coast Was there 17

      2. Watkins Glen bigger than Woodstock

      3. Montery Pop Festival I agree

      4. The Band "The Last Waltz"

      5. The Doors New Haven Ct When Morrison was hauled off stage . Years later had a cop friend who stole the Police jacket & a friend of Friend Printed the Infamous Poster

      Also most would agree The Beatles at Shea Stadium was much more Historical than any other US concert

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My fault for not being more specific; this list was limited to only the concerts I attended. Thanks for your input.

    • Matt Tuller profile image

      Matt Tuller 5 years ago from Olympia, Washington

      Jealous

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Matt, I'm only sorry that I missed Woodstock! Thanks for reading the article.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Well I must say I AM impressed. And envious. Love all the bands you mentioned (Garth Brooks -- not so much). But enough younger than you not to have been of concert-going age in the 60s. Still, those concerts and venues are the stuff our our collective nostalgia for that decade -- no matter if we were there or not, and now matter how old we get.

      We have had forum threads about music and best concerts so I do hope you will contribute over there, as well. I know of several hubbers who will LOVE to connect with you (mickey sr. comes to mind).

      Peace sign, MM

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Now that I have power again I will check out the forums; that is on my to do list for tomorrow. Thank you for the visit and the comment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Back after four days of no power and ready to hit the ground running.

    • ustad profile image

      ustad 5 years ago from Pakistan

      it's a long time that you have the most enjoyable concert..

      thanks for sharing your experience! it let me know the environment of old time concerts before the start of my life.

      I have never attended any concert in my life..my father always stop me from doing that..:(

      now i think i should go in some live concerts.!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Urstad, I completely agree with you my friend...it is time for you to experience one. Thank you for coming by today!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      I think you had great fun creating this one;I know that I enjoyed reading;great work and an 'Up up and away'

      Great detail and interesting all the way through.

      Take care and enjoy your day .

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, you are spoiling me today! How loyal can one person be? If I ever get my customers satisfied today I will spend some time on your site. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub because I certainly enjoyed remembering those great concerts. Just between you and me I have no desire to go to concerts anymore; might just be a sign of old age setting in. :)

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 5 years ago from South Carolina

      I enjoyed this hub! My favorite concerts were in the early 70's when I saw Elvis in Charlotte, NC. Then I saw Jana Mashonee in concert last year and have been following (some say stalking) her ever since. I have written hubs about each and they were fun to do!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Spenser, I'll stop be to read those hubs. I once attended many, many concerts. Now, honestly, there is no appeal for me. I do believe I'm getting old. :) Thank you sir!

    • RichieGils profile image

      RichieGils 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading this Hub Bill! You saw The Beatles! Sweet! Even though I was just a little kid in the '60s I loved many of the bands you mention here. I have always wished I was old enough to see The Who when Keith Moon was around and still at the top of his game. Well done!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Richie, it was a great time to be a teenager. The music was spectacular and I have some great memories. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      I enjoyed this hub. I've never been to a concert. I can only imagine they are very exciting to attend. Voting up and sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, honestly, I don't think I have any desire now to go to a concert unless it's in a quiet setting like an outdoor winery. It is just too many people in an arena and too much noise. Boy, have I ever gotten old. LOL Thank you for taking the time to comment. Very much appreciated.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Wow, I am so envious Bill. As a confirmed music lover- I'm a regular concert goer - I've seen some evergreen greats greats Lionel Richie, Dolly Parton, Neil Diamon and also the new kids on the block- Rihanna, Kylie, Michael BuBle, Justin Timberlake, Ne-yo etc. But your list Bill, tops em all. What a great concert going era it must have been! Thanks for sharing your experiences. up and across!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Docmo! It was an incredible time to be a teenager, that's for sure! I appreciate you taking the time to visit and for pimping on Facebook.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      I can only imagine what the Beatles must have been like. I loved them, too. I went to one of their movies in the 60s, and there was a girl in front of me who was literally pulling out her hair and screaming. If the movies were like that - how much more so the live concerts! You did give me a great idea for a hub, though. I've been to a few really great concerts at the rodeo in Houston, TX. Garth Brooks, unfortunately wasn't one of them!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I'm happy if I gave you an idea for a hub; go get them and I look forward to reading it when you have finished it. Thanks for the follow and for the great comment.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Ahhhh, billybuc...I missed the Monterey Pop Festival, and Woodstock...just wasn't my time....well, I have seen the Beatles! 3 times! What a fantastic / fantasy experience. I saw the Rolling Stones...outdoors at Altamont...that was a crazy and wild one! Saw the Doors...ahhhh....the stuff of many young girl's fantasy. Saw so many amazing musicians....Allman Brothers, Boz Skaggs (the BEST...musical arrangement, mood, melody...fits me just fine!)....Elvis Presley! yes! At the CowPalace..and, yes to the Filmore! And Winterland, and Family Dog presentations on the Beach and at the Avalon. Oh, I could go on. Just want you to know that I do lOVE and appreciate that time period and the magic of it all....

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lucky, I think you have me beat, although working at The Filmore was an ongoing concert that never seemed to end. Bravo to you....the Beatles 3 times? Fantastic!

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      I really, really loved seeing this side of you! Loved this music piece, lived hearing these musicians through your eyes! MONTERREY...How cool of an experience to attend! So many great artists! Love Mamas and The Papas. I saw a reformed show of theirs with John Phillips, Mackenzie Phillips, Scott Mackenzie and Spanky McFarland at a place called 'Jazzberries' with my cousin. It was the 80's...soooo fun!/ You got to see The Beatles??!! OMG...and for $12! Amazing!/ Garth Brooks...I saw him too...twice! One of the best Rock and roll shows ever! Thanks for bringing up good memories for me this morning :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audra, I was fortunate to be a teen when so much incredible music began. The British Invasion, the birth of rock n roll...it seemed like every weekend had a concert that just could not be missed.

      I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thank you so much!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 23 months ago from United Kingdom

      Just 4 words: I am soooooo jealous.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, looking back, it's hard to believe I actually saw them. They were all legends but at the time, it just seemed like rock n roll. :)

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 23 months ago from United Kingdom

      Yes, rock 'n' roll the likes of which we'll never see again. (sigh)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Zulma! Certainly not in today's music world...or maybe I'm just getting old. :)

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