Most Popular Concerts

Do you believe in Rock n Roll,
Can music save your mortal soul…

“American Pie” by Don McLean

The most popular concerts typically take place in outstanding venues, feature world-class musical performances and even more importantly, a lot of heart and energy. The Rolling Stones, coming off of the number one grossing tour in 2006, continued to tour in 2007 to make up dates for shows they missed. They felt an “obligation” to make up those dates, said tour producer Michael Cohl. Having that kind of dedication and that kind of heart is just one reason they’re the hardest working rock band in the music business. The Stones, and other internationally famous musicians who regularly sell out their concerts, actively work to engage their audience, and their audiences feed upon that energy.

Anthony Pierpont of St. Paul, Minnesota tells about the highest attended concerts of all time and Catherine Woods of Mobulls in West Plains, Missouri provides some smart ideas for finding seats at our favorite sold out concerts.

List of the Most Popular and Highest-Attended Concerts of All Time by Anthony Pierpont of St. Paul, Minnesota

The highest attended concerts of all time happened to be outdoors (energy), were sell outs, and, even better, they were free. Free concerts are a great way to boost show attendance, but audiences didn’t need too much incentive to see these top 5 shows:

5th Most Popular and Highest Attended Concert
The Summer Jam at the Grand Prix racetrack in Watkins Glen, New York, took place on July 28th, 1973. An estimated 600,000 fans were in attendance, 200,000 more than attended Woodstock in 1969. The bands playing at the Summer Jam included The Allman Brothers Band, The Band and the Grateful Dead. The Dead didn’t disappoint, kicking off the concert with a five hour set. The Band followed with a two hour set and The Allman Brothers Band ended with a three hour jam. Musicians from all three bands played together during the concert’s finale.

The surrounding hype for the concert convinced almost 150,000 fans that it would be sold out, and they accordingly bought premium tickets for $10. Imagine their surprise when they showed up and found out the concert was free!

4th Most Popular and Highest Attended Concert
1982 and 1983’s US Festivals were sponsored by Steve Wozniak of Apple Computer. Wozniak held the festivals on Labor Day weekend in 1982 and Memorial Day weekend in 1983 at the Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California. Wozniak built the new venue and held the concerts as a way to thank the community for his many business successes. The 4th highest concert attendance record was for the 1983 show, with more than 400,000 people in attendance. Bands that played the 1983 US Festival included The Ramones, The Police, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac and a host of other popular bands of the day.

Staying true to his technological roots, Wozniak’s shows featured enormous projection screens that allowed fans far away from the stage to get a bird’s eye view of the bands- the first time such technology had been used at a concert. Unfortunately for Wozniak, the concerts didn’t sell out; even with Pay-per-View simulcasts, he lost an estimated $30 million dollars due to lackluster tickets sales to the two shows.

3rd Most Popular and Highest Attended Concert
Garth Brooks’ free concert in New York’s Central Park was attended by an estimated 750,000 people and shown live to an additional 14.6 million viewers at home on HBO. The concert took place on August 7, 1997. At the time of the concert, Brooks had just come off of a year that included a sold out concert tour (the top-selling concert tour of 1996), 62 million units of his nine discs sold and dozens of music awards.

Billy Joel and Don McLean surprised attendees by hopping onstage with Brooks to sing our website’s anthem, “American Pie.” Brooks and Joel also sang “New York State of Mind,” much to the delight of the many New Yorkers in attendance.

2nd Most Popular and Highest Attended Concert
In 1965, the New York Philharmonic began performing annual concerts in New York’s Central Park. More than 13 million people have attended the free concerts. The Philharmonic’s July 5th, 1986 concert in the park broke records with 800,000 in attendance. This is still the largest audience in history for a classical music concert.

The Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the U.S.; they started playing in 1842. At the time of the 1986 concert, the conductor was Zubin Mehta.

1st – THE Most Popular and Highest Attended Concert
The #1 most popular and highest attended concert was held on New Year’s Eve, 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. Rod Stewart hosted a show on the Copacabana Beach, instead of in a stadium, so that as many people as possible could attend the free concert.

The concert hosted 4.2 million attendees, earning Stewart a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for concert attendance. 1994 was a great year for Stewart: it was also the year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Where to Buy Concert Tickets: Find Seats for Your Favorite Sold Out Concerts by Catherine Woods of Mobulls in West Plains, Missouri

Finding seats for concerts before they sell out takes some ingenuity. Fan clubs for popular performers have websites that you can join. Many fan sites put concert tickets on sale an hour early on the first day they’re available- for fans only. You can also sign up to receive email reminders so you don’t forget to buy concert seats before they are sold out.

If you live in a metropolitan area and prefer to buy premium concert tickets in person, consider traveling to a nearby town. Often the lines are shorter in a small town, or non-existent, so you might be first in line when ticket sales open. If a concert is expected to sell out, you may have to arrive at the ticket counter early to get a number for your place in line before you can buy seats for the show. Call ahead to make sure they will have premium concert tickets for sale, and to find out if any rules or restrictions apply.

If your concert sold out quickly and you didn’t get a seat, look online. Social networks offer an all new way to find premium concert tickets. Look at the classifieds section on Myspace and other social networks to find concert tickets for sale. Craigslist is a popular choice for posting concert tickets for sale because they don’t charge a fee to sellers. You can also use social networks and Craigslist to post requests for tickets in the “wanted to buy” areas. Ebay and online auction sites also have a wide selection of concert tickets for sale, but you’ll pay a high premium for the service, especially if it’s a sold out show.

We thank our contributors:

  • Anthony Pierpont St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Catherine Woods, Mobulls, breeders of French and English bulldogs, West Plains, MO

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