Big-Name Concerts

Posted by Amy the Archivist on April 27, 2009 in

I've been working on a compilation of big-name concerts held at RPI.  People occasionally ask questions about bands that played here, and it's useful to have a quick reference to that information. So far, I've covered the 1960s, 70s and 80s.  I thought I would share some interesting tidbits from my research.

Peter, Paul & Mary played here three times.  They appeared during Soiree Weekend in 1963 and 1965, then did a fall concert in 1966.  Also appearing in 1966 was Ray Charles in the spring and Simon & Garfunkel in the fall.  Ray Charles was on probation and kicking the heroin habit that year.  Simon & Garfunkel only played on the weekends at college campuses.  Art Garfunkel was still a student at Columbia.

We often get asked about The Doors — yes, they were here December 8, 1967.  A reviewer for The Poly stated that they "like true showmen gave not quite their all for 45 minutes."  At the end of the concert, Jim Morrison shouted,  "If this is Troy, I'm with the Greeks."  He was arrested on stage the next night in New Haven, CT for attempting to incite a riot.

Jimi Hendrix stopped by in 1968 and was one of shows held in the Troy Armory.  It didn't seem to matter that the Armory had really bad acoustics; Jimi's music thrilled the crowd anyway.

UPAC teamed up with the American Bureau of Arts to promote big name concerts in 1972.  The relationship was short lived, but they produced a jam packed schedule of concerts that year.  Chicago played back to back concerts at the Armory in 1972 -- both sold out.  They were the only band to stick it out in Troy for two straight nights!  Bette Midler had just released her first album and was relatively unknown when she played at the Field House.  She called Troy "the pits," a phrase she used over and over in an interview after the concert.  J. Geils, Isaac Hayes and Melanie also played at RPI that year.

Tickets for The Grateful Dead concert on May 7, 1978 sold out within a few hours.  People started lining up for tickets before the concert date was even set.  They were told to go home because the line interfered with Ice Capades shows going on at the Field House.

The 80's were all about rock and 1986-87 was the most ambitious concert year -- Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue.  In their midst was a concert by the Monkees, who one reviewer defended as being "legitimately rock and roll."  I was a little puzzled about The Monkees being here, but learned that they were on their 20th anniversary tour in 1986.  The Poly didn't review many concerts in the late 80's so details of these concerts are lacking.

If you attended any RPI concerts, please share your memories! See also: our list of big name concerts.



paul caglione
Sun, 10/07/2018 - 21:29 Permalink

shows I attended at R.P.I/Troy Armory/R.P.I.Fieldhouse/87' Gym
Jimi Hendrix Experience -armory
Beach Boys/New Colony Six -armory
Chicago Transit Authority - armory (1st of 2 consecutive nights) Don McLean - fieldhouse
Bruce Springsteen +band - fieldhouse Bo Diddly - ?
Paul Mauriat Orchestra - fieldhouse Doors - fieldhouse (from outside)
Emerson,Lake & Palmer - fieldhouse The Fifth Dimension - fieldhouse
Bette Midler - fieldhouse (Barry Manilow keyboards/musical conductor)
Stevie Wonder - fieldhouse
Chuck Mangione - 87 gym

Lonnie Lykins
Thu, 07/20/2017 - 11:15 Permalink

I attended RPI '64 & '65. Date is hazy, but I think Fall of '65 we had a "Beer and blanket" concert at the Field House with the Rolling Stones. There were no seats, just the open floor. They walked off the stage twice, once when someone tossed a beer can onstage, and once when someone yelled "faggot" at them. Both times, they were convinced to return to the stage, and they did complete their performance. There is a record of a Rolling Stone concert in New Hampshire about that time, and I'm thinking they may have been on a mini-tour.

Bill Criss
Mon, 04/27/2009 - 21:22 Permalink

Peter Paul & Mary and Simon & Garfunkel were my favorities. But Sammy Davis Jr and Pete Seegar also are right up there from my "great performers" memories of RPI Big Weekends '64 - '69 !

Bill Criss
Mon, 04/27/2009 - 21:22 Permalink

Peter Paul & Mary and Simon & Garfunkel were my favorities. But Sammy Davis Jr and Pete Seegar also are right up there from my "great performers" memories of RPI Big Weekends '64 - '69 !

Dickey Small
Mon, 04/27/2009 - 21:26 Permalink

Amy, The Only Concert That Mattered from the 80's was the Clash at the Huston Field house on 10/3/82. They were at the height of their popularity at that time, and the played Shea Stadium with the Who the following week. I was there in the front row, and that was the high point of my time at RPI.
--Dickey, (almost graduated) '83

In reply to by egglel

Tue, 04/28/2009 - 08:05 Permalink

Dickey, thanks for the info. on the Clash concert -- especially the date. I'll add it to my list. I had a difficult time finding information about concerts in the early 80's.

Bob Mayo
Tue, 04/28/2009 - 09:18 Permalink

Hi Amy,
I attended a great Bob Dylan concert at the Field House on Feb. 22, 1999. Natalie Merchant was the opening act. Some perspectives on the concert can be found at and a set-list can be found at Several recordings from this concert show up on bootleg CDs. Bob’s performance of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” at that concert appears on many of them.

Steve Davis
Mon, 05/04/2009 - 12:33 Permalink

I fondly remember the Peter, Paul and Mary concerts. They really seemed to enjoy playing at RPI. I also remember Simon & Garfunkel, Sammy Davis Jr. and the Kingston Trio as great concerts during my 63 to 69 undergraduate/ masters degree years at RPI.

One concert that really stands out was a show advertised as Little Anthony & the Imperials. I don't remember exactly what happened but the Imperials were a no show. Little Anthony showed himself to be a real trooper when he came out and performed without a backup band and did a wonderful job. There must be a Poly review of this show someplace.

Charlene Moore
Fri, 05/08/2009 - 11:25 Permalink


I was at a supertramp concert back in the 70's I can't remember the exact year but it was the best concert I have every seen. Can you tell me when that was. Thanks

In reply to by egglel

Tue, 05/12/2009 - 10:00 Permalink

Charlene, according to an online concert list, Supertramp was here May 27, 1979. I haven't been able to verify this in local sources yet. Since this was after the RPI spring semester ended, it wasn't covered by campus publications. I have a list of concert dates to look up in the Troy Record when I have the time.

In reply to by egglel

Wed, 09/02/2009 - 15:27 Permalink

As a follow up to the Supertramp query, I just came across information in a 1985 <em>Poly</em> about a Supertramp concert held at the Field House October 9, 1985. Martha Davis and The Motels were the openers. I'm still not sure about the 1979 concert date, however.

Tom Engel
Sun, 05/10/2009 - 17:04 Permalink

I remember Santana in late 1970 or early 1971. The concert was held in the Field House with plywood over the ice and floor level seating. Carlos announced that his goal was to make the music so hot that the ice would melt - which it did, partially.

In reply to by egglel

Tue, 05/12/2009 - 10:09 Permalink

Tom, thanks for sharing your memory of the Santana concert! They played here October 9, 1970. We have a drum stick from that concert, which was donated by Ken Hoffman. I assume it was one of Michael Shrieve's sticks.

In reply to by egglel

Chuck Koch
Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:26 Permalink

I was one of the hundreds that was not able to get in for the show. The music was loud enough that it could be heard outside, where we all gathered on the hill behind the place. After about 20 minutes the huge back doors were opened and stage crew began rolling a bank of speakers outside! As cold as it was outside everyone stayed and enjoyed the show! We were informed that Carlos Santana had said to have it done!

In reply to by egglel

Sun, 11/20/2016 - 18:12 Permalink

That was indeed in 1970. My first rock concert at the age of 16. Elvin Bishop was the opening act.

Howard Henze
Sun, 05/10/2009 - 19:25 Permalink

During the 60's we also had Woody Allen and the Lovin' Spoonful, Dave Brubeck, and Little Anthony and 1 Imperial.
Ar the new Union, we had Jim Croce and his wife before he was at all famous. They were a great duo and I have probably the only recording of the two of them together..just great. I didn't go to the really hard-rock concerts but the Chambers Brothers appeared and I can remember hearing them all the way down on 15th St. Don't know how Samaritan Hospital tolerated that.

Thu, 07/09/2009 - 10:14 Permalink

Verry cool topic! What about shows in the Union or in Mother's from artists that later became REALLY famous. I think I saw 10,000 maniacs for a dollar or two, and Suzanne Vega played in Mothers often before she hit the big time!

Bill W.
Tue, 07/21/2009 - 06:16 Permalink

Does anyone remember The Beach Boys appearing at the Troy Armory in 1969? It was the day (night) that the Apollo 11 astronauts stepped onto the moon, July 20. The concert was stopped and The Beach Boys went backstage to watch it on TV, and they broadcast the audio to the audience. Then they came back onstage and finished the concert.

In reply to by egglel

Tue, 07/21/2009 - 08:32 Permalink

Wow, what a great memory of the lunar landing! I'm making a note of this and adding it to my list of things to look up in the <em>Troy Record</em>.

In reply to by egglel

Sun, 11/20/2016 - 18:22 Permalink

I was a few blocks away in the basement of St. Francis de Sales Churh watching the landing. It is now an RPI frat house.

In reply to by egglel

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 10:15 Permalink

I was there much to the chagrin of the camp director of the Rotary Boy Scout camp where I was employed. He expected us to be glued to the TV rather than enjoying Good Vibrations.

Bill W.
Tue, 07/21/2009 - 13:03 Permalink


Please let me know what you find in the Troy Record Archives. I tried to do a search but couldn't find anything. If I recall (I'm working a 60 year old memory here!) there was another "warm up" act of some prominence also there that night.

Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:11 Permalink

Hello there people....Did you all l that bob dylan also played the troy armory in february of 1965?? Yes,it is indeed true! Does anyone out there have a bob dylan concert poster from the trou armory?? If so, a serious buyer is willing to pay $3,000 cash..any condition would be accepted! Please call 1-310-346-1965............By the way,I have a concert poster for the doors at the RPI field House.From what I was told it wasn't one of their better performances but still historic nonetheless.Would be happy to post a photo of it if somebody would show me how...thanx! ...PS Please let me know if you have any leads on the dylan poster!

Sharon T
Thu, 10/29/2009 - 17:22 Permalink

I was at RPI from 1984 through 1987 and I remember seeing the Thompson Twins, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), Howard Jones and Robin Williams (not really a concert, but...). I also remember sleeping outside the Field House to be first in line...always fun to camp out there!

Dave Donnelly
Sat, 01/23/2010 - 00:15 Permalink

Pete Seeger introduced Arlo Guthrie at a very nice small concert in the '87 gym, sometime around 1969-70.

Sat, 02/13/2010 - 10:48 Permalink

Supertramp concert was great, I also saw Sting there, on one of his first solo tours. I think it was 1987 or 1988, he had Branford Marsalis in his band, it was a great show.

In reply to by egglel

Wed, 02/17/2010 - 13:07 Permalink

Supertramp was here in the fall of 1985. I will have to do some searching on the Sting concert -- I don't have that one on my list. Thanks for the information!

In reply to by egglel

Thu, 02/18/2010 - 09:36 Permalink

I have been able to verify that Sting played at RPI on February 6, 1988. There was no article or ad about the concert in <em>The Polytechnic</em> (which baffles me!), but the concert was listed in a calendar of weekly events. I also found it listed in an online concert archive.

In reply to by egglel

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 19:54 Permalink

I saw that show as well.

thom harris
Wed, 03/03/2010 - 00:13 Permalink

As a 14 yr old I attended my 1st rock concert 1969 other than other local bands.
The Young Rascals after the New Colony Six performed .
The Beach Boys did a set then there was a break for the moon landing.
during which I wandered and found a small empty room with a tv.
As I watchedthe broadcast , several guys came in and sat down.
One was upset that the set was stopped.(Dennis as I remember?)
I was a small kid so they didn't noticed me . As they were closing the door they saw me and asked me to leave.
I finished listening to the broadcast over the armory loudspeakers from my seet in the audiance but told my friends where I "met" the Beach Boys.

In reply to by egglel

Wed, 03/03/2010 - 09:53 Permalink

Thom - thanks for sharing this memory! Very cool!

Bill W.
Wed, 03/03/2010 - 06:43 Permalink


Thank you for this post. I'm glad someone other than me remembers this concert. I knew there were other "lead in" bands before the Beach Boys but I forgot who they were.

In reply to by egglel

John Carr
Sun, 07/21/2019 - 18:38 Permalink

The other two groups were the McCoys (Hang on Sloopy) and the New Colony Six (I will always think about you). Somebody threw a beer can and hit Mike Love for making a wise crack about us being there watching them instead of being glued to a TV set.

In reply to by egglel

paul caglione
Sun, 10/07/2018 - 21:05 Permalink

I was there that night as well, remember the New Colony Six opened for the original Beach Boys, but don't recall the Rascals on the bill - walking through hallway from entrance to the stage, I stopped at one of the office "half doors" and looking in to see people(including some performers) watching t.v., covering the moon landing

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 04:30 Permalink

I recall seeing Neil Young on the Ragged Glory tour, circa 1991, with Sonic Youth and Social Distortion. You must mention this one----a classic!

In reply to by egglel

Joe Testa
Wed, 03/11/2015 - 20:12 Permalink

yes - I've seen a lot of concerts and that one really sticks out as one of the most memorable I've ever been to. Opening acts were Sonic Youth and Social Distortion. Neil had a yellow ribbon tied to his giant stage prop mic and you could tell by the way he played he was a bit angry about the Gulf War that was going on at the time.

s rockhill
Thu, 03/25/2010 - 00:48 Permalink

I am trying to remember back a few years (over 20) but I am pretty sure I saw Joan Jett with Robert Plant at RPI in fall of 1988. It was a great concert. I remember the music and the atmosphere as if it were yesterday. I just don't recall with 100% certainty if we were RPI or another area venue

In reply to by egglel

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 13:44 Permalink

For what it's worth 5 years after you posted this, yes, it was the RPI Fieldhouse. I was at that same concert in '88.

Steve Bailey
Wed, 07/28/2010 - 15:07 Permalink

I attended the 'Tute from 1968 through 1973. Two headliners I can recall that aren't on your list are Bill Cosby and Jay &amp; the Americans. Roberta Flack was the opener for Cosby. Sorry, but I'm not sure of the dates.

In reply to by egglel

Thu, 07/29/2010 - 09:55 Permalink

Thanks for the information, Steve. I'll add them to the list.

Steve Pincott
Thu, 09/09/2010 - 15:42 Permalink

During the late 60's I remember seeing Gordon Lightfoot, The 5th Dimension, and the Iron Butterfly at the Field House.

Gordon Lightfoot was reviled by the audience for refusing to sing his hit song "If You Could Read My Mind". He said he was tired of singing it. He was kind of surly that night, but otherwise put on a good performance.

The 5th Dimension was popular at that time and sang all their top songs. They were great.

People got up to dance in the aisles when the Iron Butterfly began their hit "In-a-gadda-da-vida", which on record (vinyl) was about 11 minutes, but in this rendition lasted for more than 1 hour. The dancers collapsed before the song was over.

As was already reported the Chambers Brothers really belted out their hit "Time Has Come Today".

Great music, great time, great memories.

Dave Quick
Wed, 12/01/2010 - 20:55 Permalink

The band "Live" played in the union in Fall of 1992. I remember that the guy down the hall (Pat from Texas) kept bursting into song the week afterward with one of their tunes and we'd all tell him to stop. :-)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 15:02 Permalink

When I was about 16 I seen Jimi Hendrix in Troy. I think it was here but not sure we were all confused back then !
Nobody mentions the Hendrix concert. It did happen. I took picture of Jimi and the the opening act was the Soft Machine I think. I am almost 60 now so.....

Please was any of you there or was it a different building ?
It was Troy for sure though !

In reply to by egglel

paul caglione
Sun, 10/07/2018 - 20:57 Permalink

Jimi Hendrix Experience played Troy Armory in 1968, the Soft Machine did open
I was there too !

Tom Mellett '70
Fri, 01/07/2011 - 00:05 Permalink

Great to be reminded of all the concerts I attended in the 1966-70 time frame: Simon &amp; Garfunkel, Peter, Paul &amp; Mary, Iron Butterfly, Chambers Bros., 5th Dimension, etc.

But two good performances at the Fieldhouse I haven't seen mentioned yet (I would guess 1967-68):

The Association and Tom Rush.

Sun, 02/06/2011 - 10:10 Permalink

I saw numersous concerts while at RPI in the 1970's, many at SPAC. I do remember seeing Supertramp in May of 1979 at the Fieldhouse (awesome concert as a previous poster mentions). Also saw Boston at the Fieldhouse, though I can't remember the date, probably around 1977. They were less than stellar since they couldn't match their studio prowess with electronics in concert. But the crowd was pretty amped up anyway!

Sun, 02/06/2011 - 17:11 Permalink

I was at RPI '60-64 Chem Engineer. Among concerts I recall Dave Brubeck ( who left the stage when the audience became rowdy); another was Bo Diddely

Thu, 03/03/2011 - 16:32 Permalink

I saw Matchbox 20 at the Field House in 2000 during their peak. They put on a great show!

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