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.