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.



Sat, 03/19/2011 - 12:05 Permalink

I saw 2 Concerts at the RPI Fieldhouse. First, Boston on May 8, 1977. Great show, Brad Delp was very animated and I also remember Drummer Sib really pounding the skins!..What an honor and pleasure to see this wonderful Band!
On February 6, 1978 Emerson Lake & Palmer played on the night of a fierce snowstorm. Fanfare For The Common Man was awesome, and Carl Palmer's drum solo was amazing!..Another great show!

Carol J. Lloyd
Tue, 04/19/2011 - 17:05 Permalink

I saw Bette Midler at the Fieldhouse, and also one of the Chicago concerts in 1972. The acoustics in the Armory were really bad. But I remember it well. It also seems to me some big name heavy band like Zepplin or Butterfly appeared at the Fieldhouse sometime 1969-73, but I don't remember who it was. I remember going to that concert, does anyone else ?

Thu, 05/05/2011 - 07:43 Permalink

I attended the Dec. 8, 1967 Doors concert on the Hockey Rink at RPI. I remember being truly amazed at the show. In reading recently about the concert it has been said that the show wasn't well received, I remember that the seats faced the ice not the stage and the audience that had "ICE" seats were uncomfortable. I liked the show very much though, as I was a pretty big DOORS fan at the time and was 17 years old. The opening act was Tim Rose who sang a lot of folky songs and had the crowd booing. We didn't know that Jim Morrison hadn't made it to the arena yet. Finally Tim Rose got irritated and admonished the crowd,"If you can't handle it, don't smoke it.", and then said, "Here's a song I wrote." and proceeded to blow everyone away with "Hey Joe". The he walked off the stage and the DOORS came on. All in all it was an event I'll never forget. In the days before arena concerts were the norm it was a real happening.

In reply to by egglel

John Bishop
Sat, 11/30/2013 - 16:58 Permalink

I was at that concert (14 at the time). My brother and I begged the parents. They couldn't leave the younger ones with a sitter so they all came. We were way high up in the seats to the left of the stage, Mom/Dad, me, brothers 13 and 10, and little sister Wendy at 7. Light my fire was on all the time in my home so it seemed natural to me. But when the fans around us offered funny smelling cigarettes (my parent's name for them) to them and me, I had to refuse and focus on the concert...I was a local - grew up in Niskayuna, NY. RPI grad class of '75. (Saw Country Joe at Sienna, Arlo Guthrie at RPI... 71-75.) Does anyone remember the stripper they brought into the Armory in 1971? Times have changed...

Fri, 05/06/2011 - 15:36 Permalink

Carol, Iron Butterfly was at RPI in October 1969.

Fri, 05/06/2011 - 17:40 Permalink

Thanks so much, I knew I had seen one of those 'new' heavy bands back then, but it wasn't mentioned in this compilation...I had forgotten and thought maybe it was Zepplin, but I recently went to a Zepplin music concert by the Houston Symphony and realized it wasn't them. So it had to be Butterfly, but I needed verification.

Sat, 06/11/2011 - 09:00 Permalink

Jethro Tull was there - late 80's?

In reply to by egglel

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 10:14 Permalink

Yes, Jethro Tull was here Nov. 1987 and Oct. 1989.

A Bruno
Wed, 06/29/2011 - 08:54 Permalink

I didn't go to RPI (although I work here) but my husband and I grew up in the area and went to many concerts at the Fieldhouse including the Jethro Tull shows and these: The Clash, Oct 3, 1982; Ratt with Bon Jovi (and bon jovi was the opening act!) Oct. 13, 1985; Jimmy Page in Nov, 1988; Motley Crue and Whitesnake August 14, 1987; and Tesla and Firehouse, date unknown but probably sometime around 1992.

In reply to by egglel

Sat, 08/20/2016 - 22:34 Permalink

Tesla and Firehouse date is Tues. 3/31/1992 (I have my ticket.)

Roger Mike '70
Wed, 07/06/2011 - 21:26 Permalink

Amy, as seen from your excellent list of concerts, McKendree Spring performed several times at RPI, and they had an avid following here. They were an interesting group because they had a violinist but no drummer. I thought Fran McKendree was both a great singer and rhythm guitarist (partially filling the void of having no drums.) They went on to be inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.

There is one McKendree Spring concert I can add to your list. They performed at the '87 Gym on the evening of Sunday, May 17, 1970. I remember this vividly because I organized that concert. It was nearly two weeks after the four tragic deaths at Kent State, and after someone at the Student Union gave me their manager's phone number, McKendree Spring nicely agreed to do the concert as a benefit and took no payment. I happened to play in a band called Monolith at the time, and we opened for McKendree Spring. After the concert, Fran McKendree told us that while we were playing, they came up from the locker room and listened to us. He especially liked what we did with Neil Young's "Down By the River." That song was on their next album.

Bix T. Bixter
Fri, 07/29/2011 - 05:03 Permalink

Hi all, I was an RPI groupie. Imagine that. In 1967-70. I am looking for anyone who could put me in touch with Sanford (Sandy) Kresge. We saw so many concerts together!@ The Doors was the best but I saw that with someone else. Amy, I am 65 and have been ill so I really want to find my old friends soon. Can you look him up? I don't think he graduated but I could be wrong. He was there for sure in 68. All my aloha from Maui HI, Leslie Williams or Leslie Corina.

Mon, 12/12/2011 - 20:36 Permalink

Saw BonJovi (warming up for Ratt) on my 16th birthday and fell in love. 25 years later-still in love

. also saw RUSH there for the first time (Hold your Fire tour???) saw them 10 more times since!!

Nicole Fanelli
Sat, 04/21/2012 - 22:23 Permalink

I saw Sting in the eighties at RPI. It was around the release of "Nothing Luke the Sun". Maybe 1987? I also saw Robin Williams do standup there. Might have been 85 or 86.

Thu, 04/26/2012 - 14:59 Permalink

The only concert I saw in the "hockey barn" (as the band called it) was Guster in probably '04. I'd have to look at my ticket stub at home to know the exact date. I feel like Green Day had a concert either right before I got to RPI (which would have been '01) or my first year ('02).

Larry McKeen
Thu, 04/26/2012 - 22:13 Permalink

Concerts from 1969-1973 That I saw included:
Iron Butterfly Fall 1969 ($3 tickets! as I recall), Also saw but I forget the dates: Bill Crosby who introduced robert flack, 5th Dimension, Bette Middler, Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, Youngbloods/Mountain, Don McLain (sp?), I remember seeing the Dead several times but that could not have been on Campus (probably Hartford and Springfield?). Those come to mind, and as I recall prices got up to about $5 in 1972.

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 14:40 Permalink

I saw Rush, Niel Young, Judas Priest, Heart, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Sting. All in the mid 80s

Robert Hansen
Sun, 08/18/2019 - 16:01 Permalink

Saturnalia 1969 - Grass Roots and Jay and the Americans at the HFH
Soiree (I believe) 1969- Iron Butterfly at the HFH
Pete Seeger and Don Mclean at the 87 Gym, winter 1970-71. (Don M. was almst unknown at the time)

John Carr
Sun, 07/21/2019 - 18:32 Permalink

I was at the Armory for The Beach Boys concert. They were backed up by the McCoys and The New Colony Six. Mike Love got hit with a beer can when he made a wise crack about us being bad Americans because we were not watching the moon landing. The PA had picked up the announcement of the moonwalk, and The Beach Boys got kind of smart ass.

David Curry
Fri, 05/10/2019 - 13:19 Permalink

I was at the 10/3/82 Clash show. I also saw both Stevie Wonder and Eddie Murphy (two separate shows), I believe in 1986. If someone who went to either of these shows could post the exact dates, it would be greatly appreciated!

Harry Robinson
Fri, 11/02/2018 - 22:26 Permalink

Les Elgart was the IFC ball band in fall 1954, my first RPI big weekend. The sound in the Field House was amazing. Dave Brubeck player in the 86 gym for Saturnalia the next year.

Alessandro Borri
Fri, 08/31/2018 - 03:25 Permalink

Dear All,
I am an Italian rock gig collector and I know of the following gigs played in Troy - R.P.I. Fieldhouse not yet listed on your nice website, as follows:
RATT / POISON 21st March 1987
ROBERT PLANT / JOAN JETT 18th October 1988
POISON / TESLA 11th February 1989
RATT / BRITNY FOX / KIX 9th April 1989
GREAT WHITE / TESLA / BADLANDS 24th October 1989
OZZY OSBOURNE / KORN 27th January 1996

I'll hope this helps !

All The Best,
Alessandro Borri

John Carr
Wed, 07/04/2018 - 17:00 Permalink

Went to a concert at the RPI Fieldhouse, Beach Boys, McCoys and the New Colony Six were playing. They made an announcement of the landing and the bald Beach Boy made a wise crack about how we were not good Americans because we were there instead of home watching the moon landing. Somebody then thru a beer at him and he got real mad!

Eric Merrills
Tue, 07/03/2018 - 17:30 Permalink

I saw Poison wsg Tesla at the fieldhouse in 1989. I also saw Ozzy Osbourne there smoetime in the mid nineties (maybe 96).

In reply to by egglel

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 10:52 Permalink

Thank you for sharing Lonnie!

Sat, 08/20/2016 - 22:43 Permalink

Concerts I have tickets from:
- 10/3/1982 The Clash
- 11/9/1984 Cyndi Lauper, opener was The Bangles
- 10/13/1985 Ratt, opener was Bon Jovi
- 3/31/1992 Tesla, opener was Firehouse
- 4/12/1992 Skid Row, opener was Pantera
- 2/11/1996 Red Hot Chili Peppers, opener was Spacehog

I know I attended others already on your list, but I don't have tickets for them.

Linda Parks
Wed, 03/29/2017 - 11:13 Permalink

I was RPI Homecoming Queen during halftime show at the Fifth Dimension concert at the hockey rink 1970. Receiving greetings from the 5th Dimension, flowers and $100 check. I'd love a photo!

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 13:44 Permalink

The Clash in 1982. Literally sat on stage, Combat Rock tour. Also saw Cheap Trick there in 1981. Wish I got to see the Dead or Iron Butterfly.

Don Rittner
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 19:09 Permalink

I saw Sonny and Cher there. I swear she was singing to me. Had a front row seat. Saw also Dave Clark Five, the Doors, and others that I cannot remember at the moment. I'm old, give me a break.

Don Rittner
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 19:07 Permalink

We weren't a "Big" band although locally we were and were known as the RPI's band because we played at all the frats in the late 60s and early 70s. Horton Strong was the name of the band. I use to do a stint on WRPI also. Jay Douglas, a grad of RPI, was the station manager and after 1 AM when the station went off the air he would repatch the station into a recording studio and cut all our original music in the theater (WRPI was in the playhouse then). At 7 he would repatch it back it to the station. Was fun years. We played for Hell Week and opened for a lot of bands including J. Geils, Grassroots and even opened for Chicago Eight laywer William Kunstler over at SUNYA. Miss those times. I ended up getting my Masters there in the 80s.

In reply to by egglel

David Curry
Fri, 05/10/2019 - 13:33 Permalink

Paul, do you have a date for the Stevie Wonder show?

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