In Rock Concert: An Oral History as Told by the Artists, Backstage Insiders, and Fans Who Were There, (Grove Press, New York) author Marc Myers has gathered a collection of accounts from the behind-the-scenes makings of live rock concerts from the people who were there. The book covers the period from about the 1950s right up until Live Aid in 1985.
And it’s not just the glamorized, embellished, dreamy, flapping hair and bell-bottoms in the breeze kind of stories, but about the reality of organizing something like Woodstock and the panic attacks that inevitably happen prior to the start of the shows. History-making concerts like the Monterey Pop Festival, the Altamont Free Concert, and Live Aid are discussed from the artists’ perspective as well as the organizer’s. Included are interviews from Steve Miller, Cameron Crowe, Marshall Chess (Chess Records), and Roger Waters to name only a few.
The book sheds light on Bay Area heavy hitters like concert promoter Bill Graham, and Jerry Seltzer co-founder of BASS tickets (Bay Area Seating Services) – the people who made concerts into an organized and professional event.
The evolution of the rock concert over the fifty or so years the book covers is remarkable. Its role in people’s lives as a right of passage is undeniable. In addition to a photos section, with images such as Keith Richard disembarking from the Rolling Stones jet with its iconic lips and tongue designed by British designer John Pasche (more on that in the book) or The Beatles playing on the roof of Apple Corps, author Myers has included lists of his fifty favorite live albums, concert videos, and rock documentaries.
What was your first concert and how did it shape you? I’m sure its effects reverberate in you to this day. As Myers writes: “For many readers, the book will stir memories of the early rock concerts they attended and how they became turning points along the road to adulthood.”