The greatest concert venue in the world began 300 million years ago, rising from the ocean floor. Then nature shaped the surrounding rocks with wind, rain, freezing and thawing.

It’s likely the 1st performance of any kind was by the earliest inhabitants, the Ute Indians who according to legend, lived there since the beginning of time. They ranged from Wyoming in the north to Arizona in the south.

The open air amphitheater with perfect acoustics, in the foothills 10 miles west of now Denver, was originally called the “Garden of Angels” by white migrant settlers. In the early 1900s John Brisben Walker, started producing small concerts at “Garden Of Titans” and later sold the land to the City of Denver for $54,143 and it took on the common name, Red Rocks. With federal funding Red Rocks was dedicated in 1941. After 12 years of construction, with an eye toward protecting the natural beauty, the amphitheater took on its modern form, according to browndigital.bpc.com.

“Public, organizational and private performances have been held at Red Rocks for more than 100 years. The earliest documented performance at the amphitheater was the Grand Opening of the Garden of the Titans, put on by famed editor John Brisben Walker on May 31, 1906. Featuring Pietro Satriano and his 25-piece brass band, it was the formal opening of the natural amphitheater for use by the general public after Walker purchased it with the proceeds of his sale of Cosmopolitan Magazine.” According to Wikipedia.

The Beatles performed the first Rock & Roll there in 1964 and many kinds of performances, programs, services and events have brought people from around the world to the greatest venue anywhere, most without problem.

“An incident during a performance by Jethro Tull on June 10, 1971, led to a five-year ban of rock concerts at Red Rocks. Approximately 1,000 people without tickets arrived at the sold-out show. Denver police directed the overflow, non-paying crowd to an area behind the theater, where they could hear the music but not see the band. The situation seemed satisfactory until some of the people without tickets attempted to enter the amphitheater by charging at, and breaking through, the police line. Some of those without tickets began lobbing rocks at the police, and the police responded by discharging tear gas at the gate-crashers. The wind carried the tear gas over the hill, into the paying crowd and onto the stage. Following the "Riot at Red Rocks," Denver Mayor William H. McNichols, Jr. banned rock concerts from the amphitheatre. For the next five years, shows at Red Rocks were limited to softer acts, such as John Denver,Sonny & CherThe CarpentersPat BooneSeals & Crofts, and Carole King. The ban on rock and roll was finally lifted through legal action taken by Denver concert promoter Barry Fey, who tried to book the band America at the venue in 1975. Says Wikipedia.

Many musicians have told me that The Gorge in George, Washington is almost as good, but Red Rocks, now a National Historic Landmark, truly rocks. Formally dedicated on June 15th of 1941, Red Rocks has regularly held concert seasons since 1947.

 

Happy 75th birthday Red Rocks Amphitheater, give or take a few hundred million years.