My final Rosenblatt Stadium blog is also my favorite, as some of my most treasured memories of the stadium are from the many concerts I attended there as a young adult.
To recap, what we’ve covered so far in Rosenblatt’s history:
Any of you old enough to remember the early “American Bandstand” are probably familiar with this show: “Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars.” America’s oldest teenager brought his road show to Omaha in August of 1964. The 20-act show included Paul Petersen, who played Jeff Stone on “The Donna Reed Show” and recorded hit songs like “Lollipops and Roses”; singer-dancer Bobby Freeman, whose hits included “Do You Wanna Dance” and “C’mon and Swim”; and the fabulous Fabian (swoon here!), an actor and songster known for hits such as “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”
I love the headline that ran with a review: “It Were a Scuzzy Evening With Dick C., Fabian, Etc.” A bit before my time; I had no idea that the word scuzzy meant something very good OR something very bad.
Not all concerts were rock ‘n’ roll, and though I named this post “Rockin’ the Blatt,” I’ll drop in a couple other big names here and there.
Everyone has a favorite Johnny Cash song, and my favorite happens to be “Ring of Fire.” Though that’s more likely due to the comedy routine I heard as a child by the Smothers Brothers (another blast from the past!) where Tom sings about falling into a vat of chocolate instead of fire. The great Johnny Cash played at Rosenblatt in 1964.
In 1966 there was a little rock combo out there promoting songs like “Susie Q” and “Time is on My Side.” Perhaps you’ve of heard of them? Yes, the Rolling Stones played Omaha back then, though it was pretty difficult to confirm it was at Rosenblatt Stadium. All we ran in the paper was the concert announcement on July 1, then the bus schedule to Rosenblatt in the Teen Pulse for the night of the concert, July 15. So I’m guessing they weren’t quite as popular back then.
Did you know the Stones played at the City Auditorium in 1964 to a crowd of only 640 people? In 1983, World-Herald columnist Robert McMorris wrote of his experience before the ’64 concert: “I went to their dressing room in hopes of an interview, but just as I arrived I heard the thud of a body falling against the other side of the closed door. When I dared peek inside, I saw an Omaha police lieutenant wrestling a jug of whiskey away from one of the singers. (I can’t give you a name; at the time all Stones looked alike to me.) In those days, police took a rather proprietary attitude toward deportment on city property. The Stones said there would be no interviews.”
Concert coverage was much better for the 1967 Herman’s Hermits show. “Herm” and his buddies headlined a concert opened by the Blues Magoos and The Who. The crowd went wild when the band sang its favorite songs (“I’m ‘enery the eighth, I am, ‘enery the eighth I am, I am. I got married to the widow next door …”) and the reviewers raved about their clothing.
The Who’s smash-up finale of “Our Generation” left Omaha’s teen community in a state of both shock and awe, depending who you talked to. Here is the concert review by one of our hip teen reporters who contributed to The World-Herald’s teen page.
I wish I would have been old enough to go to this …
The Beach Boys concerts were always popular, and the band played at Rosenblatt several times. There was just something special about seeing them in that outdoor venue. And the crowds always had a blast.
In 1979, the Marshall Tucker Band headlined a Rosenblatt show with Santana opening. The stadium was packed. (I actually checked this photo to see if I was in it – a little more to the right and you would have seen a young me!) Maybe you’re in there?
Also to the right were lighting scaffolds where an electrical fire started during the performance. The crowd in that area started to panic, but the music continued and the fire was safely put out.
I couldn’t find a photo of the bands performing, but below is a photo of Carlos Santana the year before. Did you know that he went by Devadip Carlos Santana? Devadip, meaning “the lamp, light and eye of God,” was given to him by his guru in 1973. By the way, Carlos is one of my all-time favorite musicians!
The 80s were great for concerts at Rosenblatt. In July 1980, Heart played there along with Blackfoot, the Joe Perry Project and Head East.
Our photographers didn’t get a photo of the bands performing, but they did get this one:
And, here’s a promo shot of Head East. How many times did you see this band play in Omaha?
“Oh black water, keep on rolling, Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me …”
Remember that tune? That song was one of many greats sang at “Rock Omaha 80,” a music event that took place on Sept. 7, 1980. The 5 1/2 hour show featured the Doobie Brothers as headliners (during the Michael McDonald years), Pat Benatar, Sammy Hagar and the Dirt Band.
The Dirt Band (they once were the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) opened the concert, playing favorites such as “Mr. Bojangles” and “The Battle of New Orleans.”
Sammy Hagar, upon hearing what other bands were playing, boasted “Shouldn’t be no problem stealing this show.” Ironically, Hagar’s band was the only act not to receive an encore.
On Dec. 8, 1980, tragedy shook the music world when Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon. A memorial service to the singer was held at Rosenblatt on Dec. 14.
The Beach Boys came through again in 1981. They occasionally played after a Royals game, riding out on the back of a semitrailer. Their crowds sure made a mess!
A much-awaited concert came to the Blatt in August of 1982 when the Police played there.
Willie Nelson’s concert in September of 1982 was unseasonably chilly, but fans loved it anyway.
And here’s the Red Headed Stranger himself!
Parrotheads love a Jimmy Buffett concert under the stars, and Buffett gave them a night to remember in August of 1983.
In 1983 I went to the BEST CONCERT EVER at the Blatt! The Fixx opened for the Beach Boys, who were supposed to be the headliner. Due to a tight schedule, the Boys switched the performance order so they could get on the road, making them the second band. That left my all-time favorite band in the headline slot. I had heard this band at indoor concerts, but their music needed the open air – it was too big to hear inside. There were fireworks afterward, and I was lucky enough to have backstage passes. It was a “Once upon a time in your wildest dreams moment” for me. The band? …
America played at the stadium after an Omaha Royals-Oklahoma City 89ers baseball game in 1985. That was around the time their commercial success was waning, though they still tour today.
“Tiger Beat” readers of the 1960s were sure to squeal at the site of these next guys, and I bet there were many bubble-gummers all grown up by 1987 when the Monkees (minus Michael Nesmith) came to Rosenblatt.
The Beach Boys made their first appearance at the stadium in 1964, and they played there many more times. Were you wondering when I was going to get around to posting a photo of them? (In case you didn’t notice, the banner photo for this post on the front of the Viewfiner blog is from the 1981 concert). Here’s a great photo of the Boys rocking out and the crowd enjoying some “Good Vibrations” in 1987.
And again in 1988:
There were may other concerts at the stadium through the years; this is but a few. I hope these brought back some fond memories. Are looking for those 8-tracks yet? Round round get around I get around!
For more on the history of Rosenblatt Stadium — with a heavy dose of baseball — check out our book “Rosenblatt Stadium: Omaha’s Diamond on the Hill.”