Best Concerts of All Time in Los Angeles
It's hard to believe that the first concert in Los Angeles was held nearly a century ago. Since then, the city has seen some of the greatest bands ever perform live on stage at venues large and small. In this list, we'll highlight ten of our personal favorites.
The Rolling Stones at the Hollywood Palladium (1965)
The Rolling Stones' performance at the Hollywood Palladium in 1965 is one of the most famous shows in rock history. It was recorded and released as the album Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! shortly thereafter, and has been called by some critics "the first great live album."
The show was a benefit for the San Francisco Mime Troupe, which had been banned from performing in public parks by police chief Thomas J. Cahill after producing a play with an anti-Vietnam War theme. Graham promoted the event with flyers that read: "What we need is an evening of music where people can dance to their own rhythms with no restrictions on what they say or do." The tour's opening act were The Pointer Sisters; other acts included John Lee Hooker and B.B King.
Led Zeppelin in Long Beach (1972)
The first time Led Zeppelin played in Los Angeles was at the Long Beach Arena on March 5, 1972. It was part of their 1972 North American tour, which also included gigs in Oakland and San Diego.
Led Zeppelin’s performance at Long Beach Arena consisted of four sets: one acoustic set and three electric sets. Group members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham played with guest musicians Gary Brooker (keyboards) and Chris Stainton (guitar).
The concert was announced just weeks before it took place—and tickets were sold out within hours!
The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1964)
The Beatles were the first band to play at the Hollywood Bowl, and they did some pretty awesome things. First of all, they played two shows on September 18, 1964 to a crowd of 45,000 fans. To put that in perspective: The Beatles were paid $1,500 for each show. For those of you who aren't math wizards (and let's face it—who isn't?), that's $3,000 total.
Second of all: They played for over three hours! So basically this is like being at a concert but with more cuddly animals and less moshing punks doing bad things while reeking like they just came from a heavy metal concert without taking showers first.
Elton John at Dodgers Stadium (1975)
Elton John was the first major rock star to perform at a stadium in Los Angeles. The concert, which took place on September 12, 1975 at Dodger Stadium, was the first of its kind in Los Angeles. Of course, Elton John had performed at stadiums before—he's played some of the largest venues in America and around the world—but this performance was special for another reason: it was his first major stadium show in Los Angeles.
Elton John played a three-hour set that night to an audience of over 70,000 people. It was such a massive event that even Mayor Tom Bradley came out to watch it!
Led Zeppelin in Long Beach (1972)
Led Zeppelin's performance at Long Beach Arena in 1972 was the first time the band played in Los Angeles. The concert was part of their 1972 North American tour, which began just days after releasing their fourth album, Houses of the Holy. In addition to playing tracks from that album, they also performed songs from Led Zeppelin III and IV (as well as one song from their debut album).
The concert was announced just weeks before it took place—an unusual move for a band as popular as Led Zeppelin—and tickets went on sale only two days later. When tickets went on sale at 7 p.m., there were already people waiting outside under tents with radio stations blaring music by other bands so they could hear when they could buy them!
Pink Floyd at the Los Angeles Sports Arena (1988)
This concert was part of their A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour and was their only Los Angeles performance. It took place at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on October 24, 1988. The show was sold out and the band performed for over two hours, playing all sorts of hits including “Another Brick in the Wall Part II,” “Another Brick in The Wall Part I,” “Run Like Hell,” “Money,” “Us & Them” and many more! They also played songs off their upcoming album that was released later that year titled Delicate Sound Of Thunder: “The Dogs Of War; On The Turning Away; Yet Another Movie (Symphony No 2); On The Run."
David Bowie at the Universal Ampitheatre (1974)
In the world of music, David Bowie was a superstar. His innovative style and unique voice gained him fans throughout the world. In 1974, he played at Universal Ampitheatre as part of his Diamond Dogs Tour. The concert was legendary and featured some of his most popular songs including “Suffragette City” and “Rebel Rebel.”
Nirvana at the Fonda Theatre (1994)
In late 1994, Nirvana—one of the most influential rock bands of all time—played the Fonda Theatre. The band had just released its third album In Utero, which featured "Heart Shaped Box" and was nominated for best alternative music performance at the 37th Grammy Awards.
The show sold out quickly and fans flocked to Hollywood Boulevard to listen through a PA system set up outside of the venue. Those who weren't able to get tickets stood around in awe as Kurt Cobain sang his heart out through a megaphone during one particularly memorable performance.
Guns N' Roses 2009 Roxy Show (2009)
This show may not have been the most recent concert of all time, but it did feature one of the most memorable performances in a city that has seen many memorable concerts. The band was nearing the end of their tour and had just completed an incredible performance at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Their fans were ecstatic and couldn't wait for their next show. That night was one for the ages as Axl Rose performed live with Slash and Duff McKagan on stage together for the first time in 16 years. It was definitely one of those moments that fans will never forget!
Jay-Z & Kanye West Watch the Throne Tour (2012)
"Watch the Throne" is the tour name of Jay-Z and Kanye West. The duo performed in Los Angeles in 2012 as part of this tour at Staples Center, which is located at 1111 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Tickets were $39–$209.