My Top 15 Album List
The Beatles : Abbey Road
Pink Floyd : Dark Side of the Moon
The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
The Who : Tommy
Led Zeppelin: Zofo (also known as “IV”)
Queen: A Night at the Opera
Lynyrd Skynyrd: One More From The Road
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
The Eagles : Hotel California
Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run
Peter Frampton: Frampton Comes Alive
Eric Clapton: Slowhand
Dire Straits: Brothers In Arms
Grateful Dead: American Beauty
The Band: The Last Waltz
I have a few words of color commentary about these albums. One is that every album occurred midway through the artists’ career, or later. There are no albums on this list that were the first albums for the artists. In most cases, these albums were the 4, 5 or 6th album in their respective careers.
Another note is that I could easily have chosen the next (or the previous) album for many of these artists, without blinking an eye. I could have chosen The Who’s Quadrophenia, or Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or Bruce Springsteens Darkness on the Edge of Town. These artists all have multiple great albums that were recorded in the same time period.
Of the 15 albums, 10 are by British band (if you count Fleetwood Mac as British). The only U.S.-based artists on the list are the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Band and the Grateful Dead.
All were recorded in the time period of 1974-1978, except for the Beatles and the Stones.
I have seen every artist on this list in concert, except for the Beatles. In that case, I’ve seen Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
And now, for my top 10 Concert List (in chronological order)
- Peter Frampton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dickie Betts & J.Geils Band: JFK Stadium June 11, 1977. My first concert. 100,000 people packed into JFK Stadium on a beautiful summery
- Ian Hunter, Central Park West, July 11, 1980. Ian Hunter was the lead singer and force behind Mott the Hoople. This concert was so good, he later wrote a song about it.
- Grateful Dead, Radio City Music Hall, October 25, 1980- The Grateful Dead did a run of shows at Radio City Music Hall in the fall of 1980. At each show, they performed 3 sets (one acoustic, and then two electric). I was lucky to get a ticket for this show, because tickets were hard to find.
- Simon and Garfunkel, Central Park, September 19, 1981 – this was the reunion concert for Simon and Garfunkel, who had not toured together in over a decade. 500,000 people turned out for this. I was one of them.
- Live Aid: JFK Stadium, July 13, 1985- this is the Granddaddy of them all. A concert full of reunions (Led Zeppelin, Crosby Still Nash & Young, Black Sabbath), superstars (Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, members of the Rolling Stones), and a live worldwide TV audience. The best concert I ever attended.
- David Crosby and Graham Nash, Valley Forge Music Fair, November 28, 1986- the smallest venue on the list. This is a personal favorite. David Crosby had just been released from a Texas prison, and had not played live in a few years. Newly sober, he was itching to play in front of an audience. On the morning of the show, Crosby and Nash appeared on a local radio station, and the DJ (Pierre Robert) asked them to play a song at the concert (Cowboy of Dreams). Crosby explained that they had never played it live, and it would take practice to do so. The DJ had guitars in the studio, and told them that they could practice the song on his radio show. They practiced in on the radio, and then played it live for the first time that night to a rapturous audience.
- Human Rights Now! (Amnesty International): JFK Stadium September 19, 1988- this was another great show. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Tracy Chapman and Ysou Ndour.
- Grateful Dead, Oakland Coliseum, December 31, 1988- For fans of the Grateful Dead, a New Years show was the favorite show of the year. This was no exception. Clarence Clemons (of the E Street Band) joined the Dead onstage for several songs. At midnight, Bill Graham (the concert promoter) rode across the Coliseum on a giant ball. Fireworks and balloons dropped, and Theresa and I danced in the New Year to Sugar Magnolia. Find the video clip on YouTube.
- Rolling Stones, Newark NJ, December 15, 2012. Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, and others, joined the Rolling Stones in this reunion show. It was shown worldwide as a pay per view event.
- Grateful Dead, Chicago Illinois, July 3-5, 2015- if you’re reading this far, you’ll notice that this show hasn’t happened yet. I’m going to the final shows of the Grateful Dead this summer. This one is a retirement party.
Honorable Mention- Grateful Dead, Red Rocks Colorado, June 12-14, 1984, and Greek Theatre, Berkeley California, June 14-16, 1985.