Rock music’s development owes a lot to Hyde Park, which was an important venue since the 60s, hosting free concerts where names like The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac performed some of their earliest gigs. Even back in the 60s, people will have been clamouring to get London hotels’ special offers so they could watch these dazzling park concerts.
Blackhill Enterprises, founded by the first four band members of Pink Floyd, hosted Hyde Park’s first rock concert in June 1968, which pulled in a whopping 15,000 audience members to watch the likes of Pink Floyd, Roy Harper and Jethro Tull. From then on, the big names kept the events alive and are now important musical events in Hyde Park’s history.
1969 was an incredible year for the history of Hyde Park’s concerts. On 7 June, the show featured a debut performance from Blind Faith, the band comprising of Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. Considering where these two powerhouses of musicians went in their careers, it is safe to say that their debut was an important moment for rock music as an industry, as well as Hyde Park.
That year stepped it up a notch on 5 July because of a concert that The Rolling Stones were headlining. The festival was such an iconic musical moment that it was later dubbed Stones In The Park. It remains Hyde Park’s most famous concert of the 1960s, nearing the last of the Stones’ era of free gigs. This was because it took place only two days after Brian Jones’ death, the founding member of The Rolling Stones.
18 September 1976 was important not just because it was the last big Hyde Park concert that happened for ten years but because a 200 000 person crowd were gathered to see the rising superstars, Queen. The crowd were buzzing for an encore, but the show ran overtime and the police threatened to arrest Freddie Mercury, and he knew that prison cells were far from the comfort of Hyde Park International.
The person to break the seal on Hyde Park concerts was Elvis Costello on 28 June 1986. 1986 was a great year for Costello, where he played more than sixty shows around the world in his final tour before parting from The Attractions, his backing band, and going solo. That year, the video footage of his performance in Hyde Park was played by the BBC, which was significant considering his plans to go solo.
Rock music could take a seat in 1991 when it came to big deal names in Hyde Park concerts when the Italian operatic tenor, Luciano Pavorotti, graced the bandstand. Not even the torrential rain would shoo away the 100 000 people gathered to watch this musical mastermind at work, including Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
1996 was significant because it was the first of a series of open-air concerts that still occur annually at Hyde Park in modern times, known to be one of the UK’s most celebrated classical music festivals. Proms in the Park was founded that year, with performances from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and a large selection of classical choirs and musicians. Though the concert is classical still, it has developed such that it incorporates guest performances from artists such as Kylie Minogue performing hit singles like “Spinning Around” in 2012, and with this year’s upcoming concert on 14 September 2019 expecting the Lighthouse Family.
In 2005, one of London’s most culturally significant concerts was established, Live 8, which are a series of live benefit concerts that collated some of the UK’s most appreciated musicians to mark twenty years since Live Aid. Live Aid was a benefit concert from the 1980s which fundraised for the ongoing famine in Ethiopia. It included artists such as Queen, U2, Tina Turner and The Who. Live 8’s celebratory event aims to raise money for the fight against poverty, and included performances from U2 and Paul McCartney. Most noteworthy, however, was Pink Floyd’s performance, as it was the first in 24 years with their best-loved line-up.
Yet another triumph for music in Hyde Park was the 2008 concert to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday. The concert was three and a half hours and functioned as a means of raising awareness and money for Mandela’s AIDS charity work. Many stars performed, with some of the most famous being Annie Lenox, The Who, Eddie Grant, Simple Minds, and many more. The line-up included Amy Winehouse and the concert was buzzing with rumours and agitation about whether she would come or not – she did.
2013’s Rolling Stones concert was in itself an excellent show of musical talent and Hyde Park’s loyal and unwavering commitment to the music industry as a venue. However, what made the performance particularly special was the fact that it was on 6 July, 44 years since they last performed at the venue. Their performance was a part of Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, which in itself is a reason to get online, check London Hotels’ special offers, and get yourself into the city in the Summer. The tickets for The Rolling Stones’ performance was sold out in three minutes, and the historical event preceded the release of their DVD commemorating their remarkable half a century of performance.
So, this history of music in Hyde Park, in a nutshell, proves that the venue has seen enough concerts throughout history to be considered the place to be when it comes to park concerts. It certainly is enough to make you want to be a part of the Hyde Park Loyalty Program in order to make sure you can always be nearby when big events are taking place.
What do you have to look forward to in the future? We’ll tell you!
The most noteworthy concerts to look out for in modern times are: Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, BBC Radio 2 Live Hyde Park, BBC Proms in the Park. Also be sure to keep a constant eye on the announcements from the Hyde Park bandstand concerts, as these are often graced with an eclectic variety of performers such as South London Jazz Orchestra and the Snowdown Colliery Welfare Band.
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