This week marks the 100th anniversary of tours that include live concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheater, the legendary western venue in Denver. Shortly after the internationally recognized opera singer Mary Garden sang “Ave Maria” on Stage Rock this week in 1911, she enthused: “I have never found more perfect acoustic properties in an opera house around the world.”

“I assume that one day 20,000 people will gather there to hear the greatest masterpieces in the world,” she wrote.

Garden’s feeling turned out to be prophetic. The dramatic twin fins of monolithic sandstone that house a historical record spanning 250 million years have hosted a much shorter but equally inspiring record of musical performances over the past century.

“It just makes your hair stand up when you think about the artists who have been here,” said Erik Dyce, who has been head of Red Rocks marketing for the Denver Theaters and Arenas Division for 23 years. “This place is a temple. It’s overwhelming when the venue overwhelms the artist. “

Red Rocks served Denver well, which acquired the venue for $ 50,000 in 1941 and quickly made the 868-acre park and venue its crown jewel in an already impressive mine of mountain parks. Culturally and financially, Red Rocks is an important part of the city and contributed $ 1.85 million in tax revenue last year.

This week Denver officials merged the theaters and arenas division, which includes Red Rocks, with the city’s cultural affairs bureau to save the troubled Denver general fund $ 1.2 million annually.

Without the use of general fund taxpayers ‘money, Red Rocks’ constant income can now help support events like the Five Points Jazz Festival as well as the city’s Performing Arts Complex.

This summer promises to be a barn burner at Red Rocks, bringing thrills to Denver for thousands and dollars.

“Biggest year I’ve seen in over 20 years,” said Chuck Morris, Denver’s fabled concert promoter who began his career with concert promoter Barry Fey. Morris has hosted more than 1,500 shows at Red Rocks since 1976 and as director of AEG Live is bringing 40 shows to the venue this summer. “Ticket sales are going very well. I don’t think anything is immune to huge economic slumps, but Red Rocks is resilient. I consider it the largest amphitheater in the world. “

From the stage, with its red-walled dressing rooms and calcium-colored tunnel etched with decades of artist graffiti, Dyce’s voice echoes as he recounts his most memorable encounters in musical history: lounging with the late Stevie Ray Vaughn while teaching some chords for starry visitors. Watch Neil Young share his harp and a whispered, tearful moment with a child in a wheelchair. Tracy Chapman hears a song compose in her perfectly acoustic changing room.

“There’s a real magic here,” he says.

This spirit has captivated not only concert-goers but also performers who go significantly deeper when looking at 9,450 eager fans flanked by the massive monoliths that make up the natural acoustic amphitheater. Todd Mohr, whose Colorado-bred Big Head Todd and the Monsters has played Red Rocks 17 times in the past 20 years, calls the legendary venue “the pinnacle of musical performance.” Even with his worn out position in front of an audience in his home country on the best stage in the West, Mohr gets nervous every time.

“It’s always a little nerve-wracking to step on this stage,” says Mohr. “Just the extent. You see quite a lot of the audience. You can see almost any of them. It’s a little daunting. “

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374 or [email protected]

Development of the red rocks

May 1906 – Grand opening of the Garden of the Titans with Pietro Satriano from Denver and his 25-piece brass band

May 1911 – Mary Garden plays the first solo concert at Red Rocks.

1928 – Denver is buying 640 acres to make Red Rocks Mountain Park.

1935 – The Morrison Civilian Conservation Corps Camp was set up for the thousands of 17- to 24-year-olds who worked on the construction of Red Rocks from 1935 to 1947.

June 1941 – The Red Rocks Amphitheater, now owned by the City of Denver, is officially inaugurated.

April 1947 – The first Easter sunrise service at Red Rocks attracts approximately 60,000 people.

1964 – Denver City Council bans alcohol, cans, and bottles from the amphitheater after two concerts – Ray Charles in August 1962 and Peter, Paul, and Mary in July 1964 – in which spectators tossed beer cans onto the stage.

August 1964 – The Beatles stop in Red Rocks on their first US tour.

August 1968 – Aretha Franklin refuses to play after a contract dispute with the concert promoter, which led to a riot in which spectators stormed the stage and destroyed a piano.

1969 – Denver bans rock concerts at Red Rocks for a year after the Franklin Riots and a tearful collision at the Denver Pop Festival in 1969.

June 1971 – Ticketless fans storm the Jethro Tull concert and call on the police to use tear gas. Red Rocks is canceling the rest of the month’s concerts.

1988 – A large metal roof is installed over the stage.

2003 – Denver is introducing approximately $ 29 million of investments and upgrades at Red Rocks, including the $ 15 million visitor center and the Ship Rock Grille.

August 2003 – Willie Nelson beats the Grateful Dead record for most appearances on Red Rocks.

June 2010 – Widespread Panic is playing its 35th sold-out concert at Red Rocks, more than any other band.

Source: “Sacred Stones, Colorado’s Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater” by Tom Noel

Random Red Rocks Trivia

  • The monoliths flanking Red Rocks are “Ship Rock” in the south, “Creation Rock” in the north and “Stage Rock” in the east behind the stage.
  • Thirty-two different Indian tribes consider Red Rocks a sacred place.
  • All of the red sandstone used to develop the Red Rocks was extracted from the same geological formation in Lyon.
  • Every performer who plays Red Rocks gets a piece of this Lyon sandstone. (The “Piece of the Rock” collectibles are coveted by many cast members, including Gregg Almann, who was once upset when his rock in Gregg was etched with just two “g”.
  • Red Rocks’ longtime marketing director Erik Dyce has never seen a video of the famous 1964 performance of the Beatles before.
  • According to Dyce, the Jimi Hendrix and Vanilla Fudge concert on September 1, 1968 is the only Red Rocks performance with no known photos.
  • The Red Rocks backstage area was once a non-perishable food bunker for Denver leaders during the height of the terrifying Cold War.
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps, which completed the federal government sponsored, handcrafted construction of the city venue in 1947, built giant barn doorways backstage to accommodate a rider on horseback.
  • In Red Rocks, an average of 55 events per year fell to 21 in 1988, the year the 18,000-seat Green Amphitheater opened in Greenwood Village.
  • In 1988 Denver paid $ 80,000 to blow up a giant rock that had fallen into the venue from the east wall. The rubble served as the base for the north entrance stairs. (Every year an engineering company inspects the rocks around the venue.)
  • Red Rocks receives 1.5 million non-concert-goers each year, almost three times as many as concert-goers.
  • John Denver, who played several concerts at Red Rocks in 1974, including a rare four-night stand, jogged incognito up and down the 69-row arena several times before each concert.
  • The 30,000-square-foot visitor center opened in 2003 and features $ 29 million improvements, including the Ship Rock Grille.

    – Jason Blevins

    Concert schedule 2011

    28th of May – The disco biscuits, rusko, big boi and more

    June 3rd to 5th – shipping

    June 7th – Earth, wind

    8th June – Jethro Tull, with special guest Kansas

    June 10th – Ultimate Thriller – Michael Jackson Tribute Concert

    June 11th – Big Head Todd and the Monsters

    June 13 – Peter Gabriel

    17th of June – Ray LaMontagne

    18th of June – Bass nectar

    June 21st – Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour 2011

    June 24th to 26th – Widespread panic

    2nd July – The Glitch Mob and Lotus

    3rd of July – Umphrey’s McGee – Red Rocks and Blue

    July 4th – Blues Traveler, Matisyahu, Toad the wet sprocket

    6-8 July – Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Uncle Kracker

    July 9 – The Avett Brothers with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

    10th of July – Sarah McLachlan with the Colorado Symphony

    July 14th – Global dance festival

    15.-16. July – Global dance festival

    17th July – Idina Menzel with the Colorado Symphony

    July 18 – Sound garden

    July 23 – Steve Miller Band, Buddy Guy

    24th July – Chicago with the Colorado Symphony

    July 26th – Styx, yes

    July 28th – Zug, Maroon 5, Gavin DeGraw

    29th of July – OAR

    30th July – Abba the concert

    August 2nd – A perfect circle

    3rd August – The flaming lips, Primus

    4th of August – My morning jacket, Amos Lee

    6th of August – A bit stupid

    12. August – The John Butler Trio

    13 August – Beautiful lights

    August 14 – Thievery Corporation, Ghostland Observatory

    August 16 – Unity Tour 2011: 311 and Sublime with Rome

    August 19th – the atmosphere

    20th of August – Yonder Mountain String Band

    August 23 – Death Cab for Cutie

    26th of August – 1964 the tribute

    August 27 – Reggae on the rocks

    Aug. 31-Sept. 1 – Lion King

    September 2nd – Alison Krauss and Union Station

    3-4 September – Carlos Santana, George Lopez

    9-10 September – Sound Tribe Sector 9

    EXPLANATION: Chuck Morris began his career with longtime concert promoter Barry Fey and has been involved in hosting more than 1,500 Red Rocks concerts since 1976.