20 Performers who Rocked UMD

In a letter to the Diamondback in 1969, a disgruntled student complained that other students “don’t know what they’re missing” in the music scene. Other universities hosted big-name bands like Jefferson Airplane, so why not UMD? Someone must have taken his advice because our campus exploded with music, from underground cult bands to big-name artists playing to sold out crowds. Scroll on for our list of 20 epic performers who rocked the UMD campus.

1. Elvis Presley – September 27 & 28, 1974

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How could The King be anything but number 1? Although perhaps not his best years, Elvis still played to sold-out crowds in not one, but two shows in Cole Field House.

2. Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis & Bruce Springsteen – April 28, 1973

Chuck Berry                     bruce

Believe it or not, The Boss was barely mentioned in the advertisements for this epic collaboration. Springsteen was still years from commercial success, but established rockers Berry and Lewis kept the crowds going until after midnight. So hyped was the show that several students were arrested for sneaking in through an open bathroom window.

3. Queen with Thin Lizzy – February 4, 1977

In a show heavy on special effects and skintight leotards, rockers Queen and Thin Lizzy lit up a crowd of 10,000 at Cole Field House, shutting it down with an encore performance of Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock.”

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4. Stevie Wonder with Mandrill, Earth, Wind & Fire, and The Persuasions – March 25, 1973

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Yet another historic musical collaboration hit the stage when Stevie Wonder came to town for this soul showdown. The six-hour-long show ended with his latest single, “Superstition,” although we are equally as impressed that UMD offered unlimited free parking for attendees.

5. U2 – April 25, 1983

U2 had yet to hit it big in the United States when they landed in College Park.

U2 review

Before the days of metal detectors and bag checks, enthusiastic concert-goers climbed on stage to dance with the band and Bono rode on a fan’s shoulders through the crowd.

6. Frank Zappa – various dates

frank zappa                Zappa letter

The Baltimore-born rocker played on campus at least five times between 1967 and 1978. After one such stay, several members of Zappa’s team skipped town without paying their hotel bill in full, so the owner of the local Holiday Inn sent a letter demanding payment to Zappa’s production company.

7. Billy Joel – April 30, 1977

BIlly Joel Steve Martin

It’s hard to imagine paying just $6.50 to see an artist who sells out stadiums for $300+ per seat today. The Piano Man just so happened to perform the same week as an up-and-coming comedian… look familiar?

8. The Clash – September 29, 1979

The Clash review

 

The gnarly British punk band almost (literally) blew out the sound system of Ritchie Coliseum. Despite technical delays and a restless crowd, The Clash destroyed their set list – and several guitars – to the delight of the sweaty, jam-packed audience.

 

9. Santana – October 19, 1974

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As the title of the Diamondback article suggests, Carlos Santana was the focal point of his eponymous band’s nearly 3-hour-long set. The crowd of over 8,000 clapped and roared with frenetic energy through the popular hit songs and epic guitar solos.

10. The Grateful Dead – March 7, 1981

Grateful Dead review

 

“Deadhead” students started lining up the week before ticket sales started to score seats for this long-anticipated concert. University officials, desperate to clear the Student Union of the throngs of un-showered hopefuls, decided to sell tickets before the band’s contract had even been signed.

11. The Beach Boys – March 28, 1972

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The Boys may have been past their prime by 1972, but they proved their timeless appeal by drawing thousands to Cole Fieldhouse after the release of their 17th (!) album, Surf’s Up.

 

12. Ozzy Osbourne – February 14, 1983

Ozzy 2                  Ozzy security 3

The Prince of Darkness returned to UMD for a Valentine’s Day solo show after performing with Black Sabbath in 1972. A police report written by the University police expresses their concern of potential unrest due to Ozzy’s “abuse of animals… involvement with satanic groups, and desecration of monuments.”

13. The B-52s – September 11, 1980

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The B-52s rode the wave of their newfound fame to college campuses all over the country after topping the charts with their first hit single, “Rock Lobster.”

14. The Ramones – July 14, 1981

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One consistent thread throughout many Diamondback concert reviews is complaints about the terrible acoustics in Ritchie Coliseum. The Ramones were able to bop their way past the technical difficulties to jam through all of their biggest hits.

 

15. Rod Stewart with Faces – October 11, 1975

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As one reviewer wrote, Stewart took the stage in satin pants and sang until his voice gave out, accompanied by guitarist Ronnie Wood (who soon moved onto the band he is most associated with today, the Rolling Stones).

16. Blue Oyster Cult – October 22, 1972

Blue Oyster Cult poster

 

UMD didn’t know it yet, but what it really needed in 1972 was more cowbell. Poor ticket sales actually led to a huge loss of money for the university, most likely because the crowd did not yet know that you Don’t Fear the Reaper.

 

17. Cyndi Lauper – May 3, 1984

Lauper took home the Grammy for Best New Artist soon after she brought her quirky brand of fun to Ritchie Coliseum.

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The post-show “security report” noted that there were no incidents… despite Lauper’s late arrival.

18. Devo – November 2, 1981

Devo review

 

True to their quirky style, Devo’s performance was packed with flashing lights, video backdrops, and moving sidewalks. The crowd in Ritchie danced through the synthesizer-fueled “Whip It,” the song that cemented Devo as a cult favorite.

 

19. Steppenwolf ft. Don McLean – March 26, 1971

The Steppenwolf concert gains a spot for the sheer “rock n roll” factor of how it all went down. The Diamondback reported that disgruntled fans were arrested after turning violent and throwing rocks at policemen. The unrest threatened the future of student events on campus, as admins debated whether to invite rock musicians at all.

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McLean, a little known musician at the time, was just a few months from releasing his hit song “American Pie.” His return to campus in 1973 drew a much higher turnout. Check out our previous blog post for more on the event.

20. The Talking Heads – October 13, 1978

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Rock music gave way to a tide of New Wave groups as the ’80s approached. Lead singer David Byrne grew up in Baltimore and returned home on one of The Talking Heads’ first national tours.

The Shows That Never Were

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As on any big campus, UMD has its fair share of “shows that got away.” Campus legends tell of the promising acts that never materialized – like the Rolling Stones and a Springsteen solo show. Perhaps most tragically, a much-anticipated and sold-out concert by Bob Marley was cancelled at the last minute when the singer grew ill. He was sadly never able to reschedule due to his failing health.

Still, this list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to campus concert history. The University Archives holds the records of Student Entertainment Events (SEE); come in and see what other famous musicians you can find in our archives!

 

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Making Beautiful Music

Wakefield CD set coverThe University of Maryland Archives is pleased to announce the availability of 197 digitized recordings from the university’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble via the UMD Libraries’ Digital Collections, http://digital.lib.umd.edu/. These pieces represent the contents of 15 CD’s assembled by John Wakefield, UMD’s Assistant and Associate Director of Bands, 1965-1968, and Director of Bands, 1968-2005, consisting of the ensemble’s best performances under Wakefield’s baton. The selections have been divided into six groupings: Chamber Winds, Wind Band, Transcriptions, Best of “Pops,” Solo (Solo/Group) with Band, and Fanfares/Marches/Encores. To accompany the CD’s, Mr. Wakefield provided brief program notes, which are available in the Archives, in addition to the metadata that accompanies the tracks on the Digital Collections site.

To access this collection and enjoy hours of listening to outstanding performances, enter the search term “Wakefield” on the Advanced Search page in the Digital Collections: http://digital.lib.umd.edu/search, then check off “Digital Collections” under “Limit Search By Collection,” and click on “Search.” You should come up with 197 hits. Once you choose an individual piece, click on the arrow on the black screen to begin to play the recording.

The University Archives is honored to have collaborated with Director of Bands Emeritus John Wakefield on this very special project, and we hope you will enjoy these wonderful recordings!

Ferdinand Revisited

At the end of March, 20th Century Fox released a trailer for a movie that’s a new take on an old favorite: “The Story of Ferdinand.” The popular children’s book was originally published in 1936, and Disney released a short film about the timid bull in 1938, which won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) that year.

But what does this have to do with UMD history?

Well, the author of the monroe leaforiginal children’s book, “The Story of Ferdinand,” is an alumnus
of UMD! Munro Leaf graduated with a B.A. in 1927. Upon its release, his short story was considered
anti-war propaganda and was banned in many countries. Leaf defended his work, saying that the story of Ferdinand was simply “a happy ending story about being yourself.” You can read more about Leaf and his infamous book here.

Be on the lookout for the new version of this charming story about the bull who loved to smell the flowers, coming to a theater near you in December 2017!

MAC Music Returns to Campus

A few months ago, the University Archives received a very special additioncadet2step to our collections: a copy of the original song, the “MAC Cadet Two Step.” It is the oldest published UMD song, dating from 1897! The only other copy of it that’s known to exist is at the Library of Congress, and the song is among the oldest pieces of copyrighted music in its collections.

The song was written by Ira E. Whitehill, an accomplished Maryland Agricultural College student and member of the Mandolin Ensemble.  The student-run club was created in the 1896-1897 school year, but it really didn’t hit its stride until Whitehill,   the only member of the original group who returned to campus the following year, assumed his role as director that fall. His “quick musical insight” allowed him to assemble the highest quality musical talent from among the cadets, aiming to create a group that would be an “honor to the college and to themselves.” That year, the ensemble was lauded by the Reveille (the MAC yearbook) as a “remarkable advancement” from the previous year’s attempt.

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The first Mandolin Ensemble        Whitehill seated second from left

Whitehill went on to compose many other songs,  including the comedic “College Hash” and the “Reveille March and Two-Step,”  which was written to honor The Reveille yearbook. Both songs were featured in the commencement exercises of 1899.

The most recent performance of the “MAC Cadet Two-Step” took place in 2015 at L. Richmond Sparks’ retirement concert. You can listen to the lively tune here. Another very special rendition was part of the half-time show at Homecoming in 2008, celebrating the band’s 100th anniversary; you can find this on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/0UWZcm_LGBs.

Ira Whitehill’s dedication to his craft and his school set a precedent for future student-run organizations. He not only built a lasting example for future installments of the Mandolin Ensemble, but he also created a wonderful piece of University of Maryland history that will now remain on campus for many years to come.

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