Houston Music

Five Memorable - But Not Necessarily Good - Astrodome Concerts

It was (semi-seriously) billed as the Eighth Wonder of World, the brainchild of Judge Roy Hofheinz was the first domed ballpark and - for better or worse - ushered in the era of the homogeneous, multipurpose stadiums. The Structure Formerly Known as Harris County Domed Stadium sits unused now, its future (possibly as a hotel movie studio casino parking lot) still up in the air, but in its 44 years of existence, the Astrodome was home to the Astros and the Oilers (until 1996), Millennium '73, the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs "Battle of the Sexes" and Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS.

Oh yeah, and it also was the site of a few concerts. Some great, some... less so.

Elvis Presley, February 1970: Elvis, more specifically Col. Tom Parker, chose the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for Presley's first live shows outside of Las Vegas since the 1950s. It was around this time that the famous jumpsuit - modified from a "karate suit," as Elvis put it - made its first appearance. The Big E was still riding high on his 1968 comeback special and his record-breaking series of sold-out Vegas shows, and his svelte appearance and relatively clear-headed responses to reporters' questions in a news conference (after the last of six shows) give little indication this same man would weird President Nixon out by asking to be appointed a federal narcotics "Agent-at-Large" a scant nine months later.

The Osmonds, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, 1979: No one was safe from the deluge of easy listening dreck in the 1970s, not even the Rodeo, which had long before bowed to market pressures and featured acts like Wayne Newton and Olivia Newton-John. Still, one can almost feel each of the shots Donny fires from the back of that Jeep spreading the sepsis of suckitude deeper and deeper into the dying body of the HLSR.

The Jacksons, Tour, November 9-10, 1984: For all the plastic surgery disaster and pedophilia jokes, people tend to forget that once upon a time, people used the expression "King of Pop" unironically. Michael (and brothers) played the Dome two nights in November of '84, for the then-outrageous price of $28 a ticket. And while the tour was supposed to promote the new Victory album, the show was all about Michael, and even the stadium's legendary shitty acoustics couldn't diminish what was by all accounts a fine show.

Selena, February 26, 1995: Erroneously billed as Selena's last concert (that was actually in Chicago on March 19), it's still the only one everyone remembers. She capped off three consecutive Rodeo apperances with this 66,000-plus-seat sell-out, and was dead barely a month later, thus ensuring her legacy - and the livelihoods of bootleg T-shirt sellers - for decades to come.

George Strait, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, 2003: Rocks Off is unabashed in professing its love for the King of Country, and he and the Dome are forever linked thanks to his 20 HLSR appearances (tied with Charley Pride for most all-time). His final perfomance, in 2003, was also the last concert performed in the Dome, and beat Selena's previous attendance record.

And yes, before anybody complains, we realize the clip is from the '96 Rodeo. Go buy us the DVD.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar