Of course, some of those tears could have been tears of relief for finally getting into the structure itself. The event, presented in part by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Houston, drew tens of thousands who waited for hours to get a glimpse inside. We snapped a photo of a father and son who'd just exited the tour. The kid had never been in the building. There were lots of those moments occurring simultaneously last night.
Amid the first-timers and families, the young and the old, we sought some music fans and found a few, like native Houstonian Terry Williams. Spotted in line with his family, he looked the part of lifelong rocker. We guessed correctly.
"My first Ozzy concert was here, with the Texxas Jam," he said. "I saw Styx, Ted Nugent here, Metallica. Guns N' Roses with Faith No More, I worked security backstage on that show. I used to come to the Texxas Jam pretty much all the time."
Williams recalled a pair of Canadian rock bands blowing the roof off the Dome.
"I saw Rush here and their laser show in the Dome was phenomenal. Triumph, I saw here too. I was front and center, right in front of Rik Emmett, when he was doing his solo, man he was incredible."
"I remember Rush and Triumph sounded excellent live in the Dome, I didn't notice any distortion or anything like that. I really never saw a bad rock show in the Astrodome, man."
That was a sentiment echoed by people who'd seen live shows in the Dome. Maybe it was revisionist history, with no one wanting to knock the Dome's acoustic challenges after all these years. Or maybe the important thing about seeing a live show has less to do with acoustics than just enjoying the moment.
"I went to the Texxas Jams in '82 and '83 with my cousin John and both were awesome," recalled Stephen DeLeon, a native Houstonian now living in Boston. " We did get jumped in the parking lot in '82 and they stole my concert shirts but I still had a great time.
"There was Ted Nugent, Triumph and Sammy Hagar that day. Styx was there too but everybody left during their show because they were just playing the Kilroy Was Here album. I remember Ted Nugent swinging in on a long rope in a loincloth! Crazy! "
"I saw Elvis at the Houston Rodeo in 1970 with my parents when I was six years old," said Dome fan John Senn. "I remember Elvis coming out in a white convertible Cadillac! My dad was a huge fan of Elvis and grew up in Tennessee watching him before he was famous touring with Johnny Cash and a few other greats.
"Elvis was my favorite then and still today," he added. "I will always be grateful to my parents for taking me to that awesome show."
My brother and sister-in-law, who I wrote about in yesterday's recollections of Astrodome music, came to the event. They remembered dancing up and down the Dome's stairs during Madonna's '87 tour stop and seeing Selena.
"We were all a lot younger then," is what my sister-in-law recalls most about those shows.
Doug and Bunnie O'Brien were some of the first to tour the Dome last night. We caught them leaving at roughly the same time thousands were showing up to get in line.
"I was here for the opening. I was 13 years old, a baseball player. I got to see Mickey Mantle, so that was a big thrill for a young, 13-year-old baseball player," Doug said.
"Back in that day there was actual grass on the field and it was prior to painting the roof. That was an issue because the players couldn't see the ball, so they had to paint the roof. When they painted the roof the grass died."
He set aside the thoughts of regret over Astros and Oilers teams that almost but never quite made it to talk music.
"I saw the Rolling Stones here twice," he said. "My daughter, she and I came to see Madonna. It was a great show. It was one of the first concerts I ever recall going to where basically all of the music videos were acted out. She had basically the entire casts of all of her videos and each song was a major production. That was kind of a first for concerts. It was like she kind of took it to the level of performance art."
Story continues on the next page.