Remember the Astrodome for Concerts, Too

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PAUL MCCARTNEY Date: 4/22/1993, "New World Tour"

This would be the first time our "Classic Rock Bob" Ruggiero, a lifelong Beatles fan, saw one of the lads in person:

Thanks to my brother's ticket connections, we had seats in like the fourth or fifth row on the Astrodome floor. For a fucking BEATLE! I remember hearing hit after hit, and up close I could see Paul was mugging a bit too much for my taste. Unfortunately, I was ticked off by the people around me, whose asses stayed mostly glued to their seats, standing up for only the more familiar tunes, then quickly sitting back down.

For a fucking BEATLE. I remember it bummed me out immensely, and we ended up leaving before the show was over to beat the traffic. I went home and wrote an angry essay about my experience. Maybe I was just in a shitty mood.

A fan named Steve Jones remembers the show this way on Facebook:

It was like stepping into a time warp. Some of the people at the concert wore platform shoes and bell-bottom pants. The parking lot had a lot of the "Hippie vans" from the 1960's parked in it. Some people were passing around joints. The Astrodome had a big cloud of marijuana [smoke] by time the concert was over.


SELENA Date: 2/26/1995, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

Arguably the most famous Astrodome concert in the building's history, the Tejano superstar's third consecutive rodeo appearance shattered the Dome's attendance record with more than 66,000 fans — one that stung that much more when Selena was killed by fan-club president Yolanda Saldivar less than a month later. Jesse Sendejas Jr. was there...almost.

Some days, I feel like I am the only Chicano who did not see Selena's Astrodome show in 1995. As the years have passed, it seems like everyone was there, although the 'Dome's seating couldn't have held the exaggerated numbers I've encountered. Unlike my counterpart Marco Torres, who saw her many times and recently wrote a touching homage to her, I had one chance to see La Reyna.

I even had a ticket. And I was in the stadium before she triumphantly took the stage. Even still, I didn't see the show. Excuse me while I find some Kleenex. My parents bought tickets for themselves and for me, my wife and kids, who were four and two years-old on the day of the show. Because I was a big dummy and thought it was important for the kids to see horses and pigs, or ride the kiddie rides at the carnival, they were exhausted and cranky by the time we ever reached our seats.

I wasn't a huge fan and my kids were fidgeting like crazy. Executive decision — let's get these kids out of here, we'll just catch her the next time. Fortunately, my folks stayed to see the legendary concert. A month later, Selena was gone, leaving only beautiful music, memories and "if only" moments for we who never got to see her live.

** The Simon and Garfunkel concert scheduled for August 17, 1983, part of the tour that followed their blockbuster 1981 reunion concert in New York's Central Park, was cancelled due to Hurricane Alicia, which made landfall southwest of Galveston the next day. Bob Ruggiero would have been there.

What was supposed to be my first concert ever was going with my parents and a friend to see a reunited Simon & Garfunkel at the Astrodome. Already a huge fan of '60s music (thanks, 98FM KFMK!), I was excited for weeks. The four of us piled into our van (complete with late-'70s brown shag carpeted bed in the back) and headed for the 'Dome as the skies grew dark.

To my utter disappointment, as our car turned into the gate, we were told that the show had been cancelled due to the threat of Hurricane Alicia, which was churning around. I was devastated! The next day, when I got home from school, my mother had bought a copy of Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits and had it waiting for me in my room. Thanks, Mom! (My first concert ended up being Billy Joel on the 1984 Innocent Man tour at the Summit.)

** The first festival-type event (again, that we could find) planned for the Dome never came to pass, but sounded awesome from the title on down. Billed as "Soul Bowl '69" and scheduled as a three-day event in mid-June 1969, the concert was organized by the Rev. E.L. Franklin, father of Aretha and a gospel-music legend in his own right, with the proceeds scheduled to go to various urban-renewal causes.

Among the supposed headliners were Ray Charles, the Queen of Soul, Sam & Dave, Percy Sledge, Houston native Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and more, as well as one day set aside for gospel acts like the Swan Silvertones, Dixie Hummingbirds and Rev. James Cleveland. It was not to be, though — according to Jet magazine, city officials were worried that Charles' appearance elsewhere in Texas a few days prior would hurt his potential draw at the Astrodome, so the show was moved to a much smaller venue in Dallas and then ultimately canceled altogether.

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