What Was Your Favorite Concert at The Summit?

It must be music-venue day today. Rocks Off would like to thank Jon Harvey of Houston (@oompahead) for alerting us via Twitter to the fact that on this day in 1975, when I was a few weeks away from turning one year old, the sports and entertainment arena then known as the Summit opened in Greenway Plaza.

Besides basketball, hockey, wrestling, bull riding and the stray circus, for almost 30 years the Summit (renamed Compaq Center in 1998) was about the only place in Houston and southeast Texas to see the biggest names in pop, rock, country, R&B, hip-hop and more at shows largely produced by Live Nation forerunner Pace Concerts. According to a 2003 Houston Business Journal article, the arena cost $18 million to build.

The first concert at the new Summit was The Who on November 20, 1975, the opening night of the band's North American tour behind The Who by Numbers ("Squeezebox"); some footage survives in 1994's Thirty Years of Maximum R&B box set. Sure wish they would come play Houston on their new "Quadrophenia" 40th-anniversary outing, but never mind.

The Summit's archives on concert wiki setlist.fm run almost 40 pages, including Paul McCartney's "Wings Over America" stop the next year. Take them with a grain of salt, because the first show listed is Procul Harum in 1973, two years before the arena opened. (Unless there was some kind of construction party going on.) There you'll find two nights of the Rolling Stones' "Bridges to Babylon" tour in 1998 and lots more.

Such as: Smashing Pumpkins and Garbage (which Craig saw); The Cure; Peter Gabriel; Depeche Mode; George Strait (lots); Morrissey in 1992; Guns N' Roses; Neil Young with Sonic Youth in '91; Steve Earle and Bob Dylan in '89; Public Enemy; N.W.A.; Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers; R.E.M.; Frank Sinatra; Lionel Richie; Tina Turner; Whitney Houston; Reba; Waylon & Willie; Ozzy; every hair band you can think of; two nights of Bruce Springsteen's Born In the USA tour in November 1984; and lots of Rush, Van Halen, Metallica and AC/DC. It goes on a while.

Prince practically paid rent at the Summit in the '80s, with six nights on the Purple Rain tour alone, and Michael Jackson sold it out three straight nights in April 1988. Performances filmed there available on DVD include a Halloween 1976 show from George Clinton's Parlaiment-Funkadelic crew, Springsteen in 1978 on the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour, available on the 2010 The Promise reissue, and Journey's Live In Houston 1981: The Escape Tour, released in 2006. This link will take you to "The Dragon Snake," a three-disc bootleg from Led Zeppelin's May 1977 Summit show, the last time they were in town. (They opened with "The Song Remains the Same.")

According to Wikipedia, other acts who were filmed at the venue include Motley Crue (the "Girls, Girls, Girls" video), Aerosmith ("Blind Man," from 1994 hits comp Big Ones), Genesis for the King Biscuit Flower Hour and Linda Ronstadt's footage in the 1978 cult movie FM. John Travolta -- who would have been in town filming Urban Cowboy -- supposedly joined the Bee Gees onstage there in 1979 for "You Should Be Dancing."

Despite hearing about shows at the Summit throughout junior-high and high school from my friends, I only attended exactly one show there: The first leg of U2's spring 2001 "Elevation" tour. They sounded great, totally re-energized coming off All That You Can't Leave Behind, but PJ Harvey opened and blew me away. I still have the poster, a spiffy little piece of pop art designed by Houston's Uncle Charlie.

Appropriately, ZZ Top practically became the Summit's house band, playing the hall on almost every tour from the mid-'70s on and a few special events along the way like a Y2K bash New Year's Eve 1999 with Lynyrd Skynyrd(!). Home from Austin one Thanksgiving, I also remember sitting in the parking lot of the Clear Lake Best Buy, listening to a KLOL live broadcast in November 2003 of the final show of their "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" tour - the very last concert in the Summit (sorry, Compaq Center) before it reopened as Lakewood Church.

Although the church began having services in the building a few weeks later, it took more than a year to finish the $75 million renovations, so that must have been some party. Now, the important question: What were some of your favorite shows at the Summit?

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