Rhino Historic Tours: Rock in Rio

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Rhino Historic Tours: Rock in Rio

32 years ago today, the very first Rock in Rio festival kicked off in…Albuquerque. Nah, just kidding, it took place exactly where you’d expect for it to have taken place: in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

You have to give the organizers of Rock in Rio credit: they knew how to put together a festival that catered to damned near everyone’s taste in music. The event started on January 11, 1985 and carried on through January 20, with AC/DC, George Benson, Queen, Rod Stewart, and Yes serving as headliners, but those who attended from the first day all the way through to the bitter end were also treated to performances by Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, James Taylor, Al Jarreau, The Go-Go’s, Nina Hagen, the Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, the B-52’s,, and – as one might reasonably expect from a festival taking place in Brazil – a veritable plethora of Brazilian artists. You may interested to know that the performance by the B-52’s featured Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth playing in the band’s lineup, but the more notable aspect of the show, if also a far sadder one, is that it was the last one they played with guitarist Ricky Wilson, who died from AIDS in October 1985.

If Wikipedia can be trusted – and, yes, we realize that it’s often a dicey proposition at best – 500,000 pizza slices, 900,000 hamburgers, and 1,600,000 liters of beverages were sold over the course of the event, with McDonald’s setting a world record of 58,000 hamburgers sold in a single day. The record lasted until it was broken at the 2011 Rock in Rio Festival by Bob’s, which sold 79,000 burgers that day. That’s a whole lot of concessions.

By the way, that joke that opened this piece isn’t actually as ridiculous as you might think. There have actually been incarnations of the festival in several other locations around the world, including Lisbon, Madrid, and Las Vegas, and they were all called Rock in Rio, too. But don’t worry: 2017 will see the Rock in Rio festival actually taking place in Rio. Maybe this will be a good year after all.