Rhino Historic Tours: US Festival ‘83
Last year, we wrote about the very first US Festival, which took place in 1982, and this year, we’re writing about the very last US Festival, which took place in 1983, so…uh, yeah, it was not necessarily what you’d call the most successful recurring rock festival of all time. Still, when you look back at the lineup, you can certainly understand why Homer Simpson once described it as the one truly great rock festival of his lifetime.
For its sophomore year, the US Festival upped its run from three days to four, providing attendees with a New Wave Day, a Heavy Metal Day, a Rock Day, and a Country Day, and it’s a testimony to the bookers for the festival that, even though New Wave Day kicked off 32 years ago today, there isn’t a single artist who played the main stage on any of the four days that wouldn’t inspire most music fans to say, “Oh, sure, I know them, they sang [INSERT HIT SINGLE HERE].” Well, maybe one. But that’s it, we swear.
If you’re a doubting Thomas by nature, here’s who played the various days, so you can tell us if we’re wrong about this, but…we’re not.
New Wave Day: Berlin, Divinyls, INXS, Wall of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, Missing Persons, the English Beat, A Flock of Seagulls, Stray Cats, Men at Work, and the Clash.
Heavy Metal Day: Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph, Scorpions, and Van Halen.
Rock Day: Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, Quarterflash, U2, The Pretenders, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks, and David Bowie.
Country Day: Thrasher Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, Hank Williams, Jr., Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band, Alabama, Waylon Jennings, Riders in the Sky, and Willie Nelson.
It’s worth noting that the US Festival proved to be Stan Ridgway’s last performance with Wall of Voodoo and Mick Jones’ last performance with The Clash, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t the festival’s fault. Also, if you’re wondering about that one artist who might not have rung a bell, we were referring to the Thrasher Brothers, but if you’re from Alabama, their home state, you might know them, too. (You also might recognize them if you used to watch “Simon & Simon,” as they did the show’s closing theme during its first season.)
It’s a shame we never got an US Festival for ’84 or any other year, but at least you can revisit some of the songs that were played via this playlist we’ve compiled.