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What Performers Have Played Historic Venues Most? Carnegie Hall, Red Rocks, More

by Ryan Book   Jul 2, 2015 15:22 PM EDT

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Elton John cancels concerts after ‘potentially deadly’ bacterial infection

Billy Joel made history at one of the most acclaimed music venues in the world this week when he played his 65th concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The total helped him to surpass that of friend Elton John, giving him the most appearances at the historic Manhattan venue. There are many music venues the world over that are adored by performers and fans alike, but unfortunately not many have done much work in attempting to figure out what performers have played there the most. Of course, many—such as The Troubadour in Los Angeles—probably didn't foresee themselves lasting as long as they have. Music Times has done our best to figure out what musicians have played the most gigs at some of the world's most vaunted performance spaces.

Carnegie Hall: Walter Damrosch

One thing you have to take into consideration when looking at some of the world's most historic music venues is that "historic" generally has some degree of age attached to it. Walter Damrosch may not resonate with the most casual music fan, and his name may not even resonate with the most in-depth of classical fans. He easily has the record for the most performances of any individual within Carnegie Hall, the historic theater on Seventh Ave. in Manhattan. What you need to remember is that Carnegie largely plays as a host to orchestral music, with occasional concerts from more mainstream performers such as Neil Young and Ryan Adams (just to cite a few recent examples). The website for Carnegie notes that the New York Philharmonic has played more than 5,000 concerts at the Hall, and Damrosch personally takes the cake, having conducted more than 850 of those performances, including the premiere's of George Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F and An American In Paris.

The Fillmore Auditorium: The Grateful Dead

We should clarify this right off: When we reference "The Fillmore," we're referring to the original, legendary venue in San Francisco. The Fillmore has become a franchise of sorts, opening and closing theaters all over the country, including the venue that hosted the greatest live album of all time, The Allman Brothers' Live At Fillmore East. The original venue was opened by iconic concert promoter Earl Graham in the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco. It served as the central point for the rise of the city's psychedelic music scene during the '60s—including Big Brother and The Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane and the Quicksilver Messenger Service. Of course, that also made it the favorite venue of the Grateful Dead who played a whopping 51 shows at the auditorium, and that was just between 1965-'69. The original location is, alas, no longer in operation but a replacement Fillmore opened during 1994.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre: Widespread Panic

Not many people are aware just how long the Red Rocks Amphitheatre has been in operation, having celebrated its hundredth anniversary during 2011. That said, it's never served as the exclusive home to any orchestras. That allowed another jam band to take the cake for the most performances at the venue, as Widespread Panic has played in more than 45 shows at the venue since the group first hit the road during 1986. It's somewhat surprising that more bands haven't gone out of their way to come to Red Rocks as often as they can-not only is the location renowned for its incredible acoustics, it's frequently cited as the most visually impressive concert venue in the world thanks to its famous location, nestled into the titular rocks in a location formerly known as "Garden of The Angels."

Royal Albert Hall: Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton has a particular record, for being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than any other performer. He hasn't cloned himself—rather he was inducted as a member of three different groups: The Yardbirds, Cream and as a solo performer. That has relevance to the topic at hand, as Clapton's fondness for the room has led him to perform there on nearly every tour with nearly every act he's been associated with, including the aforementioned groups as well as other including Blind Faith and Derek and The Dominoes. He's performed nearly 200 concerts at the venue and we can't blame him...it's truly one of the more impressive music venues on Earth. He once said that playing there was like "playing in my front room." If that's true, we'd like to see his front room.

Ryman Auditorium: Little Jimmy Dickens(?)

We'll admit right off that nothing about this post in particular is official. The historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville doesn't list any performer as having played there more than any other. However, we can use some logic to theorize what musician may hold the title, even if we don't have the official number. Our first clue is to look for a performer that was guaranteed to have played shows at the auditorium, so our first hunch is to look at the members of the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry has been in near constant operation since 1925, and spent the decades from 1943-'74 hosting its weekly show there. We logic that the most prevalent performer at the venue came from that era because membership in the Grand Ole Opry during that age required anywhere between 20-26 shows a year. After the Opry moved to its own hall during 1974, the organization realized how tough its requirements were for touring musicians, and now only requires an undefined "frequent attendance." Little Jimmy Dickens, the country icon who died earlier this year, was the lengthiest member in Opry history, having first joined during 1948, meaning he was performing 20 or more shows a year for decades. Anyway, if you know the correct answer, let us know.

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