THIRTY YEARS AGO – THE WMMS 10TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT WITH BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND – LIVE AT THE CLEVELAND AGORA!

 

Has it really been that long?

It was one of the greatest nights in the history of rock and roll in Cleveland.

This Saturday, August 9, is the 30th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band’s legendary free WMMS 10th Anniversary concert at the Cleveland Agora on E 24th.

We drew postcards from listeners to give away almost 1,200 tickets.  We knew this was a major event for us, our listeners, and the other stations simulcasting the concert in an ad hoc network set up with stations in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

The air was literally electric – muggy and rainy outside, with summer lightning crackling, and fans jamming the Agora entrance almost two hours before showtime.  Because it was a general admission show, some had slept on the sidewalk the night before in hopes of landing a front row spot for the show.

 They whistled, they clapped, and chanted in the background as Denny Sanders signed on the broadcast to welcome the radio listeners.  Kid Leo did the on-stage introduction, “I have the duty and the pleasure of welcoming, ladies and gentlemen, the main event. Round for round, pound for pound, there ain’t no finer band around – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band!”

The show went on for twenty-one songs in two sets, and an encore ending in “Raise Your Hand.”  “I’d like to thank Cleveland for supporting us,” Springsteen said.  “When we came here, we got some respect.” The broadcast ended past midnight, after more than four hours.  Leo read the credits but fully expected Springsteen would do one more encore.  Springsteen, nearly spent, returned one more time for a surprise encore of “Twist and Shout” for the Agora crowd.  It wasn’t carried live, though we broadcast it later. 

The broadcast was flawless, which might explain why Columbia Records never released it as an album. The radio audience was estimated at three million, and the show was one of Springsteen’s most-recorded, most-bootlegged, and most downloaded.

Bruce Springsteen was our most played artist for many years and that WMMS 10th Anniversary Agora show one of the most requested and most repeated of all WMMS concerts in our archives.

E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg once called it the best show the E Street Band ever did.  One of the best complements I got came a few years later from Bob Seger, backstage at an Eagles concert at the Coliseum.  He said, “Man, I heard the concert you guys put on with Springsteen.  That was the greatest rock and roll show I ever heard.”  He told me he was one of the listeners who ran to his tape machine to record his own copy.  Seger met Springsteen for the first time six days earlier when he played Pine Knob in suburban Detroit.

A little known fact.  The show was remixed and given to KSAN/San Francisco, which carried the show as a replacement for a cancelled Winterland date in early 1979. 

Springsteen returned to the Agora just three weeks later to play a three-hour show at the Coliseum.  After it ended, he and the E Street Band made an unannounced midnight run to the Agora – taking the stage to perform with fellow New Jersey band Southside Johnny and the Ashbury Jukes.  For video highlights from that show, click here.

Michael Norman’s Cleveland.com WMMS feature includes the Springsteen show intro. Click here.

For more on the legendary WMMS 10th Anniversary Bruce Springsteen concert, turn to Chapter 15 in The Buzzard.

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11 Responses to “THIRTY YEARS AGO – THE WMMS 10TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT WITH BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND – LIVE AT THE CLEVELAND AGORA!”

  1. […] Today is the 30th anniversary of that legendary concert and live broadcast, and former WMMS program director John Gorman remembers the night: […]

  2. 30 years already, it’s hard to believe. Of all the great armies of rock fans, few can match the devotion of Bruce Springsteen’s. Anyone who has experienced Springsteen in concert will testify that the bond between audience and artist transcends the usual adulation. Something magical, almost mystical happens. Some might describe it as spiritual-most definitely it is life affirming. It is in trying to nail this phenomenon that the beautiful hardbound For You has arrived.
    Edited by Lawrence Kirsch and replete with an amazing welter of outstanding photographs, it’s a mind-blowing collection of thoughts and stories from fans of every age and many nations, each explaining why Springsteen occupies such an important place in their hearts. Covering all four decades of Springsteen’s career it is possibly the ultimate fanzine for it is the fans who have made the journey and whose words tell us as much about them as they do about Springsteen. The warmth and humanity that flows from every page is truly moving and provides a beacon of hope from which we can all draw strength in these hard times. Not a book to be read at one sitting but rather to revisit and enjoy over time.

  3. Great!! Content and you can see Rock VDO Clipt. You can Search for your interesting…

  4. […] with a year-long celebration of free concerts and special events – including the renowned Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Agora in live remote broadcast – the Cleveland city government defaulted on 15.5 million […]

  5. Outlaw Pete – Working On A Dream…

    …The newest Bruce Springsteen great disc, ‘Working On A Dream’, is published January 27th. I have had the opportunity of enjoying it but I had to listen to it on headphones……

  6. VANGARD Says:

    LOOKING FOR A FOR A COPY OF BRUCE DOING GROWING UP IN THE LATE 70S OR EARLY 80S (THINK IT WAS RECORDED IN CLEVELAND )WHEN HE IS TELLING A STORY OF HIM GOING TO TALK TO GOD AND MEETS KID LEO ON HIS WAY THERE AND KID LEO IS PRAYING FOR MORE WATTS IF ANYONE HAS THIS AND CAN HOOK ME UP WITH A COPY THAT WOULD BE GREAT

  7. S Geraldi Says:

    name me the opening acts for that evening, please? Cause I can remember

  8. […] that Bruce bootleg from the ’78 Darkness tour on my phone and I absolutely NEED to hear it? The Cleveland Agora show version of “Jungleland” is transcendent and it’s not on my damn iPod. Luckily […]

  9. john paull Says:

    i was 14 when they played that night, i recorded it on my little casett player, which i still have. of course i have better copies on cd now. the only problem i have with that night is that theres no video of it. are you kidding me. if any show from darkness that should have been on video, it was that one. weeks later southside played the agora, and theres video of that. after 45 bruce shows, thats the one i always go back to and listen to. i cant even imagine being there that night. magic. i think spirit in the night is my fav. i know a few people who there that night, and listening to them is like being a little kid hearing about santa claus the first time.

  10. karen de henning-dennehy Says:

    I VERY FONDLY REMEMBER THAT NIGHT. NONE OF US HAD GOTTEN TICKETS, SO OUR FRIEND, LOUIS MURATORI, AGREED TO LET US LISTEN TO IT AT THE BAR THAT HE OWNED. (HE ALSO RECORDED IT). BACK IN THOSE DAYS, LOUIS ONLY HAD A LOW-LIQUOR LICENSE, SO A FRIEND HAD A FIFTH OF BOURBON SHOVED DOWN THE FRONT OF HIS PANTS AND WE ALL PARTIED! AFTER ABOUT AN HOUR, LOUIS SAID, “FUCK IT! LOCK THE DOORS!” THEN WE REALLY PARTIED – OPENLY! WHAT A BLAST!! THOSE WERE THE DAYS!

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