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The A to Z of Carnegie Hall: R is for Rock 'n' Roll

This installment of our A to Z of Carnegie Hall series looks at the letter R—for "Rock 'n' Roll."

Rock 'n' Roll Comes to 57th Street

A venue for popular music for most of its history, rock 'n' roll first came to Carnegie Hall on May 6, 1955, when Bill Haley and the Comets took part in a variety concert alongside an astonishing lineup that included Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Les Paul, and Buddy Rich.

On October 29 of the same year, for the first time the entire program was given over to rock 'n' roll and R&B, when such artists as Bo Diddley, Earl Gaines, and Etta James got loud at Carnegie Hall. Since 1955, many of the biggest names in rock history have played Carnegie Hall, including one remarkable two-week spell in the fall of 1971, when Pink Floyd, the Kinks, Marc Bolan and T. Rex, the Doors (without Jim Morrison), the Allman Brothers Band, and Poco all performed at the Hall.

Some of the Highlights

Performing either as headliners or as part of a mixed lineup, here are just some of the rock 'n' roll artists that have performed at Carnegie Hall since Bill Haley and the Comets took to the stage 57 years ago.

Bill Haley and the Comets (05/06/1955) | Bob Dylan (11/04/1961) | Beatles (02/12/1964) | Rolling Stones (06/20/1964) | Chuck Berry (06/17/1965) | Mamas & the Papas (11/11/1966) | Elephant's Memory (02/29/1968) | Byrds (09/26/1969) | Led Zeppelin (10/17/1969) | Steppenwolf (12/06/1969) | James Taylor (06/12/1970) | Jethro Tull (11/04/1970) | Neil Young (12/04/1970) | Moody Blues (12/14/1970) | Free (01/25/1971) | Poco (02/12/1971) | Beach Boys (02/24/1971) | Tina Turner (04/01/1971) | Chicago (04/05/1971) | Elton John (06/10/1971) | Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention (10/11/1971) | Pink Floyd (11/15/1971) | Kinks (11/21/1971) | Marc Bolan and T. Rex (11/23/1971) | Doors (11/23/1971) | Allman Brothers Band (11/25/1971) | Jerry Lee Lewis (12/30/1971) | David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (09/28/1972) | America (02/15/1973) | Doobie Brothers (05/18/1973) | Renaissance (06/20/1975) | Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (10/04/1984) | Bruce Springsteen (12/07/1987) | Sting (03/10/1991) | 10,000 Maniacs (09/23/1992) | David Byrne (02/28/1995) | Band 03/29/1996 | R.E.M. (02/22/1999) | Jefferson Starship (09/18/1999) | B-52s (12/01/2000) | Yo La Tengo (02/25/2004) | Björk (11/06/2005) | Cowboy Junkies (02/01/2006) | Sigur Rós (02/26/2007) | National (02/03/2009) | U2 (10/04/2009) | Living Color (03/01/2010) | Indigo Girls (10/23/2010) | Flaming Lips (03/03/2011) | Chris Cornell (11/21/2011) | JAY Z (02/06/2012) | Gomez (03/13/2012)

Click images to enlarge. Clockwise from top left: poster for the Rolling Stones' 1964 concerts, flyer for Chuck Berry's 1966 concert, flyer for Marc Bolan and T. Rex's 1972 concert, and a flyer for the Beach Boys' 1971 concert. Courtesy of the Carnegie Hall Archives.

Other Notable Rock 'n' Roll Carnegie Hall Moments

Rock and classical music came together on May 26, 1971, when prog-rock eminences Emerson, Lake, and Palmer performed Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Bartók's Allegro barbaro, "The Barbarian." Surely the greatest rock band of all—Spinal Tap—made its one and only Carnegie Hall appearance on June 4, 2001 ... as part of the Toyota Comedy Festival.

The King

Finally, although the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley, never performed at Carnegie Hall, the Presley name will enter our concert database when his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, performs in Zankel Hall on November 17, 2012.

Related: History of the Hall

A to Z of Carnegie Hall
The Rose Museum
The History of the Hall