These were the top selling concerts in America 40 years ago
Foghat was basically the Coldplay of 1978.
In the modern music biz, bands make their bucks on the road. A song stream brings in a fraction of a fraction of a penny. But a musician can charge serious cash for a concert ticket. Those $35 shirts help, too.
Looking back at the top concert draws of 1978, two things immediately jump out. First, tickets were cheap. Dirt cheap. Even considering inflation. The average ticket was around $7, or approximately $27 in today's dollars. Big arena acts charge five times that today.
The second thing: Big acts played much smaller venues. The Billboard Top Boxoffice chart from March 25, 1978, tallied total attendance, and the counts at these big arena shows were, oh, 5,000–7,000 bodies. That would be considered an intimate theater gig for the biggest acts of 2018.
Beyond all those numbers, the names themselves might surprise you. Would you guess Foghat was the biggest draw of the day? Let's look back, starting with the "Slow Ride" rockers…
Venue: Checkerdome, St. Louis
Opening act: Point Blank
The English group's brand of hard blues clicked in the States. They had recently released their Live LP, and were about to drop their eighth album, Stone Blue. Fans packed into the St. Louis Blues arena to witness the riffs.
2. Gordon Lightfoot
Venue: Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis
The gentle songsmith played two shows in one night to slide into the No. 2 slot on this list. By this point in his career, Lightfoot had released, like, eight greatest hits albums. You can bet "Early Morning Rain" was played.
3. Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Venue: Omni, Atlanta
The prog trio was promoting its goopy album Love Beach, which was hardly beloved by devotees. Nevertheless, ELP drew in crowds. The 1979 release In Concert documented this tour, on which the band would open gigs with a take on the theme song to Peter Gunn.
4. Jerry Garcia Band
Venue: Suffolk Forum, Commack, NY
Opening acts: New Riders / Robert Hunter
The Grateful Dead were (well, are?) always a draw, even when not entirely the Dead.
Venue: VonBraun Civic Center, Huntsville, AL
Opening acts: The Bar-Kays / Cameo
Seven bucks to witness a landing of the Mothership? Now that is a deal. Nobody put on a show quite like George Clinton and crew. The funk icons had just released Live and were in the process of promoting Motor Booty Affair.
6. Waylon Jennings
Venue: Civic Auditorium, Omaha, NE
Opening acts: Jessi Colter / The Waylors
A year before The Duke of Hazzard made its debut with that unforgettable Waylon Jennings theme song, the outlaw country king was truckin' in tour of his latest, I've Always Been Crazy.
7. Willie Nelson + The Charlie Daniels Band
Venue: Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, UT
Opening acts: Country Joe McDonald / Don Bowman
Waylon frequent partner in song Willie Nelson was doing well for himself, as well.
Venue: Hara Arena, Dayton, OH
Opening acts: Ronnie Montrose, Van Halen
At this point, Journey was blossoming from prog weirdos to arena giants, thanks to current hits like "Wheel in the Sky." Rock fans would perhaps crave a time machine to see young guns Van Halen opening the show.
9. Blue Öyster Cult
Venue: L.C. Walker Arena, Muskegon, MI
Blue Öyster Cult albums never quite burned up the charts, but the kooky pop-metal act remained a popular live draw, thanks to recent singles like "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and "Godzilla." The group's second live album, Some Enchanted Evening, was recorded on this tour.
Venue: Paramount Theatre, Portland, OR
Opening act: Eddie Money
Concertgoers got their money's worth — Eddie Money, that is. He opened for the jammy guitar god.
Interesting take. Santana described as jammy, oh my (George Takei here/hear). As for "quite the show", Ozzy, Van Halen and KISS were weekly fare for "quite the show". I could go on, but... I shan't.