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11 Most Crowded Music Concerts In History

Music can bring an unusually diverse crowd together under one common interest. We blast our music through our headphones, our portable radios, and even our car speakers. But nothing beats the experience of seeing a band or artist perform live. People from all walks of life attend concerts, and at times it has become crowded.

Throughout history, some of the world’s most popular artists have seen crowds that helped artists reach legendary status for the amounts of people they draw to their shows. Here are some of the most crowded concerts in history:

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11. Toronto SARS Benefit (2003) – 450,000

There’s nothing like using one’s celebrity to reach far-off places to help provide aid. At the Toronto SARS Benefit, the show drew a crowd of 450,000 people.

Justin Timberlake, Rolling Stones, and AC/DC were just a few of the performers that made an appearance at the benefit show.

10. Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park (1981) – 500,000

The pair of music geniuses were known for their folksy tone and best known for their track “Sound of Silence,” which was featured in the popular film Trolls.

What makes this concert amazing isn’t even the fact that it drew 500,000 people to it. The American folk rock duo helps a free concert in New York’s Central Park and it was all televised by HBO.

9. Woodstock (1969) – 500,000

Woodstock was like a haven for those who subscribed to the hippie lifestyle and those who were all about the “free love” mentality. The year the show was held, the concert drew a crowd of 500,000 people. This was especially surprising, considering the entire show was held outdoors. People camped out in the field before the stage where artists would perform.

Big name performers like Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Janis Joplin, and the Who are just a few of the performers to have made an appearance at the show.

8. Summer Jam at Watkins Glen (1973) – 600,000

Held at the Grand Prix Raceway outside of Watkins Glen, New York, about 600,000 fans of rock music made their way to the show on July 28, 1973. This concert was once in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Largest audience at a pop festival.”

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Those lucky enough to end got to see performances from the Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, and The Band.

There were so many people trying to attend the concert that a traffic jam on the route to the show became chaotic, causing many to simply make the 5 to 8-mile trek all the way to the venue.

It is said that the sea of people at the show was so large, a number of fans couldn’t even see the stage. But special speakers allowed even those the furthest from the stage the opportunity to hear the same music.

7. Isle of Wight Festival (1970) – 600,000

The festival was held on the county island known as the Isle of Wight and drew a crowd of 600,000 people. The crowd in attendance was so large, it forced the council to add an entirely new section to the Isle of Wight County Council Act 1971. It prevents any overnight open-air gathering of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special license issued by the council itself.

There were over 50 performers in attendance for the show including names like The Who, Lighthouse, Miles Davis, and The Doors. Hendrix was also a performer, but it was unforeseen that this would be the last show he ever performed.

6. Steve Wozniak’s U.S. Festival (1983) – 670,000

Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak decided to stage a huge festival that would unite powerful, extravagant music with some amazing technology. The US Festival wasn’t really referring to the United States, but it was actually short for “Unite Us in Song”. The festival aimed to celebrate the end of the “me” decade of the 70s and was an introduction to Wozniak’s family life (his wife went into labor just before the opening).

But this festival will be long remembered for other things too. First of all, it saw some of the greatest performances of the rock scene, such as those of Scorpions, INXS, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, U2, Stevie Nicks, and Van Halen. Secondly, this enormous concert gathered around 670,000 people!

5. New York Philharmonic in Central Park (1986) – 800,000

The 1986 New York Philharmonic concert in Central Park received a Guinness World Record for the most attended classical concert ever. The estimated audience that showed at Central Park was around 800,000 people!

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In fact, there were 22,000 police officers that were monitoring the whole occasion. The orchestra was conducted by Bernstein that has previously been absent in the music world for 12 years.

4. Garth Brooks in Central Park (1997) – 980,000

The popular country pop musician decided to have a free concert in New York as a part of his 1997 tour. The concert was held on August 7, 1997, at Central Park and was called “Garthstock” for the number of people that attended.

With over 980,000 people in the audience, Garth’s Central Park concert immediately became the largest concert ever held in a park. The entire show was filmed and broadcast on HBO. Billy Joel and Don McLean also made appearances!

3. AC/DC, Pantera, The Black Crowes, Metallica (1991) – 1,600,000

In the top three most attended concerts of all time is the Monsters of Rock, a one-day concert, held in Moscow on September 28th, 1991. This heavy-metal concert occurred just four months before the dissolution of the USSR.

However, the bands like AC/DC, Metallica, and other popular heavy metal bands knew that they had a huge following in the USSR, so they thought adding Moscow to their European tour would be interesting. Luckily, someone agreed and that brought one of the most epic concerts of all time, having an estimated audience of 1,600,000 people!

2. Jean Michel Jarre (1997) – 3,500,000

Moscow hits the second position again with its Jean Michel Jarre’s concert. The concert was aimed for the celebration of the city’s 850th anniversary.

Even though the concert was free, no one expected to see more than 3 million people attending it! Jarre’s performance was long-awaited in Russia since Russians have been great admirers of his music. The concert took place in front of the building of the State University of Moscow.

Also, Jarre had a special surprise for the audience. He had a direct connection with the Russian space station, Mir and broadcasted a moving moment live from Space during the concert. It was a moment no one that attended the concert will ever forget.

1. Rod Stewart at Copacabana Beach (1994) – 3,500,000

This was a free concert staged by the superstar Rod Steward, as a gift for the New Year’s Eve to those who could not afford to go to a rock concert. Thanks to the lack of admission prices, more than 3,500,000 people attended, giving it the number one spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Largest Free Rock Concert Attendance.”

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Conversation (7)

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  • Jeffrey Michelson

    I attended the Steve Wozniak’s concert. That was insane! I’ll never forget that atmosphere in my life.

  • clay13

    Rod Stewart is THE BEST! No one will ever have concert so big!

  • markfreelove

    Woodstock and free love… my parents meet there!

  • Bryan98

    Had no idea that Rod Stewart performed at Copacabana Beach… probably because I wasn’t even born back than… dunno!

  • Lawrence Truth

    OMG! 800,000 for New York Philharmonic??? Only in New Your I guess…

  • Julia92

    Seriously? More than one million people for AC/DC, Pantera, The Black Crowes, Metallica???

  • James Poulson

    Woodstock! That’s forever number one concert! That energy, the cause, amazing performance…You just had to love it, so we did! Even today I bother mu children, and grandchildren, about this massive event! And I swear to you, I can see the jealousy is their eyes sometimes!

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