School of Rock


By Paul Feinberg '85, Illustrations by P.J. Loughran

Published Jan 1, 2009 8:15 AM

Come and See the Show

Bad Religion founder and Bruin scholar Greg Graffin didn't just play music when he was a student; he was a fan as well.

"Lucinda Williams would play the coffee house back then, but she didn't know me as a fellow songwriter," he remembers. "I was just doing the sound. I also remember artists like Alex Chilton and Rank and File playing at The Cooperage, back when they had a stage."

In fact, one of the highlights of life on the UCLA campus for decades has been a star-studded parade of memorable rock concerts and rock moments.

Royce Hall rocked out to Bob Dylan (1964), Arlo Guthrie (1969), Elton John (1970), Crosby and Nash (1971), Frank Zappa (1975), The Ramones (1979), Jefferson Starship (1980) and Elvis Costello (2004).

The Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis.

When the men's basketball team wasn't winning titles in Pauley Pavilion, the venue frequently played host to big-name rockers. The most recent concert was in July, when VH1 broadcast a rousing, two-hour tribute to The Who that starred Pearl Jam, Flaming Lips, Incubus, Foo Fighters, Tenacious D (who offered a deliciously warped take on "Squeeze Box," which ended with former Bruin Jack Black's pants down around his ankles) and even a performance by the iconic English band themselves.

R.E.M. and The Minutemen played on the long-gone Ackerman Union patio. The Romantics and X and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts raised the roof in the Ackerman Ballroom. Bruin Walk has also reverberated to the sounds of artists like The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sublime. Janss Steps was the venue for Oingo Boingo. Fleetwood Mac played a free concert in 1983 after the 10K Rock and Run charity event.

The beat goes on and on and on. Some moments, though, were too good not to call out:

Michael Thomas' breathless 1968 review of a Jimi Hendrix gig on campus for Eye magazine included this whopper: "Grown men cried; the audience crawled onto the stage and tried to kiss his boots." Kathy McMahon '70 was there and told UCLA Magazine in 2003 that she went with her friend Randy, who had a broken leg — and Hendrix "reached over, grabbed Randy's crutch and began playing the guitar with it."

Early rock legend Bobby Darin, who died in 1973, asked that his body be donated to the UCLA Medical Center for research.

In 1975, during a summer tour for his third solo album, Stephen Stills played UCLA, and the crowd was wowed by a surprise reunion onstage with Neil Young.

The Alarm made rock history in 1986, when it played the first-ever global satellite concert before more than 20,000 fans at the base of Janss Steps. The event was broadcast worldwide by MTV.

Not really a moment, but certainly worth mentioning, is the fact that a Ray Charles 1969 UCLA Concert Poster is available for the low, low price of only $342.60 on the collectibles site itsonlyrockandroll.com



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