By Alex Darus
When people think of Cleveland’s music history, things like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or Alan Freed might pop to mind. But Cleveland’s Public Auditorium, which has hosted an impressive lineup of legendary musicians over the years, is just as important to the city’s rock ‘n’ roll legacy. The Beatles played the complex, as did the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and just about every rock star of the 1960s. During the 1970s and ’80s, it hosted everyone from Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen to Prince and R.E.M.
Public Auditorium is located at 500 Lakeside Ave., Cleveland, and is made up of three venues — the 10,000-seat Public Hall, the 3,000-seat Music Hall and the 600-seat Little Theatre. Public Hall and Music Hall share a stage, separated by a barrier.
The venue is not used as much for concerts anymore, aside from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions, which will now take place every two years. Public Auditorium deputy commissioner Susie Claytor says there’s more competition for concerts these days and more venues around the area — like Quicken Loans Arena, Playhouse Square, Jacobs Pavilion and Blossom Music Center — booking shows.
But Claytor said the venue still hosts many exhibitions, trade shows, parties, conferences and other entertainment events each year.
“We’re still alive. We’re still working hard. It’s not just utilized for concerts,” said Claytor. “(The) historical piece sets us apart from the new venues.”
It’s the unusual set-up, coupled with the atmosphere of the decor, that make the venue such an important piece of Cleveland’s rock and roll history.
“They’ve had so many famous people perform on this stage. It’s just a hall of fame of people who have performed at Public Auditorium,” said Claytor.
Here are 99 iconic shows that were held at Public Hall and Music Hall over the past 75 years.