It Was Fifty Years Ago Today

Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. No, wait. That was the Rolling Stones. And they were destroying Berlin’s Waldbühne.

After World War II, the Olympic grounds were within the British occupation sector of Berlin. They were released for public use beginning in 1948, and the amphitheater was used for film showings, including for the Berlinale, and beginning in 1960 for boxing matches. Use for concerts began in the 1960s, but when the Rolling Stones performed there on 15 September 1965, the theater was severely damaged. Fans stormed the stage, and after the band left after a set of only 20 to 25 minutes, fought police, who attempted to control them with rubber truncheons and fire hoses, and destroyed the seating, fire hydrants and other furnishings. 270,000 DM in damage was done, in a riot that fulfilled the dire prophecies of some Berlin newspapers about rock concerts and was the first inter-generational battle of the 1960s in Germany. A reporter from Bild wrote of the concert, “I know Hell.” The arena had to be completely renovated and was then little used until 1978.

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3 responses

  1. Those were the days…. now the fans are in wheelchairs and use canes and walkers so they can’t do much damage! I’ve been a Stones fan since day one… hard to believe it’s been so many decades since I first heard them!!!

  2. Ah, the famous trashing of the Waldbuhne… They actually didn’t let them play there again until the 80s, and even THAT was still controversial. Oddly enough, in the intervening years after the orgy of riotous vandalism, they never REALLY fixed it back up for 20 years. Maybe they thought it was either a) art, or b) jinxed.

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