DTE Energy Music Theatre
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|DTE Energy Music Theatre|
|Former names||Pine Knob Music Theatre (1972–2001)|
|Address||7774 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston, Michigan, 48348|
|Location||Independence Township, Michigan|
|Owner||Palace Sports and Entertainment|
|Website||DTE Energy Music Theatre website|
DTE Energy Music Theatre is a 15,274-seat amphitheater located in Independence Township, Michigan (It has a Clarkston, Michigan mailing address). Originally built by the Nederlander Organization in the 1970s, it was originally known as the Pine Knob Music Theatre, due to its proximity to the nearby Pine Knob ski area and golf course. The name was changed before the 2001 concert season when DTE Energy (the parent company of Detroit Edison) purchased the naming rights to the amphitheater in a ten-year, $10 million deal. Despite this change, many people still continue to call the venue "Pine Knob", "The Knob", or "The Hill". The amphitheater is currently owned by Palace Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Detroit Pistons, The Palace of Auburn Hills, and operates the historic Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University. Annually, the music theater has consistently ranked among the top-selling outdoor concert venues in the nation.
The amphitheater held its grand opening in June 1972 with an Andy Williams concert. However, on June 25, 1972, a few days before Williams' appearance, there was a "pre-opening" concert featuring teen idol David Cassidy. The original sound system was novel in its day, a huge theatrical performance system designed for an outdoor theater with a custom console and large-array distributed speaker system.
Since those concerts, many of the biggest stars in music have performed there. Chicago has appeared at this venue almost every year since 1972, and Eddie Money typically opens the concert season each spring. Linda Ronstadt also performed there nearly every summer throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Bob Dylan played Pine Knob nine times between 1981 and 2000. Detroit's own Diana Ross often made it her hometown stop during the summer schedules.
DTE is the usual Detroit-area stop for some of the biggest tours of the summer concert season, including The Area:One and Area2 Festival, Crüe Fest, Ozzfest, Curiosa, Projekt Revolution, The Gigantour, Lilith Fair, Reggae Sunsplash and The Family Values Tour and was the Detroit area stop for Lollapalooza (in all years it played there but one) before that tour signed an exclusive deal with the city of Chicago. The venue also hosts the Lake Orion High School and Clarkston High School graduation ceremonies, typically held at the end of May or beginning of June.
One of the iconic features of the first years of Pine Knob was the dramatic entrance way to the amphitheater. Long cement retaining walls (that cut through the hill/lawn) were professionally hand-painted with the logos of every band that had played there. The walls were removed and filled in during the mid-1980s to provide more lawn seating area and were replaced by stairs.
For many years, Independence Township (the local unit of government where the theatre is located) has had an ordinance in effect forbidding concerts or events to be played past 11:00 pm there due to noise complaints from nearby residents. The bands playing there are subject to a $5000 fine for going over the 11:00 pm time limit and are then charged $10,000 per minute fines for every minute past 11:10 pm they play. Some concert events have had to be moved up from original posted times because of this, although a fair number of bands choose to play anyway (typically Aerosmith, for example), with the fine money given as a deposit.
As an amphitheatre in Michigan, the location is a suitable venue primarily in the summer months. In 2008, the amphitheatre had its earliest concert ever, the Michigan stop for Gigantour, on May 3. In 2012, the amphitheatre hosted its latest show ever, with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, on October 12. This was almost two weeks after the usual end to the concert season, which is usually a country music show in September.
Video, audio, photographic appearances
A variety of concerts from the venue have been videotaped and recorded through the years. One of the latest works is a DVD release of Barenaked Ladies' Talk to the Hand: Live in Michigan. During the set, vocalist Steven Page asks how the "Pine Knobbers" are feeling, after which a large cheer fills the amphitheatre.
As one of the first modern FM/broadcast television "simulcasts," in the summer of 1983, the Steve Miller Band was shown on Detroit broadcast station WKBD-TV and heard simultaneously on FM 98.7 WLLZ. This concert was a timely promotion for Miller's single, "Abracadabra," and featured an unseasonably cold and wet audience which weathered the event with excitement. Late in the afternoon, prior to the evening concert, tickets were made available at local record stores so Pine Knob could ensure a full venue, even with bad weather approaching.
On the black market, many bootleg recordings from the Pine Knob soundboard exist, as well as freely traded concerts like those of the Grateful Dead and Phish. The Dead's June 19 and 20, 1991 performances (featuring Bruce Hornsby on piano) saw an official release in 2006 as Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 11.
As an additional note, Genesis drummer and frontman Phil Collins is clearly seen wearing a Pine Knob logo golf shirt in the music video for the studio version of the song "No Reply At All". Alternate live versions of the song from the Three Sides Live recordings are not the same.
In photography, Jackson Browne used a photograph of himself and future wife Lynne Sweeney standing in the Pine Knob loading dock door for his Running On Empty LP. The photo was taken in August 1977 by photographer Joel Bernstein.
The front cover of Joni Mitchell's 1974 live album "Miles of Aisles" features the interior of the pavilion as it appeared at the time, although the tracks on the album were recorded at venues in California
The fourth incarnation of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, featuring Peter Frampton, Gary Brooker, Jack Bruce and Simon Kirke, filmed their performance at Pine Knob in May 1998 for home video release. To date, "Ringo Starr & His Fourth All-Starr Band" has only been released on VHS and has not been re-issued, although clips appear on 2001's "The Best of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band So Far" 
- "DTE BUYS THE RIGHTS TO RENAME PINE KNOB UTILITY FOLLOWS TREND IN $10-MILLION DEAL" Detroit Free Press, January 26, 2001
- "Talk to the Hand: Live in Michigan (2007)" Amazon.com sales page for Talk to the Hand DVD.
- "The Steve Miller Band - Live (1983 Pine Knob Detroit, MI)" Amazon.com sales page for The Steve Miller Band - Live VHS tape.
- "Peter Frampton Live in Detroit" Amazon.com sales page for Live in Detroit DVD.
- "Genesis - No Reply At All" Video (poss. illegal). Dailymotion. May 17, 2007.