World Series of Rock

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An advertisement for the 1974 concert

The World Series of Rock was a recurring, day-long multi-act summer rock concert held at Cleveland Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio from 1974 through 1980.[1] Belkin Productions staged these events, attracting popular hard rock bands and as many as 88,000 fans. FM rock radio station WMMS sponsored the concerts.[2] Attendance was by general admission.

The World Series of Rock was known not only for its arena rock spectacle, but was also notorious for the rowdiness, rampant drug use and drunkenness of the crowd.[3] As a result, concertgoers occasionally fell—or jumped—off the steep stadium upper deck onto the concrete seating area far below, causing serious injury.[4] The Cleveland Free Clinic staffed aid stations in the stadium with physicians, nurses and other volunteers, and through 1977, made its treatment statistics public. From 1978, Belkin Productions conditioned its funding of the Free Clinic on the Clinic's nondisclosure of the number of Clinic staff on duty at the concerts, the nature of conditions treated, and quantity of patients treated.[5]

Cleveland Stadium was the home field of the Cleveland Indians baseball team, so Belkin could only schedule stadium concerts for dates when the Indians were playing out of town. Stadium officials allowed seating on the playing field, which required fixing the turf before the Indians returned home. The fourth concert of 1975 was followed by heavy rain the next day, leaving the field in poor condition for the remainder of the season. Following the 1975 football season, groundskeepers completely resurfaced the field, and installed a drainage system, to repair damage from the rock concerts. The first concert of 1976 was scheduled for July 11 with Aerosmith, Todd Rundgren's Utopia, Jeff Beck (with the Jan Hammer Group) and Derringer. However, the concert was canceled after stadium officials refused to allow seating on the field to prevent damage to the new turf and Aerosmith would not play without fans on the field.[6] No concerts took place at Cleveland Stadium in 1976 though Belkin resumed the series in 1977 after stadium groundskeepers employed a field-covering system consisting of plywood and outdoor carpeting.

The third concert of the 1978 season featuring Fleetwood Mac, originally scheduled for August 5, had to be canceled at the last minute due to a sudden illness suffered by Lindsey Buckingham. The rest of the band, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks, flew to Cleveland to hold a press conference to explain the cancellation. The concert was rescheduled for August 26, forcing the cancellation of the fourth World Series of Rock featuring Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Todd Rundgren and Utopia, Blue Öyster Cult and the Cars that was originally scheduled for that date.

Violence outside the stadium marred the July 28, 1979 concert. There were five shootings (including one fatality), dozens of robberies and numerous incidents of violence around the stadium in the early morning hours before the concert, where thousands of fans waited overnight.[7] The next concert featuring Foreigner, Kansas, the Cars, the Tubes, David Johansen and Breathless was originally slated for Sunday, August 19, 1979. At the request of city officials, the concert was rescheduled to Saturday night at 8:00 pm for security reasons, but after receiving many complaints from parents about the late ending time, Belkin canceled the concert.[8] Afterwards, Art Modell, the head of Stadium Corp., stated there would be no more World Series of Rock concerts held at the stadium.[9]

The last World Series of Rock concert took place on July 19, 1980. The ticket price was $12.50 (equivalent to $36 in 2015).

Cleveland Stadium was demolished in 1996, and replaced with Cleveland Browns Stadium built on the same site. County Stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin staged its own series of rock festivals, also called the World Series of Rock, in the early 1980s. Since then, "World Series of Rock" has become a generic term for multi-act concerts.

Concert lineups[edit]

June 23, 1974[10]

August 4, 1974[11]

September 1, 1974[12]

May 31, 1975[13]

June 14, 1975[14]

July 11, 1975[15]

August 23, 1975[16]

June 5, 1977[17]

June 25, 1977[18]

August 6, 1977[19]

July 1, 1978[20]

July 15, 1978[21]

August 26, 1978[22]

July 28, 1979[23]

July 19, 1980[24]


  1. ^ Toman, James A. (1997). Cleveland Stadium: The Last Chapter. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Landmarks Press, Inc. pp. 64–65. ISBN 0-936760-10-9. 
  2. ^ Gorman, John, with Feran, Tom (2007). The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Company. pp. 72–79. ISBN 978-1-886228-47-4. 
  3. ^ Kinney, Brian, "Some fans got off on music, others high on marijuana," Cleveland Press, September 2, 1974, p. A-4. Hitchcock, Craig and Chace, Susan, “Crowd control is questioned,” The Cleveland Press, July 30, 1979, p. A-1.
  4. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “88,000 rock fans win Modell’s praise,” Cleveland Press, September 2, 1974, p. A-1 (concertgoer jumped or fell through net behind home plate). Bornino, Bruno, “Rainy Sunday,” Cleveland Press, June 6, 1977, p. C-1 (concertgoer leaped from upper deck). The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Fleetwood Mac show crowd praised as best behaved,” August 27, 1978 (man hanging from rafters lost grip and fell from upper deck). The Cleveland Press, “Fleetwood Mac concertgoers are rob victims,” August 28, 1978, p. A-12 (man fell trying to climb screen behind home plate).
  5. ^ Holden, Robert H., “It’s a gas, gas, gas[,] Roisterous crowd greets Rolling Stones,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 2, 1978, p. A-1.
  6. ^ Scott, Jane. "The Happening" The Plain Dealer July 2, 1976: Friday p.30
  7. ^ Warner, Susan; Thompson, Jayne. "1 killed, many hurt as violence mars concert at Stadium" The Plain Dealer July 29, 1979: 1-A
  8. ^ "Promoter Belkin kills 2nd Rock World Series" The Plain Dealer August 3, 1979: 1-A
  9. ^ Lebovitz, hal. "The state of the Browns?" The Plain Dealer September 9, 1979: 3-2
  10. ^ The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Bases loaded,” June 24, 1974 (photo caption); The Cleveland Press, “It’s a hit, all bases are covered,” June 24, 1974 (photo caption).
  11. ^ The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Rock music pulls 40,000 to Stadium, August 5, 1974, p. 6-C.
  12. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “88,000 rock fans win Modell’s praise,” Cleveland Press, September 2, 1974, p. A-1.
  13. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “Surf is up for the Beach Boys, Chicago brings windy sound,” Cleveland Press, June 2, 1975, p. D-9.
  14. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “Mick Mecca,” The Cleveland Press, June 16, 1975, p. B-8.
  15. ^ Cleveland Press, “Rock, soccer polkas IN stadium this weekend” July 11, 1975, p. 24.
  16. ^ Cleveland Press, “Stadium is rocking,” August 23, 1975, p. A-1.
  17. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “Rainy Sunday,” Cleveland Press, June 6, 1977, p. C-1.
  18. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “Stadium rocks inside and out,” Cleveland Press, June 27, 1977, p. B-2. “Rock concert goers litter downtown,” Cleveland Press, June 27, 1977, p. A-4.
  19. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “Wet rockers unbeatable,” The Cleveland Press, August 8, 1977.
  20. ^ Bornino, Bruno and Banks, Sandy, “City becomes Rocktown as 86,000 fans roll in,” The Cleveland Press, July 1, 1978, p. 1. Scott, Jane, “83,000 rock and roll with Jagger,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 2, 1978, p. 1-1.
  21. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “62,000 see ELO’s UFO,” The Cleveland Press, July 17, 1978. Scott, Jane, “The happening,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 14, 1978.
  22. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “Fans ‘get religion’ at Stadium concert,” The Cleveland Press, August 28, 1978, p. B-6. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Fleetwood Mac show crowd praised as best behaved,” August 27, 1978. The Cleveland Press, “Fleetwood Mac concertgoers are rob victims,” August 28, 1978, p. A-12.
  23. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “‘Series’ was loud as concerts go,” Cleveland Press, July 30, 1979, p. A-8. Hitchcock, Craig and Chace, Susan, “Crowd control is questioned,” The Cleveland Press, July 30, 1979, p. A-1.
  24. ^ Bornino, Bruno, “Stadium shakes at World Series of Rock,” The Cleveland Press, July 21, 1980, p. B-5.

Further reading[edit]

  • Wolff, Carlo, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories: True and Tall Tales of the Glory Days, Told By Musicians, DJs, Promoters & Fans Who Made the Scene in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, Gray & Company, Publishers (2006), ISBN 978-1-886228-99-3. [1]
  • Hanson, Debbie, "Jules Belkin - Making Cleveland Rock" (2004). [2]

External links[edit]

Murray Saul and Shelly Stile of WMMS open a World Series of Rock show in 1975 [3], retrieved from on August 10, 2008.

AC/DC perform at World Series of Rock concert of July 28, 1979 [4], retrieved from on March 29, 2009.

Biography of Mike Belkin, principal of Belkin Productions. [5]