The Beacon Theatre

(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Historic Rock Venues: Top Places in The Tri-State Area That Have Hosted Famous Musicians

April 1, 2019

"I was always more interested in the ultimate live performance rather than the recording for its own sake. And, for the audience too, that thrill of just being there." – Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

By Allen Foster/Jacky Runice/Alaine Brandenburger

As soon as you cross the threshold of a historic rock venue, you notice a change in the air. There's a little charge, some lingering charisma from all those who have stepped foot on stage intermingled with raw excitement of the appreciative crowd. The electricity remains long after the show is over; an energy that enriches the atmosphere of the location. When you see a legendary artist in a historic venue, you become part of that forever vibe.

Following are some of the top places that have hosted famous musicians.


View from the top! What are your favorite shows that you've seen from the Beacon balcony? (--: @onthedlphoto)

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The Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway
New York City, NY 10023

In 1929, The Beacon Theatre opened on the Upper West Side as a movie house that could feature live musical accompaniment. It eventually changed over to a concert venue in the 1970s. The 2,894-seat, three-tiered theatre was designed by Walter W. Ahlschlager and was designated by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Committee as a city landmark building in 1979. The historic venue has featured luminaries such as The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, the Dalai Lama, The Allman Brothers Band (over 230 shows), and star-studded events such as numerous Tony Awards ceremonies.


Big announcements coming soon at

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Count Basie Theatre
99 Monmouth Street
Red Bank, NJ 07701

The Count Basie Theatre opened in 1926 as Reade’s Carlton Theater and it featured films, vaudeville acts, touring shows, and more for over 40 years. In August of 1974, Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band played the venue. Over the years, the theatre has transformed into the Count Basie Center of the Arts and become a regional center for the performing arts, providing an impressive diversity of quality entertainment and educational programs to serve the people of New Jersey. Other famous musicians who have graced the famed stage include Art Garfunkel, Lyle Lovett, Tony Bennett, Ringo Starr, William J. "Count" Basie, and many, many more.


Magnificent in any color (--: @sfriedrichs78)

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Madison Square Garden
7th Ave. & 32nd Street
New York City, NY 10001

There are not very many venues more revered and respected than Madison Square Garden, a 20,789 capacity arena that first opened its doors in 1879. Besides being home to several sports teams and hosting both Democratic and Republican national conventions, Madison Square Garden is a famed concert venue. In 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to President John F. Kennedy at the arena, 10 days before his 45th birthday. Other notable entertainers include Elvis Presley, John Lennon, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, The Who, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and many more.


Not a bad view at the Theatre this evening --✨

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NYCB Theatre Westbury
960 Brush Hollow Road
Westbury, NY 11590

The Westbury Music Fair opened in 1956 and presented the best of Broadway beneath a multi-colored tent in Long Island. Ten years later, the venue became a fully enclosed theatre-in-the-round featuring state of the art equipment and year-round shows. Since then, audiences have been treated to the likes of The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Diana Ross, Steve Vai, Little Feat, Brian Wilson, and many more.


Getting ready for the 2019 Summer season! ☀️ What concerts are you coming to this year?

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PNC Bank Arts Center
Exit 116 Garden State Parkway
Holmdel, NJ 07733

The PNC Bank Arts Center is one of the top two outdoor entertainment venues in the region. It opened in 1968 as the Garden State Arts Center and presented mostly classical music programs, offering free daytime shows to school children and other individuals. In the mid-1990s, the arts center added over 2,000 seats and doubled the size of the lawn, making it a suitable arena for big-name acts such as James Taylor, Coldplay, Mötley Crüe, The Allman Brothers Band, Santana, Kiss, Rush, Aerosmith, and many more.


Recently completed some upgrades at the Wellmont. Get your tickets today! --

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The Wellmont Theater
5 Seymour St
Montclair, NJ 07042

In 1922, H.H. Wellenbrick opened a $400,000 "fireproof" theatre in Montclair, New Jersey to offer entertainment from icons such as Charlie Chaplin. Wellenbrick combined his own name with the name of the town, calling it The Wellmont Theater. After several renovations that allowed the venue to adapt with the times, in 2008, the 2500 capacity theater reopened with a concert by Hanson. Since then, the stage has hosted countless renowned acts and artists such as Tom Jones, Joan Baez, Bush, Third Eye Blind, Goo Goo Dolls, Foreigner, Meat Loaf, and many others.


Dreaming of those majestic summer evenings in Queens! ----️ #ForestHillsStadium

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Forest Hills Stadium
1 Tennis Pl
Forest Hills, NY 11375

Forest Hills Stadium was built in 1923 and became a showplace for professional tennis (it's the original home of the U.S. Open and Davis Cup), hosting decades of champions. The artistic and cultural renaissance that was the 1960s also saw the arena transform into a musical palace. Go to YouTube and search "Beatles 1964" and you'll see the lads helicoptered onto the grass courts for their sold-out shows. Forest Hills was the New York venue for concerts by Talking Heads, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Queens' own Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel and Bob Dylan.

Amnesia set in for two decades and the venerable stadium forgot it was a music hall. After a facelift and injection of structural energy, Forest Hills once again welcomed musical artists in 2013 and the official reopening in August was certainly a party with a performance from Mumford & Sons. Paul Simon and Bob Dylan returned to the stage in 2016. The Chainsmokers had a successful two-night run in June 2017, as did the late, great Tom Petty with his Heartbreakers and Peter Wolf. The National rocked even the nosebleed seats in fall of 2017. Thrilling bands that hot the stage at Forest Hills in 2018 included Arctic Monkeys, Robert Plant, Belle & Sebastian, a return of David Byrne but this time with Tune-Yards and, of course, ALT 92.3’s 'Fall Into It' featuring Portugal. The Man with Lucius, Jungle and Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers.

The beat goes on for the historic venue as stellar bands entertain fans in 2019: ALT 92.3 hosts The Lumineers and The Head and the Heart over two days for their SUMMER OPEN; My Morning Jacket; and an incredible triple bill of Beck and Cage the Elephant with Spoon.


Thanks to all our fans for a fantastic 45 years of music in Asbury Park! We couldn't do it without you! #Repost from @donnellysea, Asbury resident and @seahearnow organizer: ・・・ Happy Birthday dear friend. 45 years of being the public house for the Jersey Shore. People fell in love, fans had their minds blown, their perceptions altered and barriers were broken from the stage. God Bless this juke joint/ church by the sea.

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The Stone Pony
913 Ocean Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Asbury Park's The Stone Pony has been the home for emerging and renowned musicians since 1974.  “Southside” Johnny Lyon and Steve Van Zandt performed with their band, The Blackberry Booze Band, right from the beginning in the mid-1970s. Van Zandt went on to join Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. National acts that headlined the club include the soul duo, Sam and Dave; Brits Graham Parker and  Elvis Costello; blues guitar god, Stevie Ray Vaughn; New York sons and daughter, The Ramones and Blondie; The Stray Cats; and Rockford, Illinois' Cheap Trick.

Consider the acts that have taken the stage at The Stone Pony and you'll realize just how splintered the "rock" genre has become in the 21st century: Meatloaf, Johnny Winter,  The Smithereens, Todd Rundgren, David Byrne, Jimmy Cliff, Blue Oyster Cult, Guster, Joan Jett, Gregg Allman, Levon Helm, Weezer, Saves the Day and Ronnie Spector, among many more. The venue isn't merely a regional musical treasure, but a national one.

The diversity of artists has not ebbed. Coming to the Stone Pony stage spring and summer, 2019: Yo La Tengo, Tom Morello, Greta Van Fleet, The Mavericks, LovelytheBand and just in time for Independence weekend, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. Don't miss The Growlers and Ben Folds sharing the stage with The Violent Femmes.


✨ Flashing lights ✨ (--: @simonallenphotography)

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Radio City Music Hall
1260 6th Ave
New York, NY 10020 

Opened in 1932, Radio City Music Hall has been a go-to venue for entertainment in New York for almost 90 years. The venue has seen its share of highs and lows, but it was renovated extensively in 1999. Its stage and theater space was designed with performance in mind, and there are no columns in between the stage and the seats that would obstruct your view. Radio City Music Hall has hosted everyone from Madonna to Lady Gaga, and has even played host to the MTV Video Music Awards. Upcoming shows include Why Don't We and Billie Eilish.


We ❤️ live music! --

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Oakdale Theatre
95 S Turnpike Rd
Wallingford, CT 06492

For over 60 years, The Oakdale Theatre (also known as the Toyota Oakdale Theatre) has hosted musical performances and plays. It was renovated to include a dome, along with other features that enhanced the venue's acoustics and made it perfect for showcasing musicians and bands. While it's small enough that fans feel connected to the artists, it's not so small that it feels stifling. Over the past decade, this venue has featured shows from Twenty One Pilots, 5 Seconds of Summer, Dua Lipa and Demi Lovato. Upcoming shows include Mariah Carey and Third Eye Blind.


Manhattan Center has been lighting up 34th Street for decades. Check out this shot of our facade back in the 1990s. #tbt #manhattancenter

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The Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center
311 W 34th St
New York, NY 10001

Constructed in 1901, the Manhattan Center is one of the oldest performance venues in the city. As the former location of the Opera, this venue was built with performance in mind. It too features many seats with unobstructed views, with an open floor area in addition to the seats. With beautiful architectural detailing, this venue will transport you back in time while you enjoy the musical sounds of your current favorites. Pat favorites who have graced the Hammerstein Ballroom stage include Paramore, Lukas Graham, Sam Smith, and Khalid. Experience the venue for yourself when Lukas Graham returns, or check out Hozier.