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Memories on the Rocks

Spring concert season has been canceled in Colorado, and Red Rocks Park has been shut down indefinitely over COVID-19. If we want to enjoy Colorado's most epic venue right now, it's going to be through memories.

We recently asked readers to share their favorite Red Rocks moments, and they responded with stories about dropping a cell phone into a toilet at a Steely Dan show, partying with other Golden High School students on the Rocks when there were no concerts happening back in the ’80s, watching Florence + the Machine play during a snowstorm, climbing to the top of Ship Rock in 1956, moshing, and all manner of rule-breaking. Many just listed their favorite concerts, including David Byrne, the Grateful Dead, Pretty Lights and Cody Jinks.

Here are some of the stories and memories that readers shared with us. From Henry:

I worked there a while back...used to run the VIP gate. My favorite show I was there for was Korn. Jonathan [Davis] came around and shook everyone's hand and thanked us for all the help.

While not working, my favorite show would be a close tie between Mötley Crüe and Godsmack. Godsmack's pyro was so big we had to leave the backstage area so no one got hurt. LOL.

Gregory offers:

Saw every Grateful Dead show at Red Rocks, along with many others including Widespread Panic, Allman Brothers, and Doobie Brothers, but my biggest thrill was actually performing with the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus in front of a sold-out audience. Wow!

Krischa adds:

My mother would have said Rod McKuen, while getting to bring a big cooler, large blanket, and enough wine. My Dad would have said the Beatles, where he took his secretary instead of my mother.

Kurt recalls breaking the rules:

Grateful Dead, 1985. I had to get in the lot riding in the trunk of a car to meet friends that had tickets. No idea where to meet them. Rode in. They parked the car and opened the trunk. Parked next to friends with tickets. 

Jeff Harvey has two favorite memories and one not-so-good one:

1. June 10, 1995 — Phish played "A Day in the Life" (for the first time), and tears streamed down my face because I never imagined ever hearing that song performed live.

2. (I forget the date, probably 2002) — Phil Lesh and his band played "Blues for Allah," another one I never thought I'd hear, and during the part where they sang "under eternity, under eternity, under eternity blue" I looked up into the starry sky and felt like I was going to fall off the Earth, like the universe was an ocean and all I had to do was jump into it.

Least favorite memory: Seeing Primus and Sonic Youth in 1993, but drinking so much vodka before the show that I didn't even know what was going on. I'd had little experience with vodka up to that point, and it really snuck up on me. I'll regret that for the rest of my life.

Ricky remembers sneaking backstage:

Dead shows. My friend snagged backstage passes while a cute girl distracted a security guard. Back stage was boring however.

Amy reminisces:

It was pouring rain...Lyle Lovett was singing “I Had a Boat. He sang the line, “If I were like lightning”...and a HUGE bolt of lightning hit the hogback simultaneously. Everyone was thrilled and terrified at the same time!

They shut down the show after that, and unfortunately we left, but I heard that the rain waned and he continued to play for the remaining audience who all bunched up to the front.

Kris writes:

String Cheese in the rain last year! Started pouring just after the second set started, and they just kept playing and turned on the lasers! I describe it as rainbow static in the sky:) Most beautiful thing I ever saw.

Deanna adds:

One day, back in the '80s ('89?), a friend of mine and I had heard that Queensrÿche was gonna be bumping around Red Rocks. No concert. Weren't sure why. So we headed up that afternoon. As we were hanging out on the seats, sure enough, there they are! My favorite band! Just hanging out! What is going on here? Turns out, it's the filming of the movie The Adventures of Ford Fairlane! Yeah, that's right! Andrew Dice Clay! Vince Neil! Got to be extras in the movie! It was epic!

Kevin shares this flashback:

Tattoo the Earth. 2001. Slipknot headlined. Slayer was second runner. Show started at 11 a.m. I'm pretty sure the things that happened at that show changed the rules of Red Rocks forever. I seen some brutal shit. Stairs and mosh pits.....Selputura was pure chaos. And the bottle wars! That was also the last concert that allowed lids on the bottles. Something like 24 bands. It was a great show.

Timothy recalls:

Last year at Tenacious D, I got my whole section to start chanting "Roadie!" while the head roadie changed out Jack Black's guitar. It would have been the whole auditorium I think too, but then they started the next song and we all got quiet again.

What are your favorite Red Rocks memories and stories? Let us know at editorial@westword.com. 

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