At the Hollywood Bowl, we like to say there’s a story in every seat – that this iconic venue inspires performers and concert-goers alike to share their unique experiences under the Southern California stars. And just like every seat inspires a story, the Hollywood Bowl has its own story to tell. From its beginnings in Bolton Canyon to Rachmaninoff to Beatlemania and beyond, we’ll be counting down the history of the Hollywood Bowl in 90 facts over the 90 days before the 90th season begins! Find us on Twitter @hollywoodbowl and on Facebook to follow along as we count down to the start of the 2011 season.

1922: the LA Phil kicked off its first official season at the Hollywood Bowl, thereby establishing a tradition of making the amazing venue its summer home, every summer since. Alfred Hertz led the orchestra, which was established three years prior in 1919, in a program that included Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Brahms’ “Hungarian Dances,” a suite from Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” and closed with Rossini’s “William Tell Overture.” The program also noted there would be “Dancing immediately after the program under the auspices of the Valada Girls Club, Hollywood.”

Now, 89 years later - tonight, the LA Phil kicks off its 90th season at the Bowl with its Opening Night at the Bowl Concert – Thomas Wilkins leads the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra as Harry Connick, Jr. and Gloria Estefan are inducted in the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, joining such Bowl luminaries as John Williams, Stevie Wonder, Joshua Bell and John Mauceri – and that’s only a list of the inductees playing this summer! Thanks for following along with the story of the Hollywood Bowl – don’t forget to share your own Bowl stories.
Posted Friday, June 17
1961: Zubin Mehta made his debut at the Hollywood Bowl, leading the LA Phil in two concerts during the orchestra’s 40th Season at the Bowl. The 25-year old conductor had led the orchestra the previous winter, and he must have made a good impression at his Bowl concerts, as he was named Music Director of the LA Phil the following year, a post he held for 16 years - the second-longest tenure after Esa-Pekka Salonen (#42), who held the position for a year longer. Special bonus fact: for his first concert, Mehta led the Phil in two pieces on the schedule for this season, 50 years later – Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” (Aug. 16) and Rachmaninoff’s Concerto #3 (Aug. 2).
Posted Thursday, June 16
1993: After 28 years since his last visit in 1965, Paul McCartney returned to the Bowl to headline an Earth Day concert that also saw performances by The Steve Miller Band, 10,000 Maniacs, Don Henley, kd lang, Kenny Loggins and more. Noting that it had been some time since his last Bowl concert at the height of Beatlemania, McCartney quipped to the audience, “You look a bit different than the last time I was here.” Sir Paul returned in 2010 for his first solo show at the Bowl, wowing audiences with hits spanning 6 decades and his Beatles, Wings and solo careers.
Posted Wednesday, June 15
1955: Under Festival Director Leonard Bernstein, the Bowl put on the 5-concert “Festival of the Americas,” featuring music from the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America, as well as a Jazz Symposium and a program entitled “Music for Everyone.” Then-Vice President (and SoCal native) Richard Nixon and Dorothy Buffum Chandler were among those who helped dedicate the Festival, and luminaries such as Gregory Peck, Isaac Stern, Martha Graham, Carlos Chavez, Dave Brubeck, Billie Holliday and Andre Previn all took the stage to help make it a massive success.
Posted Tuesday, June 14
2009: Nick Gould, an artist and video editor performing with the band Of Montreal, proposed to his girlfriend, keyboardist Dottie Alexander, onstage at the Bowl. Luckily for Nick, she accepted and the concert continued with a celebratory air – well, an even more celebratory air than before, since the Athens, Georgia band, known for its theatrics, was opening for the queen of flamboyant theatrics, disco diva Grace Jones.
Posted Monday, June 13
1920: Hollywood High School first held its graduation ceremony at the Bowl. Since then, it’s been held there every year since, which means that several people who have performed at the Bowl over the years – Judy Garland, Carol Burnett and Rick Nelson, to name a few – first walked across the Bowl stage as HHS graduates! These days, the all-girls school Immaculate Heart also holds its graduation at the Bowl – in fact, they held theirs this year on June 1, while HHS’s commencement is scheduled for June 21. Congrats to all those who have graduated at the Bowl over the years!
Posted Monday, June 13
1962: Composer and conductor Henry Mancini made his Bowl debut. Hot on the heels of taking home 2 Oscars for his music from the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's,"Mancini led the Hollywood Bowl 'Pops' Orchestra in selections from "Mr. Lucky," as well as his iconic theme from the TV show "Peter Gunn." Thereafter, Mancini appeared at the Bowl on s regular basis, and he was named to the Bowl Hall of Fame in 2004. Don't forget - two more worthy tunesmiths receive the same honor this coming Friday, when Harry Connick, Jr. and Gloria Estefan are inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of Opening Night at the Bowl!
Posted Sunday, June 12
1979: The Playboy Jazz Festival was first held at the Bowl. The event, first held in Chicago in 1959, had been on hiatus for 20 years until Playboy founder Hugh Hefner brought it to the Bowl. The first West Coast installment of the Festival, held as part of the magazine's 25 anniversary celebration, was hosted by jazz aficionado and funnyman Bill Cosby, and was so successful from the start that Hef decreed that it would be an annual event from the stage that first night -- Cosby's been back as host every year, and the Festival has become one of the most popular pre-season events at the Bowl.
Posted Saturday, June 11
2006: Kermit and Miss Piggy took the Bowl stage as part of “Fireworks Finale: John Mauceri and Friends,” which was also Mauceri’s last concert as Music Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The spectacular concert also included standout performances by Kristin Chenoweth and the Joffrey Ballet, but certainly highlights of the evening included Kermit singing “(It’s Not Easy) Being Green,” as well as everyone’s favorite Muppet couple performing “I Got You, Babe” with Miss Piggy in a perfect imitation of one of Cher’s famously lavish outfits. Side note: Don’t Mauceri when he returns to lead the HBO in Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” on Aug. 19-21!
Posted Friday, June 10
1966: Sonny and Cher debut at the Bowl, headlining a bill that included such 1960s greats as The Righteous Brothers, Otis Redding, Donovan and more. The Bowl show with then-husband Sonny Bono (still the only U.S. Congressman to have a Number 1 record) was Cher’s first-ever live appearance, and it must have made an impression on her – on April 29 & 30, 2005, she closed out her three-continent, 325-concert “Farewell Tour” with two sold-out shows at the Bowl.
Posted Thursday, June 9
2010: Audubon International recognized the Bowl as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary,” thus making it the first amphitheater in California and only the 58th property worldwide to receive the honor. The Bowl received the honor for “taking action to implement indoor and outdoor conservation projects and… commitment to the sustainable management of their natural resources.” And, in fact, the Bowl has dozens of species of native wildlife and birds as well as hundreds of native plants – so one could truly say that, for the Bowl, everything’s coming up green!
Posted Wednesday, June 8
1937: Mexican composer and conductor Carlos Chávez made his Bowl debut, leading the LA Phil in a program that included Rossini and Tchaikovsky, as well as a suite of his own compositions. The Bowl's program referred to him as "priceless asset" in his native Mexico, and his legacy has only grown over the years - in fact, Chávez is one of the artists featured in the "Música y Sabor" exhibit at the Hollywood Bowl Museum opening on June 17 (Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl, of course), which highlights the innumerable Latino artists that have made up such a large part of the Hollywood Bowl's history over the past 90 seasons.
Posted Tuesday, June 7
1978: Flugelhornist and jazz superstar Chuck Mangione recorded his double album "An Evening of Magic: Chuck Mangione Live at the Hollywood Bowl." Backed by the Chuck Mangione Quartet and a 70-piece orchestra, he opened with his hit "Feels So Good" and kept the crowd rapt until the encore -- which, incidentally, was also "Feels So Good." Bonus - fans of the smooth jazz genre can check out our "Smooth Summer Jazz" show on August 14 featuring Dave Koz, Bobby Caldwell, Sheila E, Spyro Gyra and more!
Posted Monday, June 6
1931: Jascha Heifetz, considered by most the best violinist of the 20th century, played his first concert at the Bowl. He would return many times over the years, most notably in 1963, when he teamed with the New York Philharmonic and master cellist Gregor Piatigorsky to tackle Brahms' towering "Double Concerto" -- the same piece that Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil and the Capuçon brothers will be playing today as part of the final installment of LA Phil LIVE. Check your local theaters to see if it's playing near you - you won't want to miss it!
Posted Sunday, June 5
1992: British crooner Morrissey debuted at the Bowl, marking the beginning of his relationship with his adopted home. He returned to the Bowl to play a sold-out show in 2007, and that concert was recorded and filmed for eventual release as a companion DVD to a greatest hits collection. However, the famously prickly Morrissey disavowed the planned release, saying his label had not consulted him on it and thus he urged his loyal fans to "spend their money elsewhere."
Posted Saturday, June 4
1964: Two artists who have almost 50 years of history together at the Bowl and are still going strong: Future jazz legends Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter took the Bowl stage together for the first time as part of the Miles Davis Quintet. Hancock had joined the group on piano the year before in 1963, while Shorter joined earlier in 1964 on the tenor sax. Both stayed in the group until the latter part of the decade, when they split off and formed their own groups, although they remained frequent collaborators. That collaboration continues this year, as both are slated to appear as part of “Joni’s Jazz” on August 17 with Brian Blade, Kurt Elling, Glen Hansard, Chaka Khan, Aimee Mann and many more!
Posted Friday, June 3
1954: the 4th season opener of "The Colgate Comedy Hour" became the first TV show to be broadcast live from the Bowl! The show was hosted by Eddie Fisher (regular hosts Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were unable to perform) and featured Miss Peggy Lee, Louis Armstrong and heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, among others.
Posted Thursday, June 2
1967: The history of the Hollywood Bowl is riddled with famous conductors leading the LA Phil in their own work, but the composer and conductor in #18 had a relationship with the Bowl that lasted for almost half a century – in 1967, Aaron Copland celebrated that relationship by conducting an all-Copland program at the Bowl that included “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra” (which actually received boos and hisses from the orchestra during a rehearsal for its West Coast premiere at the Bowl in 1927), a suite from “Appalachian Spring” and his “Clarinet Concerto.” And, as a bonus, the Bowl’s relationship with Copland continues this summer when conductor Joana Carneiro leads the orchestra in a program that contains those latter two works on August 4!
Posted Wednesday, June 1
2006: Like, fer sure – the Bowl helped all the children of the 1980s reminisce, dance and sing along when the first-ever Totally 80s Hollywood Bowl concert was held. The show featured plenty of nostalgia, Wayfarers and neon, but most importantly, the show featured three iconic 80s bands – The Psychedelic Furs, who penned the hits “Pretty in Pink” and “Love My Way”; ABC, whose bits “The Look of Love” and “Be Near Me” hit #1 on the dance charts in the 80s; and The Human League, whose smash hits “Don’t You Want Me” and “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” will be back at the Bowl on 9/2 when they headline another Totally 80s Hollywood Bowl concert!
Posted Tuesday, May 31
1967: The Who got off their "Magic Bus" to play their first of many shows at the Bowl. They didn't disappoint those expecting to see the band's famous stage antics, either; photos show Roger, Pete, John and especially Keith doing what they did best - trashing their equipment. They returned in '00, '02, '04 and '06 and though they may have mellowed a little, they still bring that signature energy every time they play the Bowl.
Posted Monday, May 30
1971: The Carpenters, now featuring Karen on vocals and on A&M Records, headlined at the Bowl after seeing a string of success that began when their version of Burt Bacharach’s “Close to You” hit #1 on the charts a year earlier. The Carpenters were inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2010 and, though Karen passed away in 1983, the Opening Night at the Bowl featured Richard leading the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in “For All We Know,” alongside a synched video of Karen singing.
Posted Sunday, May 29
1966: An unknown local group called the Richard Carpenter Trio won the annual “Battle of the Bands” at the Bowl. The group, which featured the group’s namesake on piano, his sister Karen on drums and friend Wesley Jacobs on bass and tuba, won a record contract from RCA records, but the label decided it didn’t see much of a future in a jazz trio that featured a tuba and the group was dropped from its contract.
Posted Saturday, May 28
1942: World War Two, especially on the West Coast, meant that the entire country was expected to do its part for the war effort, and #23 shows the Bowl was no different – in 1942, nighttime blackouts and gasoline rationing, among other factors, caused those who ran the Bowl to limit its audience size to 5,000 per concert. This was later raised to 10,000, but the programs for that year (and the duration of the war) were filled with patriotic ads and articles reminding Bowl patrons to conserve. The program also reminded everyone that concerts broadcast from the Bowl were favorites of soldiers, sailors and marines listening overseas.
Posted Friday, May 27
1999: #26 saw Dylan, #25 saw Simon, so that must mean #24 is about Dylan AND Simon – in 1999, these two legendary singer-songwriters shared the Bowl stage in a concert that, according to Chris Willman in Entertainment Weekly, was “the concert of the summer.” Simon took the stage first for his set and Dylan closed out the show, but the two played some of each others’ most well-known works together, including “Sounds of Silence” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” as well as shared favorites like “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and “Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.”
Posted Thursday, May 26
1967: The LA Phil presented one of its first “rock shows” when Simon and Garfunkel took the stage as part of the regular “Friday Night ‘Extras’” series. The folk-rock troubadours, supported by The Lovin’ Spoonful, had played the Monterey Pop Festival earlier in the summer and were on the rise, but were still about 6 months away from their biggest successes to date; that is, the appearance of their music in “The Graduate.”
Posted Wednesday, May 25
1965: Bob Dylan debuted at the Bowl, with Joan Baez as the opening act. The show, on September 3, was right at the beginning of his controversial “electric” period, although according to most the audience at the Bowl was much more receptive to his plugged-in sound than had been audiences earlier on the tour. He had a little something for everyone, though, as he played the first part of his set acoustic and the second half electric, closing with “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Posted Tuesday, May 24
1934: A production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Max Reinhardt, requires moving the Bowl’s shell and moving around tons of earth to create a hill for the set. All the work paid off in the end though, as more than 100,000 people came to see the play, which starred Mickey Rooney, Sterling Holloway and Olivia de Haviland, over its run of 8 performances.
Posted Monday, May 23
1963: The Bowl (with an actual giant shell in place of its recognizable “shell”) showed up in the “Ann-Margrock Presents” episode of “The Flintstones.” IN the episode, Ann-Margrock, voiced by Ann-Margret herself, holds a special concert in Bedrock that Fred and Barney decide to audition for. Hilarity ensues, of course – yabba dabba doo!
Posted Sunday, May 22
1949: Bugs Bunny visited the "acoustically poifect" Bowl in the Looney Tunes episode "Long-Haired Hare." In an effort to get back at a snooty opera singer, Bugs plays the Bowl's famous shell like a gong and dresses up as real-life conductor and Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra Music Director Leopold Stokowski for some classical music-related hi-jinks. Bugs has been back since, but he's always been on his best behavior.
Posted Saturday, May 21
1958: The circus ran away to the Bowl when the Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus became the first circus to perform on the Bowl stage, complete with elephants, flying trapeze artists and cannons! Approximately 54,000 visitors came through in the first 3 days,including such stars as Lucille Ball and Jayne Mansfield. That circus doesn't come around much anymore, but this season's got "Cirque du Soleil" on Opening Night at the Bowl with a sneak peek at its new production "Iris: A Journey Through the World of Cinema."
Posted Friday, May 20
1934: In yet another early Bowl milestone, Dr. Alfred Hertz, the "Father of the Hollywood Bowl," conducted his 100th concert at the Bowl. His fans and well-wishers presented Hertz with a cake provided by LA's own Helms Bakeries; the cake, of course, had 100 candles on it. Special bonus fact: Hertz's 100th concert included "Pines of Rome" by Ottorino Respighi, which is set to be performed this summer on Sept. 8 by the LA Phil and Bowl favorite Bramwell Tovey.
Posted Thursday, May 19
1945: In a Bowl first AND a Bowl milestone, film composer/conductor/arranger Johnny Green made his Bowl debut by leading the second half of a "Motion Picture Academy Night" concert that guest starred such film luminaries as Claudette Colbert, Danny Kaye and Frank Sinatra. Green, a 5-time Oscar winner and composer of the classic "Body and Soul," went on to perform 77 concerts at the Bowl over 39 years.
Posted Wednesday, May 18
1966: Violinist Itzhak Perlman made his debut at the Bowl, playing Tchaikovsky's famous Violin Concerto. He later remarked “I have had a lot of experience playing outdoors, but nothing is as special or exciting as playing the Hollywood Bowl.” Get ready to get excited - you can get ready for some more of that special feeling when Perlman returns to the Bowl this summer after more than a decade away.
Posted Tuesday, May 17
1953: Peggy Lee made her debut at the Bowl. Already one of the most popular and glamorous singers of the time, her appearance at the Bowl catapulted her into the rarified realm of superstardom. Performing hits like "Golden Earring" and "Just One of Those Things," Miss Lee went on to become a Bowl regular and inspiration to singers of all stripes, even earning a 2004 tribute concert at the Bowl that featured Bea Arthur, Petula Clark and Nancy Sinatra, among others.
Posted Monday, May 16
1971: And you can quote him -- in 1971, singer-songwriter James Taylor played at the Bowl for the first time, riding the success of his hit debut "Sweet Baby James," released the prior year. Looking back years later, he remarked “When you play the Hollywood Bowl, you have a feeling...that you are playing in a major place, a place that has a lot of weight and is an important part of musical history. You have a feeling of having arrived." Well said, James!
Posted Sunday, May 15
1969: Under then-General Director Ernest Fleischmann, the LA Phil launched the "Open House at the Bowl" summer educational program for children. Designed to provide area kids with their first performing arts experiences, it's still going strong as SummerSounds and serving an audience of over 30,000 per summer.
Posted Saturday, May 14
1973: Stevie Wonder, Mr. "Superstition" himself, debuted at the Bowl as part of the Newport Jazz Fest. Stevie's gone on to become one of the Bowl's most treasured performers and was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2001.
Posted Friday, May 13
1938: A staging of Wagner's "Die Walküre," starring Maria Jeritza as Brünnhilde, lives on as the Bowl's biggest opera spectacle ever. In the opening of Act III, for the famous "Ride of the Valkyries," costumed Valkyries actually rode white horses down the hillsides of the Bowl, much to the delight and surprise of the audience.
Posted Thursday, May 12
1962: Movin' on up - the Bowl's two moving sidewalks were installed, each with a capacity to move up to 8,000 people per hour. These sidewalks, coupled with the just-introduced (in 1961) bus service that dropped patrons off right at the Bowl Box Office, became an integral part of the MTA's highly-touted "Seat to Seat Starliner Service."
Posted Wednesday, May 11
2000: The Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame was established to "recognize artists whose achievements embody the spirit of the Bowl." The first two members were also inducted the same year -- perennial Bowl favorite John Williams and country megastar Garth Brooks.
Posted Tuesday, May 10
1994: A Bowlful of firsts - Garth Brooks played the Hollywood Bowl for the first time and for the first time ever with an orchestra (the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra led by John Mauceri, to be exact). The July 14 benefit concert was part of "World Cup Week at the Hollywood Bowl" and raised around $1 million for a local charity -- and it sold out in 21 minutes, causing a longtime Bowl employee to remark that it was the longest line he'd seen since The Beatles played in '64 and '65.
Posted Monday, May 9
1985: 5 days after his 27th birthday, Esa-Pekka Salonen made his Bowl debut by leading the LA Phil in a program of Bernstein, Gershwin and Sibelius, and followed it up the next night with an all- Beethoven program. He became the LA Phil's Music Directory 7 years later in 1992 -- a post he held until 2009, when he took over the "created-just-for-him" position of Conductor Laureate. Bravo, Maestro Salonen!
Posted Sunday, May 8
1923: The first 150 boxes were built in the front seating area of the Bowl before the start of the second season. Until then, the only seats available were simple wooden benches that went for 25 cents each; prices have gone up some in the decades since, but fans of live music can still get tickets for $1 in 2011. Here's hoping everyone got the tickets
Posted Saturday, May 7
1996: LA's biggest fan Randy Newman made his debut at the Bowl! The eventual two-time Oscar winner (and 20-time nominee), 2002 Hall of Fame inductee and Bowl favorite took the stage with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra to conduct and perform a program of his own compositions, including music from the films "Toy Story" and "Parenthood" and, of course,the hit "I love L.A."
Posted Friday, May 6
1953: On the final symphonic concert of the season, the Bowl hosted its 1000th concert, 32 years after hosting its first. The Sept. 3 program was led by guest conductor (and former LA Phil music director) Otto Klemperer and featured an all-Beethoven program, ending with the majestic 9th Symphony.
Posted Thursday, May 5
1925: The first radio broadcast was made from the Bowl on LA's own KFI. With that broadcast,the LA Phil became the first major U.S. symphony to broadcast an entire concert over the air and, in subsequent years, broadcasts from the Bowl became a regular fixture on the airwaves. In 1927, Sarah Ellen Barnes had a bi-weekly program on KFI (Tuesdays and Fridays at 6pm) talking about upcoming Bowl programs, and during WWII, broadcasts from the Bowl were some of the most popular programs on the Armed Forces Radio Service.
Posted Wednesday, May 4
2007: Rufus Wainwright, in a tribute to Judy Garland, recreated the legendary singer's famous 1961 Bowl performance for a new generation of Garland and Bowl fans. Under a clear late September sky - no rain this time - Wainwright and guests belted out 31 songs in 2 acts and an encore, capturing the spirit and soul of Ms. Garland and her original performance while at the same time giving it a character that was undeniably Rufus.
Posted Tuesday, May 3
1961: Singin' in the rain - an audience of 18,000 sat rapt in their seats, despite a surprise downpour, as Judy Garland sang for more than two hours, 24 songs and four encores! In this recreation of her famous Carnegie Hall performances of the same year, Garland sang some of her most iconic tunes, including "The Trolley Song," "The Man Who Got Away" "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and, of course, "Stormy Weather."
Posted Monday, May 2
1979: Dancin' at the Bowl - the now-legendary Mikhail Baryshnikov made his debut at the bowl, dancing with the New York City Ballet over three nights in August. Most memorably, he danced the lead in Stravinsky's "Apollo," with the original 1928 choreography by George Balanchine.
Posted Sunday, May 1
1991: The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra -- the one that's exited continuously since -- debuted under the baton of the esteemed John Mauceri. The orchestra played its first public concerts at the Bowl from July 2-4 and introduced itself with a program that included works by Bernstein, Gershwin and more.
Posted Saturday, April 30
1928: The first recording was made on the Hollywood Bowl stage when conductor Eugene Goosens led "The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra" in a program that included Dvorák's "Carnival" Overture and a suite from Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty." The conductor noted in his 1951 autobiography that he heard the sound of a "low-flying aeroplane" during the Dvorák, but that it was hardly audible on the recording.
Posted Friday, April 29
1980: Gehry strikes again! The architect and friend of the LA Phil made his first acoustical contribution to the Bowl in 1970 with his "sonotubes," but 10 years later he, devised another solution to improve acoustics with his carefully-placed fiberglass spheres that hung above the stage. The spheres proved more popular -- architecture aficionados said they had the "effervescence of an architectural champagne cocktail" -- and they remained in place until the entire shell was replaced in 2003.
Posted Thursday, April 28
1970: In an effort to improve acoustics (both on stage and in the seats) at the Bowl, architect (and friend of the LA Phil) Frank Gehry and acoustician Christopher Jaffee installed "sonotubes" on and around the Bowl stage. The manufactured cardboard forms did the trick, but were a temporary solution and some complained that they took away from the look of the iconic Bowl shell. The sonotubes stayed in place for 10 years, when Gehry came up with another acoustical solution...
Posted Wednesday, April 27
1966: 1966, Mick, Keith and the rest of the Rolling Stones debuted at the Bowl on July 25th. Opening acts included Buffalo Springfield (with Neil Young and Stephen Stills) and the setlist featured such future classics as "Paint It Black," "Mother's Little Helper" and "Satisfaction," and it seems that their debut went well, since the Stones have been back a time or two since.
Posted Tuesday, April 26
1969: Then-General Director of the Bowl (and Executive Director of the LA Phil) Ernest Fleischmann ushered in the now-hallowed tradition of Fireworks at the Bowl. The first program was led by Zubin Mehta and was, of course, a Tchaikovsky Spectacular that closed with - what else - the "1812 Overture.
Posted Monday, April 25
1956: Two titans of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, played together at the Bowl, and that performance became the centerpiece of the "Jazz At The Hollywood Bowl" double album, which also featured Art Tatum, Buddy Rich and Oscar Peterson.
Posted Sunday, April 24
1932: Democratic candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed a large crowd at the Bowl while campaigning for President. The future four-term President was introduced by Will Rogers, who once said "I am not a member of any organized political party - I am a Democrat."
Posted Saturday, April 23
1982: "And now for something completely different..." In 1982, the British comedy giants Monty Python released "Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl." The concert film was made over 5 nights in 1980 and featured such timeless Monty Python bits as "Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge," "The Ministry of Silly Walks" and "The Lumberjack Song."
Posted Friday, April 22
1992: Virtuoso violinist and eventual Hollywood Bowl Hall-of-Famer Sarah Chang made her debut at the Bowl -- at age 11! She played Tchaikovsky's Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra with the LA Phil and, by all accounts, played it beautifully.
Posted Thursday, April 21
1965: SoCal native sons and surf-rock favorites The Beach Boys played the Bowl on July 3. As you can see, they headlined quite a bill -- supporting acts included The Kinks, The Byrds, The Righteous Brothers and more. Who out there go on a Surfin' Safari at the Bowl with The Beach Boys?
Posted Wednesday, April 20
1945: What's in a name? Conductor Leopold Stokowski founded the Hollywood Bowl Symphony, which lasted for two seasons. Auditions were held and several new musicians added, but the orchestra is really just the LA Phil re-named after its now-famous summer home. The orchestra made several well-known recordings under Stokowski (including Brahms' 1st Symphony) and pioneered the use of electronic amplification at the Bowl, but at the end of the 1946 season, the orchestra that played at the Bowl went back to being called, simply, the LA Phil. All clear?
Posted Tuesday, April 19
1951: Dorothy Buffum Chandler did plenty for the arts in LA generally and for the Bowl specifically, but perhaps her greatest contribution came when she led a campaign to save the Bowl from financial troubles. The Bowl shut its doors a week into the 1951 season, but Mrs. Chandler stepped in and led an international fundraising campaign that allowed the season to resume 12 days later. That's the only time a Bowl season has ever been interrupted -- thanks again, Mrs. Chandler!
Posted Monday, April 18
1932: The ballet "Elysia" premiered at the Bowl, solidifying the Bowl's early reputation as a home for all the fine arts. It was commissioned in honor of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and choreographed by world-famous dancer Ernest Belcher, who founded a dance school in Southern California that turned out such well-known dancers as Fred Astaire, Shirley Temple and Cyd Charisse.
Posted Sunday, April 17
1984: The Hollywood Bowl Museum opened as a partnership between Los Angeles County and the LA Phil. The museum is free and open daily, and is home to some amazing exhibits that celebrate our favorite outdoor venue. Make it a point to check it out sometime during the 90th season - you won't want to miss the new "Música y Sabor – Latino Artists at the Hollywood Bowl" exhibit.
Posted Saturday, April 16
2005: On September 13, a Venezuelan conductor named Gustavo Dudamel made his U.S. debut at the Bowl. The then 24 year-old led the LA Phil in a program of Revueltas and Tchaikovsky and, judging by the way... things worked out, things went pretty well. Just over 4 years later, Gustavo took the Bowl stage again as the LA Phil's 10th Music Director in the ¡Bienvenido Gustavo! concert that kicked off a new era for the LA Phil and the Bowl. Bravo!
Posted Friday, April 15
1952: None other than Dorothy Buffum Chandler ushered in the unique tradition of picnicking in your seat at the Bowl. Prior to 1952, in-seat snacking had been expressly forbidden, but when Chandler (who had played a big role in determining the Bowl's future the previous year) ordered a catered picnic for her guests, the tradition stuck. Thank you, Mrs. Chandler!
Posted Thursday, April 14
1925: Pianist, conductor and composer Ethel Leginska became the first woman to conduct a regular orchestral concert at the Bowl, just 3 years after the first season at the Bowl and only 5 years after women gained the right to vote in the U.S. The program included Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, Weber's Op. 11 Piano Concerto (with Leginska pulling double duty as conductor AND soloist) and her own composition for soprano and chamber orchestra, "Nursery Rhymes."
Posted Wednesday, April 13
1945: The Bowl was featured in "Anchors Aweigh," starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra (that's pianist José Iturbi between them). This was the first of 3 movie musicals starring Kelly and Sinatra, and certainly one of the most well-known -- Kelly was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar, and Sinatra has a memorable scene where he sings "I Fall In Love Too Easily" on the Bowl stage. It IS Hollywood, after all.
Posted Tuesday, April 12
1968: One of the biggest local -- and national -- acts of the 1960s, The Doors, played their first and only show at the Bowl. The openers were Steppenwolf & the Chambers Brothers, and The Doors set was filmed and recorded for release as a concert film and live album. The album wasn't released until 1987, but you can still find "The Doors Live at the Hollywood Bowl."
Posted Monday, April 11
1980: The inaugural season of the “Jazz at the Bowl” series premiered this year; until then, though there had been plenty of jazz over the years, there was no regular series to showcase it. That first season started off with a bang, though, and featured such jazz legends as Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck, BB King, Muddy waters and more!
Posted Sunday, April 10
1926: Understanding that the Bowl was "shaping up" to be a major L.A. venue, Pasadena architect Myron Hunt (who also designed the Rose Bowl and the Ambassador Hotel) was given a commission to design what turned out to be the Bowl’s distinctive, “balloon-shaped” seating area. Amazingly, the massive construction project only took 4 months, but what’s even more amazing is that the design is more or less unchanged even today!
Posted Saturday, April 9
1973: The late opera superstar (and one-third of the Three Tenors) Luciano Pavarotti made his debut at the Hollywood Bowl. The then-newcomer sang his first notes at the Bowl in the role of poet Rodolfo in Puccini's La Boheme
Posted Friday, April 8
1942: In a rarely-seen instance of pulling double duty as composer AND soloist, Sergei Rachmaninoff took the stage to play his own world-famous Piano Concerto No. 2 for two performances. Special bonus fact -- in Aug. 1942, pianist Vladimir Horowitz played Rachmaninoff's notoriously difficult Concerto No. 3, after which the composer himself walked on stage and declared "This is the way I always dreamed my concerto should be played, but I never expected to hear it that way on Earth."
Posted Thursday, April 7
1991: Jazz legend Miles Davis had his last-ever public performance at the Hollywood Bowl. The performance took place on 8/25/91, and Davis passed away a month later. An interesting footnote -- he played "Happy Birthday" to longtime friend, collaborator and Bowl favorite Wayne Shorter, who's playing this year as part of the "Joni's Jazz" program, which takes place on 8/17 - almost 20 years to the day after Miles' last show.
Posted Wednesday, April 6
Posted Wednesday, April 6
1968: The Jimi Hendrix Experience debuted at the Hollywood Bowl and, during the show, about 2,500 fans rushed the stage and 100 or so ended up frolicking around in the pool. Though it's not the official reason, that may have had something to do with the pool's removal four years later.
Posted Tuesday, April 5
1953: The famous Bowl Reflecting Pool was installed in front of the stage at the Bowl. 106 feet long, 32 feet wide and six feet deep, the pool later fatured a fountain complete with colored lights and a gas jet for flames. It was removed in 1972 to make room for more boxes -- the boxes that are known today as "the pool circle."
Posted Monday, April 4
2002: Jammin' at the Bowl became official when the first KCRW World Reggae Festival was held at the Hollywood Bowl. The concert featured Steel Pulse, Burning Spear and Lucky Dube, and it's gone on to become a much-anticipated yearly fixture.
Posted Sunday, April 3
1928: No time for a honeymoon - composer/conductor Percy Grainger married artist Ella Viola Ström onstage at the Hollywood Bowl in front of a crowd of 20,000! He then went on to conduct a full concert, including his wedding gift to Ella, a piece entitled "To A Nordic Princess."
Posted Saturday, April 2
1950: Everyone's favorite cat and mouse duo , Tom and Jerry, teamed up to make mischief at our favorite venue. The short was called, of course, "Tom and Jerry in The Hollywood Bowl," and featured Maestro Tom Cat conducting the overture of "Die Fledermaus."
Posted Friday, April 1
1943: Call him the Chairman of the Board, Ol' Blue Eyes, or Frankie, but leave no doubt about one thing -- Frank Sinatra was the first "pop" singer to perform at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Phil. The show was somewhat controversial, as some had a problem with a "crooner" playing with the orchestra -- not to mention the legions of "bobby-soxers" that descended on the Bowl to hear Sinatra sing. The controversy dies in time -- audiences loved him, of course, and he came back several times.
Posted Thursday, March 31
1926: The first of several iconic and instantly identifiable permanent shells was constructed at the Bowl in 1926. Lloyd Wright (Frank's son) designed shells for the Bowl in '27 and '28, and another was built in 1929. That one lasted all the way until 2003, when the current one was built.
Posted Wednesday, March 30
1936: The all-time attendance record was set at the Hollywood Bowl when more than 26,000 fans paid to see French opera star Lily Pons perform. The capacity at the Bowl these days is just over 17,000, so the record is around 9,000 more than today's crowds!
Posted Tuesday, March 29
1962: Another of many firsts - the first concert was broadcast live on TV from the Bowl. It was an all-Tchaikovsky program of the LA Phil, led by conductor André Kostelanetz.
Posted Monday, March 28
1928: The Bowl, clearly ready for its closeup despire young age at the time, makes its first film appearance in the silent movie Jazz Mad. The Bowl has gone on to "star" in many movies and TV shows -- who can name a few?
Posted Sunday, March 27
1937: The Works Progress Administration (WPA) erected the "Muse of Music" statue outside the Bowl. The statue was designed by George Stanley, who also sculpted the famous "Oscar" statue, and has become the oft-photographed gatekeeper to the Bowl as it keeps close watch over Highland Avenue.
Posted Saturday, March 26
1964: Beatlemania hits the Bowl! The Fab Four make their bowl debut in August, and play two more sold-out shows in August of 1965. The concerts have gone down in history as some of the Bowl's most memorable, especially since all three were recorded and released as "The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl" in 1977.
Posted Friday, March 25
1937: A memorial was held for George Gershwin (who passed away two months prior) at the Hollywood Bowl and ended up being a truly star-studded affair. Speakers and performers included Fred Astaire, LA Phil Music Director Otto Klemperer, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor & others.
Posted Thursday, March 24
1978: John Williams made his debut at the Hollywood Bowl! This Bowl favorite hasn't missed a season since 1981, making it a safe bet to say "I'm going to see John Williams at the Bowl." Always a hit, here he is meeting the star of one of the many films whose score he's composed and conducted. Photo of John Williams and ET, 1983.
Posted Wednesday, March 23
1921: The LA Phil performed the first Easter Sunrise Service at the Hollywood Bowl - more than 800 people turned up and sat on wooden benches and blankets. A little disclaimer -- though this marks the first Bowl perfomance by the newly-established LA Phil, the first official season didn't begin until the summer of 1922 -- that makes 2011 the 90th season.
Posted Tuesday, March 22
1919: What would become the Hollywood Bowl, the most celebrated outdoor concert venue in the U.S., was born when The Theatre Arts Council purchased 59 acres of land in Bolton Canyon for an outdoor amphitheater. The area was chosen for its natural "bowl" shape as well as for its location on the Cahuenga Pass between the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood.
Posted Monday, March 21