I was asked to speak at an event sponsored by the student alumni group, Tigers4Ever, last evening at the Robbins Center. The panel discussion was on the traditions of Fort Hays State, and one tradition that was talked about was the concerts. After Gross Memorial Coliseum was opened in 1973, the Memorial Union Activities Board sponsored a number of concerts which featured big name rock stars and country stars, as well as comedians.
Mac Davis was featured in the opening concert on October 18, 1973, and Henry Mancini followed two days later. Comedians Bob Hope and Lily Tomlin were here in 1974 and 1976, respectively. David Brenner appeared as the opening act to Barry Manilow on October 18, 1975. The top five concerts in attendance were as follows:
- John Cougar (October 16, 1982) – 7200 – this was the only sell-out of all the concerts and was during the time his album “American Fool” with hit singles “Hurts So Good” and “Jack and Diane” were at the top of the charts.
- J. Geils Band (April 17, 1982) – 7070 – this was just after their “Freeze Frame” album with the single “Centerfold” had gone to the top of the charts in early 1982.
- Pat Benatar (November 13, 1982) – 6990 – in August 1981, her video for “You Better Run” was the second clip ever aired by MTV.
- Chicago (March 7, 1975) – 6989 – they came here right before their 8th album, “Chicago VIII” was released on March 24.
Alabama (April 6, 1986) – 6558 – this was the first of two concerts they did here in the coliseum, and Alabama had released their first “Greatest Hits” album in January. The second time they were here was two years later on April 15, 1988 with an attendance of only 2800.
The last concerts from 1991-1996 featured all country artists including Sawyer Brown who were here three different times with opening acts Chris LeDoux, Diamond Rio, and Toby Keith. Clay Walker was the last concert played in the Gross Memorial Coliseum on April 13, 1996. The Memorial Union has hung the concert posters along the hallway next to Mondos and the Cody Commons in their basement. The complete list of the concerts is available in the University Archives.
John Cougar pulled FHSU student Mary Beth Bechard onto the stage with him – from the 1983 Reveille