Record Breaking Concert Attendance Essay

This page lists the highest-attended concerts of all time. The oldest 100-thousand-crowd concert reported to Billboard Boxscore is Grateful Dead's gig at the Raceway Park, Englishtown, New Jersey on 3 September 1977. The concert was attended by 107,019 people, which remains the largest ticketed concert in the United States to date. Frank Sinatra, Tina Turner, and Paul McCartney broke the record respectively in Maracanã Stadium. With an audience of over 184,000 people on 21 April 1990, McCartney held the record for 27 years. Italian singer Vasco Rossi surpassed McCartney's record with his solo concert on 1 July 2017. The concert was a celebration of his 40 years of career.

Highest-attended concerts[edit]

 •Indicates the concert was the highest-attended of all time up to that point

Single-artist concerts[edit]

The following are the highest-attended single-artist's ticketed concerts (excluding music festivals) with attendance of 100,000 people or more.

Free concerts[edit]

The following are free concerts with reported attendance of one million people or more. It also includes multi-artist festivals which may not be directly comparable with single-artist concerts. Attendance numbers for many of the kinds of events listed here rely on estimations from the promoters and are known to be exaggerations.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^Gottfried, Gideon (29 June 2017). "Rossi Sets Record In Italy". Pollstar. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  2. ^"Arts and Media/Music Feats & Facts/Solo Rock Show Crowd". 25 May 2006. Archived from the original on 25 May 2006. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  3. ^ ab"A record 180,000 turn out for Tina". 18 January 1988. Retrieved 15 December 2017. 
  4. ^Company, Johnson Publishing (8 February 1988). "Jet". Retrieved 15 December 2017 – via Google Books. 
  5. ^Russell, Alan (1 October 1986). "Guinness Book of World Records 1987". Sterling. Retrieved 15 December 2017 – via Google Books. 
  6. ^"Italian Singer Ligabue Sets First U.S. Tour". Billboard. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  7. ^"Springsteen going over Berlin Wall". 13 July 1988. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  8. ^"'U2: The Ultimate Music Guide' – on sale now - NME". NME. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  9. ^"São Paulo 3-20-81". 29 July 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  10. ^Bassets, Luis (31 August 1987). "Madonna convocó en París a 130.000 personas". El País (in French). Madrid: Jesús de Polanco. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  11. ^"Boxscore Top 10 Concert Grosses"(PDF). Billboard. 19 August 2017. p. 10. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  12. ^"Michael Jackson Statue Plans Draw Protests by Czechs". CBS News. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  13. ^"No maybe about it, Manchester's Oasis definitely were supersonic". Retrieved 9 December 2017 – via The Belfast Telegraph. 
  14. ^Savage, Mark (10 August 2016). "Oasis at Knebworth: 20 years since Britpop's biggest gigs". BBC. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  15. ^"Robbie gigs make music history and traffic misery". 3 August 2003. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  16. ^"São Paulo 3-21-81". 17 October 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  17. ^"Andy Kershaw: The Rolling Stones Guide To Painting And Decorating". Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  18. ^Michaels, Sean (21 February 2012). "Queen's show goes on as Adam Lambert replaces Freddie Mercury". Retrieved 9 December 2017 – via The Guardian. 
  19. ^"Madonna Concert Draws 120,000". The Buffalo News. November 8, 1993. Retrieved November 29, 2017. 
  20. ^"Polish bishop sees Michael Jackson's visit as a sign of decline". 1 December 1996. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  21. ^Gallardo, David (15 July 2017). "U2 en el Bernabéu: 30 años de un delirio donde se colaron 40.000 personas". El País. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  22. ^"Billboard Top Boxoffice"(PDF). Billboard. 17 September 2017. p. 39. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  23. ^"Great Lawn: A Bubble of History Bursts". The New York Times. 23 July 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2016. 
  24. ^"Arts and Media/Music Feats & Facts/Huge Free Gig". 25 May 2006. Archived from the original on 25 May 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  25. ^"JEAN-MICHEL'S UP FOR THE CUP; Rock Star Jean-Michel Jarre Recalls His Friendship with Princess Diana and Picks His France 98 Winners". The Mirror. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  26. ^McWhirter, Norris (14 December 1993). "The Guinness Book of Records 1993". Bantam Books. Retrieved 14 December 2017 – via Google Books. 
  27. ^Smith, Nathan (9 August 2012). "No Fences: Garth Brooks & the Fuzzy Math of 10 Mega-Concerts". Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  28. ^Publicity, Brian Bumbery. "Metallica's "Black Album" Sets New Sales Record". Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  29. ^Sarah Lyall (July 3, 2005). "Musical Cry to Help Africa's Poor Is Heard Around Globe". Retrieved April 24, 2016. 
  30. ^Rohter, Larry (19 February 2006). "The Stones Rock 1.5 Million in Rio Days Before Carnival". Retrieved 5 March 2018 – via 
  31. ^"Rolling Stones hold giant Rio gig". BBC. 19 February 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  32. ^CNN, Jonathan Hawkins,. "The tragic triumph of the world's largest concert". CNN. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  33. ^Hughes, Alex; Reader, Keith (11 March 2002). "Encyclopedia of Contemporary French Culture". Routledge. Retrieved 14 December 2017 – via Google Books. 
  34. ^"Hundreds of thousands attend Cuba 'peace concert'". CNN. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  35. ^"Juanes' Cuba Concert Details Announced". Billboard. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 

The record for biggest concert attendance is held by Vasco Rossi (left) for a ticketed concert and Rod Stewart (right) for a free concert.

How big is too big? The biggest concert by live attendance clocks in at a record 3.5 million people. This begs the question: Do bigger venues, stages, or concerts mean a better concert experience? Personally, the best concerts in terms of performance and sound were at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas and The Warfield in San Francisco. Both venues can hold a decent crowd. Yet neither is known for breaking any world records. The Warfield holds approx 2,300 seats, while the Hard Rock Cafe approx 2,000.

Record Attendance

Compare that to the 3.5 million attendance at the Rod Stewart or Jean Michel Jarre concerts. With that many people, how close to stage can you possibly get or even within viewing distance with millions in front of you. Once you get to that level, it becomes more about the light shows, fireworks, and crowd experience.

1. Rod Stewart at Copacabana Beach

(1994) 3.5 million people

The Guinness World Records site credits the largest live concert to Rod Stewart who drew 3.5 million for a New Year’s Eve 1994 performance at Copacabana Beach

2. Jean Michel Jarre

(1997) 3.5 million people in Moscow

Musician Jean Michel Jarre was commissioned by the Mayor of Moscow to give a concert in celebration of the city’s 850th anniversary

(1994) 2.5 million people in Paris

Paris La Defense – Une Ville En Concert by musician Jean Michel Jarre in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. Jarre designed a pyramid-shaped stage for the concert which played out in downtown Paris complete with a synchronised illumination of 65 tons of fireworks.

3. New York Philharmonic in Central Park

(1986) 800,000 people

The Philharmonic concert in Central Park is credited as the largest ever attendance at a classical concert.

4. Garth Brooks in Central Park

(1997) 750,000 people

5. Steve Wozniak’s 1983 US Festival

(1983) 670,000 people

6. Summer Jam at Watkins Glen

(1973) over 600,000 people

7. Isle of Wight Festival

(1970) 600,000 people

8. Simon & Garfunkel in Central Park

(1981) 500,000 people

9. Toronto SARS Benefit

(2003) 450,000 people

10. Woodstock 1969

(1969) 400,000 people

Notable Concerts:

(1997) 385,000 people at Blockbuster RockFest featuring Paula Cole, Bush, Counting Crows, No Doubt, Collective Soul, Jewel, Matchbox 20, The Wallflowers

(1983) 375,000 people at Heavy Metal Day in San Bernadino California

(1988) 180,000 people at Tina Turner concert in Maracan Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

(1990) 180,000+ people at Paul McCartney concert in Maracan Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

(1998) 100,000 people at Widespread Panic concert in Athens, Georgia

(1985) 1.5 billion people watched a “Live Aid” a “live” televised concert via satellite raising money for famine relief in Ethiopa.

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