In a place as iconic as Red Rocks Amphitheatre, history is made every night, but the venue’s 78th season is proving to be a record-breaker for several of the headliners.
Red Rocks favorite Michael Franti will be inducted into the Red Rocks Hall of Fame as he hits the Red Rocks stage after more than a dozen shows. Last week’s headlining concert (Friday, June 7) was his 11th, after opening for a number of other performers. Franti’s current project, Michael Franti & Spearhead, is celebrating its 25-year anniversary mixing reggae, funk and other world beat influences. Franti also is a poet, filmmaker and activist for issues including vegan eating and Middle East peace.
“Michael Franti has been bringing an eclectic style of musicianship, cool health messaging and happy crowds to Red Rocks for decades now,” said venue manager Tad Bowman. “We’re happy to have Michael Franti as the 2019 inductee into the Red Rocks Hall of Fame.”
Another Red Rocks Hall of Fame performer will hit a milestone this year as jam band heroes Widespread Panic extend their own record-setting streak of Red Rocks shows and hit 60 performances. The three-night run has become a staple of the Red Rocks summer season.
This week, Billie Eilish becomes the youngest soloist ever to headline at Red Rocks. The 17-year-old singer, songwriter and model has the current Number One album on Billboard’s Top 200 with “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” and her single, “Bad Guy,” sits at Number Two on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart.
At the other end of the experience spectrum, this season’s headlining gig makes Phil Lesh the oldest performer this year at age 79, while the late bluesman B.B. King still holds the record as the oldest Red Rocks headliner at age 83. Mavis Staples is opening for Norah Jones this year and at 80 is still setting records of her own.
A rare venue record is set this year, one that not many artists – or venues - could achieve. The longest span between an artist’s first appearance at Red Rocks and the current show is half a century. Diana Ross sets a record five decades in the making, besting Paul Simon’s old 1967-2017 record by a week. Already heading toward a 12th Number One record as lead singer of the Supremes, Ross played Red Rocks in 1969 in what would be the group’s farewell tour. Now, 50 years to the summer, Ross returns to Red Rocks as part of the Diamond Diana tour – celebrating her 75th birthday. In that time, Ross has added another six solo number one records and has become one of the biggest stars in the world.