Find of the Month

Each month we highlight interesting, important, and odd items from our collection, along with the stories they tell.

Most recent Find of the Month

June 2023 - Rolling Stones concerts

Seattle Center Coliseum

The Rolling Stones announced that they would play two shows at the Seattle Center Coliseum on June 4, 1972, one at 4:00 and the other at 10:30. All tickets were to be sold at Memorial Stadium on a day in early May for $6 each, with a limit of four tickets per person.

Ticket sales did not go smoothly. Fans started gathering the day before and about 2000 slept overnight at Seattle Center. By the time the sale started, thousands of people were mobbing the two ticket booths and some were fainting and panicking in the crush. Eventually police were called to manage the crowd and were able to organize the lines. In response to a query from the Times Troubleshooter, the police chief explained that having tickets sold first-come-first-served in one location was stipulated in the band’s contract. He added that "the ticket agency acted in good faith by having eight off-duty police officers for crowd control. Unfortunately, the fervor of the crowd was more than the officers could handle very effectively."

Given the chaos of ticket sales and the difficulties inherent in holding two large concerts in short succession, much thought was given by Seattle Center staff to the logistics of the day. A few days after the shows, Seattle Center’s director wrote up a report. First he described the seating strategy:

It has been our experience that at Rock Shows it has become nearly impossible to keep avid rock-fans from leaving their seats, pressing toward the stage and jamming the aisles. Consequently, for safety sake, we use what we call "Festival Seating." All chairs have been removed to allow for free flow of the people on the flat floor.

For security, "fifty-eight large athletic type personnel (football players, etc.) dressed in green ROLLING STONES T-SHIRTS (some with long hair) were effectively stationed across the front of the stage and other areas inside the building." He praised the band’s crew as "most cooperative and very professional."

Seattle Center staff used newspapers, radio, and TV ahead of the event to publicize their security and crowd control measures to set expectations and "reliev[e] the minds of parents who are concerned." They made clear that alcohol and drugs would not be allowed into the venue, and that those attending the first show would need to clear out quickly in preparation for the evening concert. The director felt this publicity was an important element in the ultimate success of the day:

Handling 28,000 people is not easy. Be patient, let the people know what is going on and what you expect of them, they will respond. But, DON’T spring in on them all of a sudden – THEY WILL REBEL!! Smile, then everyone will "HAVE A HAPPY DAY."

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Municipal Archives, City Clerk

Anne Frantilla, City Archivist
Address: 600 Fourth Avenue, Third Floor, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94728, Seattle, WA, 98124-4728
Phone: (206) 684-8353

The Office of the City Clerk maintains the City's official records, provides support for the City Council, and manages the City's historical records through the Seattle Municipal Archives. The Clerk's Office provides information services to the public and to City staff.