The Cow Palace has been host to many historic moments since it opened its doors in 1941.
The venue has seen and heard rock legends and seen some of the greatest musicians to ever live play on its stage, from the Beatles to Elvis. Some moments, however, a pretty special. Here are seven moments that concerts at the Cow Palace made music history.
1. The Runaways
The Runaways played their last show here on New Years Eve, 1978, though they didn’t announce their break-up until the following April. The statement read:
Sandy, Lita, Laurie, and I have talked it over and we have decided to try our own things for a while. With five albums and two world tours and what seems like a lifetime of experiences behind us, we felt it was time to get out there and try a few things that we could not do as a group…We’re still great friends and we hope you’ll join us in wishing each other the best and brightest ahead.
2. Neil Diamond
Diamond collapsed onstage at his 1979 Cow Palace show. Less than two days later he was treated for a benign tumor. “I knew there was a good chance I would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair,” he told People in 1982. “I am lucky to have survived. As it was, I had to learn to walk again.”
Prince played a few nights at the Cow Palace in 1985. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, “Some in the audience had paid $100 for a ticket marked $17.50 to see the current king of rock-and-raunch – not including what they paid for purple shoes, purple pants, purple nylons and purple whatevers. Purple, it seems, is Prince’s favorite color.”
Not only was it his favorite color, that night it was everyone else’s—the tickets asked the the audience “wear purple.”
4. The Who
The Who’s Keith Moon passed out on stage after consuming too much horse tranquilizer. Pete Townshend then announces he’s done for the night and asks if anyone in the crowd can play drums in his place—a lucky concert-goer named Scott Halprin got the thrill of his life and took a seat behind the drumset. As he told NPR a few years ago, he was plucked from the crowd by none other than the Bill Graham.
Here’s footage of the incident:
KISS dedicated their August 1977 show to Elvis Presley, who died that day. Here’s footage from that show:
Nirvana played a Benefit for the Bosnian Rape Victims in 1993. According to Entertainment Weekly, this wasn’t the sort of thing they did often, but the cause struck a chord with bassist Chris Novoselic.
Knowing that many in the Cow Palace’s audience couldn’t find Yugoslavia on a map, Nirvana was realistic about the fund-raiser’s goal: ”There’s probably a lot of people who don’t care,” said Novoselic. ”But that’s okay. If they come, we’ll still get their money. And if people do care, there are information booths directing them on what they can do.”
The benefit ended up raising $60,000 (which equates to just under $100,000 today). Here’s a bit of that show and interview they did at the venue.
7. The Beatles
Last but certainly not least, The Beatles played the first show of their first U.S. Show here on August 19, 1964. The crowd allegedly tossed jelly beans at them after a comment Harrison made about those being the group’s favorite candies.