Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett

Legendary Venues: Radio City Music Hall

It’s been a while since I wrote about a legendary music venue, but there are still a few more I want to write about. One of them is another New York City venue. I already wrote about Madison Square Garden a when I first started this series, but now it’s time to talk about Radio City Music Hall. I’ve worked a few shows at Radio City Music Hall over the last two years, including two in September, and it’s always special when I get to be inside this legendary theatre.

Radio City Music Hall’s claim to fame is its annual Christmas Spectacular featuring the world famous dance troupe, The Rockettes, but the fame goes way beyond this annual show. The venue has hosted movie premieres, award shows, television shows, and even the NFL Draft. It’s also hosted plenty of concerts and continues to be a hot spot for bands and artists to this day. Some notable artists to play the venue are the Grateful Dead, Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Adele, Sting, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Aretha Franklin, and Paul Simon.

Radio City Music Hall opened in 1932 thanks to the work of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and designers Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey. Through the 70’s the venue’s primary function was hosting stage shows. It faced financial decline in the 60’s and 70’s and ultimately was scheduled to close for good in April 1978. Fortunately a committee was formed to try to save Radio City and ended up being successful. On March 29, 1978 the interior of the building was named a city landmark and by May 12th Radio City Music Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The venue went through renovations over the next two years and reopened to the public in 1980, where it began primarily hosting concerts along with the annual holiday shows.

Radio City is also the largest indoor theatre in the world. It is 160 feet from the back of the theatre to the stage and the ceilings reach a height of 84 feet. There are also three mezzanines which are shallow in size and no pillars or columns that could obstruct views, which is usually a familiar setback in older theatres. Being inside Radio City Music Hall is definitely like stepping back in time. The lobby, foyers, and even bathrooms create a vintage atmosphere. The theatre itself is as grand as described, but also feels less aged than the rest of the venue. Maybe it’s because it just feels so timeless.

One of my favorite things about working shows at Radio City Music Hall is that any band, artist, or tour that comes to the venue needs to receive special credentials for the day. All Access tour laminates don’t fly at Radio City. Everyone that works on the show receives a unique credit card shaped credential with a picture of the artist, artist’s name, date, and “Radio City Music Hall” on it. For someone who usually keeps their working credentials, it’s definitely a solid collector’s item.

Although I’ve worked about 5 shows at Radio City, I’ve never attended a concert there. I’ve also never stuck around after working to watch the show that I worked, mostly because I had to travel home or elsewhere or because the venue is fully seated and if I sat somewhere I might be taking someone’s seat. I would love to catch a concert at Radio City Music Hall sometime and since the venue isn’t far from where I live, there’s a pretty good chance that I do. If you’re ever in New York, or live nearby, you should check out this legendary venue. It would be special to see a concert or show there, but you’re even able to tour the venue on a regular basis. One way or another this is a legendary venue that you need to check out.