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A List of Legends

Music Greats from Billy Joel to B.B. King Have Graced Campus Stages

Wally Stapleton M’87, a music buff and IUP’s director of athletic development, tackled a most unusual archaeology project in 2016.

Instead of digging in the dirt, he dug into the school’s concert history.

With some assistance from friends and colleagues, Stapleton compiled a comprehensive list of musical acts that have graced campus venues over the past 50 years. Many are giants of the entertainment industry. Legends even.

Bob Dylan performed at IUP. So did Peter, Paul and Mary. Chicago. James Brown. The Beach Boys. Stevie Wonder. Billy Joel. Chuck Berry. Johnny Cash. Ray Charles. Loretta Lynn. Smokey Robinson. The list, quite literally, goes on.

“IUP’s level of programming has always been beyond the curve in higher education,” said Zach Clark M’09, the Student Cooperative Association’s director of student activities and assessment. “IUP has a strong record, a strong culture, of really awesome programming on this campus. There have always been people here who understand what students want and what our local community wants. They understand what sells here. And they’re able to bring those acts to IUP.”

Billy Joel on stage at IUP

Piano man Billy Joel was said to have done more talking than singing in his March 1996 show in Fisher Auditorium. (Photo: Cate Planisky/Indiana Gazette)

Consequently, audiences have rocked to Kansas, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Alice Cooper; sung along with country stars Willie Nelson, Eric Church, and Trisha Yearwood; tapped their toes to Tom Jones, the Temptations, and Frankie Valli; and welcomed a succession of Broadway greats.

“I watched the Tony Awards this year, and there were three people on the show that we presented here,” said Hank Knerr, who served as executive director of the Lively Arts before retiring after nearly 30 years of booking acts at IUP. “Renée Fleming, who was born in Indiana [parents Edwin Fleming and Patricia Seymour Alexander are 1959 graduates of Indiana State Teachers College] and is one of the world’s top opera singers, is now starring on Broadway. Bernadette Peters, who presented the award for Best Musical, also performed here, as did Chita Rivera, who won a Lifetime Achievement Award.”

The appearance of performers from Frank Sinatra Jr. to rapper Wiz Khalifa, from hip-hop trailblazers Run-DMC to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, underscores IUP’s dedication to diversity. The campus calendar of events might feature a country artist like LeAnn Rimes within days of an appearance by an R&B vocal group like Boyz II Men, which actually occurred in 2010.

B.B. King performed before a sold-out crowd in Fisher Auditorium in April 1994.

B.B. King performed before a sold-out crowd in Fisher Auditorium in April 1994. (Photo: IUP Archives/The Penn)

Musical lineups year after year invariably appeal to a broad range of tastes.

“And that’s by design,” said Frank DeStefano ’75, M’85, who booked talent for 25 years as director of OnStage Arts and Entertainment and now runs his own business, 4th Wall Talent. “We wanted to meet the needs of the local community, and we wanted to meet the needs of the students. So we brought all different types of shows to IUP.”

The campus organizations charged with booking acts generally catch artists when they’re most affordable, either before they hit it big or when they’re a bit past their prime. But what they sometimes catch is a break.

Dave Surtasky ’89 remembers when Robert Palmer came to IUP in 1986, and “Addicted to Love” was the No. 1 song. “It just so happened he had been contracted to perform here long before that song came out,” said Surtasky, the technical director at Fisher Auditorium for nearly 30 years. “And so we had the artist with the No. 1 song in the country at IUP.”

Dionne Warwick came to campus in 1967—at the peak of her popularity, riding a wave of chart-topping hits—and attracted a throng of 4,000 to Memorial Field House, fans packed in like sardines in a tin. Fifty years later, hip-hop artist Lil Uzi Vert, as much a musical icon to his generation as Warwick was to hers, drew a record crowd of 5,000 to the Kovalchick Complex.

They may not remember everything that’s discussed in their Introduction to Geology course as a first-year student, but by God they’re going to remember the sellout Homecoming show they went to as freshmen.

Whether baby boomers or millennials, music fans can scan Stapleton’s list of concerts and find a favorite. One of DeStefano’s was a 1994 appearance at Fisher by blues guitarist B.B. King.

“The show, of course, was sold out, and when he walked on stage, the audience gave him a standing ovation, before he even started,” DeStefano said. “He was contracted to play only an hour and 15 minutes plus encore. He played over two and a half hours because he was having such a great time, and the audience was obviously very much into it. Musicians and artists felt very comfortable at Fisher, and when they feel comfortable, they want to play. Many artists would play beyond what they were contracted to do, because they had such great feedback from the Indiana audience.”

But not every concert memory is so pleasant. Tracy Settle ’80, president of the IUP Alumni Association board and a stage manager during his student days, recalls a Todd Rundgren appearance that nearly ended in disaster.

“He brought his Utopia show to IUP, and Utopia was really out-there, psychedelic stuff,” Settle said. “He had this huge pyramid on stage, with a big green eye that would stare at you throughout the show and light up. Anyway, they told us they needed a hundred pounds of dry ice for all the fog machines to create this atmosphere. They were supposed to have dry ice for me in the dining facility. I went to get it, and I couldn’t get in and couldn’t contact anybody. The road manager looks at me and says, ‘No dry ice, no show.’”

Fifty years to the month after Dionne Warwick (at left) packed 4,000 fans into Memorial Field House in 1967, Lil Uzi Vert (at right) drew a record crowd of 5,000 to the Kovalchick Complex during Homecoming 2017. (Photos: IUP Archives/The Penn, Karen Plate/STATIC)

A panicked Settle dispatched an assistant to Johnstown to procure the requisite dry ice. He returned in the nick of time, averting catastrophe.

Most times, concerts go off without a hitch, and audiences revel in their proximity to a world-renowned performer. On rare occasions, the artist makes more than a superficial connection with fans, and something magical results. Surtasky recalls how Johnny Cash greeted a gathering awaiting his arrival near the loading dock behind Fisher and, despite a steady drizzle, exchanged pleasantries and patiently signed autographs. Knerr will never forget visits by jazz pianist Dave Brubeck and trumpeter Doc Severinsen, not only for their sublime performances but for their willingness to engage IUP students and local schoolchildren as part of a university outreach program. And Fleming charmed a full house at Fisher by revealing how thrilled she was to return to her birthplace, even though she had lived in Indiana for only a matter of months as an infant.

Fact is, just about any artist on Stapleton’s lengthy list—be it Harry Chapin, Duke Ellington, Rosemary Clooney, Three Dog Night, Blondie, or Kenny Rogers—left a lasting impression. Today’s IUP students, like those before them, will likely cherish memories of special concerts for the rest of their lives.

“They may not remember everything that’s discussed in their Introduction to Geology course as a first-year student,” Clark said, “but by God they’re going to remember the sellout Homecoming show they went to as freshmen. They’re going to remember those kinds of moments, those experiences. They’ll stick with them forever.”

The following is a list of nationally known musical acts that have played at IUP. The list was compiled by Wally Stapleton M’87, music buff and IUP employee, with help from numerous alumni and friends. Because the list was compiled mostly by memory, there are many omissions. If you have a concert and concert year to add, please send email to iup-magazine@iup.edu.

Artist Year
Dionne Warwick 1967
Peter, Paul, and Mary 1968, 2008
The Lettermen 1968
Stevie Wonder 1970
The Association 1970, 2016
Chicago 1970, 2006
The Beach Boys 1971, 2000, 2017
Boz Scaggs 1971
Badfinger 1972
The Byrds 1972
The Doobie Brothers 1973
Dave Mason 1974
Duke Ellington 1974
Gentle Giant 1975
Procol Harum 1975
Kansas 1977, 2015
Cheap Trick 1977
Pousette-Dart Band  1977
Dave Mason 1977
Todd Rundgren/Utopia 1977
The Outlaws 1977
Billy Joel 1977, 1996
Johnny's Dance Band 1977
Tom Waits 1977
Livingston Taylor 1977 (numerous times)
Arlo Guthrie 1978
Canadian Brass 1978
Henry Paul Band 1978
Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes 1978
Billy Taylor 1979
The Charlie Daniels Band 1979, 2003
Chuck Mangione 1979
Melba Moore 1979
Little River Band 1979
America 1980, 2003
Harry Chapin 1980
Peaches & Herb 1980
The Dirt Band 1980
Josh White 1980
Maynard Ferguson 1981
Hall & Oates 1981
John Hall 1981
Molly Hatchet 1981
Poco 1981
Weather Report 1983
Doc Severinsen 1985, 2014
Corey Hart 1986
Robert Palmer 1986
Psychedelic Furs 1987
Jane's Addiction 1987
Ray Charles 1987
Dizzy Gillespie 1987
Eddie Money 1987
Wynton Marsalis 1987
Donnie Iris and the Cruisers 1988
Squeeze 1988
The Clarks 1989 (numerous times)
Bob Dylan 1989, 1997
The Kinks 1990
10,000 Maniacs 1990
They Might Be Giants 1990, 1997
George Benson 1990
The Kinks 1990
Branford Marsalis 1990
Living Colour 1991
Harry Belafonte 1991
Rusted Root 1991 (numerous times)
Salt-N-Pepa 1992
Los Lobos 1993
Judy Collins 1993
B.B. King 1993
Live 1993, 1997
Johnny Cash 1994
Run-DMC 1994, 1997
The Dave Brubeck Quartet 1994
Toad the Wet Sprocket 1994
Gin Blossoms 1994, 2002
Chuck Berry 1994
Hootie & the Blowfish 1994, 2011
Willie Nelson 1994
Harry Connick Jr. 1995
Goo Goo Dolls 1995
Billy Joel 1996
The Temptations 1996
Chita Rivera 1996
Bobby McFerrin 1997
Dave Matthews 1997
They Might Be Giants 1997
Run-DMC 1997
Bob Dylan 1997
Live 1997
Kathy Mattea 1997
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds 1997, 1999
The Neville Brothers 1997
Live 1997
James Brown 1998
Tori Amos 1998
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones 1998
Busta Rhymes 1999
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds 1999
Vanilla Ice 1999
Tom Jones 1999
Kenny Rogers 1999, 2011
Glenn Miller Orchestra 2000
The Beach Boys 2000
Less Than Jake 2000
Indigo Girls 2000
Our Lady Peace 2001
Randy Travis 2001
The Righteous Brothers 2001
Fuel 2002
Gin Blossoms 2002
Sugar Ray 2002
Art Garfunkel 2002
Trisha Yearwood 2002
Don McLean 2002
The Four Tops 2003
O.A.R. 2003, 2006
Seether 2003
Everclear 2003
The Charlie Daniels Band 2003
Olivia Newton-John 2003
America 2003
Maroon 5 2003
Three Doors Down 2004
Three Dog Night 2004
Dashboad Confessional 2004
Smokey Robinson 2004
Roger Williams 2004
Jethro Tull 2005
Count Basie Orchestra 2005
Lonestar 2005, 2018
Paramore 2005
Plain White T's 2005, 2011
Coheed and Cambria 2005
Pat Metheny 2005
Eric Burdon and the Animals 2006
Bruce Hornsby 2006
Kenny Loggins 2006
Chicago 2006
O.A.R. 2006
Amy Grant 2006
Lifehouse 2006
Frank Sinatra Jr. 2007
Pat Benatar 2007
Ben Folds 2007
Gym Class Heroes 2007
Lupe Fiasco 2007
Gordon Lightfoot 2008
Peter, Paul, and Mary 2008
Creedence Clearwater Revival 2008
Natalie Cole 2008
Travis Tritt 2009
Loretta Lynn 2009
Michael McDonald 2009
Frankie Valli 2009
Sara Bareilles 2009
Trey Songz 2009
Chris Botti 2010
Jason Derulo 2010
Dennis DeYoung (Styx) 2010
Boyz II Men 2010
LeAnn Rimes 2011
Starship 2011
Hootie & the Blowfish 2011
Kenny Rogers 2011
Plain White T's 2011
Little Anthony 2011
Steve Miller Band 2011
Gregg Allman Band 2011
Widespread Panic 2011
Stone Temple Pilots 2011
Wiz Khalifa 2011
B.E. Taylor 2011 (numerous times)
Vanessa Carlton 2011
Mannheim Steamroller 2011
Thirty Seconds to Mars 2011
Dierks Bentley 2012
B.o.B 2012
Bernadette Peters 2012
Brantley Gilbert 2012
Tyga 2012
Eric Church 2012
Renee Fleming 2013
Icona Pop 2014
Scott McCreery 2014
Doc Severinsen 2014
Straight No Chaser 2014
Jake Owen 2014
Chance the Rapper 2014
Blue Oyster Cult 2015
Kansas 2015
Trace Adkins 2015
Chance the Rapper 2015
Lee Brice 2016
Mac Miller 2016
Eric Paslay 2016
Justin Moore with William Michael Morgan 2016
The Association 2016
Alice Cooper 2016
Lee Ann Womack 2017
Aaron Lewis and Blackberry Smoke 2017
The Beach Boys 2017
Crowder 2017
Josh Turner with Morgan Evans 2017
Lil Uzi Vert 2017
Judy Collins 2018
Lonestar 2018

Unknown Dates:

  • Jason Mraz
  • Five for Fighting
  • Leon Redbone
  • Mel Tormé
  • Beverly Sills
  • J. Geils Band