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Queen at Rock in Rio (1985)

Rock in Rio is a series of rock festivals held in Brazil and later in Portugal and Spain. Future festivals are planned in Poznań (Poland)

Three incarnations of the festival were in Rio de Janeiro, in 1985, 1991 and 2001, four in Lisbon, in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, and two in Madrid in 2008 and 2010. The shows were organized by entrepreneur Roberto Medina. In 2011, 2013, 2015 Rock in Rio may take place in Poznań on a reconstructed racing track.

Rock in Rio has been the largest rock festival in the world (1.5 million people in the first edition, 700 thousand in the second, about 1.2 million in the third, and about 350 thousand people in each of the 3 Lisbon editions.


Rock in Rio

The first edition of the festival was held from January 11-20, 1985. Queen, George Benson, Rod Stewart, AC/DC and Yes were the headliners, each occupying top spot for two nights (Benson, however, ceded it to James Taylor for their second night in the same bill, due to the huge delay Taylor's extended performance had caused to his concert two days before). About 1.4 million people attended the 10-day-long festival.

Rock in Rio in numbers:

  • The "city of rock", the place were the event was held (which was built for the festival) covered an area of 250,000 m² (around 2.7 million feet²)
  • 1,600,000 liters of beverages were served, using 4 million plastic cups.
  • 900,000 hamburgers.
  • 500,000 pizza slices.
  • McDonalds sold 58,000 hamburgers in a single day, which was a Guinness World Record

The full list of acts who performed at Rock in Rio:

International Artists Brazilian Artists
Al Jarreau
The B-52's
George Benson
The Go-Go's
Iron Maiden
James Taylor
Nina Hagen
Ozzy Osbourne
Rod Stewart
Alceu Valença
Baby Consuelo & Pepeu Gomes
Barão Vermelho
Eduardo Dusek
Elba Ramalho
Erasmo Carlos
Gilberto Gil
Ivan Lins
Kid Abelha
Lulu Santos
Moraes Moreira
Ney Matogrosso
Paralamas do Sucesso
Rita Lee
  • Both Queen shows were filmed (on January 11 and January 18) and broadcast throughout Brazil by Globo. Each show was watched by nearly 200 million people in over 60 countries. It was later broadcast in the United States on MTV as "Queen: Rock in Rio."
  • Iron Maiden's own performance began at exactly two minutes to midnight.[citation needed] This was in celebration and promotion of their latest release, Powerslave, which featured the song 2 Minutes to Midnight. A widely known event occurred during the song "Revelations", when lead singer Bruce Dickinson swung his guitar near his face and was hit on the forehead by its headstock. Dickinson continued to sing despite his bleeding.[1] Dickinson went on as if nothing had happened. The British group was the only non-Brazilian act to play just one concert at the festival (at its opening night, headlined by Queen), since they were already booked for the days ahead and couldn't stay in Rio for longer. All the other international acts performed twice.
  • The Go-Go's broke up after their two Rock in Rio performances, though they would later reunite in the 1990s. The two Rock in Rio shows were the debut and swansong for short-tenured Go-Go's member Paula Jean Brown, who had replaced Jane Wiedlin. (Wiedlin would return to the reunited 1990s lineup.)
  • Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, at the time Talking Heads drummer and bass player, respectively, took part at the B-52's concert. They joined the band from the third song on and played along with them for the remainder of the performance.
  • The January 20 appearance of the B-52's would turn out to be their last with guitarist Ricky Wilson, who died from AIDS in October of that year as the band was finishing their next album.
  • Nina Hagen was paid nothing for her two performances, since she had approached Roberto Medina, the festival's mentor herself, requesting a place in its bill. Queen were the highest-paid act, commanding US$ 600,000 for its two headlining performances, on January 11 and 18.
  • Initially, Def Leppard were to play the festival. However, they dropped out about two months before the event, due to delays on the recording process of the album that came to be Hysteria. They were replaced by Whitesnake. The situation's turnaround would prove sadly fortunate for the festival's organizers, as Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen suffered the famous accident that cost him his left arm on New Year's Eve, a mere 11 days before the beginning of the festival.
  • There's a video on YouTube of Os Paralamas do Sucesso lead singer Herbert Vianna advising the crowd to attend only to the performances of the artists they enjoy. Vianna said that because rocks were thrown on the stage during Kid Abelha's performance on the event a day earlier. Around that time, Kid Abelha's lead singer Paula Toller was reportedly Vianna's love interest. [1]

Rock in Rio 2

The second edition was held from January 18-27, 1991 at the Maracanã stadium. Headliners were Guns N' Roses, Prince and George Michael, each being top billed for two of the event's nine nights. INXS, New Kids on the Block and a-ha also got top billing, for one night each.

Full list of artists who performed at Rock in Rio 2:

International Artists Brazilian Artists
Billy Idol
Colin Hay
Debbie Gibson
Faith No More
George Michael
Guns N' Roses
Happy Mondays
Information Society
Jimmy Cliff
Joe Cocker
Judas Priest
Lisa Stansfield
New Kids on the Block
Alceu Valença
Capital Inicial
Ed Motta
Elba Ramalho
Engenheiros do Hawaii
Hanoi Hanoi
Inimigos do Rei
Laura Finocchiaro
Léo Jaime
Moraes Moreira & Pepeu Gomes
Nenhum de Nós
Paulo Ricardo
Roupa Nova
Vid & Sangue Azul

Guns N' Roses's January 20 concert was their first ever with then new drummer Matt Sorum and keyboard player Dizzy Reed. George Michael's second concert, on January 27, the festival's closing day, featured his ex-Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley, who joined Michael for a few songs at the encore.

Rock in Rio 3

The third Rock in Rio festival took place in 2001 and its seven nights were headlined, respectively, by Sting, R.E.M., Guns N' Roses, 'N Sync, Iron Maiden, Neil Young and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Iron Maiden recorded their set and released it as the live album Rock in Rio. The profits from the sale of the album were donated to the Clive Burr fund, which would help the former drummer pay mounting medical bills for treatment of his multiple sclerosis.

Another notable appearance at Rock in Rio 3 was that of American hard-rock band Guns N' Roses, with a new line-up featuring guitarist Buckethead, original member Axl Rose (vocals), and longtime member Dizzy Reed (keyboards). When Guns N' Roses played Knocking on Heaven's Door, a fan dressed up as Slash waved a Slash banner. Nick Oliveri, the bass player for Queens of the Stone Age performed in the nude for part of their set and was arrested for indecent exposure after the concert. Oliveri was released soon after.

Full list of artists who performed at Rock in Rio 3:

International Artists Brazilian Artists
Aaron Carter
Britney Spears
Dave Matthews Band
Foo Fighters
Guns N' Roses
Iron Maiden
James Taylor
Neil Young
'N Sync
Papa Roach
Queens of the Stone Age
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sheryl Crow
Barão Vermelho
Capital Inicial
Carlinhos Brown
Cássia Eller
Daniela Mercury
Diesel (now Udora)
Elba Ramalho and Zé Ramalho
Engenheiros do Hawaii
Fernanda Abreu
Gilberto Gil
Kid Abelha
Los Hermanos
Milton Nascimento
Moraes Moreira
Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira
O Surto
Pato Fu
Pavilhão 9
Sandy & Junior
Sheik Tosado
Ultraje a Rigor

Rock in Rio Lisboa

Rock in Rio Lisbon entrance

After the huge success of Rock in Rio 3 in Brazil, Roberta Medina decided to organize a festival of the same stature in Lisbon. The decision to maintain the name Rock in Rio was controversial, and detractors of the idea in Brazil started calling it Rock in Rio Tejo [2] [3], after the Tagus river (rio Tejo, in Portuguese) which runs through the Portuguese capital.

The first edition of Rock in Rio Lisboa, as the festival was officially called, took place in 2004. Although the festival had a slight change of name, it kept the same structure as the Brazilian editions. An entire City of Rock, with an area of over 200,000 was erected at the Bela Vista park, with a large centre stage and several tents where different artists would perform, simultaneously.



Roger Waters in Rock in Rio Lisbon

Rock in Rio Lisboa 2

The second edition of Rock in Rio Lisboa was held in 2006, on 26/27 May and 2/3/4 June.


Rock in Rio Lisboa & Madrid (2008)

The third edition of Rock in Rio took place in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 30-31 and June 1 and 5-6. The dates for Arganda del Rey, Madrid, were June 27-28 and July 4-6.

Rock in Rio Lisbon

May 30

May 31

June 1

June 5

June 6

Rock in Rio Madrid

June 27

June 28

July 4

July 5

July 6

Rock in Rio Lisboa & Madrid (2010)

Rock in Rio Lisboa [2]

May 21

May 22

May 27

May 29

May 30

Rock in Rio Madrid[3]

June 4

June 5

June 6

June 11

June 14


  1. ^ "Iron Maiden - Revelations". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
  2. ^
  3. ^

External links


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