A Night At The Tangerine Bowl, 1981

”The front rows in Orlando were filled with these 12- or 13-year-old girls, some of whom were making the most unseemly suggestions.”
– Mick Jagger, the New York Times, November 4th, 1981.
In the fall of 1981, the Rolling Stones were touring behind Tattoo You, released that August. It would be the largest Stones tour to date, breaking ticket sale records and raking in millions.
Van Halen, on the road supporting Fair Warning, ran into the Stones in Orlando, Florida. They would serve as opener for both shows, marking the only time these bands would ever share the same stage.
From the desk of Rock File contributing editor Mac Cancribbe comes first-hand snapshots of the Rolling Stones and Van Halen live at Orlando’s Tangerine Bowl, October 25th, 1981.
A Seminal Rock Event to say the least.
It was my first real rock concert. I was 15. Most of my family had gone to New Jersey to attend my uncle’s wedding. My brother John and I stayed in Orlando to go to the concert. We bought 20 tickets, 10 each, the maximum you could get. They cost $16.35 a piece and we sold them to friends for $20.
Not much of a scalp.
The Henry Paul band opened for Van Halen, who were supporting the Stones. Only later did I learn that Van Halen opened the two Orlando shows. That was it.
Halen and the Stones, two nights only!
A few songs into Van Halen’s set, David Lee Roth, speaking to the press box down front, shouted, “Do you know what the first thing the newspaper critic with the Elvis Costello haircut is going to write about this show in tomorrow’s paper? How fucked up Van Halen was!”
The crowd cheers.
“And you know what the second thing they are going to write is? How fucked up the audience was!”
The crowd goes nuts.
“Well, this one’s for the press!” Roth moons the press box, and the band kicked into “So This Is Love?”
The stadium played “London Calling” by The Clash a few minutes before the Stones came out, switching to Duke Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train” as the band finally took the stage:
Mick Jagger in orange football pants, an orange tank top, an orange button-down shirt (completely unbuttoned) and pointy white shoes; Keith Richards in a short leopard coat; Bill Wyman in a yellow suit, standing still the whole time.
I had wriggled my way down to the 30-yard line just before the Stones went on. They opened with “Under My Thumb.” I could only catch glimpses of Mick because everyone else was taller than me. When the song was over, I ran back to my end zone bleacher seats to enjoy the rest of the show.
– Mac Cancribbe, concertgoer
It would be another eight years before the Rolling Stones returned to tour America. Van Halen was three years away from releasing the best-selling album of their career, 1984.
Their paths would never cross again, but for two nights in Orlando in the fall of ‘81, the Rolling Stones and Van Halen rocked the Tangerine Bowl, and it was good.
Rolling Stones concert ticket, collection of the Rock File
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22 Responses to A Night At The Tangerine Bowl, 1981

  1. Joe Popp says:

    My brother and sister went to this show. I went to the Who a year later at the T-Bowl. Some dudes buried a bunch of booze and dug it up to drink during the show. A classic venue. Great reading!

    • CMc says:

      I was at that Who show at the Tangerine Bowl, too — it was my first concert!

    • Anonymous says:

      The B-52’s opened up for the Who gig and were booed off of the stage (shame on the promoter for putting the bombers on that gig. But Halen blew the Stones off of the stage. Sorry, Jagger’s voice sucks live in my opinion. And this was Roth at his best before his vocals (never great in a classic sense to begin with) went south (last VH was embarrassing). This was a great time to be young and when it really was a festival environment.

      • navigator77 says:

        Van Halen was booe’d off the stage on the first day Oct 24 as the crowd shouted increasingly louder “STONES” “STONES” STONES”. Van Halen was frustrated. Valerie B was backstage. The Stones are not great because any one of them is the best at what they do it is because when they play together something happens in that live dynamic that makes their slogan the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band no stretch of the imagination. Now they reappear in the same stadium 34 years later. Just sayin…

  2. Wayne says:

    This was the most memorable show of my life. I was 18 years old, in the Navy, and stationed in Orlando. I am 48 now and have been to a number of memorable shows since, but they all pale in comparison to this one.

  3. bob says:

    Thanks for the write up. I was there. 17 years old. I remember Van Halen seemed wasted whereas the stones were apparently clean and sober. The acoustics were perfect. It was a great concert.

  4. Scott says:

    I was there OCt 24 (Happy birthday Billy!) and Oct 25 . I have been to a lot of concerts in my life but this stands alone. It was way out there. It was intense, it was pscyhedelic, it was inexplicable, it was a time of change but the greatest rock and roll band of all time played and they played and the people were indeed satisified and they lived up to their slogan. Awesome!

  5. mickdolan says:

    Being there was one of the highlights of my radio career. Start Me Up brought the house down!

  6. John Caulfield says:

    I seem to remember on one of the two days was Bill Wymans Birthday, as a plane pulling one of those banners wishing Bill A Happy Birthday.

  7. Robert says:

    I was there 20 years old, we were up all night on acid it was nuts, we were in the first row, wild time with many great stories

    • mickdolan says:

      Note the ticket price of just $15 plus $.60 tax!!! There wasn’t a service charge unless it was included in the ticket price. Imagine what that price would be today.

  8. I was there at stones show . I worked at Specs Music in Miami. I went with 2 girl s that I worked with. I was 18 . A great time was had by all. No I did ‘nt get lucky. I also saw The Who a year later. and 15.00 $ a ticket seemed expensive.

  9. mickdolan says:

    McCartney just did two shows in O-Town this past weekend—some tickets were $200 plus face value (he did do close to three hours though) How times have changed!! @Dennis—I remember Specs!

  10. ufjeff5150 says:

    Actually, Van Halen shared the same stage with the Rolling Stones in the New Orleans Superdome in 1978. I know, I was at that show as well as this one. Do you remember the small plane circling the stadium during the Van Halen show? We thought he was going kamikaze.

  11. trent hutcheson says:

    i was there for 1st show, saturday. 16 years old, drove myself and 3 friends in my ’65 mustang. RS and VH were great, but, for me, henry paul band stole the show!

  12. trent hutcheson says:

    correction: after checking my records, realize i was at 2nd show, sunday, red ticket. not saturday, 1st show, blue ticket. lol

  13. Benny says:

    Graduated High School in 1981, and that fall me and 2 buddies drove north from Miramar and saw the Greatest Show we ever saw! Van Halen was awesome, but the show went to the STONES!! Without a doubt! 50 years old now and it truly does seem like yesterday!

  14. Jay Werba says:

    It was October 1985. My brothers and I went to the first show, on the Saturday. It was Bill Wyman’s birthday, and the whole audience sang Happy Birthday Bill Wyman. I also recall how huge Alex Van Halen’s drum kit was, and how Charlie Watts set looked so minuscule in comparison….

  15. Billy C says:

    October 25, 1981 – it was my 19th birthday and my 16 year old sister bought me tickets to this concert. We went together, got there early, waited on line to get into the T-Bowl so we could get up close to the stage – we were 2 rows back from the stage. I’ve been to over 50 concerts and this one was the most memorable. Van Halen was insanely good, and the Stones were absolutely peaking in 1981. Hell, even Henry Paul Band was great that day (I was an Outlaws fan).

  16. Anton says:

    I was 19 years old, living in Miami we went to concerts every week sometimes two a week depending on who was playing. I was young so my whole world was work, party and concerts, spent all my money on drugs and going to shows. This wa sone concert that sticks out, I went to Orlando twice, this concert and to see the Who (I think that was in 82′). I remember all the gilrs topless because of Mick Jagger and D. Lee Roth, two of the hottest singers of the times. Even the concert shirt I bought I liked more thna most, it was a football jersey that had the number 81 on it (the year) and the word STONES where the name went on a jersey. I wore that shirt for years, I wish I kept all those shirts but in those day that was your wardrobe, it was all you wore. I have a picture of my GF doing our laundry, we had 4 clothes lines to hang our clothes and 3 of the lines were all concert shirts… Great concert!!

  17. JT says:

    My brother recently passed away and I found two tickets to the 10/24 show in his belongings. He raved about this show through the years! He would have been 33. Nice memento to have from his past knowing how much fun he had on this date!

  18. Patti Moore says:

    I was at the show on the 24th. By far the best outdoor show I’ve ever seen. My first for the Stones and still not my last. David Lee Roth mooned the the audience. . It was a prefect day, one of my favorite memories. ❤🎶

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