It's a pretty well-known fact.  If you want to see the hottest musical acts perform in concert these days, you won't see them in Erie.  That wasn't always the case. There’s an old warehouse that's still standing in Millcreek Township that used to be a hockey arena.  It was called the Erie County Fieldhouse.  Back in the 70s and early 80s, the building hosted concerts by legends of rock. 

The Fieldhouse would host as many as 20 concerts a year.  Dan Schell wrote a book about those performances.  It's called 9 Years of Rock, the Story of the Concerts at the Erie County Fieldhouse.

"That very non-descript building on Route 8 and I-90 that we pass on the way to work each day was the place where some of the greatest classic rock bands, before they were known as classic rock, played,” says Dan. 

Here's some the names that performed in the first year of the fieldhouse in 1974.  Stxy, Steve Miller Band, Santana, ZZ Top, and The Doobie Brothers. It also hosted one of Erie's favorites at the time, Blue Oyster Cult.  Dan says Erie loved hard rock.

"As they evolved, they added lasers and that's what people talked about at the BOC shows because lasers at that point were pretty new,” he says.

1975 saw Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, and a controversial performer named Alice Cooper. Dan says Cooper's appearance in Erie was protested by religious groups and the Humane Society.

"If you were a parent, and your son said, 'I want to go see this guy Alice Cooper, who wears makeup and has all the crazy stuff on stage.’ Yeah, that was a big deal back then."  

Equally outrageous in 1975 was a relatively new group called Kiss with their face paint and costumes. A local urban legend remains to this day that Kiss caught the fieldhouse roof on fire and were told they would never play Erie again. Dan says the story is not exactly true.

"What they did was they singed the roof with their flash pots that shoot up,” says Dan.  

The list of legends that played the fieldhouse goes on and on.  Kansas, Heart, ELO, AC/DC.  In 1978, people came to the fieldhouse to see headliner Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath.  All they could talk about when they left was the opening act…Van Halen. 

"Here's David Lee Roth jumping all around.  Eddie Van Halen doing things that people had never heard on the guitar. That is one of the most talked about shows,” says Dan. 

So many shows and so many stories from the years 1974 to 1983. The Erie County Fieldhouse. We salute you.

At the end of his book, Dan lists every act that appeared at the Erie County Fieldhouse.  The book is available at local bookstores such as Pressed and Werner Books.