Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Riots

Music History Monday: Musical Riots and Assorted Mayhem

We mark the riot that occurred on October 26, 1958 – 62 years ago today – when Bill Haley and his Comets played a concert at Berlin’s Sportpalast to an audience of some 7000 people. Signs of trouble had occurred at Haley’s first two German concerts on the previous two evenings, the first one in Hamburg and the next in Essen. But no one could have anticipated the mayhem in Berlin, where some 500 rock ‘n’ rollers and police staged a fist-and-stick battle during the show. Five policemen were badly beaten, six audience members severely injured, while damages to the venue amounted to over 50,000 Deutsche Marks. Both the East and West German authorities reacted with outrage. The West Berlin senate banned all future rock ‘n’ roll concerts. In East Germany, Neues Deutschland, the official Communist Party organ, condemned Haley in a front-page editorial for: “turning the youth of the land of Bach and Beethoven into raging beasts.” (With all due respect we would observe that just a few years before, “the youth of the land of Bach and Beethoven” had indeed behaved like raging beasts.) The newspapers in both East and West Berlin agreed that the Haley riots were: […]

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