Gibson Amphitheatre, the mainstay mid-size concert venue at Universal City, will close its doors in September, according to its operator Live Nation Entertainment.
As announced in December 2011, the 6,200-capacity amphitheatre is expected to be demolished to make way for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park area.
Ticket holders for shows scheduled for Gibson after September 2013 should hold on to them, according to Live Nation's press release (below), as these events may be moved to other venues. Ticket holders will be fully refunded for any shows that cannot be moved.
Opened as Universal Ampitheatre in 1972 and originally an outdoor venue on the Universal Studios Lot, it was remodeled and reopened as an indoor theatre in 1982. Naming rights were acquired by the Gibson Guitar Corporation in early 2005.
Music icons including Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley and Johnny Cash performed at the landmark amphitheatre, which is renowned for excellent acoustics and sightlines. As well as hosting contemporary artists like David Bowie, No Doubt, Shakira and Kanye West, Gibson Amphitheatre also became home to special events like 106.7 KROQ FM's annual Almost Acoustic Christmas.
The Gibson has hosted the MTV Music Awards, VH1 Honors, HBO's Comic Relief and NAACP Image Awards among many other high-profile events. L.A. Weekly's “101” concerts, — featuring Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, The Airborne Toxic Event, and others — were held at Gibson Amphitheatre in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
In addition, world leaders and dignitaries including presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Pope John Paul II, and the 14th Dalai Lama have all appeared at the Gibson.
Personally, I witnessed (and reviewed) some incredible shows at Gibson, like No Doubt in 2006, The Sounds opening for The Strokes in 2004 and the Deftones in 2007. There were occasional indifferent performances (Evanescence in 2003) and the sad spectacle of The Damned being all but ignored opening for Rob Zombie (2002).
I conducted my most memorable interview (a prostrate Phil Anselmo) on a tour bus behind the venue, and one of my most bizarre (Glen Danzig in a dressing room shower) at the Gibson. The biggest brawl I ever saw in L.A. — between a pair of shirtless tag-teaming drunks and the venue's burly security team — happened in the hospitality area backstage at Universal Amphtiheatre before a Cult show in 2001.
The gap left by the Gibson's disappearance will be best filled in the short term by the 7,100-capacity Nokia Theatre L.A. Live and the much older and less frequently-used, 6,300-capacity Shrine Auditorium, both in downtown L.A.
Though there is no scheduled opening date for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park area, on April 23 NBCUniversal cleared the final hurdle to its $1.6-billion expansion plan for Universal Studios Hollywood by receiving a unanimous vote in approval of the 25-year expansion by the county Board of Supervisors.
Live Nation's statement says the venue will cease operations due to the end of the building's lease agreement.
The full press release and more photos are below
(Los Angeles, CA / Wednesday – April 24, 2013) This fall, a celebrated chapter in Los Angeles' rich musical history will come to a close when the Gibson Amphitheatre shuts its doors in September. The landmark venue will cease operations at that time due to the end of the building's lease agreement.
As a celebration of the many legendary artists who have played its stage and the tremendous performances that have thrilled millions of fans, Live Nation's Southern California office will assemble a very special lineup of shows as a fitting farewell. More details will be announced soon.
“We, like music lovers across Los Angeles, will miss Gibson Amphitheatre,” said Bret Gallagher, President of North American Concerts, Southern California/Las Vegas. “It is a tremendous venue with a uniquely intimate setting that has made it a very special place for fans and artists alike. The list of musicians that have played here is simply staggering. We are honored to have been a part of its remarkable story. While a change like this is difficult, we look forward to putting together a series of great shows that will celebrate everything about this marvelous building.”
Fans with tickets to shows that are scheduled after September 2013 should hold on to them. Live Nation is currently working on moving these events into other venues and will notify fans when there is more information. If a show cannot be moved then fans will receive a full refund.
Since opening as Universal Amphitheatre in 1972, originally as an outdoor venue on the Universal Studios lot, Gibson Amphitheatre has become a prime touring destination for top performers from across the musical spectrum. Icons such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, Johnny Cash and Miles Davis have all graced its stage. In fact, the Chairman of the Board headlined the amphitheatre's grand 1982 reopening as an enclosed theatre, calling it, “acoustically sensational… as large as the building is, I get a feeling that it's a small room.” Now, “El Rey” – Norteno legend Vicente Fernandez — who holds the venue's record for most consecutive sellouts (14), will close his final tour with three Gibson performances this weekend.
Contemporary artists like Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Shakira, James Taylor, Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Kanye West, Keith Urban, Paul Simon, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Lil' Wayne, D'Angelo, Joni Mitchell and BB King have played Gibson, as well as other legendary performers like The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, the Beach Boys, Steely Dan and the Grateful Dead.
Pearl Jam, Rush and No Doubt, bands who command arena-sized crowds, chose to give special, intimate residencies at the amphitheatre. The Los Angeles Times said of Pearl Jam's five-night 2009 run, “Gibson helped Pearl Jam get bigger. The sound was excellent, crisp and crackling with detail, and the medium capacity of just over 6,000 let fans and band connect without being cramped.” Conversely, One Direction, Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae sold out Gibson as they were becoming household names.
The amphitheatre has reflected Southern California's rich cultural diversity as well, becoming the preeminent Los Angeles venue for Latin artists as their music steadily moved into mainstream popular culture. Julio Iglesias sold out ten nights in the early 80's. Luis Miguel has frequently visited as well, selling out six shows on one tour. Pepe Aguilar, Juan Gabriel, Marco Antonio Solis and Ramon Ayala also have played multiple night runs at the building. A short list of luminary female headliners includes Celia Cruz, Rocio Ducal, Shalia Durcal, Ana Gabriel , Jenni Rivera and Selena. Mana gave their first major Los Angeles performance at Gibson and Jaguares filled the house during their Revolucion tour.
Gibson Amphitheatre has also been at the forefront of Los Angeles's ever-evolving modern rock landscape. 106.7 KROQ FM's Almost Acoustic Christmas, a yearly “It List” of top alt-rock talent like Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Foo Fighters, Mumford & Sons, The Cure, Linkin Park, Phoenix, The White Stripes and more, has called Gibson home since 1998. In addition, Ground-breaking bands like Radiohead, the Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine, Jane's Addiction, Incubus, Tool, The Smiths and R.E.M. have all headlined Gibson. The venue also hosted Danny Elfman's Oingo Bongo and their yearly Halloween extravaganzas, including their 1995 farewell show.
Thanks to its unique combination of theatre capacity and expansive backstage accommodations, Gibson has hosted many other live radio events. Other holiday shows include Emmis' Power 106 (KPWR FM) Cali Christmas, Clear Channel's KFI AM Mistletoe & Martini, CBS' 94.7 The Wave (KTWV FM) Winter Wonderland, Go Country 105 (KKGO FM) Winter Fest, and more. Moving beyond the holidays, Clear Channel's Hot 92.3 (KHHT FM) presents several annual shows at the venue, including Love Affair, Chicano Soul Legends, Funk-Tastick and Freestyle Explosion. Lieberman Broadcasting's Que Buena Premios has also taken place here.
Gibson's intimate feel has also made it a great venue for live comedy. Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Kathy Griffin, Louis C.K., Chelsea Handler, George Carlin, Cheech & Chong, George Lopez, Steve Harvey, Chris Rock, Daniel Tosh, Gabriel Iglesias and more have performed at the amphitheatre, which has also hosted Comic Relief and several editions of the Def Comedy Jam tour.
In addition, Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford have all appeared at Gibson Amphitheatre. Other world leaders and dignitaries who have visited the venue include Prime Minister Tony Blair, Pope John Paul II, and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.
Gibson has also provided a perfect home for special events including awards shows such as the MTV Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards, VH1 Honors, the Academy of Country Music Awards, HBO's Comic Relief, NAACP Image Awards among many other events. Former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton received a prestigious Commitment to Life award at a landmark 1994 AIDS Project Los Angeles ceremony. Barbra Streisand received a similar honor in 1993. Gibson also hosted the memorial celebration for legendary Hollywood executive Lew Wasserman, who as MCA chairman and CEO spearheaded the amphitheatre's construction. Also, the American Jewish University's prestigious Lecture Series saw top political figures such as former Secretaries of State Gen. Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Madeline Albright discuss top issues and current events.