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Thirty Years Ago U2 Played St. Louis for $750; Last Night's Show Grossed Around $5 Million

Categories: Music, News
u2 boy.jpg
U2 was touring under its "Boy" album when it played Wash U.'s Graham Chapel for $750.
More than 50,000 people attended U2's concert last night at Busch Stadium. Based on the average price of $103 spent per ticket for the band's 360 Tour, the Irish rockers left St. Louis with around $5 million in revenue.

That's not $5 million in profit, mind you, with the band spending Lord knows how much renting out the ballpark and setting up, dismantling and transporting its massive stage.

Still, it's a far cry from the $750 that concert promoter Steve Schankman paid the band to play its first-ever gig in St. Louis in April of 1981. That show was held at Washington University's Graham Chapel, and as Schankman recently told Fox 2, the band played its hit "I Will Follow" twice because they ran out of material.

"I remember the show being ovation after ovation because the thousand people who came to that show -- and paid the $15 or whatever it was back then -- really knew about this band, probably more so than I did. But think about what's happened ever since then," says Schankman, who still has the contract he signed with U2 in 1981.

A set list posted online confirms Schankman's recollection, and ups the ante. After opening with "The Ocean," "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" and "I Will Follow," U2 ran through another ten songs, including the first encore, then closed the show with "11 O'Clock Tick Tock," "The Ocean" and, finally, a reprise of "I Will Follow."

In the middle of last night's show at Busch, Bono paused between songs to recount the Graham Chapel story, pulling a crumpled sheet of paper out of his pocket and reading aloud the entire sixteen-song set list.
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For more St. Louis news and gossip, follow me on Twitter @chadgarrison or Facebook at Daily RFT.
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4 comments
tina64804
tina64804

I attended that concert with one of my best friends, we were Webster College students.  I treated him to this show...I recall the tickets were a whopping four bucks apiece.  We were both fans of U2 and were pretty excited to see them live.  We got good seats and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  Good times in the early 80's.

Fan
Fan

It's my understanding that U2, like most major acts, is paid upfront by Live Nation before the tour even begins.  So it was Live Nation and Busch that made all the money Sunday night.  U2 was paid a long time ago.

Jay
Jay

Drove 12 hours to bring my kids to their first show (my sixth)....best show ever according to my 12 yr old, I tend to agree

rattle&hum
rattle&hum

like so many other acts of U2's generation, they owe a huge debt of gratitude to MTV.  U2 had been a hit on college radio, but one can't help wonder what would have become of this little Irish rock band had they not received constant national exposure on MTV in those early years.

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