Rock and roll comes to the Kitchener Auditorium!
This large package rock and roll show appeared at the Auditorium in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, twice in 1958. The first show graced the huge stage on April 11, with a follow-up show on October 7. It is surprising that the promoter barely did any kind of advertising ahead of the show. As I scanned the files of the Kitchener Waterloo Record newspaper during my research, the first ad appeared the day before the show. On the day of the show, there was a larger ad that featured each of the acts that would appear on stage. Even though the presentations were not heavily advertised, each show was a sell-out.
During the April show, the headliners were rockers such as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and vocal group, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, along with a star studded group of 14 other acts. At the October 7th show, the headliners were Buddy Holly, Clyde McPhatter, Bobby Darin, and more than a dozen other acts.
The stage set up featured band leader Sil Austin and his “Big Show of Stars” orchestra. As each individual singer came out to sing their current hit record, Austin and his band would play the music to accompany them. Although there were 17 acts on the show, each one only played one or two songs, then it was on to the next act. The headliners got to play more than one or two songs, since they were the biggest names on the bill. Even with all those acts, the show was over after a few hours.
The tickets for these shows seem ridiculously cheap today, they were steep for the time. The cheap seats at the back of the Aud were priced at $1.50. Better seats would cost you $2.00. Even better seats were priced at $2.50, with the best seats in the house going for the outrageous price of $3.00!
The mind boggles. To have seen all these acts in concert at one time would have been the greatest show ever! Heck, I would have paid three bucks just to see Buddy Holly alone!
April 11, 1958
Frankie Lymon signs autographs for fans ahead of the April 11, 1958 rock and roll show at the Kitchener Auditorium.
The Kitchener Auditorium in the 1950’s.
Advertising for the October 7, 1958 rock and roll show in Kitchener.
5,200 fans pack the Kitchener Auditorium for the rock and roll show in 1958.