It was a big year for music tours in 1991: Ranting rocker Axl Rose was making headlines, a New Kid on the Block was disappearing, ZZ Top members were being “recycled,” and Art Garfunkel was sitting out Paul Simon’s Concert in Central Park sequel.
So let’s take a look at the top 10 biggest music tours of the year and consider why we still can’t forget these shows… or let go of that moldy AC/DC concert t-shirt.
Known as one of Nashville’s hat acts, Clint Black toured with country band Alabama. Black’s “Where Are You Now” and “Loving Blind” both hit No.1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart in 1991. It was a big year, all around, for Clint—he married actress Lisa Hartman, whom he’d met at a Houston concert in 1990.
Guns N Roses
Guns N Roses’ lead singer Axl Rose’s behavior was as big a story as the Use Your Illusion Tour itself. He challenged fans to fights, ended a Missouri show early—which was followed by a riot—and then had two concerts canceled when warrants were served for his arrest for inciting that riot. The tour ran for three years. There was no official set list as the band kept each show fresh, but it typically closed with “Paradise City.”
Singer/songwriter Rod Stewart’s Vagabond Heart Tour leveraged his hit “Rhythm of my Heart,” which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts that year. The album with the same name also included the duet “It Takes Two” with Tina Turner.
AC/DC’s hard rockin’ Razors Edge World Tour brought them back into the spotlight and featured many of their classics like “Thunderstruck,” “Back in Black” and “Hell’s Bells,” but their Salt Lake City show on Jan. 18 ended in tragedy. Three fans died when they were trampled at the Salt Palace amid the push on the floor of 4,000-plus fans to get closer to the stage.
Bell Biv DeVoe, Keith Sweat & Johnny Gill
The Triple Threat Tour, starring Bell Biv DeVoe, Keith Sweat, and Johnny Gill was a sensory, crowd-pleasing affair. Sweat was best known for his chart-topping “Make it Last Forever,” Johnny Gill had “Rub You The Right Way,” and of course Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” sold more than 4 million copies. (What else did they have in common? All of them spun off from Boston’s New Edition, which also included Bobby Brown, before he was voted out.)
It was Dec. 4, 1991 when the mother/daughter duo of Naomi and Wynonna Judd played their final performance ever at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Naomi had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. She later recovered and the duo reunited in 2010 for their Last Encore Tour and also had a brief residency at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Although the event dubbed Paul Simon’s Concert in the Park was supposed to recreate Simon and Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park from a decade before, Art Garfunkel wasn’t actually there. He was not part of the Born at the Right Time Tour in 1991, but Paul Simon’s show turned out to be the most attended in history, with an estimated 600,000 in attendance of an event that included performances of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Graceland.”
The set for ZZ Top’s Recycler Tour entertained the eyes as well as the ears, with crushed cars and an elaborate recycling machine complete with conveyer belt that enabled their effortless movement across the stage. Band members Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard were scooped up and spit out in the giant recycler, which was almost as memorable as the pink outfits they wore for “Sharp Dressed Man.”
New Kids on the Block
New Kids on the Block’s Magic Summer/No More Games Tour was so large it spanned North America and Europe for two years. But it was best remembered for the wrong reasons: During their show in Saratoga, N.Y. Donnie Wahlberg fell through a trapdoor while landing a jump from a platform during their hit “Hangin’ Tough.”
The Grateful Dead
Ageless rockers The Grateful Dead earned an amazing $20 million for the first 6 months of their tour, which included nine sold out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Each show was a spectacle featuring the groups’ gold standards like “Truckin” and “Uncle John’s Band.”