On-Campus Houston Concerts Now Ancient History

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For lots more posters from Hofheinz, see below and our slideshow.

Essentially, universities in Houston don't have rock concerts anymore. In fact, pretty much all across America, institutions of higher learning are focusing less on bringing in live entertainment for students and more on building their collegiate resumes. But Rocks Off assumes that colleges that still do host concerts follow the model of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Georgetown attempts to offer all types of music including the "Guild of Bands," a consortium of student rock bands for which students are eligible for academic credit. One of the requirements for these student bands is to give on-campus concerts.

Private schools with a lot of money bring in entertainers as part of their program board, where students vote about who/what they want to hear. And the campus concerts must celebrate diversity; they engage the students and are a collaboration between several on-campus groups.

But what about Houston? Rice and the University of Houston seem to care less these days. But it wasn't always this way.

Rice and UH were lively settings for all kinds of entertainment back in the day. Let's not forget that the Super Bowl was played at Rice Stadium in 1974 - in fact, the gigantic stadium was originally called Houston Stadium, because it was designed to be shared by Rice and UH.

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We specify, because Houston Stadium was the site for many events that involved both UH and Rice students. For example, the Texxas Jam, which lasted from 1978 through 1988, was mostly a Dallas event, but it also hopped down to Rice Stadium and the Astrodome during its decade-long run.

Today, however, it just isn't so.

Besides the Super Bowl, Rice Stadium has held many major concerts. Huge crowds came out for Pink Floyd, the Eagles, Elton John, Billy Joel and George Strait. And any music fan who lived in Houston in the '70s is well acquainted with UH's campus, which used to be party central with live music aplenty.

So Rocks Off decided to talk to someone who lived in Houston and was a student at UH during its musical heyday.

"The gate underneath Hofheinz has a lock on it," said Chris, who graduated in 1979 and asked we not use his last name. "I got a key to the lock, and we let people slide in through there."

Chris wasn't an employee of the university, and he didn't have any affiliation with the bands playing or the groups who put together and promoted the concerts either.

"You can go to a hardware store and get a match for (the lock) if you've got the lock number," he said. "It's not the easiest thing in the world to do, but you can always do that."

Chris simply checked the lock number in the tunnel, took that number to a hardware store and got a key made.

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"You really still have the same three venues that you had back then," said Chris, who began his UH tenure in 1976. "They just don't really utilize them anymore."

In his time at UH, Chris and plenty of his friends saw Grateful Dead in Hofheinz, Pink Floyd at Robertson Stadium on the Animals tour, and even Van Morrison in Cullen Auditorium.

True, the venues at Rice and U of H were pretty much the only places in in town besides the Astrodome that could accommodate concerts of that size until The Summit/Compaq Center, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Reliant Stadium and Toyota Center opened in 1975, 1990, 2002 and 2003, respectively. But Chris believes some of U of H's smaller facilities are being underutilized.

"Cullen Auditorium is a heck of a venue for singers, and now you've got the Moores Opera House on top of that," he said, adding that he doesn't understand why the university doesn't host concerts other than Frontier Fiesta more regularly.

"Hofheinz was an excellent venue - of course, you didn't have that big-ass scoreboard up there back then - and I remember seeing Steve Martin and Bob Hope, of all people; comedians. Big stars would come out."

Location Info


Hofheinz Pavilion

3875 Holman, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Rice Stadium

6100 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: General

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There is an effort starting up for a student radio station COOG Radio. It starts this summer, I think, or fall and will be internet only to start... but it is a start.

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

Joey is probably right about the West U neighbors being a little skiddish about concert noise.

Since Rice is all about 'engagement' and 'inclusion' does anyone have a plan for the West U neighbors to 'engage' them and 'include' them in the concert planning process?

Free tickets perhaps? Community day for neighbors with free food?

People are less likely to oppose what young people want to do if they know the specifics and are involved in the planning process.


Joey Yang from KTRU wrote in to tell us that Rice Stadium doesn't hold concerts anymore because the neighbors in West U weren't too keen on the noise. Thanks, Joey.

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

Concerts at UH might be one hell of a fundraising idea now that budgets are being cut by the Texas legislature.

Be a great way for the community to show support for UH.

Attend a concert and 'bulk-up' the financial aid budget for UH.

Might even broadcast all of part of the concert with a call-in phone number to make a donation.


Any place one might buy vintage Hoffheinz Pavilion concert posters or reproductions of such?


Much better than Van Morrison at Cullen was his show a year or so earlier upstairs in the Houston Room at the UH University Center with The Caledonia Soul Orchestra as later heard on the It's Too Late to Stop Now live LP. At Hofheinz, you also had the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Band, Joni Mitchell among many others. Also the Traffic-Mountain show whose poster accompanies this piece featured a semi-riot with windows and door broken and unticketed hippies joining the crowd after a lone UH security guard pulls his gun then steps aside.


I once worked "security" at an Elton John concert at Hofheinz, checking to make sure people had floor tickets as they tried to move down from the stands. A lot of people showed me their tickets while offering a ten-dollar bill; they all got waved through.


Maybe part of the problem is the change in popular music. Back then, the top bands would really appeal to university campuses. Now, perhaps the likes of Lady Gaga or Katy Perry would not be the best fit for a university stadium show. Rice did have the National not too long ago, and that seems like a pretty big get. However, if the Cynthia Woods Mitchell pavilion did not exist, it is easy to imagine Rush playing at the Rice Stadium.


"It's Too Late" is just about my favorite live album of all time; it's hard to imagine that show in the Houston Room.


Good point about the Woodlands, Evan. Added that one in there.


Given the wildly uneven performance history of Van Morrison, that amazing show stands out even more. A year or two later we saw him in a small venue (either Cullen Auditorium or the old Music Hall) where a drunken Van and a tepid jazz trio turned in an uninspired set distinguished only by VM laying across the grand piano in a fit of, uh, exuberance not shared by the audience.

As for the Houston Room, the most bizarre event I ever witnessed there was a phony “Pornography Seminar” where some UH students who moonlighted as clerks at an adult theater borrowed a copy of “Deep Throat” – then in its initial theatrical run - and charged $1 to get in. The room was packed (maybe 1,000 people) for the midday showing although the crowd quickly dwindled once the novelty of genitalia on the big screen wore off.

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