The American Rock Festival- When Heavy Metal Ruled Kalamazoo
Seven of the best hard rock bands in the world converged on Timber Ridge Ski Area for an unforgettable day of music in 1984.
It was May 27, 1984, a day that rockers who were there will always remember. "The kids out here are crazy today, it's so much fun," was Vince Neil's assessment of the 350,000+ crowd of metalheads gathered on the side of the hill baking in the sun. The American Rock Festival put Ratt, Accept, Night Ranger, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne and Triumph on the same stage for one night only that lasted all day.
- My first concert. I was 14 and it was awesome! -Dana
- I was there, great memories. -James
- Missed it--had to work. -Douglas
- One of the funnest best days of my life! Ohhhhh to be young again -Tamera
- Was there AWESOME TIME -John
- So many great memories from that event but no pics -Randy
Randy is right, there are very few photos from the event, being it was 1984 and all. All we have is our memories to rely on. Here's what I've got 35 years later:
These guys opened the show. It seems like Ratt played a West Michigan show every 6 weeks from '84-'88.
Man, Udo is short!
Today, the only song anyone remembers is "Sister Christian." Dawn Patrol and Midnight Madness had more rockers than ballads.
Motley ruled the day. They were opening for Ozzy on the Bark at the Moon tour at the time, but the young, hungry and powerful band stormed the stage and captivated the crowd. I think I remember Vince climbing the scaffolding? (Something he couldn't do at Ribfest 2018.)
Striped shirts. Striped guitars. Striped mic stand.
Randy Rhoads was gone at this point and I don't remember much about Jake but Ozzy kept shouting and pumping his fists like a madman. Par for the course in '84.
I remember thinking this band didn't quite fit with the rest of the lineup, although "Lay It on the Line" and "Fight the Good Fight" rocked. I still love "Magic Power."
We didn't have Twitter or anything like it back in the day, so it's hard to know things like if Sharon was at the show with Ozzy- he had proposed to he in Kalamazoo three years earlier after a show at Wings Stadium. There is some backstage footage of an interview with Vince and a pandering Tommy Lee claiming, "Michigan has go to be our favorite place to play." Take a look and you'll see the late Robbin Crosby with Tommy when he drops his drumstick and that's Nikki on the golf cart. There's been talk of a documentary film for quite some time but nothing has materialized as of this writing.
Were you at this epic show? Share your memories in the comments section below.