Aug. 30, 1988
About 22,000 people filled the Pocono Downs racetrack in Plains Twp. to listen to Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith.
The two bands were touring in support of their recently released albums, “Permanent Vacation” (Aerosmith’s ninth studio album) and “Appetite for Destruction” (GnR’s debut). Tickets cost $20.
GnR played songs such as “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Mr. Brownstone,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Paradise City.” The group also hit the thousands gathered with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”
Aerosmith’s set featured new and old songs such as “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” “Rag Doll,” “Angel,” “Hangman Jury,” “Rats in the Cellar,” “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way.”
Following the concert, rumors circulated about the audience’s behavior, with reports of fighting, drinking, drug abuse and multiple injuries. Days later, Joseph Banks, owner and president of Pocono Downs, said the rumors were not substantiated.
“It was a normal rock and roll concert,” he said. “I’ve been to ones that were a lot worse than this one. Some accounts said that people were scratching and clawing. I didn’t see any of that, and I was right up front with my girlfriend. The media made it seem like a holocaust, and it wasn’t. I thought the reports were totally unfair.”
It was reported that 27 people from the concert were treated and released from area hospitals. Mark Ercolani, a Plains Twp. paramedic working at the concert said, they treated were minor cuts, bruises and heat exhaustion.
“There were no stab wounds, no shootings or anything like that,” Ercolani said. “It’s true that we saw 112 people at the emergency stations, but you have to realize that some of those people only needed a cup of water and to get out of the sun for awhile.”
Banks said the racetrack was back in order by 11 a.m. the next day and the horses were out running that night.
Guns N’ Roses recently announced a worldwide stadium tour for 2020. It will kick off in Mexico in March and arrive in the United States on July 4 in Milwaukee. The group has shows scheduled for Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on July 8 and Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on July 18.
Aerosmith has a residency in the Park Theater at Park MGM in Las Vegas in February, May and June followed by a European tour in July.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 14 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast