Desert Trip (aka “Oldchella”) Was a Massive Success. Who Should Play the Next One?

I spent the weekend in the California desert at Desert Trip, the three-day festival featuring some of the ur-acts of classic rock: Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, The Who and Roger Waters. This was the second of two sold-out weekends, each with about 80,000 people and with a potential box office gross of $160 million.

One hundred and sixty million dollars over six days. Think about that for a second. Organizers would be insane not to consider a Desert Trip 2. But who could they sign up to play?

But who could they sign up to play? Beatles, Stones, Dylan–you’ve already won the trifecta and run the table with Neil, The Who and Pink Floyd. Who else is left? That was the game being played all over the Empire Polo Grounds.  I asked a couple of people for their opinion and here’s what I got back.

  • Led Zeppelin: Obvious, but they don’t seem too anxious to do anything together again.
  • Stevie Wonder: As one person put it “This festival is a bit…pale.”
  • Bruce Springsteen: Maybe. But the man is already out on the road a lot. Still, he’d sell a lot of tickets.
  • U2: Ditto, but I don’t they’re ready to ascend into the elder statesmen realm.
  • Fleetwood Mac: Not a bad idea, although it would have to be the full and proper Rumours line-up.
  • Elton John: I can see that.
  • Eagles: That would probably work.
  • Tom Petty: That too.
  • David Gilmour: Well, that would cover off Pink Floyd, wouldn’t it?
  • CCR: Interesting idea, but is their legacy in the same league as any of the above?
  • Doors: Um, there’s a problem with that one. Can you spot it?
  • David Bowie: Have you been following the news?

Beyond that, the suggestions carried a whiff of second tier–Van Halen and Supertramp, for example–which, while still good, aren’t up there with the Beatles and Stones.

As Mick Jagger put it on Friday night, “Welcome to the ‘Catch Then Before They Croak Tour.'” If the promoters are going to do this again, they’d better move quick.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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