Year’s top-grossing tour sealed with Kiss

The Kiss reunion tour led the list of the most successful roadshows of 1996 by grossing $43.6 million. The group’s return to makeup helped sell more than 1.2 million concert tickets at 92 shows in 75 cities.

Although most concert promoters described the year as lackluster, the industry grossed an impressive $1.05 billion, up from last year’s take of $950 million, according to stats released Thursday by concert trade weekly Pollstar.

No return of the Dead

The tally is also significant because this was the first year in some time without a Grateful Dead summer roadshow -which consistently contributed around $30 million to the annual total.

There was also a dearth of stadium tours. However, a schedule dominated by acts appealing primarily to the gold card set allowed promoters to charge higher ticket prices across the board, which helped goose the year-end grosses.

But promoters also typically paid higher guarantees to artists, which frequently cut into their profits, and the plethora of ’70s-era acts on the road this year may cause promoters and venues to rethink booking them in 1997.

Garth Brooks ranked second with a gross of $34.5 million, despite charging less than half the industry average for his concert ducats.

The country music phenom had a per-show gross of nearly $842,000 – compared with Kiss’ $582,000 – and played to more than 1.9 million people during his 121-show run, which hit just 41 cities. Brooks, who charges $18 per ducat, continues to sell out every tour stop.

Eagles lead

The Eagles, which led the list of top-grossing concerts last year with its $61 million take, took its show abroad and Down Under in 1996 for just over a handful of shows and still managed to rank 29th on the top 50 list.

But the group led the list of per-show grossers thanks to its hefty $75-and-up ticket price by logging nearly $1.2 million at each of its 10 shows.

Creative Artists Agency again proved to be the top dog in a crowded booking-agency pack, as it owned six of the year’s top 10 tours and 15 of the top 50 shows for grosses totaling $270 million.

William Morris booked 13 of the top 50 roadshows and one of the top 10 for a gross of $162 million; International Creative Management owned three of the top 50 tours and grossed $28.1 million.

Monterey Peninsula Artists booked four of the top 50 shows for $75.3 million in concert grosses.

With the exceptions of Alanis Morissette, who ranked eighth on a gross of $23.2 million, and Hootie & the Blowfish, which ranked ninth on a $21.4 million gross, the top 10 acts were industry mainstays who attracted a predominantly older audience.

Neil Diamond earned the list’s third spot thanks to a $32.2 million gross at 72 show. In 62 towns, Rod Stewart grossed $29.1 million and ranked No. 4. The pair also boasted some of the industry’s highest ticket prices, with ducats for Stewart eclipsing $100 in some markets.

Bob Seger, who supported a greatest hits disc in his return to the boards, tapped 64 cities and grossed $26.3 million to earn the No. 5 spot.

“Lollapalooza” grabbed headlines and a per-show gross of nearly $800,000, which contributed to a tour tally of $15.9 million. The H.O.R.D.E. Festival, which featured Blues Traveler and Natalie Merchant, nabbed an $18.1 million gross on a schedule of 42 shows.

Ozzy Osbourne, who has retired from performing more times than Magic Johnson, rounded out the top 10 list with an impressive $21.3 million gross over a 100-city run.

Osbourne and AC/DC, the latter landing a $21.2 million gross for the year, perhaps together proved that hard rock isn’t dead, just on life support.