On Thursday, the Long Beach Arena celebrated its 50th anniversary. The 13,500 capacity venue first opened its doors in 1962 and has through the years solidified its place as an iconic regional venue for all types of events.
Beyond hosting sports—in addition to the short-lived Ice Dogs hockey team, it was also home to the 1984 Olympic Volleyball competition—and its well-known 1992 ocean mural by artist Wyland which wraps around its outer facade, the Arena is home to a rich musical history which boasts an array of some of the most well-respected and known live albums of all time.
In honor of that legacy, the Long Beach Post has put together a list of the top five (okay, it’s technically six) live albums that were recorded at the Long Beach Arena. We know, of course, the list is arguable. After all, Eric Clapton’s 1974 Crossroads 2: Live in the Seventies doesn’t make the cut nor does Avenged Sevenfold’s 2008 recording Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough. And okay, Electric Light Orchestra’s epic 1974 The Night the Light Went On (in Long Beach) is also not on there.
But the albums below stand out above the rest, either for catching some of the best bands in the world at their prime or just representing the recording’s Long Beach roots. The multitude of live albums and DVDs that have been recorded at the Arena over the years only prove the venue’s truly incredible musical history and show Long Beach’s importance in cultivating a Southern California music scene whose heart beats at the Arena.
5. Deep Purple, Turn Around / King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents: Deep Purple in Concert
Deep Purple recorded not just one but two live albums at the Arena. Turn Around was recorded during their July, 1971 appearance while King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents: Deep Purple in Concert was recorded on February 27, 1976. The latter—which also included a handful of tracks recorded in Springfield, Illinois earlier that year—was later re-released in 2009 with an altered title paying homage to its recording locale: Live at Long Beach 1976.
4. Led Zeppelin, How the West Was Won
This two-venue live album—recorded at Led Zeppelin’s Forum appearance on June 25, 1972 and their subsequent appearance at the Arena two days later—wasn’t released until 2003, winning the praises of critics and fans alike following the overall bland reception of their previous live album, The Song Remains the Same. Guitarist Jimmy Page has often cited the 1972 tours to be Zepplin’s prime, making these recordings even more special to fans.
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Psychedelic Sexfunk Live from Heaven
Filmed on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’s December 30, 1989 appearance at the Arena, this video album was released in 1990 on VHS and has since long been out of print, not even hitting digital formatting—minus the fan who uploaded the concert in its entirety to YouTube.
2. Rick James, Street Songs (Deluxe Edition)
The triple-platinum concept album Street Songs was Rick James’s triumphant return following the disappoint behind Garden of Love. Re-released in 2001 to celebrate its 20th anniversary, it included a live version of all the tracks recorded at the Arena when James performed there on July 30, 1981. The record is a jewel, harnessing some of James’s most quintessential songs like “Super Freak,” “Ghetto Life” and “Give It to Me Baby.”
1. Iron Maiden, Live After Death
It is often called one of the best heavy metal live albums of all time—and it was recorded right here at the Long Beach Arena. One of the longest tours in history, spanning from August 8, 1984 to July 5, 1985, Iron Maiden’s World Slavery Tour made stops worldwide from Poland to Portugal, Austria to America.
Comprised of selections from a four-night stint at the Arena—March 14 through 17, 1985—on disc one and selections from London’s Hammersmith Odeon on disc two—October 8 through 12, 1984—the album is what Maiden goers often refer to as a best-of: “2 Minutes to Midnight” to “22 Acacia Avenue,” “Run to the Hills” to “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
The band’s persistent egging on of Long Beach’s crowd, “Scream for me, Long Beach!” ended up turning the phrase into an icon for metalheads—with a t-shirt and all.
—Additional reporting by Sarah Bennett
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