One of musical history in Madrid: five moments of pure “rock and roll” in the city

What will all those concert halls keep condensed sweat on the roofs, what stories will be hidden among the graffiti that flood the halls? backstage of any concert hall. He rock world live is unfathomable.

More in a city like Madrid, in which historical bands from our country were born, rehearsed and broke up; and a city through which the ages have passed and will continue to pass. great names in rock history to present their records, to fill stadiums or to revolutionize small venues.

we review five moments that, for one reason or another, were (and will be) transcendental in the history of Rock And Roll and that they had Madrid as the main witness.

1. The Beatles concert during the Dictatorship

The Beatles embodied in the mythical record store of La Gramola
Editorial credit: Enriscapes /

July 2, 1965 the Beatles played at the Sales; a concert presented by Torrebruno and that, they say, was heard badly and did not last more than 45 minutes. Despite everything, it was a challenge (reluctantly consented) to the Regime.

It all started with that wonderful picture of the four Beatles going down the stairs of the plane (the truth is that their Barcelona replica is more fun). Not only did a pop rock group tread the Spanish dream, a halo of freedom descended, a hint of freshness. They stayed in the Hotel Fénix (today, Hotel Fénix Gran Meliá) and, due to the tight security measures, they did not get out of it. So the party came to them.

Suddenly, the Hurtado sisters, dressed as faralaes, danced Sevillanas in a hotel room decorated like a flamenco party around the four from Liverpool (“We, without having any idea of ​​English, we didn’t understand anything. So every little while we limited ourselves to to open their fans and say ‘Olé, olé, olé!»…, the Hurtados would declare to Vanity Fair).

But who the hell had organized such a soiree? Domecq Wineries in what is possibly the first major marketing action in the history of our country. These wineries arranged a room with sherry barrels to show their product to the musicians, all with the intention of promoting these wines in the British market.

2. “Madrid is written with V de Vigo”

Principe Pio Station
Editorial credit: photo by XINGYUAN ZHOU on Unsplash

That the one in Madrid was not the only “Movida” is something that all good Galicians claim whenever they can. There was an initiative in 1986 (spoilers: went wrong) that tried to keep both movements strong after the death of their top defender, Tender Galvan.

An event that sought to unite both phenomena in a quasi-performative action: uploading the protagonists of the Madrid scene on a Renfe train that would take them to Vigo from Principe Pio station. Everything, organized by Joaquin Leguina (President of the Community of Madrid at the time) and Manuel Soto, mayor of Vigo. Ten hours of night travel in wagons that carried Jaime Urrutia, Alaska, Ana Curra, the Aviador Dro band, Ouka Leele…

110,000 euros were spent for it in that Rias Baixas train, in which the free bar of alcohol was law. Also, in a welcoming committee, bagpipers included, various exhibitions, concerts, tours of the city’s gambling dens and the culmination: a gargantuan feast in the Pazo Quiñones de León that ended almost in tragedy (gossips say that MacNamara caught a certain hobby of throwing objects at people). They say that this was the beginning of the end of the Movida. Of both.

Do you want to freak out? Here coffee for coffee growers only at the level of “”Rockers, whoever is not high, who is high… and to the parrot!”, from Tender Galvan.

3. One of the last performances in the history of Nirvana

Kurt Cobain died on April 5, 1994 in the greenhouse of his Seattle home. Just a month earlier, Nirvana’s European tour was canceled after what would be the band’s last concert on March 1 in Munich.

But before Germany, people from Madrid and Barcelona They were able to see, live, the great grunge band, the group that, without eating or drinking it since their first rehearsals in the remote town of Aberdeen, transcended at all levels (musical, aesthetic, compositional…) rock world.

Nirvana’s last concert in Madrid was on February 8, 1994.. The assistants paid 3000 pesetas (€18 current) for seeing the biggest rock band of the moment in the Real Madrid Sports Pavilion (in the current sports city of the team).

Unfortunately, Kurt Cobain was already in a difficult situation, due to his addiction to drugs, and He only left the Hotel Villa Magna for the concert. In the book Kurt Cobain, Diariesfrom the Reservoir Books publishing house, you can read a two-page letter that Cobain wrote from the hotel (as the letterhead shows): a whole dissertation on addiction.

Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic were in charge, meanwhile, of the promotion declaring to 40TV: “Yes, we have already composed a few songs. We still don’t know what the record is going to be like. It’s still up in the air. remains a mystery”. Little did they know that just two months later, Cobain would cease to exist.

4. Bowie asking for a beer in the Plaza Mayor

'Bowie Taken by Duffy'

This event did not change the history of music, but seeing Bowie walking through the streets of Madrid in 1987the interaction with all the characters that come across him (that lady who scolds him because she wants Bowie to return her pen after signing an autograph for him)… Until the moment of final relaxation in the Plaza Mayor in the cold of the city’s winter, it is a wonder.

Bowie arrived in Madrid to play at the Calderón on his tour glass spider and after a press conference in the Jácara room, he went in search of gold: a good beer on a terrace. Thus, she walked in her red shirt in the company of the guitarist, Peter Framptonand he was releasing jokes and pills of wisdom as when he refers to his first visit to the city, a decade before: “it gave the feeling that you could not wear the color red those days.”

Who would tell him that 36 years later, he would return to Madrid, in the form of an exhibition. You’ll find Bowie Taken by Duffy until the end of June at COAM, an exhibition that combines the ingenuity of two artists (the photographer Brian Duffy and Bowie himself) who worked together on five photo sessions that are today pure pop history and an inescapable reference. Inside, you will be able to see, up close, the only remaining original copy of the cover of Aladdin Sane.

5. The Time to Come: Rockin’1000


Still to be written in the annals of history, we predict that the next 3 of June we can add one more notch to those great moments of rock history in Madrid. To begin with, due to its magnitude; to follow, for being the definitive tribute to all these stories (and many more) in a stadium concert format.

Rockin’1000 presented by Ballantine’s is the concert in which a thousand rockers will play in unison the hymns of rock (Nirvana, The White Stripes, Foo Fighters, Metallica…). It will be in the stadium Metropolitan Civitas that will be transformed, for the occasion, into the most imagined scenario. On it and organized by instrument, each group of musicians will be led by a rock “orchestra” conductor. An ambitious production, a colossal event. LThe icing on the cake for this historic trip through the rockiest Madrid.

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