The Day Rock and Roll Killed Disco

I am basically a rocker, even though I do enjoy various forms of music. I have played Big Band music, symphonic arrangements, jazz, and country (almost anything imaginable). But I always despised disco. That is not to suggest that I didn’t participate at times, because frankly, the most beautiful women I knew were in to it and wanted someone that could dance with them.

When Saturday Night Fever hit the theaters, many women I knew (the best looking ones) seemed to gravitate towards it, so what was a young man to do? I learned the moves John Travolta used (although I tried to hide this from my male friends, especially the rockers) and then the women were all over me, instead of me pursuing them.

So, when the rock world attacked disco, I had mixed feelings (not that I had come to enjoy the music, but because I enjoyed the company). But deep down, I was glad it was being attacked by the “Disco Sucks” crowd (and I even bought a t-shirt to wear to support the final deadly assault, which may have been initiated in Chicago, at a baseball stadium). Best I can tell, this is one of the finest things baseball has ever done for the world.

In the late 1970s, disco had a sizable number of vocal and venomous detractors. One notable critic of the genre was Chicago rock radio DJ Steve Dahl, who became popular for his “Disco Sucks” stance. Knowing that Dahl was popular and people genuinely didn’t like disco, the son of the owner of the Chicago White Sox, Mike Veeck, thought that it would be a good promotional idea to host a Disco Sucks night. On July 12, 1979, Dahl’s listeners could get into the doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers for 98 cents. They were also required to bring a disco record with them because Dahl was going to blow up a pile of disco records.

Veeck didn’t think the promotion would be that popular, so he hired enough security to handle about 35,000 people. But Veeck underestimated people’s hatred of disco. Over 60,000 people showed up. Some even brought ladders and climbed fences to get in.

During the first game, the crowd seemed rowdy. The Tigers won, but that wasn’t the spark that set everything off. That happened when Dahl blew up the records as planned. After the explosion, people poured out onto the field and started trashing the stadium. Both Dahl and Veeck tried to calm the crowd, but they failed. The rioters literally stole bases, tore apart batting cages, and set fire to banners.

Amazingly, during the riot, only one person was hurt: a vendor who broke his hip. Despite it being a destructive riot, it was relatively peaceful. Veeck believed this was due to the marijuana that people were smoking. He compared it to the much more violent beer promotion in 1974 in Cleveland, where they sold beer for 10 cents a cup. That somehow got out of hand.

In total, 39 people were arrested for the Disco Sucks riot. Veeck considered the promotion a success because people still remember it 30 years later.

h/t Lew Rockwell

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4 thoughts on “The Day Rock and Roll Killed Disco

  1. My older brothers held me down and gave me a “Chinese Haircut” because they caught me grooving to the Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I heard Kiss, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, Cream, Ten Years After with Alvin Lee and others before starting kindergarten.


  2. Oh come on now, Buelahman.. Just admit it that you have always been a disco dancer and have the suit and shoes to prove it!

    But seriously, just like you I grew up in the disco era and was sickened by all the crap about Saturday Night Fever and John super homo Travolta…..

    I prefer hair metal bands myself… Queensryche, Steelheart, Dokken, etc…. To me, rock and roll reached its best times during the heyday of the late 80’s, but since we have been again given nothing but fluff with the likes of that awful Miley Cyrus, Rhianna, Brittany Spears, etc….


    • Good to see you, NTS.

      Personally, the late 60’s and almost all the 70’s was the best of rock and roll. There were some very good bands in the 80’s. I am not quite as much into metal, although it is far above disco (hell, anything is better than disco). Even today’s country (which has tried to be rock’s little brother for decades), is far better.

      It seems to me that the jew destruction of the music industry was taking place late 70’s and has basically succeeded (if anyone thinks today’s music is anywhere near the quality of the 70’s). I can not stand to listen to 90% of what are hits today. There really is no comparison and even my 11 year old has seen this is true.


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