Our History

1985

THE FIRST GREAT FESTIVAL OF BRAZIL IS BORN

 

Is there a formula for creating any music festival? Maybe. But the fact is that Roberto Medina invented his own, and it has produced great things.

The “Roberto Medina formula,” so to speak, delivered an event with personality and heart. Directly connected to the country’s socio-political climate, which at the time was emerging from nearly 20 years of military dictatorship, the festival supported a new generation of artists reviving national music. In its pioneering form, Rock in Rio was designed to create an open space for celebration, commentary, and questions that reflected the issues of the day.

But the festival existed in concept only, and needed its own home, a place to give proper form to its spirit. For this reason Roberto Medina designed and built the City of Rock, an innovative and gigantic 61-acre complex. This included a unique lighting system that focused on the audience—a feature celebrating the fans, which has now become a global trend.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.

The engine was ready, but the personality of the event demanded a different kind of fuel. Enter the true Hall of Fame Who’s Who: Queen, AC/DC, James Taylor, George Benson, Rod Stewart, Yes, Ozzy Osbourne, and Iron Maiden, plus some of Brazil’s top national stars, like Gilberto Gil, Pepeu Gomes, and Barão Vermelho, among others.

With this spectacular machine, shows went down in history. During one of them, Freddie Mercury was so impressed with the audience, who’d become a spontaneous choir during “Love Of My Life,” that he decided to conduct those in attendance as an enormous and responsive sound mass. No wonder the band itself cites this experience as one of the most beautiful in its history.

This incident and many more held inside the first ten days of the City of Rock resulted in an audience of more than 1.3 million people and increased the Brazilian music industry by 180 percent. From this moment, Brazil entered the arena for great global concerts. And it was only the beginning….

 

 

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1991

RECORD-BREAKING EXCITEMENT

 

The event that marked the ‘80s in Brazil returned to position Rio de Janeiro as the world capital of music.

It was January, 1991, and public excitement for the second festival of Rock in Rio was palpable. And understandably so, as it had been six years of waiting since the incredible first festival, which left an entire country eager for more.

The festival took place in the Maracanã, at the time the largest soccer stadium in the world. A party of this type needed something enormous, something with fanfare, and Rock in Rio wouldn’t settle for less. What type of fanfare, exactly? Try 3,000 points of brilliant illumination, 480 of them airplane headlights positioned strategically on the roof.

The second Rock in Rio secured Guns N’ Roses’ first visit to Brazil. The band played two mind-blowing sets, including the debut of “Civil War” and “Estranged,” songs that were as yet unreleased. And though the festival’s name might seem to play favor to one genre, Run DMC performed as well. That one of the biggest bands of the era and also one of the great icons of the rap scene shared a bill demonstrated that Rock in Rio was not messing around.

Prince and George Michael, already extremely well known in the US, won local critical acclaim with impeccable shows. And so did Faith No More—Mike Patton’s band was at the time a smaller name in Brazil, and became a frequent presence in the local charts after their festival appearance.

All in all, this was as diverse as a festival had ever come, and it was the way it was designed from the beginning. But Rock in Rio II wouldn’t end without breaking something. That thing would be in the Guinness Book of World Records: the largest paying audience ever, as 198,000 fans danced to A Ha’s “Take On Me.” This year it was decided: the festival was still going strong.

 

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2001

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2004

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2006

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2008

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2010

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2011

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2012

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2013

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2014

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