Graybeard Jerry Garcia and chicly stubbled George Michael will be among the faces in the spotlight during the 1988 concert season at Orange County's outdoor amphitheaters.
In what has become an annual tradition, Garcia and the rest of the Grateful Dead will hunker down for a three-night stand, April 22 to 24 at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. Tickets go on sale March 19, said Steve Rennie, vice president of Avalon Attractions, which books talent for the amphitheater.
Irvine Meadows' schedule also includes five summer pops and classical concerts by the Pacific Symphony and shows by George Strait and Highway 101 on March 11, the Alarm on March 19, Linda Ronstadt on March 20, Whitesnake and Great White on April 10, the Oak Ridge Boys on May 1 and the Manhattan Transfer on Aug. 13.
"That's a good start for the end of February," Rennie said Monday. "It's the best ever at this point of the year. There's no particular rhyme or reason for it. It's just timing. It's a business where you're lucky if you can plan two months in advance."
Irvine Meadows had 40 concert dates in 1987, a figure Rennie hopes to match this year.
Michael, a former member of the teen-pop group Wham!, will play Orange County this fall, but the venue and dates are still being negotiated, said a spokeswoman for Triad Artists, Michael's booking agency. The British singer's first album on his own has been a huge hit and has won him new-found respect from the critics.
Yes, the venerable British progressive rock band, will launch the outdoor concert season on Saturday at the Pacific Amphitheatre. Also on tap at the Pacific is a double bill March 26 featuring Kiss and Anthrax. Additional shows will be announced as they are confirmed, a spokeswoman for the venue said.
Steve Redfearn, general manager of the Pacific, said he expects an active year at the Costa Mesa facility. In 1987, he said, the amphitheater had 38 concert dates, down from 44 in 1986. "This year we're anticipating 45 to 50. It's been our most positive pre-season since the amphitheater opened in 1983. I don't know why it was down last year. It just goes in cycles."