Stony Brook University: A Pioneering & Legendary Concert History
STONY BROOK'S MUSICAL ROOTS
Stony Brook University was established in 1957 as a college for the preparation of secondary school teachers of mathematics and science. The first campus was located in Oyster Bay, Long Island, on the grounds of a former Gold Coast estate. In 1962, a new campus was built near the historic village of Stony Brook on land donated by local philanthropist Ward Melville.
Just a few short years after opening the new campus, SBU emerged in the mid-1960s as a leading concert venue on Long Island. From punk to jazz to folk, the university hosted the biggest acts in music including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed, Pink Floyd – and "Soft White Underbelly" which evolved into Blue Oyster Cult, and whose famed manager was SBU alum Sandy Pearlman.
Many performers and groups that are today revered and recognized as iconic in their respective genres made their New York and east coast debuts in the United States at SBU. Performances were often held in the gym, in the Stony Brook Union, and outdoors. Credit for this incredible concert history can be attributed to the Student Activities Board (SAB), a division of student government that coordinated and produced all aspects of the events, from inviting the musical acts to selling the tickets. More examples of the legendary artists that performed on campus include U2, Carlos Santana, Chuck Berry, Dizzy Gillepsie, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Odetta, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, and Frank Zappa. The Allman Brothers Band's concert on September 19, 1971 marked Duane Allman's last public performance before his tragic death the following month.
In 2006, SBU was inducted as a venue to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, an honor that recognizes a select group of music luminaries, visionaries, leaders, and entities that have made significant contributions to the growth and advancement of Long Island music. Since 2010, best selling musical acts and artists including Bruno Mars, Wiz Khalifa, and Long Island's own Taking Back Sunday have performed on campus, continuing SBU's historical tradition as an important concert destination for the most influential artists in the music industry.
The University Archives include original, primary source materials that document concerts held at Stony Brook University. Digitized sources include: Specula yearbooks and campus publications. An article about the early years of concerts was published in The Brook (Spring 2003). Please contact the department for assistance with questions related to concert history.
This comprehensive inventory was researched and compiled by Special Collections and University Archives, Stony Brook University Libraries.
It includes more than 900 performances held between 1964 and 2023.
Artists, dates, and locations have been verified to the fullest extent possible.
If you use any of this information, please give proper attribution by citing and crediting
our work as:
"Stony Brook University Concert History." University Archives, Stony Brook University, 2023.
All performances took place at Stony Brook University with one exception: the December 2, 1969 concert of The Band and Mother Earth (Tracy Nelson). The concert was organized by the SBU Student Activities Board but held in the Brookhaven Gym at Suffolk County Community College (Ammerman Campus, Selden, New York).
New entries will be added to this inventory as they are researched and confirmed. If you have information about a performance not represented on this list, please contact us. We welcome feedback, contributions, and questions.
Last update: July 6, 2023.