Pittsburgh’s Pat DiCesare is among the first generation of rock concert promoters to promote arena and stadium rock concerts. His long and prestigious career began as a Youngstown State student fifty years ago on Tuesday May 8, 1962 when he brought the Four Freshmen to the Stambaugh Auditorium. Along with The Beatles, he’s brought such acts as The Rolling Stones, The Doors, and Janis Joplin to the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in the '60s, and acts such as the Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, and The Allman Brothers to Three Rivers Stadium in the early 70s.
In 1973 Pat DiCesare Productions partnered with Rich Engler to form DiCesare-Engler Productions, which became one of the top grossing concert promoters in the country bringing all of the major rock concerts to the tri-state area for over 25 years. Their Stanley Theatre (Benedum Center) was the number one theatre in the country according to Billboard Magazine for four years running until they sold the Stanley to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
DiCesare says, “I started out as a songwriter for the very successful Del Vikings of “Come Go with Me” and “Whispering Bells” fame and from there I began promoting records to radio stations for acts like Buddy Holly and The Crickets.”
In 1960 he decided to quit the entertainment business and enrolled at Youngstown State. “After I was there, I suggested to a faculty advisor that the school should offer the students a choice for their $35 activity fee, between sports, which was the only activity being offered and concerts. The advisor said to me, “That sounds good. Why don’t you produce a concert and we’ll buy tickets for any student who wants to go?”
“I booked The Four Freshman at The Stambaugh Auditorium on Tuesday May 8, 1962 at a fee of $1,500. Unfortunately, for me it lost $900. But it was a learning experience. I had to go to Friendly Loan Company in Irwin (PA) to bail me out. Fortunately, I didn’t let this discourage me and I began promoting other events which led to The Beatles on September 14, 1964.”
Only three days later, May 11, 1962, DiCesare worked for Tim Tormey in promoting the very first rock n roll concert at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Porky Chedwick emceed the show that featured Jackie Wilson, The Drifters, The Coasters, The Castelles, Jerry Butler, The Flamingos, The Angels, The Blue Belles, and The Skyliners.
He was back in business to stay. And the rest is fifty years of rock history.