The History Behind Lighters at Rock Concerts


| LAST UPDATE 05/02/2022

By Eliza Gray
lighter trend rock concerts
Aaron Chown - PA Images / Contributor via Getty Images

When it comes to pop culture trends or social history, it can sometimes be a challenge to identify exactly where and when a trend originated from. While looking back, we're able to identify major events as important moments in history, at the time, it can be difficult to see the importance. So when thousands of rock and roll lovers gathered at a Toronto stadium, it's clear that they didn't realize the enormity of the trend they were kicking off.

These days, the typical concert practice may have evolved from lighters to cell phone flashlights - but the idea is the very same. And few are actually aware that the traditional concert activity of waving a light from side to side originated in Toronto, Canada, way back in 1969. To be precise, it all started at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival that took place on September 13th, 1969. And for Canadian rock lovers around during that time, it was the event to be at. Major acts included Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Alice Cooper, The Doors, Chuck Berry, and many more. The concert itself lasted 12 hours and had 20,000 people in attendance. And many in the crowd were there to see one act in particular...

rock n roll history
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John Lennon and Yoko Ono were slotted to perform as part of their breakaway act from The Beatles. And despite the fact that John was used to playing to crowds triple the size, it's reported that the legendary rocker had a bad case of nerves that particular day. So, the festival's MC, Kim Fowley, got on stage to plea to the audience. "Everyone, get out your matches and lighters, please. In a minute, I'm going to bring out John Lennon and Eric Clapton, and when I do, I want you to light them and give a huge Toronto welcome." Nearly everyone in the audience complied, and the crowd became lit with a mesmerizing glow.

And just like that, one of the most influential rock and roll trends was born in 1969. Even today, you can see its impact in gigs across all music genres. Check back soon for more fascinating historical facts. And in the meantime, have a look at some other live performances that made waves over the years.

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