Rockin’ at Rider

A look back at the popular musical artists who played Rider

Online selections from the Rockin' at Rider display in the Moore Lobby library through the Fall 2019 semester.

Rider’s move from Trenton to the Lawrenceville campus in the early 1960s was the start of a long series of nationally known artists visiting the campus to play concerts. Over the past fifty years an array of popular acts, including jazz, vocal groups, r & b, folk, rock, and rap artists have played Rider. Count Basie, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, Janis Joplin, Chicago, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, The Clash, KRS-One, Jon Bon Jovi, Destiny’s Child and Ludacris are just a few of the names on a very long and illustrious list of artists.
Rider concerts were arranged by the Student Entertainment Council (a subordinate council of the Student Government Association) or the College Union Board and took place in the Alumni Gym and on rare occasions offsite at the Trenton War Memorial or Notre Dame High School and were open to both Rider students and the general public.
In spite of the popularity of these major acts, the shows were not always regarded as successes. Often concerts were plagued by lackluster responses from concertgoers, reflected in low ticket sales and poor behavior at shows, technical problems due to inadequate facilities (Alumni Gym), shows cancelled by the artists, conflicts with other events on campus, and events often held on weekends when many students went home.
During the 1960s and 1970s many different acts would play the campus on a given year. For example, in 1977 alone, Boston, New Riders of the Purple Sage and Roger McGuinn, David Bromberg, Dan Fogelberg, and Billy Joel all played Rider. In subsequent decades, funding issues caused fewer shows to take place. During many years, comedians, which were much cheaper to hire than musical acts, were hired to entertain students. From the 1990s on the schedule was reduced to its current rate of about one concert per year.
This exhibit highlights some of the incredible artists who have entertained the Rider community over the last 50 years.