Tag Archives: KROQ

Pasadena Rose Bowl is an important moment in the story behind Violator

June 18th 1988 – a date that features massively in the now three-decade-plus history of Depeche Mode.

The band had decided to cap the hugely successful tour to support the release of Music For The Masses with a massive gig – their 101st – at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in Southern California.

It was a triumphant night for Depeche, captured by film maker D A Pennebaker for the 101 movie, and proving wrong the many critics who didn’t believe the band could pull off such a momentous event (others on the bill included Wire, Thomas Dolby and OMD).

SoCal had become the heartland of Depeche’s fan base in the US, driven in part by the loyal support of local radio station KROQ.

It was why the band felt they could put on a gig of such size and draw other fans from all across the country (including those on the infamous bus, filmed by Pennebaker for the movie).

But for all the deserved celebration in the Depeche camp following the concert (“for the Masses”), Pasadena did something else – it set a benchmark for which band were expected to follow.

The footage from 101 captures the band at a turning point in their history.

The delirium of the fans. The financial scale at which they were now operating (a young Jonathan Kessler – now the band’s manager – shouting “a lot of money”, stands out). The logistics required to  keep a band of Depeche’s size on the road.

Depeche could’ve ended it all there, in mid-1988, and critics could’ve easily congratulated them on a great career.

But they didn’t. Obviously.

That Saturday in Pasadena actually triggered the start of a slow yet fundamental change in Depeche – musically,  personally, arguably perhaps in almost every facet of what they did.

The fruits of those changes started coming to the fore just 15 months later, when the first single – Personal Jesus – from an as-yet untitled new album was released.

And it’s why the first chapter of the HALO book is titled “102” 🙂

Check out the montage of footage pulled together by the band’s website a few years back:

Read this great interview with Alan Wilder by The Electricity Club about the film and gig.

And this “making of” documentary which aired on UK’s BBC a year later:

NB: Photo by Anton Corbijn

That (in)famous in-store album signing event for Violator

Most bands do some kind of promotional activity to coincide with the release of a new record.

Radio, TV, press interviews (and, nowadays, heaps of social media activity), etc.

Signing sessions at record shops, shopping centres or other venues are nothing new – but the release of Violator in March 1990 saw one of the most extraordinary events in modern music history, and one which has since gone down in Depeche Mode folklore.

On the 20 March (the day after the album’s release), the band was scheduled to appear at the Wherehouse Records store in Los Angeles to sign copies of the record (and other memorabilia, as you’ll see from the video).

The event had been heavily trailed on local radio station KROQ in the days before, so a sizeable crowd was expected.

As the band arrived at the store, some 10,000 fans were said to be hanging around outside, waiting to get in to see the band.

As the situation got out of control, with people slammed up against the windows trying to get in (as others simultaneously tried to get out after getting their merchandise autographed), LAPD and other officials decided enough was enough.

The band was taken to a back room, then eventually whisked away to their hotel, as varying degrees of disorder broke out in the street outside.

The band later dismissed the accusation from reporters at a press conference that the situation had descended into a “riot”, as various news media had described it.

Alan Wilder, a fan of West London football team QPR, quipped: “Chelsea on a Saturday afternoon – now that’s a riot.”

The number of fans believed to have been in the store itself and in the street outside was eventually estimated to be close to 20,000 (a third of the capacity of LA’s Dodger Stadium where the band would play two nights in August of the same year).

Needless to say, city officials were less than impressed with what happened, with some blaming KROQ for hyping up the event on the airwaves.

Below is a montage of news reports covering the incident, plus footage of the band at the signing and some interviews.

NB: We met with Second Vision chairman Bruce Kirkland in Los Angeles for the Halo book. Further details about the in-store event to come… 😉