Illini 411: Does Def Leppard hold Assembly Hall’s attendance record?

Question courtesy of Thomas Gonzalez, ’92 ED

Elvis singing into a microphone with orange and blue colored background (Photo-illustration by Dana Smith; Images courtesy of Getty Images; UI Archives)
Question courtesy of Thomas Gonzalez, ’92 ED

The 1988 Def Leppard show was a big one—16,606—and lead singer Joe Elliott announced from the stage that it had broken Elvis Presley’s all-time attendance record. Only—dramatic pause!—it hadn’t. Whether Elliott got bad intel or decided to make the bold proclamation on his own remains to be seen. But whatever the cause, that’s all right, mama! Elvis don’t hold no grudge.

Nearly 50 years after his 1977 death, Elvis remains both the King of Rock ’n’ Roll and the King of Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center). His Oct. 22, 1976, concert, only 10 months before he shimmied his last, is still the largest event in the venue’s history. Attendance? A whopping 17,177 fans. We assume they were “all shook up.”

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