“Rock and roll didn’t officially come to San Diego State University until the Buffalo Springfield concert in 1968. That was the first show that was actually called a rock and roll concert.” Jamie Lennox, 28, an SDSU archaeologist, is writing a book about the history of all of the music ever performed at SDSU. “My bosses are working on a book about history and archaeology at SDSU, and me being the resident music geek, the director said that I could research the music.”
Lennox works in the Tactical Information Center under the chair of SDSU’s Archaeology Department. “It was originally supposed to be a two-page spread in their book, but when I came back with my findings, they realized that this is something bigger.”
Lennox says that in the beginning, campus concerts were produced by students for students. One of the earliest outside promoters to tap into the ticket-buying goldmine that was SDSU’s student body was 22-year-old Roger Hedgecock, a future mayor of San Diego. Months before the Woodstock appearance that would make Santana a household name, he booked the band into the Aztec Bowl (site of the Viejas Arena) in 1969 in what was the band’s first local gig. The May 11 concert also featured Lee Michaels, Canned Heat, and the Grateful Dead.
Aztec Center, being razed as of this writing, housed two smaller indoor venues: Montezuma Hall, capacity 1000, and the 250-capacity Backdoor. “Aztec Center was important to the San Diego punk movement of the 1970s, especially when the [hometown] Penetrators opened for the Ramones in 1978,” says Lennox. The Ramones played at SDSU on seven different occasions between 1977 and 1990. During a 1980 show, Lennox says, “the crowd rushed the stage and actually caused it to move, band and all, and moshing caused structural damage to Montezuma Hall. The Associated Students tried to ban future punk concerts. They were unsuccessful.” Lennox is still in the research process and asks that anyone with SDSU concert memories, photos, set lists, or memorabilia contact her at [email protected].