Rock In Athens Festival 1985

09 Sep

18 years after the Rolling Stones incident in Panathinaikon Stadium, this same stadium would hold the greatest musical event ever to take place in Greece.

In 1985, the Ministry of Culture, in association to the newly-formed Ministry of New Generation of Greece and the French Ministry of Culture, decided to have a two-day rock festival in Athens.

Back then, the Greek minister of culture was the actress Melina Merkouri, a member of the “socialist” government, which helped, in a way, the festival “Rock In Athens” to take shape.

After the fest, It was very funny to see Nina Hagen kissing and hugging Merkouri…but…anyways.

The festival dates: July 26 and July 27. The ticket price was 1500 drachmas for one day or 2000 for both days and the bandlist consisted of: 

  • July 26: Culture Club, Depeche Mode, Stranglers (the ticket also mentions Brigades Musicalles, which was the parody rock greek band Mousikes Taxiarhies.  In the end they refused to take part in the event.)
  • July 27:  Nina Hagen, the Cure, Talk Talk and the french band Telephone.  (The ticket also mentions a “guest star” which turned out to be the Clash). 

I remember both days were hot and in the audience there were .. I don’t know, maybe 25-30.000 people each day.

Maybe more.


We were surprised by the presence of so many…”punk rockers”…well, many people were dressed as punks or new wavers for the occasion…the punks were not more than 500 in Athens back in those days.

Here, it seemed like they were…millions…

So, the Stranglers started the show on the first day, they did all right, I was in the mosh pit and I still remember someone throwing a slipper (!!) at Jean Jacques Burnel.

Stranglers Midnight Summer Dream (Greek TV)

Depeche Mode went on stage when night came so I pulled back (i was never a fan of theirs).

When Culture Club went on, all Hell broke loose. First there was a black singer singing (never got his name) and when Boy George showed up, plastic bottles full of water or sand were thrown by the audience.

John Moss threw his drumsticks at the audience and Boy George kept his attitude saying, “If I was a bad lady I would have shown you my ass…”  Truth be told, this band’s performance was excellent.  Very good musicians.

Telephone opened the next day.  I didn’t pay much attention but Talk Talk really shook my boots off.  Man, these guys were really great. I knew them from a couple of songs but, man, they were something.

Talk Talk – Rock In Athens (Greek TV)

The next act came from The Cure, and although they didn’t have a strong fan-base in Greece just yet, I assume this gig, and the ones which followed during the next 22 years, really helped them to establish their name in Greece.

I found their playlist of that day on their site and the following is their tracklist:

  • Intro:
    – the glove – relax
  • Mainset:
    – the baby screams
    – play for today
    – secrets
    – kyoto song
    – the hanging garden
    – inbetween days
    – primary
    – cold
    – let’s go to bed
    – the walk
    – one hundred years
    – give me it
    – a forest 
  • Encore:
    – three imaginary boys
    – 10.15 saturday night
    – killing an arab
    – forever 

The Cure – Rock In Athens (Greek TV)

Nina Hagen followed with a big flying saucer on stage (sic) and then came the Clash.

The last line up of this great…huge…band.  Only Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon were there from the original line up but…they were great.

The audience went insane.

There were people out of the stadium trying to get in for free.  The cops started beating them and chasing them in the streets but inside everybody was dancing and singing, etc.  I will never forget, I think I saw Pete Burns somewhere at one point…I was sure it couldn’t be him…

There never was a Rock In Athens Vol. 2.

Even if the tickets were a bit expensive back then, I sometimes compare those prices with today.

Take a look and keep calm:

Madonna (coming in September 2008) –
The cheapest ticket sells for 80 euros — for singing with her 300 euros.

Jennifer Lopez (coming within the next 2-3 months) –
The cheapest ticket for j lo is 60 euros — for dancing with her 350 euros.

(Ok, skip the singing and the dancing part…I mean the cost of the most expensive tickets.)

Now compare this with the lowest paying wage of a Greek worker per month:  about 700 euros.


Posted by on September 9, 2008 in Concerts / Performances



26 responses to “Rock In Athens Festival 1985

  1. Nicolas Cocolas

    September 15, 2008 at 9:06 am


    I was at the Rock 1985 Atens Concert. I still have not forgotten it. Do you know if there is a DVD out on that convert.
    Please let me know

  2. panole8riambos

    September 15, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Thanks for your comment Nicola.
    A dvd was never released but I was told that the whole fest can be found in the internet.
    The national tv network broadcasted it, hosted by Sgotzos (the Musikorama guy…)

  3. koproskilo

    October 18, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Sgotzos was the Mousiko Kaleidoskopio Guy.
    Goutis was the Musicorama guy.
    Could yoy plese send an email?I would like to ask you something
    Thanks in Advance

  4. Jeff Bennett

    December 6, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I was in Germany from 84-86 and went to Greece in 1986 for a few weeks. This was an awesome year for music 1985

  5. JR

    January 5, 2009 at 3:42 am


    I was at the amazing 1985 concert with my brother, whom I am having a disagreement with. Do you remember the band who said the joke ” how do you separate the greek boys from greek men – with a crowbar” I say it was Boy George who told the joke; my brother says it was Depeche Mode- Help!

  6. panole8riambos

    January 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Thanks for the comment JR.
    Can’t remember who said that but sounds like Boy George. He also said that he “would show us his ass if he wasn’t a nice lady…”.
    Fortunately we didn’t have the pleasure to witness that…
    So, I suppose it was him who said it as he had this kind of attitude.

  7. Kakunka

    September 10, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    You didn’t mention the big fire outside the stadium set by the Italians, the rushing of the gates, and the path of destruction through the town with broken bank windows, etc. . .
    Probably why the Greeks didn’t want a second event. . .

  8. panole8riambos

    September 10, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Honestly, I didn’t know who set the fire as I was in the stadium.
    I know people were chased by the cops etc as I had many friends out of the gates.
    Regarding the chances of a second festival, I never heard of anything like that.
    To me it was also part of a political “move”, for the goverment to look more “open minded but…that is a different story…
    In any case, it was a huge festival for the Greek standards of that era…

  9. XMMK

    January 12, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Οι Rolling Stones έπαιξαν το 1967 στο γήπεδο του Παναθηναϊκού, ενώ το ROCK IN ATHENS FESTIVAL στο Καλλιμάρμαρο ΠαναθηναΪκό Στάδιο. Καμμία σχέση μεταξύ τους !…

  10. stefania

    November 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I was there , I had a great time

  11. panole8riambos

    December 4, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Thank you for your comment

  12. Rick Michaels

    February 24, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    I was there as were most of the troops stationed at Hellinkon AB who could get off work. Awesome time, great memories.

  13. sinnaa

    February 24, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Happy to hear this post brought back happy times for you, Rick!

  14. Eleni

    August 22, 2016 at 4:35 am

    I was there on the second night and I had no idea Greece had so many punk rockers. The closer you got to the stage the more bizarre these people looked. After Boy George performed, he was quoted in the Greek papers the next day as saying: I see Greeks haven’t changed very much; they are still throwing rocks”

  15. panole8riambos

    August 22, 2016 at 4:45 am

    Indeed. Thank you for your comment.

  16. thyra10

    October 12, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Oh, I remember that concert. It was like yesterday. The riots outside shocked the life out of a young Scandinavian girl – especially the police violence – but the music was amazing. Especially the day with Cure, Nina Hagen and Clash. Only, when Clash was on, you needed to wear army boots if you wanted to be close to the stage. I didn’t and almost broke all my toes.
    In retrospect, the concert could have ended in death and destruction because there was absolutely no control (ref. people throwing bottles at Boy George) but luckily it ended well and is a great memory!

  17. panole8riambos

    October 12, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Thank you for your comment.

  18. BigDonger

    August 18, 2017 at 3:37 am

    I was at this both nights, awesome concert, crazy 2 days. I got to meet Nina Hagen’s band. Had to walk home with about 3000 other people going my way down Sygrou Ave at like, 130am.
    1985! dayum! That was 34 years ago!

  19. panole8riambos

    August 18, 2017 at 5:16 am

    It was a top concert indeed. Thank you for your comment.

  20. minou

    October 1, 2018 at 11:42 am

    panole8riambos and Eleni, might this be the year Boy George got booed out of the country? I was not in Greece at the time and I don’t speak Greek but I remember some news reports (German) of Boy George receiving homophobic harassment. I seem to be holding a particular image and expression in my memory where he is passing through a crowd of harassers (during daytime) saying something along the lines of “you bloody invented homosexuality” (presumably referring to the Greek history/mythology). Do you have any leads to newspaper articles or TV reports that refer to this event? I would really appreciate any help thank you.

  21. panole8riambos

    October 1, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    No, not exactly. Boy George was never booed out of Greece. He went on stage and people from the crowd threw bottles of water at him and booed him but that happened while he was on stage. Passing through the crowd, nope, the artists were not passing through the crowd. It was night when he went on stage. The only thing Boy George said, that I still find very funny and I will never forget was that: “If I wasn’t a Lady I would show you my arse…”. I also quote here something from Elena Makri’s blog: “The low point of the Concert came when Culture Club appeared on stage to close the show. Boy George looks and sexuality had attracted a mob of hecklers that attacked the singer hurling stones, sticks and water bottles on stage. The band played on as the majority of the audience cheered them on, while Boy George replied with scathing humour to the hecklers. The great singer Jocelyn Brown part of the back up vocal group commented that she had never seen an audience behaving so badly for no reason.” And I also found a video of the said night as it was aired through the Greek Greek tv:

  22. minou

    October 1, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    thank you that is very interesting and helpful, though I was specifically looking for the bit of video or the photograph which definitely exists during which he says something along the lines of ‘you invented homosexuality’. I probably need to look into German news of that time because coverage there seemed pretty clear that the heckling was not for ‘no reason’ but due to homophobia.

  23. Amanda Kampanis

    October 29, 2018 at 7:14 am

    I too remember those 2 days back in the very hot July of 85 with great fondness. It really was a big deal for Athens at that time to hold a rock concert lasting for 2 whole days. It was a brilliant experience. I have often thought that Athens wasn’t quite ready for Boy George, he was the reason I went, but the throwing of sand and dust filled plastic water bottles was totally horrendous. Thankfully he played on regardless. Thanks for reminding me of the price of the ticket. 2000 drachmas was a lot of money then, I can’t think how I could have afforded it.😎

  24. panole8riambos

    October 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Thank you for your comment 🙂

  25. Shaun Young

    October 22, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Did The Clash play this event as the Guest act ?

  26. panole8riambos

    January 3, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    They were headliners


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