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A look back: Biggest names in music to come to Colorado Springs



A look back: Biggest names in music to come to Colorado Springs

With a 2024 lineup packed with popular musicians, including OneRepublic and the Beach Boys, the Sunset Amphitheater has Colorado Springs music fans excited about catching a big show in their very own backyard. 

Did you know that even before Sunset Amphitheater landed on the scene, local venues, including the Broadmoor World Arena and the now-defunct Cotton Club, were bringing some of the biggest names in music to Colorado Springs?

The Cotton Club, a trailblazing venue in downtown Colorado Springs, brought a number of notable Black musicians to the Pikes Peak region. Started by Fannie Mae Duncanin the 1950s, the venue catered to patrons of all races during a time when many places in the country were still segregated. Some of the most famous acts to grace the stage included Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Duke Ellington, B.B. King, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Count Basie, Sammy Davis Jr. and Fats Domino. 

Another downtown venue, the City Auditorium, which opened in 1923, hosted a variety of artists through the decades. Headliners included the Beach Boys in 1974, Mötley Crüe in 1984 and Little Richard with his Little Richard Orchestra in 1964.

Fun fact: According to previous reporting by The Gazette, the performance featured guitarist Jimi Hendrix, who was little known at the time. Currently, the century-old City Auditorium faces an uncertain future; it closed its doors to the public indefinitely last year after funding to renovate it fell short.

One venue where you can still catch a concert these days: The World Arena.  In 1998, the Colorado Springs World Arena (which became the Broadmoor World Arena in 2014), opened in southwest Colorado Springs with a performance by Bill Cosby — and more big acts followed.

Read on for a list of some of the biggest names in music who have played in Colorado Springs:

The Doors

Jim Morrison and The Doors play the Colorado College homecoming dance at The Broadmoor ballroom Oct. 21, 1967.

When: October 21, 1967

Where: Broadmoor Hotel Ballroom

Colorado College hosted rock band The Doors in 1967 for their homecoming dance, according to previous reporting by The Gazette. The Doors have around 11.6 million monthly listeners on Spotify at the time of writing.


Aerosmith April 22, 1998 | Rock legend Steven Tyler of the rock band Aerosmith performs in a concert.

When: April 22, 1998

Where: Colorado Springs World Arena

This 1998 performance was a stop along Aerosmith’s international Nine Lives tour, named after the band’s 1997 album. 


FILE – In this Aug. 25, 2013, file photo, Justin Timberlake, center, winner of the video vanguard award poses backstage with, from left, JC Ch…

When: April 30, 1999

Where: Colorado Springs World Arena

Argued by some as “The Prince of Pop,” Justin Timberlake, was only 18 years old at the time of this World Arena show, and their hit song “Bye Bye Bye” hadn’t come out yet. 

Bob Dylan with Paul Simon

Paul Simon sings “Boy in the Bubble” during a concert with Bob Dylan at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, CO on Sunday, June 6, 1999. photo…

When: June 6, 1999

Where: Colorado Springs World Arena

Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour covered an impressive couple of decades starting in 1988. Before and after this show, Dylan played in Denver at different venues.

Def Leppard

When: January 16, 2000

Where: Colorado Springs World Arena

This Def Leppard performance in 2000 was a part of the band’s Euphoria tour, based on their album of the same name. Rock singer Joan Jett accompanied the band for this tour leg, including this show. Def Leppard also came to Colorado Springs in 2017.

Snoop Dogg

Rapper Snoop Dogg takes the stage to host the BET Hip Hop Awards, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

When: December 6, 2001; December 22, 2022

Where: City Auditorium; Broadmoor World Arena

At this point in 2001, Snoop Dogg had already won “Best Rap Video” for the MTV Video Music Awards and the American Music Award for “Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist.” Snoop Dogg also came to Broadmoor World Arena in December 2022 for his Holidaze of Blaze tour.


British musician Sting performs during his concert in Papp Laszlo Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary, on July 2, 2019. Sting is sellin…

When: December 9, 2001

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Where: Colorado Springs World Arena

Several songs Sting played at the Broadmoor World Arena were ones made with The Police, according to This concert was part of Sting’s All This Time Tour.

Willie Nelson

Country/folk legend Willie Nelson plays at the City Auditorium on Wednesday, March 27, 2002, in Colorado Springs in support of his new album “…

When: March 27, 2002

Where: City Auditorium

Willie Nelson has played more than 2,500 live shows with one taking place at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium, according to and the venue’s website. Nelson has since released 30+ albums and inaugurally received CMA’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.


Cher  Oct. 1, 2003 | Cher performed on her Farewell Tour with more than 7,000 in attendance. It wasn’t quite a farewell, however, as she retur…

When: October 1, 2003

Where: Colorado Springs World Arena

Although her 2003 performance was part of Cher’s Farewell Tour, she would actually come back to play in 2005 at the same venue. This tour also promoted her twenty-fourth studio album Living Proof. The 2003 show sold out with around 7,000 concertgoers.


Steve Smith, from left, Ross Valory, Aynsley Dunbar, Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain of the band Journey pose in the 2017 Rock and R…

When: December 8, 2005 

Where: Colorado Springs World Arena

Journey played at the World Arena in 2005 during their 30th Anniversary Tour, according to Since the group’s formation in 1973, the band has had 19 top 40 singles and 25 Gold and Platinum albums, according to Spotify.

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood with special guests, Easton Corbin and The Swon Brothers perform at the World Arena Tuesday March 29, 2016. Photo by Jeff Kearney.

When: December 2, 2006

Where: Colorado Springs World Arena; Broadmoor World Arena

Carrie Underwood has come to Colorado Springs a couple times over the years. The 2016 concert was a part of The Storyteller Tour, based on the name of her 2015 album. 

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys will be the second group to grace the stage at the new open-air Sunset Amphitheater. They’ll bring their new “Endless Summer Go…

When: March 6, 2009

Where: Arnold Hall, Air Force Academy

There have been various concerts at the Air Force Academy through the years, including this one with The Beach Boys. Kelly Clarkson has also performed at the AFA for the Warrior Games in 2017 and 2018. The Beach Boys are set to perform at the new Sunset Amphitheater this August.

Elton John

Elton John performs Thursday, March 16, 2017, at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

When: March 16, 2017

Where: Broadmoor World Arena

According to previous reporting by The Gazette, more than 9,000 people attended this concert at the Broadmoor World Arena in 2017. A number of World Arena records were broken with Elton’s performance including the highest grossing event for a single performance.

Earth, Wind & Fire

The R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire will perform Sept. 27 at Pikes Peak Center. Courtesy.

When: September 27, 2017

Where: Pikes Peak Center

In a preview to the show by The Gazette, bassist Verdine White talks about not knowing how much impact their hit songs would have throughout the years. At the time of writing, Earth, Wind & Fire have around 21.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Have other big-name musicians in mind? Did you attend any of these shows? Contact the writer at

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