Apr 12, 2023 - News

Greatest Cleveland concerts: No. 15 – Michael Jackson's Bad Tour

Michael Jackson sings into a microphone.

Who's bad? Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Throughout the year, we'll be looking back at the 15 greatest concerts in Cleveland history.

  • Kicking things off at No. 15 is the King of Pop's only solo tour stop in Northeast Ohio.

Flashback: By the time Michael Jackson's Bad Tour descended upon Richfield Coliseum in October 1988, it was well on its way to becoming one of the biggest in music history.

Why it matters: Jackson had been to Northeast Ohio before with his brothers. However, the Bad Tour was his first solo trek, at a time when Jackson was, arguably, the biggest pop star the world had ever seen.

The intrigue: The two nights at Richfield Coliseum — Oct. 10 and 11 — sold out in a matter of days, with 38,000 fans paying $23.50 per ticket.

State of play: Each night featured 18 songs over two hours, with hundreds of lights and speakers, two massive video screens and a laser show that made the usually dim coliseum look like a supernova.

  • Jackson moonwalked his way through "Billie Jean," brought fans to tears during "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and delivered a gangster-themed stage production of "Smooth Criminal."

What they're saying: "The pure showmanship was just outstanding," photographer Janet Macoska, who shot the Oct. 10 concert, tells Axios.

  • "This was him at the height of his powers. When you are seeing someone at that moment when all these forces have come together to make them larger than life, it's special."

The bottom line: The King of Pop returned to Northeast Ohio just one more time, for The Jackson 5's 1997 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction.

  • Jackson and his brothers did not perform at the ceremony.

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