Editors' note: This story originally ran on April 1 as part of the annual OnMilwaukee.com April Fools edition with the headline "Rolling Stones cancel Summerfest show, replaced by Elton John." Usually, we expire all of our April Fools content on April 2 – the jokes aren't so funny the day after! – but this one seems to keep popping up. Whether you think it's funny or not, enjoy the Rolling Stones at Summerfest!
Just one day after Summerfest made it official – booking the Rolling Stones for Summerfest on June 23 – the aging rock group cancelled its appearance, citing a nasty case of arthritis and erectile dysfunction.
Fortunately, Summerfest had a backup plan all along: this morning it announced that Elton John would replace the Stones, and it will move the concert to Veteran’s Park – and it will be free.
"Look, we’re disappointed that the Rolling Stones couldn’t honor their commitment," said Summerfest communications intern Wally Quinton. "And we know Milwaukee is sad, too, so we’re making up for it in a big way."
Summerfest says that it’s piggybacking off the tremendous success of John’s 2003 show at the Harley-Davidson 100th anniversary, a concert that Quentin says "set the bar for world-class concert experiences in Milwaukee."
"People are still talking about it today," he said.
Rock fans everywhere embraced the chance to see an even harder-rocking musician than Mick Jagger in Milwaukee. On Twitter, user @eltonjohnny78 wrote, "It's only Crocodile Rock, but I like it. #screwthestones #elton"
John’s opening acts will include Kid Rock, the Doobie Brothers, Tim McGraw, Cher, Sammy Llanas and the Five Card Studs. The show begins at 3 p.m. and will be hosted by Dan Aykroyd and 96.5 WKLH’s Dave and Carole.
"We will conclude the show with fireworks so low that you will get burning embers in your eyes," said Quinton.
Another positive, said, Quinton, is that Veteran’s Park can hold far more people than the Marcus Amphitheater, so it’s a "win-win." Technically, the park’s capacity is about 100,000 people, but since Summerfest will close of all traffic from as far west as the Marquette Interchange, he said he thinks he could pack up to 1 million fans on Milwaukee’s lakefront.
But it gets better.
Summerfest will offer a free fest-long pass to anyone who shows up at the Elton John show, as well as a special punch card redeemable for 10 beers or wine coolers.
Since Milwaukee World Festival is an non-profit organization, it’s expected this extravaganza will only cost taxpayers $75 million, funds that will be diverted from the DPW’s pothole repair unit.
Free tickets are first come, first served, limited to 100,000 people. You can sign up for up to 16 tickets per email. They are on sale immediately at ticketmaster.com.