Founded in 852 as a aristocratic convent, Essen's bucolic beginnings changed drastically with the discovery and subsequent mining of coal in the 1800's. At one point, Essen had grown into the largest mining town in Europe. Dominated by its coal and steel industries, it was said that the inhabitants of this Ruhr Centre, "would cough briquettes and see the sun as a pale disc" barely perceptible through its polluted, smoke-filled skies. But by 1986 the last of Essen's mines shuts down as Essen tries to reinvent itself into a cultural and economic center. The city remains a dichotomy of images, from the traces of the once thriving coal and steel industry in the north to the wooded shoreline of the "Baldeneysee" in the south.
In the midst of this "Emscherzone" lies one of Essen's cultural cornices, the Grugahalle, a 10,000 seat concert hall, known as "the butterfly". Here on July 23, 1977 Rory kicked off the first live eurovision transmission of Rockpalast Nacht, the German television show featuring live full concert performances by the popular bands of the day.
Originally a live studio production, Rockpalast expanded that format to the live festival venue partly in response to the criticism that the studio shows were short, "lahmarschig" wooden affairs with only space for an audience of around 100. So to fully capture the live concert sound, they decided to air live concert festivals, and the Grugahalle in Essen would be the first. The festival was a eurovision transmission which was sent live to Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Ireland, and featured three acts: Rory Gallagher, Little Feat, and Roger McGuinn. Peter Rčchel, the force behind the Rockpalast states that Rory was a "central figure" and a "symbol" of those early years of the Rockpalast. Rory's electrifying performance at the first Rockpalast festival, or RockNacht, made the new live format a resounding success. It's 10 pm at the "Grugahalle" on July 23, 1977. Hendrik Bussiek gets ready to announce the evenings entertainment, so sit back and enjoy a hefty dose of industrial strength Rory Gallagher.