On July 21, 1983, more than an estimated 450,000 fans watched on as Diana Ross, dressed in a rainbow-fringed coat, commanded The Great Lawn in Central Park for an electric performance, a concert known as Live in Central Park, which was broadcasted worldwide on Showtime and released decades later on DVD. But then the show turned truly electric, when a thunderstorm forced the performance to a halt. A rambunctious crowd was close to rioting when Ross left the stage, imploring concert-goers to seek shelter from the lightning. The storm caused 40,000 homes in the NYC metropolitan area to lose power, according to a New York Daily News report. Ross’ show lasted only 45 minutes.
But then, 24 hours later, the clouds cleared, the ground dried and the NYC Parks Department cleared the area for night two, and Ross’ second Central Park concert began promptly at 6 p.m. on July 22, 1983.
“I appreciate the people and the police yesterday,” Ross said in a press conference from that day, which you can hear as part of the recordings below. “I refused to leave the stage until I knew people knew they could leave and walk out. I wasn’t as afraid until someone whispered to me that it could be an electrical storm. I’m gonna do a real concert tonight.”
And that she did. On that second night, Diana Ross opened the show in glamorous fashion, with her post-disco, pro-gay hit, “I’m Coming Out,” followed by “Family” and a glorious rendition of “It’s My House”—almost as good as Renata’s (one of many memorable music moments in season two of Big Little Lies). These are vivid recordings, complete with crystal-clear live cuts and plenty of stage banter courtesy of Ross, who was touring behind her just-released album and latest for Motown, Ross.
You can listen to the interview, press conference and entire concert below via the Paste vault.
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