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Jerry Riopelle to Rock 2007 New Years Eve at 31st Anniversary Show

Jerry Riopelle, photo by Lissa Wales

By Mariah Fleming

Anyone who has been in the Valley since the early 1970's knows that Jerry Riopelle is a favorite son. William Edward Compton, the visionary first program director at the original KDKB, did much to promote Jerry Riopelle's music. Since that time, Riopelle has remained a treasured Arizona favorite. Riopelle's sound is beyond imitation, ensuring that his New Year's Eve show will once again be a huge draw. You can see firsthand what all the hoopla is about by joining Riopelle at his 31st Anniversary New Years Eve blowout.  You're not likely to find a more entertaining party to ring in the New Year.

Riopelle will perform his long awaited reunion date at the historic Celebrity Theatre, the Valley's only intact original indoor rock and roll venue. It's sure to be a fantastic night, and there are some surprises in store. The Celebrity claims a unique place in the Valley's rock and roll history book. In the late 1960's the Arizona State Legislature had collective cardiac arrest about Jim Morrison's performance at the AZ Veterans Memorial Coliseum. After the Door's performance, the alarmed legislators voted to close the AZ Coliseum doors to rock concerts. Thankfully it didn't take long for the new Celebrity Theatre to come to the rescue.

The Celebrity Theatre gave Phoenix its first glimpse of a venue created specifically to stage outstanding events. The acoustics were fantastic. Seats were great. The line of sight couldn't be beat. Concerts were always packed.
In the 1970's the Celebrity was known as Buster Bonoff's Celebrity Theatre. It hosted greats like George Carlin, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Harry Chapin, Genesis, Loggins and Messina, and Loudon Wainwright III. These are just a fraction of the Celebrity Theatre concerts that kept the Valley groovin' in those days.

The Celebrity's revolving stage was cutting edge and a source of curiosity back then. Watching each performer react to the moving stage was sometimes hilarious. Some performers said they would prefer to do the show strolling around the stage's circumference themselves, rather than being slowly orbited around the theatre. Once in awhile it came down to either the revolving stage or the show being stopped. In the 1970's few could forget George Carlin's raised eyebrow and momentary look of paranoia once he realized the stage was moving.

Cruising that circular path around the stage was an event for the audience members as well. Greetings would be hollered back and forth by early bird fans who spotted their laid back counterparts ambling to their seats. The scene would have made a good R. Crumb cartoon. And though the Celebrity Theatre closed for a few years when Bonoff sold it, it reopened and continued, although for a while not as the premier venue it once was.

However, the Celebrity Theatre is now in its best incarnation since the theatre's heyday. A great time to come and visit this beloved Valley of the Sun stomping ground will be Jerry Riopelle's New Year's Eve concert. In the parlance of the times, it will be a happening.

Jerry Riopelle's 4 CD Anthology "Jerry Riopelle/The Works" will be ready in time to snap it up at his Celebrity Theatre gig. Fans who can't make it out to join the fun on New Years Eve will be able to purchase Riopelle's anthology online and in Phoenix area stores by late January.