By Patrick Skidmore
From Soul and Blues to Rock and Country and everything in between, the Tampa Bay area has had a great music tradition over the years. Some Hall of Fame artists to have lived in the area are Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Jim Morrison and Ray Charles, and Country Music Hall of Fame member, Mel Tillis.
Music venues on both sides of the bay began springing up in the 1960s, and Tampa saw many major acts as they began touring the country. The Bayfront Center, Curtis Hixon Hall, and even Tampa Stadium, hosted such acts such as Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and many more.
The 80’s and 90’s saw Hair Metal take the nation by storm and Tampa began seeing smaller rock clubs, such as the Brass Mug, The Rock-It Club, and Bourbon Street, pop up around the area. Also starting in the 90’s was the widely successful Livestock. Livestock was a multiday music event held in a park in nearby Zephyrhills, Florida, set in the style of Woodstock, that hosted many acts throughout the years. Artists such as Saigon Kick, Anthrax, Mötley Crüe, Megadeth, Kid Rock, and Foo Fighters all played sets over the years at the festival.
One of the largest contributions Tampa has to the world of music is Death Metal. Tampa is known as the “Death Metal Capital”. Many bands, like Obituary and Morbid Angel, were formed in Tampa, while bands such as Cannibal Corpse were formed elsewhere and moved to Tampa to be a part of the thriving scene.
The early 21st century saw many of the old music venues be demolished for new projects; the Bayfront Center, Curtis Hixon Hall, and Tampa Stadium have all been demolished. However, there are still many musical acts who are coming through Tampa. Venues such as Jannus Live (formerly Jannus Landing), the Amalie Arena, and the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre, still host many musical acts from around the country. Spring and summer in Tampa means artist will take advantage of many opportunities to have outdoor shows, from festivals near the beach to the almost weekly concerts at the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre. The Tampa music scene is still alive and well, just waiting for the next wave to take off.