NJ history: Entertainment ‘firsts’ that originated in Atlantic City
1. You were not considered to have truly made it in entertainment and music industries until you played The World Famous Steel Pier.
2. The Steel Pier factor was even more important for Big Bands, such as The Glenn Miller Orchestra The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (featuring “The Boy Singer” Frank Sinatra) and Harry James Orchestra to name a few. You were not considered to be a “Big Band” until you played Steel Pier.
2. The legendary “Skinny” D’Amato first partnered Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis together at his iconic “The 500 Club.”
3. Atlantic City & Philadelphia television and radio pioneer Ed Hurst is the creator of the first teen dancers in the studio.
Joe Grady and Ed Hurst were the first to be offered to host American Bandstand.
Dick Clark publicly stated on the Ed Hurst Steel Pier Radio Show that “without Ed Hurst there would not have been Dick Clark,”
4. This is barely a stretch … but, it cannot be overstated how significant the first casinos outside of Las Vegas in American history opened in 1978 in Atlantic City with Resorts International Hotel and Casino.
5. John Phillip Sousa wrote a song titled, “The Atlantic City Pageant.” In July, 1926 they played in the Music Hall at Steel Pier.
6. Bobby Rydell wrote a 45 RPM single titled “Steel Pier.” It’s a one-sided single that Hurst announced on-air that if you mail 25 cents to Steel Pier, you would get the Rydell single.
7. George Hamid blew his lid when 75,000 quarters arrived to Steel Pier. Hamid told Hurst, “Ed, we’re not fulfilling this.” Ed answered back, “we made the promise on television … we have to fill the obligation,” said Hurst.
8. On August 4, 1958, Ricky Nelson played his first ever live concert at Steel Pier in Atlantic City. These was the largest attended concerts in Steel Pier history, with 58,000 people attending. The crowds were big that The Steel Pier actually moved and swayed from side-to-side. Many thought that The Pier would actually collapse into the Atlantic Ocean.
This mark the last appearance on Steel Pier by Joe Grady, who never returned after this incident.
9. The Bay City Rollers held their first ever American concert at the Steel Pier.
10. The Rolling Stones played their first ever East Coast concert at the Steel Pier in the summer, 1966.
11. In 1966, Beach Boys founding member and drummer Dennis Wilson, was the first ever civilian high diver in Steel Pier history in the famed water circus. He literally ran a head of Barney Cipriani and climbed up the 100 foot ladder and dove into the Atlantic Ocean.
BONUS: All of the above were Atlantic City “firsts.” Here’s an Atlantic City “last.” The the last time that the entire Beach Boys band play together and Atlantic City drew 250,000 people for an epic beach concert. It was held near Caesars Hotel & Casino on July 4, 1983.