The Origins of Crowd Surfing: Who Did It First?

Attending rock and punk concerts can be an experience for concertgoers that they’ll never forget, especially if the performer crowd-surfs. The first artist known to do this was none other than Iggy Pop when he performed with the Stooges at Cincinnati’s Summer Pop Festival in 1970. Iggy went into the crowd three times before he took the leap forward into the sea of fans. They raised Iggy by his legs as he egged on the audience. When they put Iggy down, he smeared peanut butter on his chest and was then helped back on stage by his crew. It was an iconic moment in concert history and has been duplicated on a number of occasions since.

Peter Gabriel carried on the tradition of crowd-surfing when he performed his song, “Lay Your Hands On Me” in 1982.

Back in 1987, Billy Joel was the first artist to crowd-surf in communist Russia.

Now in his mid-sixties, Bruce Springsteen frequently crowd-surfs for his fans and seems to enjoy it a lot.

But eventually there comes a time for an artist when they consider giving up crowd-surfing all together. That happened with Iggy Pop in 2010 when he was performing with The Stooges at New York’s Carnegie Hall. As he leaped forward from the stage, the crowd parted and Iggy ended up with severe bruising.

And just two weekends ago, Staind singer Aaron Lewis went into a profanity-laden rant at the Kansas City Rockfest after witnessing a teenage girl being groped and pinched as she was crowd-surfing. Lewis insisted that if the group continued, the music would be put on hold. The crowd decided to behave themselves, after which Lewis said it was safe to crowd-surf again.

So the next time when you’re at a rock/punk show, it may be best to keep your feet on the floor and leave the crowd-surfing to the professionals. After all, they did it first.

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