Myth Busters: Rock ‘n’ roll at the Marriott Center


BYU is not a party school.

Known for its mostly Mormon student body, straight-edge Honor Code and top-notch academics, the university has never had a rock-band reputation, but it has played host to quite a few rock bands.

The Marriott Center, which is now used primarily for sporting events and devotionals, once played host to big-name bands and performing artists in the ’70s and ’80s.

Performers like Elton John, James Taylor, Boston and The Cars all made stops in Cougar country for shows.

Billy Joel’s song “Only the good die Young” talks about a man trying to convince a devout young catholic woman to give up her virginity. (Courtesy
Billy Joel’s song “Only the Good Die Young” talks about a man trying to convince a devout young Catholic woman to give up her virginity. (Courtesy

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Though the more tranquil acts were well received by administrators and students alike, the racier entertainers took it upon themselves to make a statement to their primarily LDS audiences, eventually leading to the ban of concerts.

Billy Joel was one of the last performers to take the stage at the Marriott Center, and comments that he made during his performance may have been the been the reason that concerts ceased all together.

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Before singing his hit “Only The Good Die Young,” which is all about promiscuity, Joel took a moment to give a little philosophical insight to the crowd.

“I’m not trying to convert anyone; I just want to provide you with an alternative,” Joel said.

Needless to say, this “stick it to the man” rock ’n’ roll attitude was frowned upon by conservative school leaders. Joel’s comment may not have been as big of a problem if one audience member hadn’t been present.

Seated in the audience that night was then Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric Glenn L. Pace. Pace was so infuriated by Joel’s comments that the experience became an anecdote for an Ensign article.

Shortly thereafter, concerts were removed completely from the university events schedule.

Joel may not have started the fire, but he certainly didn’t try to fight it.

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