50 Years at Pine Knob: The Rock, The Music, The Legends

July 26, 2022 | Story by Katherine Stozicki | Photos by 313 Presents

For fifty years, Pine Knob Music Theatre has brought legendary acts to metro Detroit. Becoming DTE Music Theatre in 2001, the venue’s name was changed back to Pine Knob to kick off its 50th anniversary season.

Acts from around the world

When the theater opened on June 25, 1972, David Cassidy was the first musical act to play for audiences at Pine Knob.

Cassidy earned his fame on the ABC show The Partridge Family and quickly became one of the biggest celebrities in the world. Just months before playing the first show at Pine Knob, Cassidy played Madison Square Garden in March 1972.

Later, 1950s singer Chuck Berry joined Cassidy as one of the first acts to perform at Pine Knob. In October 1972, Berry shared a bill with musician Billy Preston and the two closed the theatre for the season.

Other acts soon followed Cassidy and Berry in playing Pine Knob. Later, country singer, Dolly Parton played Pine Knob in August 1978 and then entertained fans for three nights in August 1982.

A decade after Pine Knob’s opening year, Elton John played the theatre for three nights in July 1982. John played the theatre two more times in August 1986 in September 1989.

The list of legendary acts from around the world that have performed at Pine Knob includes Jimmy Buffet, Joni Mitchell, Janet Jackson, Ringo Starr, and the Ramones.

Music from the D

Detroit-born Bob Seger has played over thirty concerts at Pine Knob. In his honor, the road the theatre sits on is called 33 Bob Seger Dr. First playing the theatre in July 1972, Seger played his last show at Pine Knob in 2019 before retiring.

In July 1973, the Temptations were the first Motown musicians to play the theatre. The Temptations played Pine Knob once again in 2008, but the group had only one original member left.

Motown singer Aretha Franklin played the theatre a few years later in 1975. Franklin appeared again at Pine Knob in 2014.

Detroit rapper Eminem also appeared at the theatre and joined rapper 50 Cent on stage as a guest in 2003. It is his only performance at the amphitheater.

Things to do before a show

If you’re looking to make a day out of going to see a show at Pine Knob, we have a few suggestions of places to visit in the area.

Great Lakes Crossing Outlets

About ten minutes from the theatre is Great Lakes Crossing. If you’re looking to shop, grab a snack, visit an aquarium, or see a movie before going to Pine Knob, Great Lakes Crossing is the perfect stop for you.

Shoppers at Great Lakes Crossing

Independence Oaks

Looking to do something outdoors before the show? Check out Independence Oaks in Clarkston, one of Oakland County’s many beautiful parks. Go on a picnic, hike, or try out archery while visiting the park!

O’Malley’s Irish Tavern

Located in the Crowne Plaza in Auburn Hills and only 15 minutes away from Pine Knob, O’Malley’s Irish Tavern is the perfect place to visit for a bite to eat and a drink before a concert.

The Clarkston Union Bar and Kitchen

Grab dinner or a cocktail before the show at the Clarkston Union. Listed in Visit Detroit’s 6 Detroit Mac N’ Cheese Dishes that Hit the Mark, you won’t be disappointed by their tasty dishes!


If you’re looking for some coffee or Latin-style food, check out Honcho. Located on Main Street, Honcho serves a variety of Latin cuisine and coffee beverages to enjoy before heading to Pine Knob.

The Union General Store

Need a quick gift or some goodies to take home? Stop in at the Union General store which doubles as a cupcake shop so you can grab a sweet treat before taking off.

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