Pittsburgh’s Hidden Stories

The best stories are always found behind the scenes and few things are what they appear on the surface.  Rich Engler is a nationally recognized concert promoter from Pittsburgh who experienced celebrity reality first hand.  He partnered with Pat DiCesare in 1973 to create DiCesare-Engler Productions and they brought some of the best talent in the world to our area.  Their name became synonymous with famous concerts and what went on backstage was a closely guarded secret until now.  This is the tell all year when Johnny Carson’s attorney wrote a surprising book about the real Johnny and Rich Engler decided to share his shocking exploits with his new book Behind The Stage Door that is hot off the press.  He doesn’t hold back with up close and personal encounters with Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Starship, Kansas and KISS to name a few.

In 1977 DiCesare-Engler Productions purchased an aging movie house called the Stanley Theater (3500 seats)  and quickly transformed it into one of the nation’s top concert halls. It is now known as the Benedum Center.  In 1978, Billboard magazine  named the Stanley the No. 1 mid-sized concert auditorium in the United States. DiCesare-Engler Productions was ranked as the No. 2 production team for the same year. Bill Graham Presents was No. 1.   Engler witnessed the transformation of the concert venue into a multi-billion dollar industry.  He was there when the business of rock ‘n’ roll began to overshadow the music and saw many changes throughout his career.  Pop stars were notoriously vain and unpredictable creatures.   He recalls Carly Simons freaking out backstage at the Stanley and canceling due to stage fright with 3,500 people waiting outside.  Madonna insisted that nobody working at the Arena look at her and Van Halen insisted on no brown M&M’s.  His career certainly appears to have been one wild ride and now you can come along for the view.  The book contains a lot of Pittsburgh nostalgia and tons of great pictures.  It will be a walk down memory lane for those who grew up here and wistful imagery for those who wish they did.

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One thought on “Pittsburgh’s Hidden Stories

  1. I remember attending many of these DiCesare-Engler Production Shows at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in my days as a young headbanger obsessed with the Heavy Metal Genre. Great read, Kathy!

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