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Persian and Oriental Rugs in Rock Shows



With seats way up at the ACC for Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck's concert in Toronto (Feb 2010), I had a great view of the oriental rug Clapton uses on stage. I saw the rug rolled out on stage during the setup. It had it's own long narrow tube from which the road crew slid it out. From a distance it appeared thin and light. Possibly an Ardebil or Caucasian.

The Persian rug as a stage prop at rock shows has been around for a long time, and Clapton has used one for years. In an interview in 2001 he said, referring to the rug, "Very expensive – ten thousand dollars – hand woven. It’s a new one. Positioning of the rug is critical (laughs). The rug came about because we were getting static."
The earlist reference I could come up with regarding the use of oriental rugs at rock shows is Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in 1970 when they played the Filmore West. There is a hilarious reference to this in Bill Grahams book "Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out"... about bickering with the band over the use and placement of the rug.

In 1974 Emerson Lake and Palmer used a Persian rug on the stage. Greg Lake claims it "cost me a small fortune....I use it to keep from being electrocuted on the stage!” So it seems there may be a practical reason for the rugs being there.

The Greateful Dead always performed with many Persian rugs on stage. One in particular was a Persian panel tree of life rug.

Charie Watts of the Rolling Stones is a major collector of fine oriental rugs and band mate Jagger owns a 16th century Persian rug. I could not find any reference to the Stones using Persian rugs on stage. They did not when I saw them circa 1975.

Meanwhile back stage, Elton John insisted on large "non-leather sofas to relax on with fine Persian carpets underfoot".

More recently U2 uses a bunch of Persian rugs in the video for "Beautiful Day." The rugs are spread over an airport runway as a plane takes off overhead. They also use oriental rugs all over the studio floor. Robert Plant and Allison Krauss used a "a surreal backdrop of nine Persian rugs of a quality normally found hanging on the walls of the Victoria & Albert Museum" at a concert last year at the Wembley Arena in London.

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam used a round Persian rug for his solo tour in 2008.
The metal band Lamb of God uses 4 black rugs with the band's logo on them.
Ottmar Liebert uses rugs on the stage when he performs.

I'm sure there are are many more examples. If you want to contribute let me know.




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