Michael Jackson at Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl in 1984


In July 1984, Michael Jackson, then at his peak as the King of Pop, came to Jacksonville for the Jacksons’ Victory Tour featuring him and his brothers, though mostly him. Almost 136,000 tickets were sold for three nights at the old Gator Bowl, the fourth stop on the record-breaking tour.

Reporting on the first night at the stadium, The Times-Union’s Don Meitin said rain threatened but never arrived: “And at 9:41 p.m., the Jacksons — Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy — emerged from a shower of fireworks and smoke. With their first song, they told the crowd they ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something,’ and the crowd shouted back: ‘Go to it.’

July 22, 1984: 45,000 see opening show of Jacksons’ Victory Tour in Jacksonville

July 22, 1984: Jacksons’ Victory Tour show offers lights, lasers … perfection

In 1984, Michael Jackson was extraordinarily popular as the King of Pop. Here a young fan poses in his Michael Jackson outfit before a Victory Tour show at the Gator Bowl.

Start something, they did.

The fans stood and stomped their feet on the Gator Bowl’s aluminum bleachers along with the music. Later, they followed the concert tradition of waving cigarette lighters making the stadium look like it was filled with fireflies.

“Great show and, yes, worth $30,” Scott Hunter of Jacksonville said at the time.

Fans pack the old Gator Bowl for the third night of the Jacksons' Victory Tour in Jacksonville, which sold almost 136,000 tickets at $30 a pop. The stadium is now TIAA Bank Field.

Also in the crowd: Mayor Jake Godbold, perennial civic booster. The music wasn’t really the mayor’s style, but he was there for all three performances, noting with satisfaction how everyone, black and white, old and young, was dancing.

The stadium would later be razed for the most part in 1994 to make way for a new stadium for the NFL expansion Jaguars.


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