Photo Credit: The New York Times

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

July 21, 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Diana Ross’ legendary outdoor concert in New York’s Central Park.  The show, which was billed as a fundraiser for a playground in her name, was taped as part of a Showtime special. However, 20-minutes into the concert, a torrential downpour occurred. Although Ross tried to keep on performing, she was no match for high wind and heavy rain. She then urged the crowd of over 800,000 (the largest crowd in the history of the park) to leave the venue safely, promising to perform the next day.

The second concert was held on July 22, 1983 without rain. An überly excited Ross opened the show with her then famous anthem, “I’m Coming Out,” running all the way from her backstage trailer to the stage. Reportedly, the funds for the playground were to be derived from sales of different items at the concert; however, all profits earned from the first concert were spent on the second. News of the exorbitant costs of the two concerts cast Ross in a negative light receiving harsh criticism from media. However, Ross herself later paid, out of pocket, the $250,000 required to build the park.

The Diana Ross Playground was finally built three years late at 83rd and Central Park West.  Although the concert was marred with negativity, it turned out to be her most memorable performance in her 50-year career.

Check out video montage below and take a step back in time…

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