The feeling of seeing a live music performance is an experience like no other.
For decades, touring has been the lifeblood of the music industry, allowing artists to connect with their fans in an unforgettable way.
This phenomenon didn’t become possible overnight, live music became popular when musicians decided to pursue their desire of spreading their music more widely. Dedicated fans’ hunger to see their favourite artists perform live grew, and so did the need for more comfortable and efficient ways to travel across the many venues.
With the rising demand, something had to change. Using vans to transport stars wasn’t going to cut it. Thus: the advancement of tour buses.
We’re delving into some of the most influential artists throughout the years that have vastly contributed to the progression of sleeper buses. Let’s see who embraced life on the road!
Elvis Presley (1950s): The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll
The 1950’s was a time of musical revolution, and at the forefront: Elvis Presley. Elvis changed the way artists toured. In an era where most musicians were being crammed into cars and on trains, Elvis and his band were among the first to embrace tour buses.
What made Elvis’s use of tour buses so revolutionary was that it allowed him to cover more ground, reaching fans in small towns and big cities alike. In a time when live performances were often limited to major urban centres, Elvis brought his electrifying act to places that had never seen anything like it. His tour buses became a symbol of his commitment to his fans and his determination to share his music with as many people as possible.
Elvis’s pioneering use of tour buses not only set the stage for the modern touring industry but also inspired countless other artists to follow suit. He proved that touring could be more than just a series of one-night stands; it could be a way to connect with fans on a deeply personal level and bring music to the farthest reaches of the country. Elvis’s legacy in both music and tour bussing is still felt today, and his influence on the industry is immeasurable.
The Beatles (1960s)
The swinging sixties! The Beatles were a cultural reset during this time, with legendary aspects such as their iconic Abbey Road album cover. This spontaneous masterpiece featured the band casually strolling across a zebra crossing, unwittingly creating one of the most famous and imitated album covers ever. Beyond their ground-breaking music, The Beatles were trendsetters in tour bussing. These British legends captured the hearts of millions worldwide and transformed the way artists approached touring even further.
What set The Beatles apart was their ability to maintain a personal connection with their audience, despite their skyrocketing fame. They understood that touring wasn’t just about performing; it was about forging a deep and lasting bond with their fans. Their tour bus was paramount in achieving this. They even crisscrossed the United States during their famous American tours, introducing their music to a diverse and widespread audience. Their tour buses became a symbol of unity, bringing people from different backgrounds and walks of life together through the power of music.
In addition to fostering a sense of camaraderie, The Beatles’ tour buses were equipped with the latest technological marvels of the time. They had state-of-the-art sound systems, allowing their live performances to reach even the largest of arenas. This innovation set a new standard for live music production and left an indelible mark on the touring industry.
The 70’s marked the rise of glam rock – accompanied by the electrifying band KISS. Known for their larger-than-life personas and extravagant stage shows, KISS took touring to a whole new level of theatricality. The band itself wore makeup whilst performing, designed symbolising different facets of the band’s identity. Gene Simmons, as “The Demon,” represented the darker, more intense side of rock and roll. Paul Stanley, as “The Starchild,” embodied the glamorous and romantic aspects of the genre. Ace Frehley’s “Spaceman” persona brought an element of science fiction and fantasy, while Peter Criss, as “The Catman,” added a touch of mystery and intrigue.
The bands look was mimicked on their tour bus. Customising tour buses had already become a trend in the 60’s, but KISS was known for their elaborate, BOLD designs, both on their tour buses and costumes. Definitely one of the most visually striking acts in rock history – fuelling the demand for live music and theatricals.
Beyoncé (2000’s) Queen Bey
The 2000s witnessed the rise of an iconic figure in the world of music – Beyoncé. With her captivating performances, chart-topping hits, and a commanding stage presence, Beyoncé became a global phenomenon. Her popularity soared to new heights, drawing millions of fans to her concerts worldwide.
Traditional tour buses were designed to accommodate smaller touring parties and, consequently, had limited space. Beyoncé’s massive audiences required a more substantial crew and support staff to handle the technical complexities of her concerts. As a result, her tour buses needed to evolve to accommodate not just her and her band but also a sizeable production team, costume changes, and high-end sound and lighting equipment.
Additionally, the scale of her concerts meant she was often on the road for extended periods of time. The need to maintain energy night after night was recognised, and met with more luxurious sleeper buses. Buses had to become more than transportation, they had to transform into a space that could accommodate stars that needed to relax and recharge. The industry began to rethink the traditional model, recognising that artists of Beyoncé’s calibre required more spacious, luxurious, and technologically advanced buses to meet the demands of touring on a grand scale.
Bonus fact: We actually had Beyoncé tour in some of our very own sleeper buses!
Coldplay (Current Day)
Many people have described Coldplay’s concerts as a beacon of community, bringing together fans of all ages. However, Coldplay are not just passionate about music, they’re also leading the way in sustainable touring. In an era where climate change and environmental concerns have taken centre stage, Coldplay’s sustainable touring efforts have become a guide for artists worldwide.
Coldplay have crafted sustainable concert experiences by relying on renewable energy sources and selecting venues dedicated to reducing emissions and their overall carbon footprint. Their determination to align their tours with eco-conscious principles sets a compelling example for musicians and fans alike.
They advocate the message that sustainability is not just a choice, but a necessity for change. Influential artists have the power to lead the way in fostering a greener future within the music industry.
We ourselves are contributing to this by offering HVO fuelled tours, you can read more about our sustainability efforts here.
Tour Bussing innovation
These artists have all contributed to the advancement in technology, innovation and sustainability of sleeper buses. We’ve only mentioned a few though! There are loads more artists that shaped how tour bussing looks today, and the sleeper bus industry will continue to change based on the demand and needs of the touring industry.
We’ll continue to keep up to date with new technology and updates, and of course we’ll make sure to keep you in the loop too.
If you’ve any questions regarding tour buses, or are interested in hiring a premium and modern sleeper bus for your own music tour, get in touch!