January 26, 2022

Ken Kinnear on Artist Management, Concert Promotion, and Inducting The Gorge Amphitheater

Ken Kinnear is an artist manager, concert promoter and author. He managed the band Heart for more than a decade and is the creator/developer of The Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington, considered by many to be the most iconic outdoor music venue in the world. Ken is featured in the documentary Enormous: The Gorge Story (now streaming on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, YouTube and Vudu), and his book, There’s An Ass For Every Seat, will be released in March. Ken is also the host of a podcast of the same name, where Season 1 is focused on his campaign to “Induct the Gorge” into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He is scheduled to interview a number of Rock Hall artists, more than 60 of whom have performed at the Gorge. The Gorge Amphitheatre would be the first venue—ever—to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

induct the gorgeass for every seat

What you will learn:

  • Why Ken created a podcast focusing on the Gorge amphitheater, which guests he’s planning to interview and why he is campaigning to induct the Gorge into the Roll and Roll Hall of Fame. [0:00-16:14]
  • How Ken found and settled on the breathtaking location for The Gorge, the logistical challenges presented by the geography of the area, and how he was able to spark artists’ interest in performing there. [16:14-31:59]
  • What led to the infamous 1988 Bob Dylan and Tracy Chapman performance at the Gorge that would solidify the venue’s place in history, why concert-goers often compare concert experiences at The Gorge to Woodstock, and the endearing and lasting memory the venue has created for millions of fans. Ken also discusses Brandi Carlile’s recent performance at The Gorge and what it was like seeing that show finally come together after being postponed due to covid.  [31:59-45:06]
  • Bryan shares his personal connection to Ken, reflecting on the Gorge concerts he saw in his teens and their connection to his late father, Greg Smith, who was good friends with Ken. Ken talks about the power of shared experiences and the sense of community that live performances foster. Ken also discusses the film Enormous: The Gorge Story, which features him talking about the origin of this venue. [45:06-58:05]
  • Ken reflects on how he got started in the entertainment industry: from high school to a military career, to business school, to car sales, and finally arriving at artist promotion/management. Ken also talks about what it was like managing the band Heart for more than a decade, including Ken’s role with the band, and how he meshed with Heart founders Ann WilsonNancy WilsonRoger Fisher, Steve Fossen, Michael Derosier and Michael Fisher. [58:05-1:17:17]
  • Going back to their personal connection, Ken reveals when he met Bryan’s dad, Greg, and Bryan shares a story about his dad being kidnapped by Yasser Arafat. Ken also shares his own stories and touches on a fateful flight with Greg that inspired a scene in Cameron Crowe’s film Almost Famous. [1:17:17-1:39:28]
  • Why Ken sold The Gorge to Live Nation in 1993, and what he has planned in 2022. [1:39:28-1:49:00]


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