Harry Styles has made history as the first Gen Z to have a banner raised in the rafters of Madison Square Garden. The One Direction alum’s 15-night residency at The Garden broke records, landing his name beside only two other artists honored at the arena. Here’s a quick history of Madison Square Garden’s concert banners.
Madison Square Garden Has Many Banners
Madison Square Garden opened its doors in 1968, serving as New York City’s premiere event venue. Today, it’s often referred to as “The Most Famous Venue In The World.” As many sports arenas do, The Garden had a tradition of hanging banners to commemorate local sports teams’ victories at the venue. However, it would go on to appropriate this tradition to honor its performers as well.
It’s unclear when The Garden started honoring musicians with banners, but for years it set aside space to commemorate two distinct records: most performances by a single artist and the longest run of a single artist. The earliest recipients of these honors to date are Billy Joel and Elton John.
John held the record for most performances by a single artist for years. His last banner commemorating his 64th performance was raised into the rafters in 2013. However, Joel surpassed John’s record in 2015, making him the only banner holder at the garden.
Today, Joel is the King of the Garden. Since August of 2014, Joel has set aside a night every single month to play at the venue, with months affected by pandemic restrictions being the only exceptions. He’s now played 128 shows at the New York City arena, establishing an untouchable streak.
Phish Ties Joel’s 13-Night Streak
However, he wouldn’t stay alone in the Garden’s rafters for long. In 2017, Vermont-based rock band Phish tied Joel’s record for “Longest Run of a Single Artist” by performing 13 consecutive shows at the venue. However, their historic run carved out a new niche in the Garden record book.
The band’s residency had a unique theme: For 13 nights, Phish didn’t repeat a single song. The stint was called “The Baker’s Dozen” and featured a different donut-inspired theme every night.
Harry Styles Surpasses Phish And Joel
So, Harry Style’s 15 consecutive nights of sold-out shows is no small feat. In the past, The Garden has only entrusted artists with massive multigenerational fanbases to fill its 20,789 seats for so many consecutive nights.
Of course, the honor wasn’t lost on Styles. At the end of his 15th night, TV host Gayle King presented the young artist with his banner, bringing him to tears. “Any time that you come to Madison Square Garden and you see that, remember it’s because of you. That is ours,” Styles told his audience as his banner was raised. “I’m gonna come back when everyone is gone, and just sit and look at that for a while.”
It remains to be seen if Phish’s 13-night banner will come down now that their record was seemingly defeated. However, it’s clear that Styles’ banner is there to stay for a long while.