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Our Summerfest Hall of Fame (the view from 'intern row')

Note from 88Nine: We’re lucky to have smart, creative interns here at Radio Milwaukee. Edyn and Natalie, both entering their sophomore years in college, came up with the idea of a Summerfest Hall of Fame. We’re happy to share their view from “Intern Row.” (They all sit at the same row of desks :)

No, they’re not a new band. They’re our interns Drew, Edyn and Natalie. Our other intern, Julian, took this photo.


By Natalie Philips and Edyn Herbert

If it isn’t already obvious, here at 88Nine we love Milwaukee, and we love the artists who love Milwaukee. We natives recognize Summerfest as a unique Milwaukee experience, and appreciate when Milwaukee’s visitors recognize it, too. Over the years, Summerfest has attracted the music industry’s most celebrated rockers, hip-hoppers, fiddlers, fresh faces and local talent.

In honor of Summerfest’s 48th annual shindig, we are inducting performers that have made repeat, three-peat, and even more appearances at Summerfest into 88Nine’s very own Summerfest Hall of Fame. It’s our way of giving a little love to the artists who have helped to maintain Milwaukee’s proud summer attraction over the years, the world’s largest music festival. Below are our 13 picks for 88Nine’s Summerfest Hall Of Fame.

In alphabetical order by first name:

Ben Harper

Blasting on college radios throughout the 90s, Ben Harper’s first Summerfest concert came after the release of his first album, “Welcome to the Cruel World” in 1994. He’s been keeping Milwaukee in a melodic folk funk often, with his fourth and most recent appearance at last year’s Summerfest.

Bob Dylan

This inductee is famous for many things, but one that hits home for us is his immense influence on The Beatles. The first Beatles song to come out after their initial encounter with Bob Dylan was “Norwegian Wood.” John pulled George over on a ski trip and played the song for him, openly admitting his affair through song. The Beatles fawned over Dylan, another reason why we’re so proud to say he has actually performed at Summerfest three times, most recently in 2009 at the Marcus Amphitheater. He also performed in 1999 with Paul Simon, making us wish we were older than four at the time. You can “Call Me Al” anytime.

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Buddy Guy

This Hall of Famer is as soulful as they come, and one of the strongest and most innovative blues voices to ever hit the stage. Milwaukee has had the honor of hosting Buddy Guy at Summerfest in 2013, and we could not be more stoked that he is returning for this year’s Summerfest as a special guest of the Rolling Stones, and again on the 27th at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse. Even better, Buddy Guy is expected to release a new album at the end of this month “Born To Play Guitar.” We most certainly believe that.

Eric Clapton

Here at 88Nine, we love our blues rockers, especially our inductee, the guitar-wielding Eric Clapton. Making three appearances at Summerfest in the past three decades, Clapton was last here in 2010. Statistically speaking, odds are good that he will be back in the next five years with his most recent material having been released in 2013, but that’s just speculation.

Foo Fighters

These guys, we can say from personal experience, will rock your face off. They first appeared on stage here in 1997, reappearing in 2000 and 2003. Their last show was in 2012, and we hope they come back in the next few years. As a testament to how hard these guys perform, last week front man Dave Grohl fell off the stage while playing in Sweden, breaking his leg severely enough to need surgery. Grohl went to the hospital and actually came back, finishing the set from a chair on stage. Dave, we commend you.


The next guys introduced to our Hall of Fame have got one of the best attendance records of any bands to visit Summerfest. The Boston band started coming in 2004, has been back six more times -- and are always a blast to see.

The Roots

This featured Summerfest Hall Of Fame group started out with some buddies and bucket drums on the streets of Philly. The Roots have made a huge name for themselves since breaking into the rap/hip-hop game with the release of their first album “Organix” in 1993. Their inaugural performance at Summerfest was in 2004 and we’ve been lucky enough to have these guys back a few more times, most recently in 2010.

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Carlos Santana has such immense talent, he even made Chad Kroeger sound cool. Joke’s aside, Santana’s contribution to the music industry as well as Summerfest is unparalleled. First appearing on stage in 1982, Santana has infused Milwaukee with his Latin rock n’ roll  for many summers, including 2003, 2005, and most recently 2010. Seriously, guys, Santana and his bandmates have sold over 90 million records, won 8 Grammys, 3 Latin Grammys, and are in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame to boot. If that doesn’t impress you, I’m not sure anything could.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

As far as guitar legends are concerned, there’s Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, and then there’s Stevie Ray Vaughan. Though his life was cut way too short, in his time here he put out five phenomenal albums, and even came to Summerfest twice (in 1984 and 1986). He won six Grammys and will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame later this year with his band Double Trouble.

Stevie Wonder

This Summerfest Hall of Famer is not a stranger to hall of fame accolades, having been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Stevie Wonder graced the Summerfest stage 27 years ago, in 1988. Stevie has been back— and better than ever— returning to Milwaukee in 2008, two decades after his first performance, and again in 2009. Lucky for us, Stevie Wonder is still rockin’ his soulful grooves, touring and performing his “Songs from the Key of Life” album and is coming back to Summerfest this Saturday night, so make sure to check him out. Stevie, we look forward to having you back!

Violent Femmes

Our next inductee is a band that got its start right here in Milwaukee, the Violent Femmes. They debuted at Summerfest in 1989 and over the past two decades have returned four more times, most recently in 2013 and we certainly hope not the last.

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Whitney Houston

This inductee needs no introduction or nonsense about statistics. It may come as a surprise that she was even here at all, let alone twice! The great Whitney Houston actually debuted at Summerfest in 1987 and loved Milwaukee enough to come back four years later. It’s an honor to say she graced us with her unbelievable talent and brought her soul to our city.


Another band from the Midwest made it into our Summerfest Hall of Fame. Chicago natives Wilco has been another tried and true Summerfest act, appearing here at Summerfest four times, first in 1996. Their 2002 album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” earned them tremendous reviews and accolades, finding a spot among the top five of both Rolling Stone’s list of Top 100 Albums of the Decade as well as Pitchfork’s Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.

Your turn!

Surprised by anyone on this list? Who did we miss? Did you attend any of these shows? 

Let us know your thoughts. 

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee