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ROCK ON A ROLL

The season is just getting under way, but 1994 already looks like a blowout year for the rock business. Returning to the limelight from their mansions and manicured lifestyles, the rockers of yesteryear--Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, even a reunited Eagles band--are strutting on stage for a curtain call. Other oldie favorites include Elton John and two competing 25th-reunion-of-Woodstock concerts. On tour also are hot groups such as Pearl Jam. Even Barbra Streisand will hit the road.

The boom is good news for an industry that has been just limping along since 1991, when it sold a record $1.1 billion in tickets. But with an improved economy expected to bring out more fans, "the question is by how much we beat that record this year," says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, a Fresno (Calif.) magazine that follows the concert business.

BRISK SALES. The bad news for concert- goers: Many operators have jacked ticket prices way up. It will cost as much as $80 to see Pink Floyd and up to $115 to catch the Eagles (parking included). On the road for the first time in 27 years, Streisand is asking $350 for some seats.

Outrageous? Maybe. But even the higher-priced tickets are moving, says Ticketmaster President Frederick D. Rosen. Streisand sold out all five concerts in two hours, he says. Nearly 90% of the Pink Floyd tickets were sold before they warmed up their first amp.

There's concern in the business, though, that high prices will hurt some acts. Elton John and Billy Joel are buttressing their appeal by doing a joint tour--with a top ticket price of $75. Even the mighty Stones are charging just $25 to $50. "There are a lot of tickets out there," admits lead singer Mick Jagger. "We hope there's room" for all the acts. Not to mention enough aging baby boomers with gold credit cards who still want to hear them.Ronald Grover in Los Angeles


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