He made a name for himself as a photographer for the likes of The Allman Brothers Band and Delaney & Bonnie. When the management of the latter refused to pay him, they instead offered him the opportunity to promote a concert for New Riders of the Purple Sage. Pollack accepted and, in doing so, found his calling.
Fast-forward to 1978, when Pollack said he and friends mustered “a lot of love and care” to excavate and rebuild a long-neglected venue they rechristened as the Zoo Amphitheatre. In the mid-1980s, Pollack left due to managerial disputes and forged a career promoting festivals worldwide.
In 2002, however, he returned to managing the venue after, according to Pollack, “the [Oklahoma City] Zoo ran the place into the ground.”
He said the facility at that time had been voted the “worst place to play” locally for several years, and offered to “reinvent it and bring it back to world-class status.” As a result, he said the Zoo Amp again became a local favorite venue, offering a wide variety of music in an open, outdoor space.
Last year, however, the same battle for control between Pollack and the Oklahoma City Zoological Trust reared its head. In the end, Pollack said he was ousted thanks to “backroom dealings.” While he said he’s still “considering lawsuits,” it hasn’t stopped him from trying to foster the metro’s next big venue in the OKC Downtown Airpark at 1701 S. Western.
“Downtown Airpark will be our temporary facility,” Pollack said. “We’re putting fence lines up inside the property, laying grass down, putting in a stage and some tented structures that will be for concessions, VIP areas and general admission seating, like we had at the Zoo.”
His first show there is slated for July 25, featuring punk acts Sublime and Pennywise. After that, Sept. 13 brings metal’s Mötley Crüe; Oct. 3, Colorado folk rockers The Lumineers.
“We expect that one to sell out,” Pollack said, adding “two major country shows” await confirmation, while a Latin music festival is in the planning stages.
Speaking of, he stressed his company is in the process of planning a new, 15,000-seat amphitheater somewhere along the Oklahoma River, with a target date of 2015 or 2016.
Until then, Pollack will let Downtown Airpark do the talking.
“We’re going to be doing some new and exciting things that never come to Oklahoma,” he said. “The old concert promoter Bill Graham said, ‘I just don’t do concerts, I create an environment.’ That’s what we do. We create a cool vibe.”
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• Howard’s end?: The battle continues over management of the OKC Zoo Amphitheatre and its operator, Howard Pollack
• New Zoo revue: With new management and upgrades, the iconic Zoo Amphitheatre venue returns to rock
• Tangled web: OKC decides against pursuing litigation to acquire the website for the Zoo Amphitheatre
• Zoo Amp battle amplified: Tempers and accusations fly over a proposed change of operation for the Zoo Amphitheatre
• Zoo brouhaha: A possible open records violation delays a change in management for the OKC Zoo Amphitheatre