Hyde Park Turns To Hard Rock

Live Nation’s 2-year-old Hyde Park Calling has changed its name to Hard Rock Calling because the new brand is easier to move around the globe.

It’s also announced what LN promoter Toby Leighton-Pope is calling an "iconic bill with no fillers," including The Police, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, KT Tunstall and Starsailor.

Clapton will headline June 28 and be joined by Sheryl Crow and John Mayer, with The Police, KT Tunstall and Starsailor appearing the next night. More acts for both days will be announced shortly.

"We are thrilled to be part of this historic music event that launches our global Ambassadors of Rock Tour," said Hard Rock International president and chief exec Hamish Dodds. Last year’s Hyde Park Calling launched a string of Ambassador shows in such places as New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Dubai and Singapore.

The re-branding could facilitate Live Nation and Hard Rock turning future Ambassador dates into a global Hard Rock Calling.

The change comes at a time when, however successful they are, the future of open-air rock gigs in Hyde Park remains uncertain.

The shows are more popular with the fans than with those living in the surrounding mansions. The Royal Parks Agency, which looks after the 5,500 acres stretching across London’s eight Royal Parks (and the prime minister’s garden), is mindful of not making long-term contractual commitments with promoters because other groups want to use the space as well.

Last year Live Nation had fewer shows than it would have liked because the season was shortened to make way for Le Grand Depart of Le Tour de France, and it’s likely the Olympic organisers will want to make some use of the space in 2012.

Stuart Galbraith’s departure from Live Nation and subsequent teaming with AEG led to speculation that, as he organised his former employer’s events in Hyde Park, he may want to continue running them through Kilimanjaro, the new venture he’s just formed with the L.A.-based entertainment giant.

It now looks as if the sort of standoff AEG and LN may be heading toward in Sweden – where the former wrestled away the booking of Hultsfred Festival and the latter looks to be responding by setting up its own event over the same weekend – is likely to be avoided for at least a couple of years.

Four months after sacking Galbraith allegedly for negotiating with AEG while still under contract, Live Nation secured the license for this year’s shows. But a one-year license looks to be as far as the Royal Parks Agency is likely to commit for now.

If the time comes when Hyde Park is needed for other special occasions through an entire summer, at least Leighton-Pope’s now got a brand that’s easier to move because the name doesn’t specify the venue.