As financially strapped New York sought revenue to renovate or maintain the decaying Central Park, the Parks Commissioner came up with the idea of raising money through merchandising and television rights to open-air concerts. The City teamed up with HBO and selected a duo from Kew Gardens to play to the hometown crowd in only their third appearance together since their breakup in 1970.
The concert took place on Saturday, September 19, 1981, on the Great Lawn, the central open space of Central Park. The first spectators, many carrying chairs or picnic blankets, arrived at daybreak to secure a good spot. The Parks Department originally expected about 300,000 attendees. Although rain fell throughout the day and continued until the start of the concert,an estimated 500,000 audience members made this the seventh-largest concert attendance on record in the United States.