Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Human Be-In Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, January 14th 1967
Festivals had been held for many years in the jazz world but the rock festival as we would come to know it had its seeds in the Trips Festivals put on by Fillmore impresario Bill Graham in January 1966 at the Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco. The house band for these events was the Grateful Dead and they were billed as an attempt to achieve the psychedelic experience without drugs, though acid, still legal at the time was available.
Big Brother And The holding Company played along with other local bands and the events were a big success. No surprise there; great bands trippy light shows and plenty of acid from Owsley’s lab is a recipe for success.
That spring of 1966, various writers, poets, musicians and the San Francisco Mime Troupe (such things always attract a mime troupe and jugglers too for some reason – why is juggling part of the alternative lifestyle?) formed the Artists’ Liberation Front. One of many things they did was to produce the Free Faire an outdoor, free version of the Trips Festivals with rock bands and poets all getting their groove on.
The most important of these was The Human Be-In( even hippies love a pun) Labeled as A Gathering of the Tribes it attracted 20,000 people from the sprawling hippy, alternative, drop-put biker, drug and free love community. The Dead played along with Quicksilver Messenger Service, Airplane and even Dizzy Gillespie. Allen Ginsburg the poet got up and chanted some hindu mantras – as you do – all in an attempt to usher in a new era and spirit.
Timothy Leary got up and asked the crowd to ‘turn on to the scene, tune in to what is happening and drop out of high school, college, grad school, junior executive, senior executive and follow me the hard way.’ Who could resist?
Local communal group The Diggers gave away fruit and vegetable stew, the air was filled with the smell of incense and dope and the sound of those little tinkling bells.
It sounds like a nice afternoon in the park really doesn’t it. It’s effect was to put on national display the burgeoning hippy scene (ooh groovy yeah baby) and as such as an inspiration to people not just in the rest of America but all across the western world. The counter-culture was cool and people wanted to be part of it. It’s easy to see why people thought it was the dawn of a new era and as naïve as it may have proved to be, we’ve never need an optimistic vision more than we do now, so there’s much inspiration to be taken from this little piece of rock n roll history.
Gary Duncan, guitarist, Quicksilver Messenger Service, ''By the time we got there, there were, like, 20,000 people. Word got out, and all the news crews arrived, and it became a social movement.''
Ray Manzarek, keyboardist, the Doors ''We were in San Francisco to play our first gig at the legendary Fillmore. The four of us all looked at each other and said, We're gonna change the world! Of course, we didn't, but that's another story.''
Sam Andrew, guitarist, Big Brother and the Holding Company, ''I've never been able to decide if we were there or not. I thought for years that we were in NYC having meetings. But every third gig someone will come up and say, 'I saw you at the Human Be-In!'''
Pamela Des Barres, self-proclaimed groupie and author, I'm With the Band,'' I went to that, and soon [the love-ins] started in Los Angeles. It was the most free-floating, exquisite experience every time. My girlfriends and I would make cupcakes and put flowers in everybody's hair. The communes were spreading, everybody living together — this was brand-new stuff!''
And lets face it, nothing says revolution like cup-cakes does it?
It was clear that such gatherings had a future in popular (counter) culture.
The Fantasy Faire And Magic Mountain Festival June 10&11 1967. Mount Tamalpais, Marin Count, California.
This is the first authentic rock festival held 6 months after the Be-In. In historical terms its overshadowed by the moterey Pop Festival which happened a week but it was nonetheless an historic event held on top of mount Tamalpais just over the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was produced and sponsored by Tom Rounds and his partner Ed Mitchell. Rounds was program director at KRFC, a Bay Area radio station.
It was a community project profits from which would do to the Economic Opportunity Council which operated in the black ghetto area of Hunter’s Point.
It was two events at once – an arts and craftfaire for local arty types and artisans. The music happened in an adjoining amphitheatre.
These are the bands that played
Saturday, June 10
The Fifth Dimension
Jim Kweskin Jug Band
13th Floor Elevators
Spanky and Our Gang
Blackburn & Snow
Every Mother's Son
Kaleidoscope (US band)
The Chocolate Watchband
The Mojo Men
Sunday, June 11
The Grass Roots
The Loading Zone
Every Mother's Son
Steve Miller Blues Band
Country Joe & the Fish
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band
The Sons of Champlin
The Lamp of Childhood
The Mystery Trend
New Salvation Army Band
It’s thought this was actually the Doors first big show as Light My Fire was burning up the charts. And it looks like an incredible bill on both days. Doesn’t it? And all for just $2.00!!
There was an attempt to appeal to local rock fans and top 40 pop-pickers as well. By all accounts it was a groovy day out in the sun for everyone. It passed off peacefully and all litter was picked up and binned at the end of it all, leaving the lovely Mount Tamalpais as they found it. This was a trend sadly not followed in the next years.
Both these events set the precedents for what could be achieved which Monterey, a week later set into legend.
Next week we move on to look at some of the early UK festivals where it inevtiably rained a lot.
GILLAN: TALISMAN-IN THE STUDIO & ON STAGE 2CD
I’ve got three copies of this cracking 2CD set. It comprises some of the most interesting and interesting Gillan’s studio work on CD 1 and CD2 is all live classics.
Gillan got caught up in the NWOBHM movement in the early 80s but their studio work was always a bit more sophisticated than that especially as The Ian Gillan Band before they evolved into Gillan.. Live they were an awesome unit and here you get live tracks from 77-82.
For a vocalist of his stature in rock n roll,. His solo work is massively under-rated these days. This is a great chance to get into it.
DEEP PURPLE AND FRIENDS 2CD
Another 2CD set and this one draws together music from across the entire Purple family including things from Butterfly Ball, Nick Simper’s Fandango, Warhorse, Gillan & Glover, Dio and others. It’s a big family tree is Deep Purple so you get some diverse and mighty fine rocking from all concerned. Especially good to hear Love Is All from the Butterfly Ball album and also to hear the Morse Deep Purple doing Take It Off The Top – the Dixie Dregs classic.
If you love your Purple, you’ll want this collection. I’ve got 3 copies to give away.
DIRE STRAITS: ON EVERY STREET & COMMUNIQUE
The bands last and second albums are surprisingly different. Communique is lean and crisp and nimble, owing much to JJ Cale I’ve always thought. Knopfler was already an unlikely guitar hero after Sultans Of Swing hit the charts and he delivers plenty tasty lickage here. 12 years later On Every Street was to be their last album. The sound is fatter and warmer and the tone perhaps more melancholic. For me, Knopfler has got better and better as both a song writer and a guitarist as he’s got older. His solo work is all good listening, especially The Rag Pickers Dream.
I’ve got 3 pairs of these Dire Straits albums to give away.
As usual just e-mail me with your address to be entered into the draw for these freebies. email@example.com and put either Gillan, Purple or Dire Straits in the subject box or any combination of the three.
We’re now getting up to 1,000 people most weeks entering the draws for freebies – so if you’ve not won anything yet don’t get discouraged – every week I promise there’ll be more great free stuff, so keep on trying.
All previous draws have been made so there’s no point in entering for any of the other freebies below! I just keep old newsletters on the page for a while so that newcomers can catch up with what we’ve been doing.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Mar-y-Sol: April 1-3 1972, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
In 1972 promoter Alex Cooley, who had two year previously produced the second Atlanta Pop Festival, came up with a novel idea. With local authorities, the cops and just about everyone else making it harder and harder to put festivals on, why not go somewhere where the man wasn't going to bum you out, like, dude. Somewhere where legal hassles would be minimal. Hey, how about Puerto Rico? Cool idea, yeah? Well, actually no.
The venue Veja Baja is on the north coast of the island on 420 acres of countryside righ by sandy beaches. Cooley rented it for the Mar-Y-Sol - (sea and sun) festival.
Special package deals were put on from major East Coast cities. But at $152 for a round trip from New York, it wasn't cheap for rock fans used to gatecrashing for free. Cooley expected 25-50,000 to make the effort and spend the money and in the final reckoning just 30,000 turned up.
The site was constructed by commune The Family in between bouts of being groovy and doubtless smoking the good stuff. It was a kind of paradise; sun, sea, surf and rock n roll.
Natually, things, as they tend to do, went wrong.
A week beforehand the local court slapped an injunction on the festival because of the possible sale and consumption of drugs. No shit Batman! Well they got that right. Some fans decided not to make the jounrey on hearing this news. Others just travelled anyway figuring hey, its a festival, things always go screwy.
It was as late as Thursday when the injunction was over-turned just as people were arriving for the Friday show.
Free buses were set to take people from the airport to the site, except none turned up. The bus people thinking the gig was called off, didn't show. Ooops. So fleets of cabs were dispatched to pick people up instead. This took a long time because it was a 3 hour journey so the Friday night music was delayed while people arrived.
It was hot and wells drilled for water began to run dry. Locals started selling water for up to a buck a glass. Bad vibes man.
Then the locals found that people were showering in an open area and there were like chicks man, in the nude dude, like wow, so there was some leering, jeering and whistling. relations between the rock n roll festivalers and the locals deteriorated.
No one was surprised when a some Puerto Ricans got wasted on drink and tore down a couple of American flags putting up their own flag instead. Fights broke out. Things were uncool.
A 16 year old coke dealer from a neighbouring island was murdered with a machette in the night presumably by local dealers. A couple of others drowned while swimming and a third was killed when he hit his head on a rock. The grim reaper, it seemed, also liked to rock.
Apparantly there was a marijuana shortage and so people got loaded on tranq's, barbs and psychedelics Pot was selling for $50 an ounce instead of the more usual 15-20. But more suffered from sunburn than bad drugs. Presumably, if more widely stoned, the vibe would have been much more mellow. It's hard to get involved in a fight when you're lying on your back wondering what the colour blue tastes like.
Music finally got going on Saturday afternoon and things chilled out a bit. Nitzinger, Brownsville Station and folkie Jonathan Edwards all did good sets but it was BB King and then the Allmans who really put some energy into proceedings. Despite the death of Duane they were still the kings of festival, playing for hours, right through till dawn.
Sunday opened with jazzy Dave Brubeck and the excellent Herbie Mann - check out his Notes From The Underground album on which Duane Allman plays. it's marvelous. Savoy Brown did their boogie and ELP did their neo-lcassical noodlings. At some point Mahavishnu Orchestra did a set. Alice Cooper played till the sun rose.
However, reports suggest that of the 30,000 there, many didn't see the music for fear of having tents and such ripped off and so hung around the camp area.
As Friday had been a write-off, the music continued into Monday with J. Geils Band, Cactus, Dr John, Bloodrock and The Faces amongst others. Several bands including Black Sabbath were booked to play but didn't perform. for a full list of the bands that did and didn't play go here
People began to drift away though as rumours of there no transporation to get back to the airport circulated. This was actually true. Bummer. Bad vibes pervaded. Get me off this island seemed to be the general feeling. But with no way of getting to the airport many started walking hoping to thumb a ride - rmeember when people did that witohut worrying they'd be picked up by a homicidal maniac?
And so a refugee line of hairy people trudged up the highway, some paying for rides from locals - $20 was the going rate. Everyone felt very bitter at this turn of events but it wasn't over yet.
The airpot was in chaos with planes over booked with other tourists returning to America. The Red Cross even turned up and tents were erected to accomodate all the people waiting to leave.
It took some 3 days to get a flight out. Cooley reckoned he'd lost $200,000. The Puerto Rican government wanted the promoters for tax evasion but didn't bother to try and extradite them.
It was the only festival to be held there. Everyone had had their fingers and everything else burned.
There's a double album on Atco of the event - details here expect to pay around $20(£10) for it. It spent 7 wqeeks on the Billboard chart peaking at 186. Best track? The Allman's 'Aint Wastin' Time No More' and Mahavishnu Orchestra's 'Noonward Race' i'm not sure if it got a Uk release. It's not in the Record Collector bible so I'm guessing it didn't.
Cactus released some tracks recorded live at the fest on 'Ot 'n' Sweaty. and in 2006 Greg Lake found a 16 track recording of ELP's performance which is on From The Beginning on disc 5. I think J. Geils and a couple of others also released their sets.
This web site has loads of pictures and more info about it all. Very good it is too.
Next week: back to where it all started; The Human Be-In and the Fantasy Faire and Magic Mountain Music Festival 1967. Far out, cosmic and solid maaaaan. Oh yes. Bring your chakras baby.
This Weeks Free Stuff: Genesis.
This week is a Genesis special.
DVDS: We've got 3 pairs of these to give away.
The Genesis Songbook
This is a cracking and comprehensive 100 minutes with loads of interveiws with everyone who has been in the band all put together with archive footage. Songs include The Musical Box, Supper's Ready, The Lamb Lies Down, Turn It On Again and loads more. I've got 3 to give away.
Genesis: Total Rock Review
This is a cheapo 'history of' with some old clips linked together by interviews with journalists and DJ's. However, if you're a Genesis fan you need this DVD for the live tracks - performed for a TV show around '73. They are absolutely remarkable. You get The Fountain Of Salmacis, Twilight, Musical Box, Return Of The Giant Hogwood.
Everyone is on top form but for me its Phil Collins who steals the show with an incredible performance on drums. And the music is incredible - a unique sounding hybrid of pastoral folk and progressive rock; so creative and wonderfully original. So feel free to ignore the documentary, go straight to the Live Tracks.
Genesis Live: Volume One: The Shorts & Volume Two: The Longs CDs
These 1993 live CDs do exactly what they say on the cover. You win both and I'll throw in a copy of Phil Collin's No Jacket Required as well because I feel a bit sorry for Phil really. One of the best drummers ever to come out of this country who went on to do a great job singing and fronting the band, who then has a massive solo career in parallel, played in brilliant jazz-rock band Brand X and yet somehow in his native lands is somehow a by-word for mediocrity. I just don't understand really. Ok, you don't have to like all his music but hey, he's achieved so much, he deserves our respect.
To win just email me firstname.lastname@example.org and put Genesis CDs and/or Genesis DVDs in the subject line.
Last weeks Cream and Yardbirds draws have been made and winners will be contacted. It was our most popular yet with other 1,100 entering! Sorry you can't all win!. Keep on trying. Remember, I give away free CDs and DVDs every single week so do come back every week to find out what's new.
Monday, July 14, 2008
AC/DC’s Angus Young in full head banging mode, and Dickey Betts, the Allman Brothers and Great Southern’s legendary guitarist. I’ve been really pleased with the response to these, especially to Dickey Betts who I rate as a top player and much under-rated in the UK anyway. He plays with great melody and lyricism and has always had killer tone. Outside of his work with the Allman Brothers, his band Great Southern are well worth getting into if you’ve not heard them yet. The band are currently on tour in Europe and their latest album Lets Get Together is as good an album as you’ll hear in 2008. You always get at least one great long instrumental on his records going right back to In Memory Of Elizabeth Reid of course.
History Of Festivals: Part 2
The history of festivals is littered with disasters with the army being called in, promoters losing a ton of money, artists not being paid, bad acid and crazy Hells Angels acting as security.
But it wasn’t always like that. This week I’m looking at two festivals held in July 1969 that were both very successful in terms of good vibes, good music and good money.
The Atlanta Pop Festival was held on the 4th and 5th of July 1969.and pulled in 140,000 people to the Atlanta International Speedway in Georgia.
Despite riots at recent festivals in Denver and Northridge, California the local authorities gave the event their blessing. Local newspaper The Atlanta Journal ran an editorial praising the variety and quality of performers and saying ‘a full music diet is good for a city. Pop music is important and expressive of our times.’
How enlightened and, like, groovy man.
And as if by instant karma, the whole festival ran smoothly and everyone had a great time.
The Friday night was choc full of top notch blues and jazz bands including CCR, Canned Heat, Johnny Winter, The Butterfield Blues Band, Dave Brubeck, Booker T and Blood Sweat and Tear. The Saturday gig included Led Zeppelin, Janis, Spirit, Joe Cocker, Chicago, Grand Funk Railroad, The Staple Singers and Tommy James and Shondells.
The festival was organized by Alex Cooley who later put on the excellent Texas International Pop Festival later that year in Dallas.
The thermometer tipped over 100 degrees and the local fire department hosed the gathered rockers down with fire hoses. But unlike at other festivals where high temperatures seemed to go hand in hand with violence or demands for a free festival, no such trouble happened in Atlanta.
Photos of the event show a massive, shade-free venue with a tiny stage set in the middle of it. It’s about as far away from the giant stages and sound systems we see today.
The program for the event interestingly dealt openly with drugs, stating,
“Atlanta is a generally cool town, with relatively few dope busts. Almost all psychedelics are available with the exception of grass. Prices on lids range from $15 to $20, tabs of acid from $4 to $6, hash at $10 a gram. We have music and be-in's in the park every weekend."
I don’t know how that compares ot prices today – has their been inflation or deflation in drug prices? The latter I’m assuming.
Alex Cooley made $12,000 from the event. The fact that it had passed off so successfully was credited with helping the counter-culture flourish in the area.
There are a few blogs of people’s personal experiences at the festival and most seem to confirm how excellent most of the band were, especially Led Zeppelin who where sweeping across America at the time, taking the country by storm.
How much anyone could have heard with the primitive PA systems is open to debate but this was certainly one festival fondly remembered by those who attended.
The Seattle Pop Festival was held 25-27 July at Gold Creek Park, Woodenville, Washintgon. It was $6 for one days, $15 for all three. Bands playing included Chuck Berry, Black Snake, Tim Buckley, The Byrds, Chicago Transit Authority, Albert Collins, Crome Syrcus, Bo Diddley, the Doors, Floating Bridge, The Flock, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Guess Who, It's A Beautiful Day, Led Zeppelin, Charles Loyd, Lonnie Mack, Lee Michaels, Rockin Fu, Murray Roman, Santana, Spirit, Ten Years After, Ike & Tina Turner, Vanilla Fudge, and the Youngbloods. Not bad eh!
70,000 attended and it was promoted by Boyd Grafmyre who had previously worked with the New American Community at successful and highly groovy not-for-profit Sky River Festival in ’68 also in Washington.
This was one of the first not to use any regular or off-duty Police officers as security. He brought in 150 youth volunteers from Seattle’s Head Start programme. They were ticket collectors, maintenance and security.
The whole weekend ran so smnoothly that Grafmyre grossed over $300,000 in return for $200,000 spent. This huge profitable successp roved that if you did it right festivals could make you a lot of money.
Chick Dawsey who owned Gold Greek , was surprised by the fans who turned up,
“I disagree with their movement 100 per cent," said Dawsey, "but some of us adults better get the hell closer to them. They respond very much to kindness, we older people better learn this -- If they need a drink of water we, the establishment, should go out and offer it."
Hey that sounds like a straight due getting with the programme to me. Cool.
Of the bands that played, naturally Zep were brilliant as the soundboard bootleg that has been available for decades proves. There’s a great contemporary account of The Doors set here www.encorecomm.com/story4.htm and Santana, who were to be a big hit at Woodstock the following month, were also widely acclaimed.
While there were problems with sanitary issues and water supplies, this was still a well run, peaceful, very cool festival. Not bad for $15 certainly.
This Weeks Free Stuff
I’m pleased to say that a big pile of new freebies is now sitting on my shelf and boy you are in for some treats in coming weeks. And we kick off with some Cream.
DVD CREAM: The Fully Authorized Story
This is an abolsute gem. You get a 200 minute documentary of the band and an additional CD with Swedish radio sessions from 1967 ajnd 5 previously unreleased audio tracks from 1967.
There is stacks of archive footage, interviews with all concerned, clips, and 6 full length live tracks.
Cream remains one of my favourite bands of all time – the ultimate power trio.
This is a must have DVD and I’ve got 6 copies to give away.
CD CREAM DISRAELI GEARS
If you can get an original vinyl copy of this and it’ll cost you up to £30, then you really should because the artwork is so good. However, the music is equally stunning. Kicking off with Strange Brew and Sunshine of your Love and containing other classic like SWLABR and my favourite Tales Of Brave Ulysses – what a vocal on that on – Jack Bruce is so under-rated as a singer, possibly because he’s such a staggeringly great bass player.
It’s an incredible 41 year old now but it sounds fresh, challenging and blows the bins right out on your speakers.
I’ve got 4 copies of this historic, legendary album to give away.
Book: Cream: How Eric Clapton Took the World by Storm by Dave Thompson.
320 pages of history which takes you back to the mid 60s and tells the whole story about how the band came together, why they were so revolutionary and how in a short space of time – less than three years – it all fell apart.
CD Five Live Yardbirds
The original vinyl album is highly collectible and it really is the finest expression of the early 60s British R & B boom. The band’s power is undeniable. Their Smokestack Lightin’ is monumental and Five Long Years is Clapton at his best. Also on this CD you get all the 7” singles featuring Eric, all of which stand out as classics.
Wild raw and recorded live at The Marquee in 1963, this is historic music.
I’ve got 3 copies to give away.
To win any of these just send me an email email@example.com with Cream DVD, Cream CD, Cream book, or Yardbirds or any combination of those into the subject line along with your address. I’ll pick the winners next week. Good luck!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Last week Chris Murgatroyd from Hebden Bridge won over £300 worth of CD's, DVD's and books. This week's free stuff is a bit more modest. I'm just waiting on some new stock of CDs and DVDs arriving but I've got some tasty stuff for you nonetheless.
White Stripes - Elephant
History will record Jack White as one of the 21st century's finest song writers and musicians. Not many people can claim to have written a riff that has been taken up by football crowds worldwide - but that's what he's done on 7 Nation Army. There's a low-fi, organic and really powerful spirit about this album.
Kings Of Leon - Youth & Young Manhood
Hard to catahorize and all the better for that. This is a kinda modern southern rock/boogie by the Kings and features the excellent single Molly's Chambers.
Joe Satriani - Is There Love In Space?
I've been buying Satch albums since Surfing With The Alien 20 years ago and this one is a cracker. It has a Flying In A Blue Dream feel about it and of course Joe's tone and melody are impeccable. The only trouble with Satch records is they make you feel like giving up the guitar cos you'll never anywhere near as good as he is!
Metallica - And Justice For All
Ground-breaking metal from 1988. For man this is the 'real' Metallica's peak. So metal it hurts.
The Clash - From Here to Eternity
The definitive best of from Complete Control to Should I Stay Or Should I Go. More straight up and down rock n roll than we realised at the time, this now sounds like classic rock; which is a very good thing indeed.
I've got two of each of these to give away so just emaikl me firstname.lastname@example.org with either Satch; Clash; Kings of Leon; White Stripes or Metallica in the subject box or any combo of those, and i'll put you in the draw to win them next week.
1970: 2 Festivals: A Brief History.
As festival season gets into full swing, I thought it would be interesting to look back on two festivals from 1970 when the whole idea of a festival was still considered a radical, some feared, revolutionary idea. 200,000 hairy people in a field listening to rock n roll was genuinely a cause of concern for some of the authorities.
Their fears were misplaced. Few were plotting social revolution, most just wanted to get laid and listen to some good music and smoke a bit of dope. But these were changing times and no one knew were rock n roll was heading. One thing was for sure, some of the best bands of the era played.
So lets go back 38 years to July 1970.
The Atlanta Pop Festival was held at Middle Georgia Raceway, Byron, Georgia 3rd July to 5th July 1970. So it wasn't Atlanta then. It was a scorching hot weekend with tempratures breaking 100 degrees. The promotoers thought they could attract 100,000 people and advertised the festival on FM radio
stations. Tickets cost $35 which was considered high at the time and because of that, they sold just 10,000 in advance.
There as also a feeling in the air that music should be free - and so people without tickets began to turn up and chanting 'free festival' I've tried this out side of pubs but chanting free beer, beer should be free,' for osme reason just never works. A free stage had been put up outside the racetrack. Leaflets were printed up which said 'If we kill the festival, we play right into establishment hands. We destroy our own scene.'
Sounds like a reasonable argument doesn't it? By all accounts the repsonse was ' music is for the people, power to the people, open the gates' etc etc' The promoters were naturally concerned with this turn of events and announced a free day on the Monday July 6 for those who couldn't afford the tickets.
But this did nothing to help. Altamont had happened in December '69 and everyone knew how that had badly turned out. So the promoters, caved and made it a free festival on the Friday night at 9.30pm. Proof that collective action, whether in the right or in the wrong can be effective.
The politics may have been tricky but the music was brilliant. Friday night featured the Allman Brothers, Georgia's house band. They played a stunning set which was
available for decades as a bootleg but has since been released as a double CD.
Of course it rained - a thunder storm broke during the Allman's set but they played on until being fried by the electricity forced them off promising to return later - which
they did at sunrise on the Sunday, playing for four, yes four hours!
Saturday dawned even hotter People passed out, queued for water and salt tablets and generally blistered in the heat. Add in the traditional bad acid and STP laced with
stychnine and by Saturday night medical staff called in army helicopters to ship out the sick, the crazy and the sun-stroked. The place looked like a rock n roll version of M.A.S.H. Yay!
Local officials were horrified by the drug use of course - this was all part of this new tradition - also naturally, to assuage their worries, the promoters hired some doctors
to talk about drugs and their dangers and Bhajan andIndian yogi did a talk on 'a drug free experience of music and love' which was probably very groovy while you were
trippig out of your brains.
Richie Havens claims to have seen five or six UFO's during the yogi's speech, butt hen again, intoxicants had probably been taken.As Saturday was the 4th July, Hendrix played The Star Spangled Banner. There is film of his set. Check out a brilliant Stone Free
Oher bands to play were BB King - a festival regular, Mountain, Procul Harem, Jethro Tull,Rare Earth, The Chambers Brothers, Lee Michaels, Cactus, Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, Poco and a brilliant Johnny Winter who played it's a killer set. Listen to him play Mean Mistreater here which is lifted from the vinyl album of the festival
The show was documented on a triple live album which paired it up with the same years' Isle Of Wight Festival. You'll pay at leat £50 for a copy now. Atlanta is side one.
This was the last time a festival was allowed on this scale in Georgia. Legislation was passed to effectively prevent mass gatherings
Just a few days later on New York's Randall's Island an event billed as 'New York's Pop Festival was held. It was deliberately not called a festival which by now just put all the 'straight' people's backs up. So this was to be different. for a start it was to be held in Downing Stadium and there'd be no camping. It was billed as a series of concerts rather than a 'traditional' festival.
However, three weeks before the shows, groups representing the Black Panthers, yippies and Free Rangers - self styled as the RYP/OFF Collective, presented the promoters
with a list of frankly bonkers dmeands. They wanted 10 hand picked community bands to play at $5,000 per group plus expenses. 10,000 free tickets for them to hand out, bail funds for anyone arrested at the festival, and a portion of the profts from any film of the gigs.
In return for compliance the RYP/Off Collective would promote the festival in their communities and would provde 'troops' to act as security and PR men!!If the promoters didn't agree, there would be violence and they would call it a free peoples event' and no one would buy tickets.
The promoters, doubtless feeling a bit sick, said they'd negotiate. This in turn got the local Young Lords - who were to the Spansih communtiy(the local community to Randalls Island) what the Black Panthers were to the black community - a bit cross. They wanted a piece of the action. The RYP/Off people agreed and some of their demands were agreed to by promoters.
By the time people arrived for the Friday show, 8,000 out of the 25,000 did not pay as so-called security looked the other way. Hendrix, Grand Fuck Railroad, John Sebastian, Steppenwolf and Jethro Tull (you can trade a recording of their set here) all played on Friday - a really strong line-up. There are recordings of Hendrixs' set out there. There's even amateur footage of a sizzling version of Ezy Rider and Foxy Lady
By Saturday, the bands began realising they'd probably not be getting paid since there was so much gate-crashing, so managers wanted paying up front before bands took the stage.
Ravi Shanker refused to go on, Delaney & bonnie, Miles Davis, Richie Havens and Tony Williams' Lifetime didn;t even bother turning up.Gate-crashing continued with the collective asking people to give them money and get in 'free'By Sunday the promoters gave up and called in a free festival but it had been free since the start in reality. 30,000 had gate-crashed it.
Ten Years After and Cactus played without being paid as did the New York Rock N Roll Ensemble. Dr John, Mountain and Little Richard follwed suit but most bands just didn't
turn up at all much to the punters disgust. A reporter asked promoter Don Friedman what he thought about it all, 'The festival spirit is dead, and it happened quickly. I don't know the reason's why. Greed on everyone's part, I guess. The love-pace thing of Woodstock is out. Anarchy. Complete and total anarchy. That's what's replaced it'.
It's a sad and quietly profound statement. It was a financial disater; no money was paid to the collective, the bail fund collapsed, most performers were not paid. A move called The Day The Music Died did come out in 1977 and featured some of the bands performances. and highlighted all the problems that were encountered. Read more here
The conflicting demands of all the different groups, the bands, the fans and everybody else just relfected the wider disparities between a disintigrating counter-culture movement in 1970 and a bourgoeing rock n roll industry. But above it all there was some blisteringly good music played at both these festivals and atthe end of the day, the music is really what matters. Then and now.
I'll be covering another couple of festivals next week. I got loads of info for this from Robert Santelli's Aquarius Rising book, which is probably out of print now but if you can get a copy it is really a definitive history of the festival era in the 60s and 70s.