Category Archives: Music of the 60s

Vancouver Pop Festival

Vancouver Pop Festival

Paradise Valley Resort
August 22, 23, and 24 1969

Vancouver Pop Festival

Each year as I post a short piece about the many rock festivals that took place in 1969, I seem to find a few more. On my latest list, the Vancouver Pop Festival is number 27.

Paradise Valley Resort (now the Cheakamus Centre) is about 40 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Promoter Bert Gartner had planned on selling 30,000 tickets for each of the three days. He sold 15,000. The MC was well-known radio DJ Terry Mulligan. Bikers showed up and "did" security. 

There is some dispute as to whether the Grateful Dead played the event. Some sites state they did; others dispute it. Unusual is that there is no recording of their performance, something that almost always occurred.

The Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger site comes down on the "did not play" side with the following information:
Here are the listings from the great San Francisco Express Times, vol. 2 no. 32 (August 21, 1969), p. unk. There’s lots of interest here, of course. But I have circled the item that interests me most greatly. It’s under the listings for Sunday, August 24, 1969, and reads as follows:
Hippy Hill: Trans-Cultural Rip-Offs, Inc. presents Steve Gaskin & the Grateful Dead in concert with Shiva Fellowship. Bring dope (the sacrament) and good vibes. noon. free.
“Hippy Hill”, a.k.a. Hippie Hill, is apparently at the far eastern edge of Golden Gate Park, close to the entry from the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. It seems like a perfectly good place to go share a sacrament and a free show by the Dead.
I show the listing referred to below. It is too small to read, but if you click on it you will likely be able to see a larger view:

Vancouver Pop Festival

In 2011, MC Terry Mulligan wrote his biography, My Life...So Far. In it he included his memories about the event. He felt it had held much promise, but failed to deliver.  He also said that the Grateful Dead did not play. Among the several paragraphs about the event, Mulligan includes...
I had my own experience with an unruly music event when…I introduced the acts at the Vancouver Pop Festival–three days of rain, cold and miserable hippies….
Nobody was ready for the pissing rain and cold. People were in sleeping bags on the wet ground in a mountain valley that was mostly shielded from the sun.
I was the guy who promoted the event on the air, so many people thought it was my event. Every half-hour there was somebody loud and angry in my face, spittle flying. “My old lady just got robbed.” “These are bogus tickets.” “You took my money, man!”
Vancouver Pop Festival
Yet like any event, perspectives change with who one was and where one sat. Vancouver Sun reporter Eileen Johnson wrote:
…the music was excellent, the sound system worked fine, the weather couldn’t have been been better, the light show was a delight, and there were so few people…no one could have suffered from overcrowding
And yet another statement from the same article by attendee David Chesney,
It was like every outlaw motorcycle gang in the Pacific Northwest came to this thing….The bizarre part was when Little Richard came on. All these bikers right up front. …Little Richard was mincing it up big time, and questioning their sexuality while flaunting his.

Vancouver Pop Festival, Vancouver Pop Festival, Vancouver Pop Festival, Vancouver Pop Festival,

Bullfrog 3 Festival

Bullfrog 3 Festival

August 22, 23, and 24
Pelletier Farm, St Helens, Oregon

Bullfrog 3 Festival

The Bullfrog 2 Festival

It is not a typo that the heading for this blog piece is "The Bullfrog 3 Festival" and the poster pictured above refers to "The Bullfrog 2 Festival." #3 was actually the impromptu festival that quickly happened when, facing local opposition, the Bullfrog 2 Festival fell apart a few days before August 21.

It is important to keep in mind the often angry and hatefully divisive opposition there was toward young people who wanted to get together and listen to what had come to be called "underground music." The residents of Wallkill, NY had successfully evicted Woodstock Ventures from their original site, forcing the festival to quickly find another venue. Luckily for 400,000 + people, Max Yasgur said "Yes."

While festivals of this time did sometimes have some people who threw off their clothes, some who used illegal drugs, some who sold illegal drugs, and some whose view of the Establishment was simply anti-Establishment, most young people were simply working part-time for the summer, working full-time since high school, home on military leave, or about to be drafted.

No chaperones!

Scott Laird wrote of the days before: According to original articles published in The Sentinel-Mist Chronicle newspaper in the week prior, Bullfrog II was booked by Walsh and Moquin Productions at the Columbia County Fairgrounds in St. Helens and was scheduled to include national acts Taj Mahal and the Grateful Dead along with local performers “Portland Zoo,” “Sabatic Goat,” “The Weeds,” “New Colony,” and several others.  The plan called for twenty-four hour a day entertainment for two days.   Advertising for the concert also called for “petite mall lites, space balloons, rides and fireworks.” Tickets were $6 in advance, $7 at the gate.

The day before the scheduled start of the event, Circuit Judge Glen Heiber ruled that the facilities at the fairgrounds were not adequate for overnight camping and sanitation and adequate traffic control was not available. He had agreed with Columbia County District Attorney Lou L. Williams who contested the original contract and stated a fear of  “…narcotics, intercourse in the open, and parking on private property, as well as a severe traffic congestion problem.”  

Williams had also contended that “…sanitation, parking, and the lack of sufficient law enforcement personnel to cope with a large influx of people, estimated to be about 6,000.” 

And no chaperoning arrangements!
Bullfrog 2 Festival
On August 20, the day of the cancellation and the day before the festival's scheduled start, young fans gradually gathered in front of the St Helens's Courthouse. Local people gawked at the peaceful gathering.

On August 21, the day the Bullfrog 2 Festival was slated to begin, the peaceful gathering continued and that afternoon, the Portland Zoo, a local band on the festival schedule, performed. All remained peaceful. Gawking continued. Business owners enjoyed the extra commerce the crowds brought. Fans cleaned up.

Mrs. Melvina Pelletier

Again from Scott Laird: Around 9:00 PM on Thursday evening Mrs. Melvina Pelletier of St. Helens offered her property in the Happy Hollow area of Yankton for the festival. Details of the newly created Bullfrog III were  worked out on Friday. Original promoters Walsh and Moquin had already pulled out of the event, and Bob Wehe of Faucet International Promotions took over as promoter, agreeing to provide sanitation and security.
Bullfrog 3 Festival
August 22 – 24, 1969
The truncated festival finally got underway on Friday night and continued until Sunday morning.  Cars crowded the roads, but many reported that local residents were among the jam trying to see these drugged kids with long hair, shoe-less, bra-less, or even (heaven forbid!) topless.

Fortunately for the festival, the Dead headlined and fortunately for us, the set is available on a soundboard recording (SBD) or a matrix if you prefer a little more audience in the mix. And this wasn't their first concert since their August 16th Woodstock performance. They'd already played in Seattle on August 20 and would play in on August 24...but where? Was it the Vancouver Pop Festival or in San Francisco?

There isn't much more available about the actual music at Mrs Pelletier's place, but we should thank her. A west coast Max Yasgur.

Bullfrog 3 Festival, Bullfrog 3 Festival, Bullfrog 3 Festival, Bullfrog 3 Festival, Bullfrog 3 Festival, 

August 11 Music et al

August 11 Music et al

Neil Sedaka

August 11 – 24, 1962: “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” by Neil Sedaka #1 Billboard Hot 100. Sedaka co-worte the song with Howard Greenfield. Sedaka recorded this song twice, in 1962 and 1975, in two vastly different arrangements. The song is his signature song.

Jivin' Gene and the Jokers had recorded a song by the same name in 1959.
Both of Neil's versions... 

The Beatles

A Hard Day’s Night
August 11, 1964: Beatles first film, A Hard Day’s Night, opened in America and was a huge hit.  Shown in 500 theaters across U.S., it earns $1.3 million in the first week.  Some 15,000 prints made for world-wide distribution – historical first in film industry. (see Aug 12)
 
Help!
August 11, 1965, The Beatles: the Beatles' movie "Help!" premiered in the New York. (see Aug 13) Here is a revised (and more ominous) trailer for the film. Enjoy.
 
August 11 Music et al

The [bumpy] Road to Bethel

Monday 11 August 1969
  • John Roberts packed for trip to Bethel. As of that afternoon’s accounting, Woodstock Ventures had posted receipt of advance ticket sales totaling $1,107,936. Woodstock Ventures (John Roberts) had spent nearly twice that sum.
  • telephone poles bolted into place around stage, but it is discovered that many are split or rotten.
  • Woodstock Ventures came to agreement with William Filippini for use of Filippini Pond for $5,000. (see August 12)

August 11 Music et al,  August 11 Music et al,  August 11 Music et al,