Big Rock Pow Wow

Big Rock Pow Wow

Big Rock Pow Wow

Seminole Indian Village, West Hollywood, FL

23 – 25 May 1969

1969’s 8th Rock Festival

Aum…”Mississippi Mud”

Big Rock Pow Wow

Big Rock Pow Wow

1969 Festival #8

The third of the 1969 Memorial Day weekend festivals is perhaps the most interesting. It wasn’t filmed so pictures of the event are hard to come by. It wasn’t recorded either. Well, mostly.

Fortunately for us, the Grateful Dead played the Big Rock Pow Wow that weekend (twice) and, as they typically did, recorded themselves. Today that recording (and an excellent one it is!) is available as Road Trips Vol 4 #1. Both shows are available to listen to via the Internet Archive: Friday 23 May 1969 & Saturday 24 May 1969.  The legendary Owsley “Bear” Stanley recorded them.

Big Rock Pow Wow

Big Rock Pow Wow

Johnny Winter

The festival attracted only a few thousand people, but the line-up was a solid one. One of the performers I want to point out is Johnny Winter. The reason I want to do that is because as we move through the calendar and I blog about the many other 1969 festivals, one should note how many times you see his name. He is all over the place. Actually at the end of April, Woodstock Ventures had already signed him ($7,500) to play at their upcoming middle-of-nowhere festival in Wallkill, NY.

Big Rock Pow Wow

Three days w repeats

Sweetwater would also appear at that august event.

Here is advertised lineup by day:

Big Rock Pow Wow

Arts included

According to the Grateful Dead site: “There was Seminole dancing and chants onstage and off—and the adjacent restored Seminole village was bustling with native crafts-makers (and sellers), as well as various hippie merchants peddling their wares. Because the festival took place on Seminole land, there were no police or conventional security. Timothy Leary’s “people” were somehow involved in putting on the event and Dr. Tim wandered the grounds and occasionally spoke from the stage. “Orange sunshine” acid was everywhere.” 

Big Rock Pow Wow


The band Aum [members were Wayne Ceballos (guitar, piano), Kenneth Newell (bass), and Larry Martin (drums).] from San Francisco played also.

Aum is another of those good bands that came and went but had the eye of people like Bill Graham who put Aum on his record label for their second (and last) album. It is their “Mississippi Mud” you hear a piece of at the top of today’s entry.

Big Rock Pow Wow

Next 1969 festival: First Annual Detroit Rock & Roll Revival

10 thoughts on “Big Rock Pow Wow”

  1. I was at this Seminole Indian Rock Festival. I was 15 and was a first date with a girl I had met at Palmetto High School in South Miami. Young bloods were popular as well as NRBQ for the locals. I absolutely remember that the announcer said. ” we have a new guy who wants to play tonight to get his name spread around so we’re going to give him so time to play for you so….here he is, his name is Johnny Winter” Needless to say his performance was spectacular and the rest is history. Today I am 68 and have such vivid memories of the days..some of the greatest of my life. Including seeing the Doors at Dinner Key , Jefferson Airplane at Pirates World and Ten Years After at Thee Image

    1. Yes it was a great concert. Timothy Leary was there just waking around. Dead put acid in the orange juice
      The one thing that was crazy is The Seminoles drank the oj too . There was a camping area & that night they ran around shooting guns. Happy I lived I Lauderdale, see yalll tomorrow

  2. Thinking further down the line…Friday night August 15 1969 we had tickets to see Led Zeppelin at the Asbury Park Convention Hall. I believe we paid $4.50 for these seats at the small venue but my friends were constantly saying we should just head to New York to go to this Woodstock festival. I remember telling them…hell, we paid $4.50 for these tickets…I’m not just throwing them in the garbage. Besides, I heard that the New York Thruway was backed up for 15 miles even trying to get close to the place. Why not lets see the show…we were already 25 feet from the Asbury Park Convention Hall front door at the time.

    So, we went. As the announcers shouts…” here they are LED ZEPPELIN, the girl in the seat behind me vomits and we could almost hear the trail of puke dancing down the sloped floor of the aisle. Great show again.. Jimmy Page played all bent over all night as if he was starring only at the floor below him, guitar slung low below his belt

  3. I was there! Awesome experience… at sunset the Seminoles did a sunset dance and people joined in like a conga line. Timothy Leary chanting, Turn on, Turn in, Drop out was echoed throughout! The music was incredible and because the crowd was so small you were up close and personal with all the action. When we left the reservation the police were waiting and pulling everyone over and searching them and their cars. We were searched and came out clean. A truly memorable time! Thanking you for posting this.

  4. I was 14 years old and working at a Hollywood golf club restaurant washing dishes. The manager asked me if I wanted to make some extra money helping out at a rock festival at the Seminole Indian village during the Memorial day weekend. I went there and my job was working at a fruit stand bringing orange juice to the back stage where there was a juice dispenser that I poured into. Every time I did this I drank a small cup after a few times I didn’t make it back to the fruit stand and was sitting in a circle listening to Doctor Timothy Leary talking about astrology and other deep thoughts. Up to that night I never gotten high on anything. The last thing I remember was walking listening to the dead and a wolf following me. I never made it back to the fruit stand . Orange Sunshine

  5. I was there. I remember the acid being in the orange juice and an announcement was made about that so if you didn’t want to trip you didn’t drink it. I remember the police were outside the fence and kids were smoking pot and blowing it in their faces. They searched people leaving, but not entering, which was crazy since everyone smoked or took everything while they were inside the fence and didn’t leave with anything. It was a great time and a long-lasting memory.

  6. I was not there but am here to say these comments from those who were there are fantastic. The online supply of information about the Big Rock Pow Wow Seminole Festival is slender. These comments provide more insight and entertainment than anything else I have read online. Cheers

    Listening to this show right now, 55 years later and 45 miles north of the venue, now site of the Hard Rock Cafe. I suppose that’s appropriate given how hard Jerry rips into China > Eleven

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