Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

Detroit Rock Roll Revival

Detroit Rock Roll Revival

Michigan State Fairgrounds
May 30 & 31, 1969
Sun Ra…”Atlantis”

First Annual Detroit Rock & Roll Revival

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

1969 festival #9

The First Annual Detroit Rock and Roll Revival is #9 on the list of 1969 festivals . With any of these festivals, one should not look at the price of admission and sigh with envy. Everything looks less expensive, but keep in mind that the 1969 minimum wage was $1.60 and of course, like now, not everyone even earned that minimum. And if you did, your gross pay for a 40 hour week was $64 or $3328 per year [table].

And like nearly every other festival that summer, recording or filming it did not happen. That being the case, we have to imagine what the festival sounded like. Sun Ra is what I placed at the top of this entry. A whole book is necessary to explain the amazing Sun Ra and his many contributions to jazz and the arts.

Ubiquitous Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter was there and as I’ve pointed out in the earlier posts on 1969’s festivals Winter was seemingly at all of them.

Psychedelic Stooges   

The Psychedelic Stooges might not sound familiar, but Iggy Pop and the Stooges certainly will…


The MC5 (“Motor City 5”) were the “big” name and their song “Kick Out the Jams” typified their far left in-your-face pre-punk sound. Under the “management” of John Sinclair. Sinclair was the founder of the White Panthers and was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1969 after giving two joints to an undercover narcotics officer. Sinclair was infamously referred to by Abbie Hoffman at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair that August during the Who set. Pete Townshend was not happy about it.

Here is an amazing example of an MC5 performance 14 months later at Tarter Field, Wayne State University on July 19, 1970.

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival


First Annual Detroit Rock & Roll Revival

  • MC5
  • Chuck Berry
  • Sun Ra
  • Dr John the Night Tripper
  • Johnny Winter
  • Psychedelic Stooges
  • Terry Reid
  • Amboy Dukes
  • SRC
  • Frost
  • Rationals
  • Teegarden & Van Winkle
  • Lyman Woodward
  • Up
  • Wilson Mower Pursuit
  • 3rd Power
  • NY Rock & Roll Ensemble
  • David Peel
  • Lower East Side
  • Red, White, & Blues
  • Sky-Train
  • Savage Grace
  • James Gang
  • Caste
  • Gold Bros
  • Dutch Elm

While not one that might make a Festival Hall of Fame, it certainly had it’s share of great music.

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

Next 1969 festival: Sunrise to Sunset Festival

7 thoughts on “Detroit Rock Roll Revival”

  1. You have Lyman Woodard’s name spelled wrong. Obviously not from Detroit. He became central to the jazz scene here.

  2. Hi Woodstock Whisperer,
    A friend of mine met recently and we were both 14 years old when we were at the ‘First Annual Rock and Roll Revival’ at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on May 30. I took some pictures with a Kodak Instamatic Camera and I have a great one of Rob Tyner of the MC5, very close with John Sinclair in the background. I can send it if you’d like.
    What I would like to know is that he says the Wilson Mower Pursuit band were there on May 30 and remember every band, but I don’t remember them. let me know if you know

    1. I WAS 14 and there as well for both the Johnny Winters Egar. And the one with Black Sabbath. Amboy Dukes. I would love to see any pictures. I was so high.. I need the flash back!

  3. The vid you have of the MC5 at Tartar Field wasn’t two months later, but 14 months later, on July 19, 1970. That concert footage was taken from one of the WABX free Sunday afternoon concerts by Detroit Tubeworks. Surprisingly, the set the “Five” performed at the Detroit Rock and Roll Revival was kind of low energy for them at the time and included songs from their yet to be released “Back in the USA” LP, and not really much like the Tartar Field performance. The MC5 also performed a similar “tame” set(not the revolutionary WPP stuff) when they appeared at Led Zeppelin’s Oct 1969 Detroit Olympia concert. At that time, you weren’t sure what MC5 would show up. Seems like they toned it down for a while, maybe at the larger venues? The Friday(I didn’t attend the Saturday show) Detroit Rock and Roll Revival concert memories I have included an over-the-top performance of Jeff Beck’s “Jeff’s Boogie” by Joe Walsh and The James Gang, as well as Johnny Winter’s first Michigan appearance including a blistering slide guitar on Dylan’s “Highway 61” and a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode” in addition to the blues tunes from the Blues Experiment LP and his first Columbia LP. No one paid much attention to Sun Ra, who closed the show. They just left the Fairgrounds.

  4. The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band did a surprise set in the afternoon of the day that I was there, as did Grand Funk Railroad. In fact is was Grand Funk’s debut concert and it went badly- the PA blew out during their set and nobody particularly minded. The Bonzos were great!

  5. Yes, I remember. Well, I remember some of it. I was introduced to Iggy as Jimmy as he was called then by friends. And I sang with Dr John. I’m not a singer and I was very high. Just background vocals and it was important to dance. I was at all the MC5 concerts and used to hang with Brother Jesse Crawford after his testimonial. And it was not an outstanding show for the 5. Not certain I remember much more of it

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