Newport 69 Pop Festival

Newport 69 Pop Festival

June 20, 21, & 22, 1969
Devonshire Downs in Northridge, CA
1969 Festival #9

Newport 69 Pop Festival

Newport 69 Pop Festival

Great line-up

The Newport 69 Pop Festival was held on the Devonshire Downs fairgrounds and racetrack in Northridge, California. It was organized by  24-year-old Mark Robinson.  The line-up for the three-day event was impressive, headlined by Jimi Hendrix. One could easily argue that the line-up was as good as the famed Woodstock would be in less than two months. I have underlined those who would be there as well.

And as I have frequently mentioned, Johnny Winter played at yet another summer 69 festival. Jimi Hendrix appeared twice because of a disappointing Friday performance.

Friday 20 June

  1. Ike & Tina Turner
  2. Albert King
  3. Edwin Hawkins Singers
  4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  5. Joe Cocker
  6. Southwind
  7. Spirit
  8. Taj Mahal
Saturday 21 June

  1. Albert Collins
  2. Brenton Wood
  3. Buffy Ste. Marie
  4. Charity
  5. Creedence Clearwater Revival
  6. Eric Burdon
  7. Friends of Distinction
  8. Jethro Tull
  9. Lee Michaels
  10. Love
  11. Steppenwolf
  12. Sweetwater
Sunday 22 June

  1. Booker T & the MGs
  2. Chambers Brothers
  3. Flock
  4. The Grass Roots
  5. Johnny Winter
  6. Marvin Gaye
  7. Mother Earth
  8. Jimi Hendrix Experience
  9. Buddy Miles
  10. Eric Burdon
  11. Mother Earth
  12. Poco
Newport 69 Pop Festival

Lined up to play

According to an article from laobserved.com, Robinson, “had so many commitments, he had to turn some down, including a legendary band. ‘Grateful Dead wanted to get in, but I didn’t have room. They called several times. I felt bad. I just couldn’t squeeze them in. They made it big after that.'” 

Why isn’t this festival as well-known then? Again Robinson, ““Woodstock was a free music festival where people camped out on a New York farm for days. It rained, and people stayed, and that aspect of it became a national news story,”

Newport 69 Pop Festival

Crashes and Cops

Rolling Stone magazine told a different story a week after the event. The headline read: Crashers, Cops, Producers Spoil Newport 69. Part of it’s review read: Because of this violence, and perhaps as much as $50,000 in damage done to neighborhood homes and businesses, the Los Angeles police commission has launched a full investigation. It could result in new city policies on the granting of concert permits and certainly means there will never be another rock festival held here.

The violence referred to was what happened outside the enclosed concert area on the event’s third day. Here’s the article’s description:

The kids threw bottles and rocks and the police randomly slashed out with batons, causing blood to stream freely. (Those injured were as young as 14.) Teenagers swarmed across a nearby shopping center, causing nearly $10,000 in damage to two gas stations, an equal amount of damage to apartment houses, another $1,500 worth of vandalism at a grocery store. While police demonstrated a sure-fire way of halting a kid – approach him at a dead run, grabbing him by the back of the neck, slamming him head first into a parked car; then club him when he’s down.

Inside on site, things were too tight. Rolling Stone describe those inside: They were not aware of the bloody violence erupting outside the gates. For them there was only the last logjam of humanity that made the festival like attending a high school reunion in a closet. (Rolling Stone magazine article)

Newport 69 Pop Festival

More Bad Press

The New York Times had a similar take on the event:

NYT article

On June 19, Woodstock Ventures had met with Wallkill, NY officials regarding the upcoming festival. The officials laid out their three main concerns:  1. traffic control,   2. sanitation, and 3. water supply.

One imagines that security was added after reading about Newport 69.

Newport 69 Pop Festival
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Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

Released in the USA on June 20, 1966

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

Sort of new

Every once in awhile there would be a new Beatle album. Sort of. Yesterday and Today was a new Beatle album. Sort of.

I was one (of the legions of) American kids who didn’t realize that Beatle albums we bought  were different than the Beatle albums UK kids bought. Perhaps the reverse was true as well.

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

Backlog

The Beatles UK releases typically had 14 songs, not 12 like the American releases. As a result there was a backlog of Beatles songs built up that didn’t reach American kids on their Beatles albums.

It doesn’t take much actuarial thinking to figure out that releasing an album with those backlogged songs and a couple of others made all kinds of business sense. The Beatles themselves did not like the idea of releasing two different versions of their albums. The UK version with 14 songs was the one they wanted. They took time deciding the sequence of songs. By 1965, the designed their albums as a whole, not a collection of single songs.

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

USA Yesterday and Today

In any case, here’s the breakdown of the Beatles Yesterday and Today:

  • from the UK LP Help!, “Act Naturally” and “Yesterday” 
  • from the UK LP Rubber Soul, “Nowhere Man” and “What Goes On”  “Drive My Car” and “If I Needed Someone”
  • the single “Day Tripper”/”We Can Work It Out”
  • from the not-yet-released UK LP Revolver, the tracks “I’m Only Sleeping”, “Doctor Robert”, and “And Your Bird Can Sing.”
Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

Controversy

And as often the case the Beatles stepped in some controversy. The original album cover, nowadays known as the “butcher cover” barely saw the light of day.

The photo was part of a shoot by Robert Whitaker. The Beatles were tired posing for typical group shots and Whitaker’s idea of putting them in butcher smocks, holding pieces of meat, and broken doll parts seemed a good change of pace.

John Lennon later joked, My original idea for the cover was better–decapitate Paul. [from Anthology]

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

Backlash

It seemed a good enough idea for Capital Records to print 750,000 copies of the record and send them out. Immediately some critics, radio stations, and fans (lucky enough to get a copy) complained. Insensitive. Gross. Inappropriate.

Keep in mind that in 1966, a band had a toilet removed from its cover!

Capital recalled all. Some covers went to a landfill. Some had the new cover pasted over the old.

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

Defense

John Lennon and Paul McCartney defended the decision saying that at a time when so many defenseless men, women, and children were dying in Vietnam, such a cover spoke to that senselessness.

George Harrison later said in Anthology: “I thought it was gross, and I also thought it was stupid. Sometimes we all did stupid things, thinking it was cool or hip when it was naïve and dumb, and that was one of them. But again, it was a case of being put in a situation where one is obliged, as part of a unit, to cooperate. So we put on those butchers’ uniforms for that picture.”  

Bad idea or not, the refurbished album reached #1 on the US Billboard charts by 30 July 1966 and certified gold soon after. It stayed at number one for five weeks.

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

My Lai Massacre

635 days later was the My Lai Massacre. 1,295 days later Americans could view those pictures.

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today

Controversial Beatles Yesterday Today
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