Newport 69 Pop Festival

Newport 69 Pop Festival

Newport 69 Pop Festival

June 20, 21, & 22, 1969
Devonshire Downs in Northridge, CA
1969 Festival #14

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. 24-year-old Mark Robinson organized it . Headlined by Jimi Hendrix, the line-up for the three-day event was impressive. 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. 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
  13. Rascals
Newport 69 Pop Festival

Lined up to play

According to an article from, 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. 

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
Glenn Archambault sent these observations to me: There was a huge number of cameras and press at Devonshire downs, but little got saved of pictures and the  music. What were we thinking! Janis Joplin was on stage, but wasn’t on the list to play. She said Hi to the crowd but no one snapped a picture? 
Woodstock and Devonshire Downs had a lot in common, many of the same bands. Some of the people on the stage  at Devonshire went to Woodstock. Most of the crowd was well behaved, not nearly as bad as the press said. 
A big memory, I had worked on stage for other companies, Pinnacle Productions Shrine auditorium downtown LA, but when we got going first up Ike and Tina Turner revue, I looked out at the vast crowd, never seen so many people, and  no one had ever tried to play something this big, sound system was short of tens of thousands of people in the back. 
All the bands, management, stage crew, we worked like mad to pull that off, still can’t believe we did it!   
Newport 69 Pop Festival

Next 1969 festival: Toronto Pop Festival

13 thoughts on “Newport 69 Pop Festival”

  1. Actually you forgot the closing headlining act on Sunday night … The Rascals. They were extremely well received and sounded really really good. Their set included every hit up to their current psych rocker “See”. Eric mainly danced around … even getting on a tower and dancing during Hendrix. Jimi’s Friday show was very short, maybe 20-25 minutes and then he walked off. He was totally pissed at people requesting older songs … he just got fed up and left. That was the reason for the make up on Sunday … which was a pleasant surprise!

    1. Yes- I was on the lighting platform and Mitch came out and did a drum solo at the beginning. No one seems to remember, but Janis Joplin sang with Hendrix/Buddy Miles on Sunday, maybe one song. Southwind was the first band on Friday, and the P.A. went out.

      1. I was there and saw Janis sing with Hendrix. Fortunately my friends and I were toward the front of the stage it was pretty chaotic by then. That was amazing.

        1. Nancy! I was there. I was deeply sleep deprived from a wet, cold and psychedelic snd tent-less camping experience the night before when Hendrix played that evening set. I was nodding off when a friend shook me and said you can’t sleep now – dig Hendrix and Joplin on stage together. Very few people remember this performance. Very frustrating. So glad you do. 🙂

      2. I remember
        Janis singing, more than one song.

        The one I loved most that day, that was very different from the hard rock was…
        Oh Lord, wont you buy me a Mercedes Benz, my friends all have Porches, I must make amends…..
        and on…. Then, at the end of the song, she kind of, cakeled/giggled.

        To this day, I still sing that song.

  2. Don’t know how I missed this. I lived on Devonshire while in College in Northridge and was really into music.
    I might of been at annual USMC reserve summer camp in San Diego. I joined the reserves because of the draft.
    Never read anything about it either until years later.
    Maybe I was too stoned…

  3. I was at the concert !
    I lived in Northridge, I was 15 !!!!
    Got to see Jimi Hendrix and Janice Joplin !!
    Historic , I’ll Never Forget 😃

  4. You know what they say… If you remember it, you weren’t there. I was there and remember very little but it was OUT OF SIGHT!!! So stoned all three days, even ran from the LA TACTICAL COPS OUTSIDE EVENT. No, I did not throw bottles, just ran real fast.

  5. Wow, the cops lied. No large group of kids stormed the gates! The LA Tactical Squad, in full riot gear, in a long line walked through the camping area outside the event waking people up and yelling get up and get out!!! Most people had the 3 day pass but the cops didn’t care. Unfortunately someone did throw one bottle and that’s when the cops just starting hitting anyone they could. I was in that group and was able to out run the cops clubs. Inside the Hell’s Angel’s and other lesser gangs were the security for the event. Bad idea!!! Thank God for good “boo” and “sunshine” from the canyon, if you know what I mean!

    1. I was working one of the concession stands and people did Storm through the gates and also climbed over the fence right behind where I was working the stand.

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