1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

July 4 – 5

Pottawattamie Beach, Saugatuck, MI
1969 festival #20
1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival
1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

Line up

  • MC5
  • SRC
  • Procol Harum
  • Muddy Waters
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Amboy Dukes
  • Rotary Connection
  • Crazy World of Arthur Brown
  • Bob Seger
  • Frost
  • The Stooges
  • Big Mama Thornton
1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

Festivals Continue

I reckon this as the 20th festival of the 1969 festival season. The main reason I’ve done these reviews is because for decades I ignorantly thought Woodstock was the only festival of 1969.

Sure, there was Altamont at the end of the year with its tragedy and the shibboleth that the “60s ended at Altamont.”

The 60s in its full meaning had hardly begun until 1965 and certainly continued into the early 70s at least.

The legacy of the so-called 60s is a topic for another time, another discussion.

1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

Faded festivals

The reasons why some festivals, despite stellar performers likely doing stellar performances, faded with the newspapers that had a few columns about them are not complicated.

1. The location was away from the mainstream media’s purview.
2. The promoters had not the foresight or finances to record or film their event.

1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

As much as Michael Shrieve and his “Soul Sacrifice” drum solo helped carve Santana’s performance onto the monument of rock history, the fact that Woodstock Ventures did have the foresight to record and film the festival with high quality equipment made Woodstock the historic event it is today.

Stop stalling…

When am I going to start telling you about the Saugatuck Pop Festival? Unfortunately there’s not much to tell.

Here we go…

Alice Cooper

First: not listed but at the festival was Alice Cooper. In fact, one of the few things found about the festival is that the positive reception the band got at Saugatuck gave them the boost they had been looking for to continue as a band. [From The Original Glen Buxton site]

Gary Grimshaw
1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival
photo from the Grimshaw site

Second: Gary Grimshaw designed the poster. According to the bio at his site, “…Grimshaw (1946 – 2016) had a fifty-year carreer in the arts. He touched on many traditional disciplines and innovated new techniques. woven into his early and mid-career works are great examples of early underground comics.


So (not supposed to start sentences with “So…”) today’s blog is a request: do any of you have any information about the event? If so please comment and let me know and I’ll add what you contribute and give you credit for that contribution.

Follow up to Plea

Thank you to all (especially Paul) for all your memories. First hand accounts are terrific!

1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

Next 1969 festival: Atlanta International Pop Festival 

Remembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson

Remembering Alan Blind Owl WilsonRemembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson

Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson
Born July 4, 1943

On my Museum tours at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, when guest find out I was at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair they often ask, “Who was your favorite group?”

Remembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson


My answer is that “It depends.” At the time of the concert, the Who had just released Tommy  and their performance at Woodstock included nearly their entire rock opera. The Who ended a long night of amazing music that greeted a sunrise which introduced the Jefferson Airplane. I loved all.

Remembering Alan Wilson

Remembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson

Emerging favorites

Since I regularly listen to music from the festival, I now can hear and appreciate groups that at the time I didn’t notice as much.

Nowadays, my answer is Canned Heat: Bob Bear Hite rambling around the stage, Larry Mole Taylor on bass, Harvey Mandel just joining band on guitar, Adolfo de la Parra on drums, and Alan Blind Owl Wilson on guitar. A great line-up banging away with a great groove.

Remembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson


Alan Wilson was born on July 4, 1943 in Arlington, Massachusetts. Early on he developed a love not just of music (jazz in particular), but how music worked.

Like some other white kids of the 50s and 60s, Wilson also discovered the blues.  American norms had long-relegated the blues to the Jim Crow back roads of American society, whose arbitrary cultural mores considered it too rude and crude for “polite” society. The civil rights movement and the evolution of rhythm & blues into rock and roll exposed the blues to teenage white youth open to new views.

More interesting is that some British youth, like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Eric Burdon, had done the same thing and formed bands to expand that discovery.

Remembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson


Not only did Alan Wilson develop a love of the blues, he began to develop relationships with blues legends as they came to Cambridge, Massachusetts where Wilson lived.  Skip James (whose vocal style Wilson imitated) and Son House in particular.

Remembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson

John Fahey

Wilson also met John Fahey, a young white kid with an equal love of acoustic blues. Fahey convinced Wilson to  move to Los Angeles where Fahey was working on his master’s thesis. It was Fahey who lovingly gave Wilson the nickname “Blind Owl” because of Wilson’s extremely poor eyesight.

While in Los Angeles, Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson met Bob Hite. His collection of blues recordings immediately bonded them. They formed Canned Heat, a name  from Tommy Johnson’s 1928 “Canned Heat Blues.” Where else?!

Remembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson


Canned Heat played two of the most iconic festivals in American rock history: the Monterey International Pop Festival and the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Their recording of “Goin’ to the Country” became part of Woodstock film’s soundtrack.

Remembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson

Love of Nature

Alan Wilson loved Nature, but Alan Wilson suffered from one of Nature’s worst illnesses: depression. Canned Heat was readying for a fall 1970 European tour when he did not show up for the flight.

On September 3, they found Wilson dead in Bob Hite’s Topanga Canyon backyard where Alan lived in a tent.

From the Wilson site: “We will never know what Alan Wilson was thinking that night, as he unrolled his sleeping bag and looked up at the stars one last time. What we do know is that he was a talented musician and musicologist who promoted the revival of early Delta blues and left his own permanent mark on the blues and the music of the late 1960s. …We hope that this web site is a fitting tribute to his life.”

Wilson was 27 and sadly became part of what now we refer to as the 27 Club.

Remembering Alan Wilson

NYT article
Remembering Alan Blind Owl Wilson

Remembering Alan Wilson, Remembering Alan Wilson, Remembering Alan Wilson

1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival

1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival

July 4 and 5
Atlanta International Raceway, Hampton GA
1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival
View of the stage from the side. Like most festivals of 1969, there was only one stage.
1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival

1969 Festival #21

We are more than a month away from THE Woodstock festival and are already up to the year’s 21s festival.

The 1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival was mainly a success. No riots. No rain, but 100o temperatures. Local fire departments sprayed water on the crowd to alleviate heat issues. Long lines for food and beverages.

There is no movie (a home 8mm does not count). There is no album. Both those negatives were positives that helped propel Woodstock into its place in history.

The line up was a good as any that summer. Woodstock Ventures had booked seven of the bands for its Bethel soiree in August. I’ve underlined them.

1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival

Line up (underlined performed at Woodstock)

  • Chuck Berry
  • Al Kooper
  • Blood, Sweat & Tears
  • Booker T & the MGs
  • Canned Heat
  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Dave Brubeck
  • Delaney, Bonnie & Friends
  • Ian & Sylvia
  • Grand Funk Railroad
  • Janis Joplin
  • Johnny Winter
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  • Johnny Rivers
  • Spirit
  • Sweetwater
  • Ten Wheel Drive

Yesterday, I posted a piece about the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival which included the fact that due to early disruptions, organizers had cancelled Led Zeppelin’s scheduled appearance in hopes of reducing the number of kids hoping to get into the sold-out venue. It worked a bit (not enough) and Zeppelin appeared as scheduled. You will notice their name here, too. They played on the 6th in Newport which enabled them to rush up there from Atlanta.

Johnny Winter, again, seems to be everywhere this summer and he along with Blood Sweat and Tears will also head north immediately for Newport. The life of  musicians!

Noteworthy is that it was 1969 and there was a strong sense among some young venture capitalists that making money wasn’t what it was all about! The festival was a financial success and that Monday, July 7, the festival promoters gave  a free concert in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Some of the bands who had played at the festival Chicago Transit Authority, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Spirit, and the Grateful Dead performed.

And of course there’s a recording of the Dead on that July 7, 1969.

1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival

Freaks Unite

One of the most common takeaways that I often hear from other Woodstock alum is that they never realized how many of “us” there were.

According to a  2009 article from Georgia Music, “The flower children were awestruck as well, never having seen so many of their own in one setting. In fact, the turnout caused many of them to reflect for decades to come.

“We may have felt like freaks, but now we knew we weren’t the only freaks,” writes Mark Kemp in Dixie Lullaby: a Story of Music, Race and the Beginnings in a New South. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but the feeling of community . . . was the beginning of a healing process—in me and in many southerners of my generation—that continues to this day.”

And in 2023, Steve Young had this to say: I was there….5 of us…..8 hour drive….no tickets…..snuck UNDER the speedway fence…saw a few bands and missed a few…no shade…..yo yo’s that had lights at night and made amazing trails….saw Janis but missed Grand Funk Railroad and Joe Cocker

Next 1969 festival: Bullfrog Lake Music Festival