1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

July 4 – 5

Pottawattamie Beach, Saugatuck, MI
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

1969 #14

I reckon this as the 14th 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.

1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

Stop stalling…

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

1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival


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.

1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival

For now

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.

1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival


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17 thoughts on “1969 Saugatuck Pop Festival”

  1. I was there. Unfortunately, my only memory is of the Red, White and Blues Band. Great band and great time. Long time ago and memories fade. Lots of people and lots of bikers. Nothing better than the Lake Michigan shore in the summer time! Many, many weekends at the Old Crow in Saugatuck cruising in my buddies yellow XKE.

  2. I rode the Greyhound rom Chicago with a couple of my friends. I don’t remember what kind of stuff we brought with, but it wasn’t much. In the afternoon we saw a lot of Michigan bands which I hadn’t heard of before. I remember liking Früt of the Loom, Red White and Blues Band, and Wilson Mower Pursuit. Alice Cooper was there, but I didn’t find the set memorable. SRC played a great set, I went out the next week and bought their album. Procul Harum closed out the night, with thunder and lightning while they played their encore, Whiter Shade of Pale. It was magical.

    Then, of course, we had to figure out how we were going to sleep in the rain. We hadn’t brought a tent. I don’t remember what happened, I think we walked around a lot. The next day I was wet and tired, and hitched a ride back to the South Side. It was a great evening, though.

  3. We came down from Grand Haven for the two days, which are really just a blur. I remember CW of Arthur Brown being lowered from a crane screaming in the mic ” I am the god of hellfire and I bring you FIRE!” as well as great music from Frost, SRC, Amboy Dukes. I remember leaving the festival grounds in the rain with Whiter Shade of Pale playing mournfully behind us. It was probably a complete fiasco but we were 17, what would we know? Bigger fiasco’s laid in wait for us. The rest of it just all runs together, mixed up with the rest of the 49 year old memories

  4. My twin brother and I were facing the draft after college at Duquesne so we drove up to Detroit to see a double-header against the Yankees. After sleeping in our car we heard a radio ad for the festival and we skipped the game to head to Saugatuck. We were totally mesmerized by the Stooges and are still punk fans to this day at at age 71. Nugent wouldn’t play when it began raining. SR C was incredible! The biker guy grabbed the Mike and yelled “Stay away from our f-in bikes! ” Savage Grace was outstanding. We bought albums of all the
    Motor City bands when got back to Pittsburgh. We went the Atlantic City Pop festival a few weeks later

    1. Some random Sawgatuck memories not addressed by my twin brother…Alice Cooper played BOTH days & were introduced as “Frank Zappa’s band”, or something to that effect…The MC5 were barraged with verbal complaints of “Turn it up!” by many around us who felt their sound/amps weren’t loud enough…Iggy remained on stage after the Stooges’ set and soloed on the drums in raucous, anarchic fashion…Minnie Ripperton was superb/astonishing with Rotary Connection…what a thrill it was to see blues giants John Lee Hooker & Muddy Waters, the latter dressed all in black…no “dud” acts in 2 days!

  5. I’m thinking that it was Carl Lundgren
    who designed the poster for the ’69 Saugatuck Pop Festival. I attended this festival, remember the storm and also Arthur Brown being lowered onto the stage by a crane with his head in flames. Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker on the same bill? Oh
    yeah man!!!

  6. I was 20 and just starting to see what was happening around me. I was thinking about the probability of going to Viet Nam, the race riots of ‘67, the riots at the Democratic convention in ‘68, and the sea-change in music since the Beatles and the Rolling Stones came on the scene. I felt like there was no foothold, and the future was uncertain.

    I had albums from many of the bands, but they first became real when I heard them live. The most powerful impact was from MC5 because of their political bent. The most comforting music was from Procol Harum, and the most mind bending was Arthur Brown. Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker were worth the whole cost of getting in. Honestly, the fences were crushed so I paid nothing. Rotary Connection was remarkably refined, in contrast to the other performances.

    This was the pivotal experience of my life, fifty years ago. There is so much more to say …

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