1969 Gold Rush Festival

1969 Gold Rush Festival

Country Weather – “Over and Over”
October 4, 1969
Amador, CA
1969 festival #44

1969 Gold Rush Festival

1969 Gold Rush Festival

Nice line-up

It’s October 1969 and you’ve heard all about that Woodstock Music and Art Fair back east, but you were on the west coast. You still are. You hear about a one-day festival coming up in Lake Amador, which is about 50 miles southeast of Sacramento. The price is $3 for the day. Very reasonable. You look at the line-up. Not bad. Not bad at all:

  • Santana
  • Taj Mahal
  • Bo Diddley
  • Albert Collins
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Al Wilson
  • Southwind
  • Ike and Tina Turner
  • Sons of Champlin
  • Country Weather
  • Linn
  • Cold Weather
  • County Daybreak
1969 Gold Rush Festival

Day in the Country

You knew about Santana before Woodstock and knew they were pretty good. There wasn’t anything like Ike and Tina Turner at Woodstock. Nor a Taj Mahal. Nor an Albert Collins.

This could be a very nice day in the country. It was.

If there is a criticism of Woodstock’s three-day lineup, it is that given the year and perspective, there were no black bands as such. There  certainly were black performers and there were bands playing blues and blues/rock, but there was no Taj Mahal. No Albert Collins. No Al Wilson. And certainly no Ike and Tina Turner. One must imagine the impact Tina would have had on 400,000 people that day, on the album that she surely would have been on, and the movie she absolutely appeared in.

1969 Gold Rush Festival

Robert Strand1969 Gold Rush Festival

Robert Strand promoted the event and 40,000 people showed up. He and his family were the financial backers.  Strand was the manager of Country Weather, one of the bands that appeared. He describes the event as a perfect combination of location, music, stage, PA, and weather. He recently assisted in a video report of the event. That video can be found on YouTube in four parts. Here is a link to Part 1. It is a wonderful story by someone who humbly tells the story with lots of detail. Lots of specific information.

Unfortunately, there is no video or recording of the event.

1969 Gold Rush Festival


1969 Gold Rush Festival

James Hackworth was 22 years old when he and his wife and two kids attended the Gold Rush Festival. His memories include, “…people jammed the banks of Lake Amador to sunbathe, drink wine, smoke marijuana and listen to an all-star roster of musicians at the Gold Rush Rock Music Festival. Since the crowd was peaceful, Amador County sheriff’s deputies chose to ignore the drug use and skinny-dipping. …I remember looking over a sea of people and everyone was really happy and full of enthusiasm.  The music was the catalyst that drew us together. It really was a time of believing in love and peace for humanity.” [Messynesschic dot com site]

1969 Gold Rush Festival

Next 1969 festival: Internationales Essener Festival

15 thoughts on “1969 Gold Rush Festival”

  1. I was 17 when I cruised up to the concert on Friday night with a friend. We were ripped but I can’t help but think I would have enjoyed the concert (and memory) more if I was sober. Bo, Tina and Santana rocked. and it seemed like everyone I knew from South Sacramento was there. Awesome that you are keeping this moment alive. The weather was perfect. for swimming.

    1. Thanks Nick for sharing your memory, even a hazy one! As someone who only recently discovered and was amazed at the dozens of other 1969 festivals that had line ups as good as Woodstock, I want to get it out there that people like you had some great times. Thanks again.

  2. I was there with friends from Foothill Farms, CA. I was 14 years old and hitchhiked with three friends. It was a VERY hot day but the music was great! I think that was my first concert. My mom saw it on the news and said it looked more like a “POT” festival than a “POP” Festival.

  3. I was living in Stockton then, a student at San Joaquin Delta College. Doc Davis was a teacher there, and one of the organizers of the fest. We distributed over a thousand posters and hand bill’s around the valley and Bay Area.
    This was the event Altamount should have been, top notch line up, pretty well organized, and a deliriously happy crowd. People were getting tired later in the show when Bo Diddly did his set. Bit by bit
    people started standing up, a wave swept up the hill and soon the whole place was energized. Sons Of Champlin rocked their set, then Santana took over. Earlier in the day Cold Blood had delivered a terrific performance..
    All the bands did. It was a show to remember, what a 60s rock fest was all about.

  4. Just 16 yrs old,me & my buddy hitched hiked from the Eastbay….great time ! Ike & Tina Turner, Santana, Bo Diddley, Albert Collins etc….

  5. I remember doc Davis from delta. Went on Project Costa Rica with him and attended the concert about 10 miles away from my home town

  6. I headed to Gold Rush from Sacramento with a couple girlfriends in my VW before sunrise & we stayed till the last note. It was incredibly fun. The highlights were Tina Turner, Taj Mahal & Santana — fantastic day of music! We heard announcements that the roads were jammed & that food was running out. The only way in or out at that point was by helicopter. It was joyous, peaceful & an announcement was made that we were their 2nd largest festival after Woodstock. I remember the huge crowds & seeing the skinny dippers. (I also went to Altamont & was pretty close to where the Hell’s Angel killed that guy & saw the flash of metal).

  7. Drove there on Saturday from Sacramento. Stayed the night with thousands of people I didn’t know. Of course memories are faded but I recall some menacing looking Hells Angels that night and wonder if they were at Altamont a couple months later. I recall Albert Collins pleading for the return of his stolen guitar. No violence at all, lots of drugs. Guys had printed signs advertising the drugs they were selling. Never saw that before or since. I may have sent a message before.

  8. I was there with some friends. I was 15 years old at the time. We got in for free because of the unexpected crowd of 40,000 people. We had a campfire near the Hells Angles. They were pretty mellow for the most part. Carlos Santana and Bo Didley stopped by our campfire and asked if we were enjoying the concert.

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