Category Archives: Music et al

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 #15

We are more than a month away from THE Woodstock festival and are already up to the year’s 15th 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.”

1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival
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1969 Newport Jazz Festival

1969 Newport Jazz Festival

July 3 – 6, 1969

Newport, Rhode Island

I have limited my list of 1969 festivals to rock festivals like the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Why include a jazz festival?

The Newport Jazz Festival began in 1954 and, not surprisingly, was simply that: a jazz festival. Of course, the variety of styles within jazz are wide and varied. Any jazz festival can simply showcase one genre, or several.

1969 Newport Jazz Festival

Blurred borders

By 1969, the borders between both styles had blurred: some jazz artists crossed over to rock and visa versa. It made sense for a jazz festival, even one as established as Newport, to expand its lineup and include rock. In 1969, that is exactly what it did.

Looking at the lineup below, one of the first things to note is the inclusion of the Joshua Light Show. The Joshua Light Show formed in 1967 and is associated mainly with enhancing the concert atmosphere at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East.  Including the Joshua Light Show definitely brought a new vibe to a jazz festival.

1969 Newport Jazz Festival

Thursday all jazz

Thursday was all jazz, but reflected the jazz’s aforementioned variety . Simply looking at the opening act, George Benson, and the closing act, Sun Ra, demonstrates that range.

1969 Newport Jazz Festival

Friday changes

Even Friday afternoon is jazz, but things change for Friday night: Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Jeff Beck loudly reminded the crowd that this wasn’t your ordinary jazz festival.

1969 Newport Jazz Festival

1969 Newport Jazz Festival

The unexpected

The idea of enhancing a jazz festival with rock was a great idea on paper and likely looked toward the ledger as well, but as Woodstock Ventures found out a month later, locals may not be as receptive to large numbers of youth excited and anxious to hear their music.

Friday night’s overflow created such tensions and fears that event organizer George Wein “cancelled” Led Zeppelin for Sunday in an attempt to dissuade the rock fans from staying. It worked to a degree. Zeppelin performed despite the announced cancellation.

1969 Newport Jazz Festival

1969 Newport Jazz Festival

Mayhem

A Newport newspaper article describes the mayhem:

1969 Newport Jazz Festival

In August, Johnny Winter, Ten Years After, Sly Stone, and Blood, Sweat and Tears experienced something even bigger but more peaceful in Bethel, New York.

The far more serene Newport Folk Festival and a moon walk awaited in the wings.

1969 Newport Jazz Festival
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Strangers In the Night

Strangers In the Night

Billboard #1 July 2 – 9, 1966

Strangers In the Night

“Strangers in the Night” by Bert Kaempfert
Strangers In the Night

1966

1965 was tipping point of American popular music. Bob Dylan wasn’t working with Maggie no more. The Beatles had a rubber soul. Brian Wilson knew that God only knows.

So one might think that 1966 meant “our” songs at #1 all year long. Our albums, too.

Not the case.

Of course there were the Beatles, but there were also the Monkees. Of course there were the Rolling Stones, but there were also Petula Clark. The Troggs, but Tommy James, too. Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman”, but SSgt Barry Sadler’s “Ballad of the Green Berets.”

Strangers In the Night

Sinatras

The Sinatras were there, too. Not quite the psychedelics we expected. Nancy had her #1 hit with the famous “These Boots Are Made for Walking” (didn’t we young hormonal teenager boys love to watch her sing that.

Strangers in the Night

Strangers In the Night

Something in my heart…

But it was father Frank’s song that we’d listen to with our girlfriend on our transistor radio. “Something in my heart told me I must have you.”

Sinatra had begun singing professionally more than 30 years earlier and  like most artists, his career had its ups and downs. “Strangers In the Night” won the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist or Instrumentalist for Ernie Freeman. It became a gold record.

Strangers In the Night

Avo Uvezian

The song’s origins are disputed. The melody is commonly attributed to Bert Kaempfert (he who recorded Tony Sheridan with the Beat Boys backing Sheridan. The Beat Boys were, of course, the Beatles), but cigar maker and jazz musician Avo Uvezian had stated that he originally composed the song for Frank Sinatra.

Strangers In the Night
Avo Uvezian, a cigar maker and Juilliard-trained musician, at his home in Orlando, Fla. Credit Jacob Langston for The New York Times

According to Uvezian, his song, originally called “Broken Guitar”, had different lyrics. (Uvezian died on March 24, 2017)

Sinatra didn’t like the lyric, studio composers created new lyrics, changed the title to “Strangers In the Night.” Sinatra reportedly hated the song, but with a #1 hit long behind him, He recorded it. The rest is disputed history.

Uvezian died on March 24, 2017.

The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” preceded “Strangers In the Night” at #1. The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” followed “Strangers In the Night” at #1.

 

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