Tag Archives: 1969 festivals

1969 Bath Festival Blues

1969 Bath Festival Blues

June 28, 1969

1969 Bath Festival Blues

1969 Bath Festival Blues
1969 Festival #12

UK Makes Festival List

By 1969 the US had had several major rock festivals. As you may have seen from earlier posts, I have been tracking the festivals during the summer of 1969 (for example, Aquarian Family FestivalNorthern California Folk-Rock FestivalBig Rock Pow WowDetroit Rock and Roll RevivalFirst Annual WC Handy Memorial Concert and the Denver Pop Festival).

Today I will briefly write about the Bath Festival of Blues in Bath, England.

UK Bath Festival Blues

Freddie Bannisters

Surprisingly, England had not yet had a rock festival. Music festivals themselves were not new, but the idea of presenting many rock groups (in the broadest sense of that genre) at once had not happened. Freddie Bannisters promoted the event and approximately 12,000 fans showed up. That number seems small by many other festival numbers, but unlike many other festivals, Bannisters did not lose money and was able to promote another much larger festival the following year.

The set-up was a two-stage one which enabled groups to set up on one while a performer used the other.

Difficult to see, but Zeppelin playing on right hand stage © Mike Bird
1969 Bath Festival Blues


The advertised line-up was a nice blues mix including the elder statesmen, Champion Jack Dupree. Ten Years after and Keef Hartly would make the trip to Bethel, NY in August, Those asterisked may not have played:

  • Fleetwood Mac
  • John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
  • Ten Years After
  • Led Zeppelin
  • The Nice
  • Chicken Shack
  • Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum
  • Mick Abrahams’ Blodwyn Pig
  • Keef Hartley
  • Group Therapy*
  • Liverpool Scene
  • Taste
  • Savoy Brown Blues Band
  • Champion Jack Dupree
  • Clouds*
  • Babylon*
  • Principal Edwards Magic Theatre
  • Deep Blues Band
  • Just Before Dawn
1969 Bath Festival Blues

My Brother John

John Bonham’s brother Mick recalls the event in his book, “My Brother John”:

On previous occasions I had traveled to gigs on my scooter or on the bus, but this time it would be in style to what had been advertised as ‘the Big One’. We drove down during the morning meeting up with Jimmy, Robert, and John Paul in the backstage bar. It was pretty unreal for me, rubbing shoulders with some of the great musicians I had only read about like: Fleetwood Mac, Ten Years After and the man who launched so many great names from his Bluesbreakers, Mr. John Mayall.

The Recreation Ground and Pavilion was in a lovely setting in the centre of Bath and on a warm summer’s afternoon I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be, along with 12,000 other people. I had taken a camera with me, so well before Zeppelin was to go on I made my way out into the crowd and towards the front of the stage. Finding a nice patch of grass, I waited patiently  for the emergence of Led Zeppelin. When the band took to the stage, the audience surged past me, leaving me only enough time to take three photos before I was swallowed up by ‘the ocean’. As the show finished and the crowd moved back, I was still on the floor, looking like one of those hedgehogs you see squashed on the road.

“After the show, it was a few beers in the bar and then back home, via the local fish and chip shop of course. Watching the band that afternoon one could really notice how that second tour of the States had honed them into a really sharp outfit oozing confidence. The press saw it too, declaring ‘Zeppelin’s fiery set in which they played their own individual form of progressive blues devastated most and proved on of the most enjoyable sets of the festival’.

Related link >>> Bath Festival site

1969 Bath Festival Blues
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1969 Denver Pop Festival

1969 Denver Pop Festival

June 27, 28, & 29
Mile High Stadium
1969 festival #11

1969 Denver Pop Festival

AUD of Big Mama Thorton, “Ball and Chain”
The line-up
June 27

  • Big Mama Thornton
  • The Flock
  • Three Dog Night
  • Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
  • Iron Butterfly
June 28

  • Aorta
  • Zephyr
  • Poco
  • Johnny Winter
  • Tim Buckley
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
June 29

  • Aum
  • Zephyr
  • Rev. Cleophus Robinson
  • Joe Cocker
  • Three Dog Night
  • Jimi Hendrix Experience
1969 Denver Pop Festival

Mile High Stadium

The Denver Pop Festival was the eleventh rock festival of 1969. It was held at at Mile High Stadium [insert joke here].

Holding such an event inside a big stadium seemed like a perfect match. Bathrooms, food services, seating, controlled exit and entry are already present and do not have to be independently set up.

Unfortunately for the Denver festival, that amount of control was part of its problem.

1969 Denver Pop Festival

Hendrix/Star Spangled Banner

Another little known part of its history was that the Denver Pop Festival was the last performance by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, less than three years after its formation in the UK in September 1966. And Woodstock fans may be disappointed to hear that Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner, that the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was not his first public performance of that cover.

1969 Denver Pop Festival

Bill Hanley & Chip Monck

Barry Fey promoted the concert. While his name may not be recognized by many as a Bill Graham is, Fey had a long illustrious history of rock concert promotion. In fact, he promoted the first Led Zeppelin concert in the US: December 26, 1968 at the Denver Auditorium Area.

The Denver festival, unlike Woodstock’s legal challenges and trying to find a home accepted by the locals, had the support of the city government. Denver provided a campground, services there, as well as a shuttle service to and from the festival.

Like Woodstock’s impeccable sound system, Bill Hanley was the sound man. Like Woodstock, Chip Monck was an MC.

1969 Denver Pop Festival

Not a Woodstock

So why wasn’t the Denver Pop Festival another Woodstock? Looking at its line up it certainly had that potential.

Once again it is a combination of factors. The number of attendees plays a part. The Mile High Stadium accommodated approximately 50,000 people. Certainly an acceptably large amount, but no comparison to a 40-acre Max Yasgur field with 400,000.

Not filming or recording the event is another factor. The only recording I could find on YouTube was an audience one of Big Mama Thorton. She wrote “Ball and Chain” and as good as the famous Janis Joplin cover is, it’s nice to hear Thorton herself.

1969 Denver Pop Festival

Law enforcement

Part of Woodstock’s mission was to keep law enforcement away from the festival site. NYC cops were hired to moonlight, but only those who had a conciliatory attitude toward the Woodstock generation youth were hired. NY State Police were present on the periphery.

In Denver the local police were outside and around the stadium. Their presence, though not intentionally there to intimidate and harass, represented the authority that so many young people were rebelling against.

Inside the stadium was reportedly a great time. One minor incident was that a fan undressed, but was taken away by security. No such qualms would exist in Bethel, NY.

Outside some gatecrashers unsuccessfully tried to get past the security guards. Keep in mind, that the view of some fans and musicians was that music should be free. Tying a price to listen made the event corporate, the antithesis of to the counter culture’s ideals.

At a point the first day, a bottle was thrown and hit the helmet of an officer.  The thrower was arrested without any additional incidents.

1969 Denver Pop Festival


1969 Denver Pop Festival

The second day again found gatecrashers unsuccessfully attempting entry. This time additional police were called in and they used time tear-gas to disperse the crowd. Some of the gas wafted into the stadium where Chip Monck advised the crowd to cover and protect their faces. Promoter Barry Fey subsequently handed out free tickets to avoid any further confrontations.

The free tickets were limited and the next day tear gas was again used to force gatecrashers away.

1969 Denver Pop Festival

Yes Butterfly, but last Experience

The Iron Butterfly did play in Denver, but though scheduled to play at Woodstock, they’d be left at the airport waiting for a ride.

As mentioned above, this event was the last performance of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The next time Hendrix would play in public would be that famous muddy morning in Bethel, NY at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Drummer Mitch Mitchell would remain part of Hendrix’s larger ensemble there, but Noel Redding was no longer a member.

Click below to hear a small slice of Jimi Hendrix’s intro at Denver.

Related link >>> http://www.bobwyman.com/hendrix.html

Related link >>>  http://www.retrorebirth.com/music-festivals/denver-pop-festival-june-27-29-1969.php

1969 Denver Pop Festival
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Toronto Pop Festival 69

Toronto Pop Festival 69

June 21 & 22, 1969

Varsity Stadium

 1969 Festival #10

Velvet Underground “Heroin”

Toronto Pop Festival 69

To say “here’s another ‘lost’ festival of the summer of 1969” gets old, but, yes, the Toronto Pop Festival (as opposed to the Toronto Rock and Roll Festival later the same year) is another of the 1969 festivals few have heard of.

The line-up was a good one. How Johnny Winter had the energy to play in Toronto on Friday and then in California on Sunday, I don’t know. I have underlined those who would appear at Woodstock:

Saturday 21 June

  1. Eric Anderson
  2. Carla Thomas & the Barkays
  3. Man
  4. Al Kooper
  5. The Band
  6. Bonzo Dog Band
  7. Rotary Connection
  8. Johnny Winter
  9. Velvet Underground
  10. Sly & the Family Stone
Sunday 22 June

  1. Mother Lode
  2. Procol Harum
  3. Edwin Starr
  4. Chuck Berry
  5. Slim Harpo
  6. Tiny Tim
  7. Dr John the Night Tripper
  8. Blood, Sweat, & Tears
  9. Nucleus
  10. Robert Charlebois
  11. Steppenwolf
(See Roland Stone comment below for a more accurate listing as not all bands on the promo played and others not on the promo did)
Toronto Pop Festival 69

Diverse line-up

A legitimate criticism of Woodstock’s lineup was a lack of black performers. Yes, there was Richie Havens, Sly and the Family Stone, and Jimi Hendrix, but those three were already an accepted part of many white listeners’ collection. For Toronto, Carla Thomas, Edwin Starr, Slim Harpo, and Chuck Berry added styles that Woodstock lacked.

Tickets were $6 a day or $10 for both days.

Toronto Pop Festival 69

Jeanne Beker

Woodstock had Abbie Hoffman infamously inserting himself in the middle of The Who’s performance. In Toronto a young girl joined Ronnie Hawkins during his performance of “Bo Diddly.”

While Pete Townshend threatened Hoffman, the more genial Hawkins welcomed the yellow-bikinied Jeanne Beker. Her presence was caught on camera by a photographer for The Telegram. Hawkins is in the purple suit.

Toronto Pop Festival 69
Beker on stage with Hawkins

Jeanne Beker is now a well-known Canadian television personality, fashion designer, author and newspaper columnist.

The audience recording of the Velvet Underground is the only recording of the festival I could find.

Here is a link to images from Norm Horner taken on Saturday afternoon. And another link to images from http://theband.hiof.no/

Toronto Pop Festival 69
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