Tag Archives: 1969 festivals

Newport 69 Pop Festival

Newport 69 Pop Festival

June 20, 21, & 22, 1969
Devonshire Downs in Northridge, CA
1969 Festival #9

Newport 69 Pop Festival

Newport 69 Pop Festival

Great line-up

The Newport 69 Pop Festival was held on the Devonshire Downs fairgrounds and racetrack in Northridge, California. 24-year-old Mark Robinson organized it . Headlined by Jimi Hendrix, the line-up for the three-day event was impressive. One could easily argue that the line-up was as good as the famed Woodstock would be in less than two months. I have underlined those who would be there as well.

And as I have frequently mentioned, Johnny Winter played at yet another summer 69 festival. Jimi Hendrix appeared twice because of a disappointing Friday performance.

Friday 20 June

  1. Ike & Tina Turner
  2. Albert King
  3. Edwin Hawkins Singers
  4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  5. Joe Cocker
  6. Southwind
  7. Spirit
  8. Taj Mahal
Saturday 21 June

  1. Albert Collins
  2. Brenton Wood
  3. Buffy Ste. Marie
  4. Charity
  5. Creedence Clearwater Revival
  6. Eric Burdon
  7. Friends of Distinction
  8. Jethro Tull
  9. Lee Michaels
  10. Love
  11. Steppenwolf
  12. Sweetwater
Sunday 22 June

  1. Booker T & the MGs
  2. Chambers Brothers
  3. Flock
  4. The Grass Roots
  5. Johnny Winter
  6. Marvin Gaye
  7. Mother Earth
  8. Jimi Hendrix Experience
  9. Buddy Miles
  10. Eric Burdon
  11. Mother Earth
  12. Poco
Newport 69 Pop Festival

Lined up to play

According to an article from laobserved.com, Robinson, “had so many commitments, he had to turn some down, including a legendary band. ‘Grateful Dead wanted to get in, but I didn’t have room. They called several times. I felt bad. I just couldn’t squeeze them in. They made it big after that.'” 

Why isn’t this festival as well-known then? Again Robinson, ““Woodstock was a free music festival where people camped out on a New York farm for days. It rained, and people stayed, and that aspect of it became a national news story,”

Newport 69 Pop Festival

Crashes and Cops

Rolling Stone magazine told a different story a week after the event. The headline read: Crashers, Cops, Producers Spoil Newport 69. Part of it’s review read: Because of this violence, and perhaps as much as $50,000 in damage done to neighborhood homes and businesses, the Los Angeles police commission has launched a full investigation. It could result in new city policies on the granting of concert permits and certainly means there will never be another rock festival held here.

The violence referred to was what happened outside the enclosed concert area on the event’s third day. Here’s the article’s description:

The kids threw bottles and rocks and the police randomly slashed out with batons, causing blood to stream freely. (Those injured were as young as 14.) Teenagers swarmed across a nearby shopping center, causing nearly $10,000 in damage to two gas stations, an equal amount of damage to apartment houses, another $1,500 worth of vandalism at a grocery store. While police demonstrated a sure-fire way of halting a kid – approach him at a dead run, grabbing him by the back of the neck, slamming him head first into a parked car; then club him when he’s down.

Inside on site, things were too tight. Rolling Stone describe those inside: They were not aware of the bloody violence erupting outside the gates. For them there was only the last logjam of humanity that made the festival like attending a high school reunion in a closet. 

Newport 69 Pop Festival

More Bad Press

The New York Times had a similar take on the event:

NYT article

On June 19, Woodstock Ventures had met with Wallkill, NY officials regarding the upcoming festival. The officials laid out their three main concerns:  1. traffic control,   2. sanitation, and 3. water supply.

One imagines that security was added after reading about Newport 69.

Newport 69 Pop Festival
Glenn Archambault sent these observations to me: There was a huge number of cameras and press at Devonshire downs, but little got saved of pictures and the  music. What were we thinking! Janis Joplin was on stage, but wasn’t on the list to play. She said Hi to the crowd but no one snapped a picture? 
Woodstock and Devonshire Downs had a lot in common, many of the same bands. Some of the people on the stage  at Devonshire went to Woodstock. Most of the crowd was well behaved, not nearly as bad as the press said. 
A big memory, I had worked on stage for other companies, Pinnacle Productions Shrine auditorium downtown LA, but when we got going first up Ike and Tina Turner revue, I looked out at the vast crowd, never seen so many people, and  no one had ever tried to play something this big, sound system was short of tens of thousands of people in the back. 
All the bands, management, stage crew, we worked like mad to pull that off, still can’t believe we did it!   
Newport 69 Pop Festival
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WC Handy Memorial Concert

WC Handy Memorial Concert

or the official full name…
The Fourth Annual Memphis Country Blues Festival
and the
First Annual WC Handy Memorial Concert

1969 festival #8

Mississippi Fred McDowell – “Goin’ Down to the River”

WC Handy Memorial Concert

WC Handy Memorial Concert

Memphis Sequicentennial Inc

The poster reads: The Memphis Sesquicentennial Inc. in conjunction with The Memphis Country Blues Society proudly presents The Fourth Annual Memphis Country Blues Festival and First Annual W.C. Handy Memorial Concert The Festival will officially begin Friday June 6 and Saturday June 7, 1969 with three daytime concerts and two evening concerts all in the Overton Park Shell, culminating with the W.C. Handy Memorial Concert in the Mid-South Coliseum on Sunday June 8th. Tickets for the Shell concerts will be available at time of performance only Tickets for the W.C. Handy concert will be on advance sale at many Memphis locations ($2.50 to $5.00) Claude Mabel (artist?)

WC Handy Memorial Concert

Some line-up!

Those who played at this comparatively unknown 1969 festival were:   Johnny Winter, Canned Heat, Backwards Sam Firk, Bukka White, Carla and Rufus Thomas, Insect Trust, Fred McDowell & Johnny Woods, Nathan Beauregard, Sun Smith and the Beale Street Five, Elder Lonnie McIntorsch, Sleepy John Estes, Blues Band, Lum Guffin, The World Greatest Jazz Band, Albert King, The Bar-Kays with Toni Mason, Jo-Ann Kelley, Furry Lewis, Slim Harpo, Rev. Robert Wilkins, John Fahey, Southern Fife and Drum Corps, Booker T. and the MGs, Moloch, Casietta George, Sid Selvidge, Soldiers of the Cross, Robert Pete Williams, Rev. Ishmon Bracey, and Wild Child Butler.

Just as white teenagers had inadvertently discovered so-called race music in the early 50s by way of Elvis and other white artists covering black artists’ songs (albeit often “sanitized” to white standards), many white teenagers had wandered into the Delta blues.

WC Handy Memorial Concert

Father of the Blues

WC Handy is called the Father of the Blues because it was his style of the Blues that became the dominant one in America. It happened in Memphis, Tennessee. Specifically on Beale Street. He did all this in the first part of the 20th century.

As festivals became a way to present lots of music to lots of listeners,  it was natural that a blues-themed festival would happen. The first Memphis Country Blues Festival was in 1966 and in 1969 it’s fourth time was combined with the First WC Handy Memorial Concert.

WC Handy Memorial Concert

Woodstock not

Two names that would appear throughout the summer and particularly at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair were Canned Heat, featuring the vocals of Bob Bear Hite and the guitars of Alan Blind Owl Wilson and Harvey Mandel and Johnny Winter. Both were not just blues enthusiasts, but men who studied the history of the blues.

In other words, this festival featured those who had discovered the blues and those who had helped invent it. And while many of the name are far from household names, their contribution to the art is still important.

WC Handy Memorial Concert

 Speckled Bird not impressed

The Great Speckled Bird was an alternative newspaper based in Atlanta, Georgia. had some less than flattering things to say about the way the festival was managed, especially the time when National Educational Television was recording for a future show. “…the TV crew…had no understanding (much less love) of the music and certainly none for the medium of television. Emcee Rufus Thomas had to read insipidly ‘humorous’ announcement before each ‘act’ ; musicians had to stop…so that ‘sound levels’…could be met.” The article continued, “What could have been a groovy, informal recording of the sights and sounds of country blues and electric rock performances…all was lost in a third-rate stage show.”

The presence of uniformed police did not add to the vibe. The article also pointed out that the older musicians were given short shrift sets compared to younger bands who sets organizers allowed to go on much longer.

One young performer that the Bird felt was OK was John D Loudermilk. Many of us know his…

The purpose of the WC  Handy component was to raise scholarship money.

WC Handy Memorial Concert
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Detroit Rock Roll Revival

Detroit Rock Roll Revival

Michigan State Fairgrounds
May 30 & 31, 1969
Sun Ra…”Atlantis”

First Annual Detroit Rock & Roll Revival

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

1969 festival #6

The First Annual Detroit Rock and Roll Revival is #6 on the list of 1969 festivals . With any of these festivals, one should not look at the price of admission and sigh with envy. Everything looks less expensive, but keep in mind that the 1969 minimum wage was $1.60 and of course, like now, not everyone even earned that minimum. And if you did, your gross pay for a 40 hour week was $64 or $3328 per year [table]

And like nearly every other festival that summer, recording or filming it did not happen. That being the case, we have to imagine what the festival sounded like. Sun Ra is what I placed at the top of this entry. A whole book is necessary to explain the amazing Sun Ra and his many contribution to jazz and the arts.

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

Ubiquitous Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter was there and as I’ve pointed out in the earlier posts on 1969’s festivals Winter was seemingly at all of them.

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

Amboy Dukes

Here is a video of Detroit’s Amboy Dukes doing their big hit “Journey to the Center of the Mind” featuring their young guitarist Ted Nugent (and mini-skirted go-go dancers, of course).

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

Psychedelic Stooges   

The Psychedelic Stooges might not sound familiar, but Iggy Pop and the Stooges certainly will…

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival


The MC5 (“Motor City 5”) were the “big” name and their song “Kick Out the Jams” typified their far left in-your-face pre-punk sound. Under the “management” of John Sinclair. Sinclair was the founder of the White Panthers and was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1969 after giving two joints to an undercover narcotics officer. Sinclair was infamously referred to by Abbie Hoffman at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair that August during the Who set. Pete Townshend was not happy about it.

Here is an amazing example of an MC5 performance two months later at Tarter Field, Wayne State University on July 19.

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival


First Annual Detroit Rock & Roll Revival

  • MC5
  • Chuck Berry
  • Sun Ra
  • Dr John the Night Tripper
  • Johnny Winter
  • Psychedelic Stooges
  • Terry Reid
  • Amboy Dukes
  • SRC
  • Frost
  • Rationals
  • Teegarden & Van Winkle
  • Lyman Woodward
  • Up
  • Wilson Mower Pursuit
  • 3rd Power
  • NY Rock & Roll Ensemble
  • David Peel
  • Lower East Side
  • Red, White, & Blues
  • Sky-Train
  • Savage Grace
  • James Gang
  • Caste
  • Gold Bros
  • Dutch Elm

While not one that might make a Festival Hall of Fame, it certainly had it’s share of great music.

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival
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