Tag Archives: Festivals

1968 Miami Pop Festival

1968 Miami Pop Festival

Before 1969

While my aim is to have pieces describing each of 1969’s many festivals, mentioning a pre-1969 one is often useful as the several that preceded 1969’s memorable year (capped by the Woodstock Music and Art Fair) helped encourage promoters to expand the number.

1968 Miami Pop Festival
Miami Pop Festival

There were two Miami Pop Festivals in 1968. The first one was in May and Woodstock organizer Michael Lang  played a minor role in that festival’s promotion.

1968 Miami Pop Festival
cover for Miami Pop Festival program

The second Miami Pop Festival began on December 28. An estimated 100,000 attended the three-day concert.  It was produced by Tom Rounds and Mel Lawrence, who had previously produced the seminal KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival in California. [A side note, the Fantasy Fair occurred before the Monterrey Pop Festival and so is actually considered the first rock festival.]

According to Rolling Stone (February 1, 1969), the Miami festival was “a monumental success in almost every aspect, the first significant — and truly festive — international pop festival held on the East Coast.” Hallandale city officials, horrified by visions of stoned hippies dancing naked at Gulfstream, nixed plans for a second Miami Pop Festival.

1968 Miami Pop Festival

1968

Among the performers, were future Woodstock stars, the Grateful Dead, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Richie Havens, Sweetwater, Canned Heat, and Country Joe and the Fish.

Of course it’s difficult to find recordings or film of the event, but we are twice lucky. There is a film/still shot combination video of Jimi Hendrix doing “Foxy Lady.”

1968 Miami Pop Festival

The Dead

And of course the Grateful Dead did record their performance. You can listen to it through the AMAZING collection at the Internet Archive site: Dead in Miami

According to Wikipedia’s entry, some unique stories of the event were that:

  • Joni Mitchell invited Graham Nash and Richie Havens  to join her onstage to sing Dino Valenti’s “Let’s Get Together
  • Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Casady played bass guitar with Country Joe & the Fish
  • it was the first rock festival to have separate ‘main’ stages several hundred yards apart (the Flower Stage and the Flying Stage).

There is also some additional information from Miami.com which includes several pictures

1968 Miami Pop Festival

Palm Beach Music Art Festival

Palm Beach Music Art Festival

November 28 – 30, 1969 (Thanksgiving weekend)
West Palm Beach, FL
1969 festival #40
From the “Palm Beach Pop Festival” short
Palm Beach Music & Art Festival
poster for Palm Beach Music & Art Festival. Note how the festival used “music and art” in their title (the earlier Woodstock was the only one to do that) and note the “bird/peace symbol”…too similar to Woodstock’s to be a coincidence
Palm Beach Music Art Festival

Palm Beach

For many people, the only festivals in 1969 were the famous Woodstock Music and Art Fair and the infamous Altamont Speedway Free Festival. There were many more: none larger than Woodstock, all more peaceful than Altamont.

The Palm Beach Music & Art Festival was one of the last that year. It was the 38th of the year.

It ran on Thanksgiving weekend, November 28 – 30, 1969.  Like most of those many other 1969 festivals, little can be found about them. Organizers didn’t record nor film them. Occasionally someone’s hand held movie or recording pops up.

Palm Beach Music Art Festival

Documentary

But over all, the Palm Beach Music & Art Festival remains unknown. There are some still pictures and a group is trying to collect anything anyone has to create a documentary:

Palm Beach Music Art Festival

Sheriff Bill Heidtman

There is a 2009 Palm Beach Post article: Then-Palm Beach County Sheriff Bill Heidtman vowed to make life miserable for the free-loving, pot-smoking, anti-establishment youngsters who were coming to the Palm Beach Pop Festival. He threatened to herd alligators toward the crowd, gathered on a grassy field at the Palm Beach International Raceway. And he promised to dig out fire ant colonies and relocate them at the venue.

Palm Beach Music Art Festival
Palm Beach Music & Art Festival
Palm Beach Music Art Festival

Palm Beach Music & Art Festival

The Festival was at a drag strip outside of West Palm Beach. Among others, Grand Funk played three nights also. The show featured Iron Butterfly, King Crimson (Robin Fripp and Greg Lake), Jefferson Airplane, Rotary Connection (Minnie Ripperton), PG&E, Rolling Stones, Vanilla Fudge, Janis Joplin and Her Full Tilt Boogie Band, Johnny Winters, and others.

On the third night, Winters played, then Vanilla Fudge, followed by Janis Joplin. Afterwards, the announcer said, Johnny wants it, Janis wants it, and the Fudge wants one. All three bands came out on stage and jammed. Winters jammed with the guitar players and scatted with Janis.

Wavy Gravy was there in his WW2 pilot helmet or whatever it was, guiding a car backwards trying to help them and backed them into the pond. We’d like to think he knew it was the police in an unmarked car and put them in the pond on purpose since we know he didn’t do drugs.

2014 Palm Beach Post retrospective article 

Palm Beach Music Art Festival