The Great Lost Rock Festival of 1969

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Atlantic City Pop PosterIn August 1969, a groundbreaking rock festival took place, one of the best ever, witnessed by many thousands of people and featuring an amazing cast of diverse bands. No, I’m not talking about Woodstock, although that one wasn’t bad either. I mean the Atlantic City Pop Festival.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it. Most people haven’t, even the most fanatical baby boomer rock fans. For some reason, the three-day Atlantic City, N.J., bash that took place over the first weekend of that August barely registers a blip in most accounts of rock history.

It’s most likely because AC Pop was overshadowed by the events of a couple of weekends later in upstate New York. Crowds didn’t storm the site to make it a free festival. No foxy hippie girls got naked and went skinny dipping. No one died. No groovy babies were born. It didn’t close the Interstate due to people trying to get to the fest. It was not declared a disaster area. And Joni Mitchell didn’t write a song about it even if she did play at AC Pop (briefly; see below), unlike Woodstock.

People came to rock, over 100,000 of them by most estimates. The bands played. That was it… other than many hours of amazing classic music.

There is almost no existing film footage or audio from the entire weekend in circulation; a YouTube search yields a few grainy, silent clips and less than a minute of Janis Joplin singing. And relatively few still photos exist.

But it definitely happened. I know, because I was there.

The dates were August 1-3, 1969, and it took place at the Atlantic City Race Track, just outside of the old-school resort town on the Jersey shore (this was well before the casino era). As there was no camping allowed, festival attendees arrived and departed each day. A ticket for all three shows cost $15 (or single days for $6) and allowed the holder either a seat in the stands or the right to roam the open field in front of the stage. Due to the excessive summer heat, water trucks periodically doused those on the ground; the rest of us baked.

AC Pop Fest press clip

As it was held at a horse racing track, AC Pop undeniably put out a very different vibe than that of Woodstock. And even though it occurred at the tail end of the ’60s, the use of LSD and marijuana seemed much less prominent – or at least less open. At one point on the opening day, in fact, a stage announcement was made to the effect that those who were worried about being busted for drugs could chill; there were probably a few “narcs” among the crowd but they were unlikely to cause any problems. Out came the joints. If anyone was arrested, it never made the news.

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Atlantic1But even if Atlantic City didn’t gin up the cultural resonance of Woodstock, on a pure musical level it was actually, in some ways, the more diverse festival. Where Woodstock stuck largely to classic rock and folk artists, AC Pop augmented that basic foundation with acts from the worlds of jazz (Hugh Masekela), soul (Booker T. and the MG’s) and blues (B.B. King), as well as one legendary founding father of rock ‘n’ roll (an electrifying Little Richard).

Both Joe Cocker and Santana (mistakenly introduced as the Santa Ana Blues Band) played AC before their big Woodstock breakthroughs, and other giants of rock who would make it to Woodstock – Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band – warmed up there first.

Related: Woodstock performers: Where are they now?

But what made Atlantic City so much different than Woodstock musically was its invitation to artists who did not turn up at Yasgur’s Farm: Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, The Sir Douglas Quintet, The Byrds, Tim Buckley, Three Dog Night, Buddy Miles, The Chambers Brothers, Procol Harum, Chicago [Transit Authority], Aum, Lighthouse, American Dream, Tracy Nelson and Mother Earth and Iron Butterfly all put in appearances at AC and not at Woodstock. So did Joni Mitchell, who famously skipped the Upstate New York gig, although she probably wished she’d passed on this one too: After singing a few tunes, Mitchell complained that no one was listening to her and walked offstage in tears, never to return. Crosby, Stills & Nash were booked but canceled, supposedly because Nash had a polyp on his tonsils.

Atlantic City, emceed by singer-songwriter Biff Rose, also hosted several quirky acts that never journeyed north two weekends later: a still somewhat unknown Dr. John in his guise as the Night Tripper; the avant-garde Lothar and the Hand People.

To purchase photos from the Atlantic City Pop Festival, go here

As a matter of fact, the festival is so obscured in history that there remains some doubt as to who actually did and didn’t perform. Johnny Winter was advertised to play, but never made it. Ditto for the Moody Blues. Blues singer Mississippi Fred McDowell was never advertised yet some accounts show him as having been there. (I don’t recall seeing him.)

One thing for sure is that it all ended on the evening of Sunday, August 3, 1969, with Janis Joplin joining Little Richard onstage for a memorably rockin’ finale. And that was it for the Atlantic City Pop Festival of 1969, to be nearly forgotten almost immediately – except by those who were there.

Related: Listings for 100s of upcoming classic rock festivals

Jeff Tamarkin

177 Comments so far

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  1. Frankiefane
    #1 Frankiefane 25 August, 2015, 21:19

    I was there and remember everyone being great except Join Mitchell! Cool festival! Really cool band named AUM stood out as well.

    Reply this comment
    • chokabus
      chokabus 6 May, 2017, 00:11

      In the evening both CCR and Jefferson Airplane played by the speakers werent working and John Fogerty was ramming his guitar them and the sound didnt improve. The best song was procul harem doing crucifixion lane and the AUM singer jumped off the stage as their set ended. Joe Cocker was even more animated than at Woodstock The Byrds played without Crosby

      Reply this comment
      • Guy Smiley
        Guy Smiley 8 May, 2017, 22:20

        Crosby was long gone from The Byrds by 1969. In fact, apart from McGuinn I don’t know that any of the original members were still in the band at that point.

        It was mostly the McGuinn/Clarence White show at that point (A great show at that!)

        Reply this comment
        • Billy K.
          Billy K. 18 May, 2019, 07:19

          Did Gram Parsons play at that show, then??

          Reply this comment
          • Jeff Tamarkin
            Jeff Tamarkin Author 18 May, 2019, 08:16


          • Gordy
            Gordy 19 November, 2019, 12:04

            It was an awesome weekend. I have told many people about AC FESTIVAL not a single person ever heard of it.

      • Bob D
        Bob D 31 July, 2022, 16:44

        thats because David Crosby left The Byrds 2 years earlier

        Reply this comment
        • Wyatt
          Wyatt 1 August, 2022, 07:36

          Crosby was kicked out of the Byrds not long after Monterey pop festival for his habit of making political statements when Introducing certain songs and for joining another group on stage at Monterey after being asked or told not to by Byrds leader Roger McGuinn . Crosby was a disruptive force in the band .

          Reply this comment
    • Paul
      Paul 1 August, 2017, 17:16

      Remember he jumped off stage and landed on his back
      Great times

      Reply this comment
      • PJ
        PJ 20 June, 2023, 15:08

        I was there with my friend Harold Fitch. I missed Woodstock by not getting to a telephone in time.

        Reply this comment
    • Trek2009
      Trek2009 27 June, 2019, 14:51

      My girlfriend and I were in Atlantic City that weekend, along with another couple, Bruce and Penny. They went to the concert, while Janet and I chose to laze on the beach. I wish now I had gone. It might have given us at least a taste of what Woodstock was like for the thousands who showed up at Max Yasgur’s farm two weeks later. That said, we had a fabulous weekend, one of many fabulous weekends (and weekdays) of one memorable year, thanks to one memorable relationship that ended for all those reasons that first loves end. Then you look back, say your what ifs. Easy to do with the hindsight of wisdom that comes with age. I miss those times, I do. No regrets, Just memories, fond memories.

      Reply this comment
      • bakelitelover
        bakelitelover 1 August, 2019, 17:22

        My girlfriend, Arlene and I went and slept at her Bubbie’s house in Atlantic City. We were 15. We sat in the AC Racetrack stands, and it was pretty orderly. I loved Dr. John (the Night Tripper) singing “Mannish Boy” and being in awe of Janis Joplin in her hot pink outfit!

        Reply this comment
      • Penny Chandler
        Penny Chandler 7 August, 2019, 13:10

        I might be the Penny you’re writing about, since I was there at the time with my boyfriend Bruce. I remember Janet, but I can’t remember your name! That concert was fantastic! I only can remember seeing CCR and Jefferson Airplane! What a fun time that was!

        Reply this comment
      • Penny Chandler
        Penny Chandler 12 August, 2019, 12:48

        Is your name Mark? I’m Penny, and I was with Bruce back then. I remember Janet. That concert was fantastic and one I will always remember!

        Reply this comment
    • Orion
      Orion 25 July, 2019, 09:49

      Joni didn’t feel loved and walked off the stage. Do you remember Janis mooning us?

      Reply this comment
  2. Mikeshea
    #2 Mikeshea 30 January, 2016, 13:31

    Interesting little window on big history. Thanks for such a well written, clear , and coincide piece. I was never aware of this festival prior to this article. Very impressive lineup and in some ways superior to Woodstock (*I would take Little Richard over Sha-Na-Na or Jeff Buckley over John Sebastian any day)Kind of frustrating to know that all of those artists were in this neck of the woods then but did not get up north to Bethel N.Y. Zappa at Woodstock would’ve change everything, I think. Of course, linguistically anyway, “Atlantic City” does not conjure the same mystical /surreal qualities of “Woodstock”. I could not imagine Joni Mitchell dreaming about Bomber Jet Planes Turning into Butterflies over the Jersey Shore , but regardless, it must have been a real blast for everyone lucky enough to go.

    Reply this comment
  3. uptown girl
    #3 uptown girl 5 February, 2016, 21:14

    I was there with my cousin….it was incredible!! the jonie story is true!

    Reply this comment
    • JasonC
      JasonC 22 August, 2016, 16:06

      My father says she was booed off stage.

      Reply this comment
      • Jeff Tamarkin
        Jeff Tamarkin Author 22 August, 2016, 22:07

        Your father is not quite correct. I was there and she walked off the stage for sure. She was still pretty unknown and was upset that the audience wasn’t really listening to her. But she wasn’t being booed, just ignored, so she left the stage in tears after about 3 or 4 songs.

        Reply this comment
        • ARLEEN
          ARLEEN 27 April, 2017, 16:27

          That’s exactly what happened — my husband and I were there too…

          Reply this comment
        • Doug Schenker
          Doug Schenker 4 September, 2017, 11:09

          I remember Joni Mitchell walking off the stage. I found it amazing that she wrote Woodstock when she wasn’t there. If Joni had been there she would probably have complained about the mud and how late thr festivalt was running at Woodstock.

          Reply this comment
          • Late Boomer
            Late Boomer 22 July, 2019, 21:59

            Funny thing is, the story goes that she was on her way to Woodstock but couldn’t get there. She wrote the song and Crosby, Stills, and Nash made a hit of it. So the story goes…

        • RumZ
          RumZ 13 February, 2018, 00:05

          I was there and it was so much better than Woodstock,in retrospect because it was manageable,we bought water for 9 dollars a bottle.Got to met Paul Butterfield.Did they announce about Woodstock ?

          Reply this comment
          • Glenn
            Glenn 25 December, 2019, 15:18

            I was there and I was told about another bigger festival coming up in a few weeks in upper New York state, but I wasn’t given a name. Nobody said Woodstock. I was still in high school coming from Virginia, so this was a long time ago. Anybody with memories of the Miami Pop Festival? Some Virginia musicians I knew played there.

        • Old Timer
          Old Timer 9 May, 2018, 04:25

          You’re right Jeff. I thought it was 4 songs and as a Canadian who already loved her music, tI was heratbroken. I have no recollection of her being booed.

          Reply this comment
        • motomech
          motomech 29 January, 2019, 15:34

          Yes, that’s exactly how I remember her set. The promoters stupidly put her in between high-energy rock bands.

          Reply this comment
          • Nils
            Nils 6 August, 2019, 23:44

            If I remember correctly, she followed Procol Harum , with Robin Trower . Big mistake asking her to follow them.

        • Bill
          Bill 30 April, 2019, 11:07

          Thanks Jeff for a well written piece.I was there with a few friends for the whole gig.The music was great but the stories that happened all around you were just crazy.I smile every time something pops up about it.It was classic in many many ways.

          Reply this comment
        • Billy K.
          Billy K. 18 May, 2019, 07:22

          So, kind of like the Laura Nyro scenario at Monterey, right?? As in the booing business exaggerated…….

          Reply this comment
        • Leslie
          Leslie 15 August, 2019, 17:51

          I was there, too. It’s been a long time but what I recall was that Joni Mitchell followed Tracy Nelson and Mother Earth and they rocked out. The audience wasn’t ready to settle down when Joni came on, with her quiet music and just her piano. I was disappointed that she left the stage though. I think folks would have calmed down given a little time.

          It was an amazing weekend of music. The performers that stand out to me now, after all these years, were Dr. John and the Nite Trippers, Frank Zappa, the Airplane, and Iron Butterfly. But everyone was good. Oh… those good ole days.

          I went to Woodstock, too, and for me, except for the giant horseflies where we camped, I enjoyed AC so much more.

          Reply this comment
        • Wmdeano
          Wmdeano 26 September, 2019, 02:30

          I remember her saying she had just sang the same verse twice and nobody noticed. I thought her walking off was cheesy but, I was not that big a Joni fan.

          Reply this comment
        • Mellotronster
          Mellotronster 14 February, 2020, 03:36

          I remember Lothar and the Hand People. I was interested in electronic musical instruments and they showed up with a theramin and a synthesizer. That caught my attention. I had never heard of them. I didn’t like their set all that much. I remember a lot of woo woo sounds and not what I considered real music at the time. I remember them as being very early in the concert, like Friday afternoon. I wanted to see The Moody Blues scheduled for Sunday night. I waited and waited and they never showed….so disappointed! Procol Harum kind of made up for it. And Santana and Chicago, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, FZ and the Mother’s, Janice…..Everyone!!!! It was so Wow. One of my most cherished memories.

          Reply this comment
        • Marley
          Marley 11 March, 2021, 14:52

          I was there, too and remember Joni very well. Before she left the stage she said, “I just sang the same verse twice and no one even noticed.”…then, she was gone! Also, I take exception to the author’s comment that there was No Camping Allowed. I camped there as well as hundreds of others. Amazing show and weekend!

          Reply this comment
      • alby_tarzia
        alby_tarzia 22 March, 2017, 08:29

        she wasn’t booed off stage; she was “ignored” off stage because people couldn’t hear her acoustic set (solo piano/vocals)…i was very close to the stage when she went on and i could hardly hear her myself…unfortunately for her, she was scheduled during a part of the day with a lot of very loud bands and her sound just got lost…

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      • BD
        BD 16 May, 2017, 17:48

        No, that’s not what happened. Joni was singing using an acoustic guitar. Apparently she was annoyed that she didn’t have a captive audience and “tested” us by singing one verse over again. She then announced that no one was listening and left the stage. That’s when people started booing.

        Reply this comment
      • T.O.
        T.O. 5 April, 2018, 16:30

        True, age was heckled and booed to tears everyone wanted to hear rock&roll

        Reply this comment
        • Jeff Tamarkin
          Jeff Tamarkin Author 6 April, 2018, 12:16

          Not sure what you mean by “age was heckled.”

          Reply this comment
        • Jim Gruffen
          Jim Gruffen 18 September, 2019, 00:47

          Based on your name….T.O. ,, 5 of us drove down from Toronto. Had a great time. Luckily the old van made it back to toronto.

          Reply this comment
          • Dar-old
            Dar-old 19 August, 2022, 23:26

            Missed this one!My first was a 2 day,Toronto,June of’69. Second was Woodstock,which ended 53 years ago today. ROCK ON!!!!!!!! (I missed the one flight out to go see LefZeppelen @ Torontos ROCKPILE [stayed 4 Hendrix].

      • Duke
        Duke 1 January, 2019, 11:51

        She was booed off stage. She seemed very uninterested in performing. Other than that it was a great three days.

        Reply this comment
      • lazurm
        lazurm 11 July, 2019, 23:09

        No, she was mildly booed after leaving the stage. I was REALLY looking forward to her singing and was so disappointed when she walked off (though she did so understandably as the crowd noise was almost unbearable at that moment) that it was the first thing I thought of for years when thinking about this concert.

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    • sammy y
      sammy y 7 December, 2022, 20:59

      Actually, Joni was improperly put in mid-afternoon after some rock bands. The crowd was very noisy, so she walked off the stage during her first song, which was slow. The crowd felt bad and cheered her back to the stage. However, she still did a slow number, and the crowd got super noisy again, so she walked off for good. Anyway, the best festival I have ever been to. I had a ticket for Woodstock, but after seeing huge the crowd was in AC, I thought there would be over one million at Woodstock, so I did not go. DISCLAIMER (I’m 75, so my memory could certainly be faulty. Booker T. and Little Richard (with Janis dancing on stage) were my favorite acts.

      Reply this comment
  4. halinphilly
    #4 halinphilly 7 March, 2016, 16:05

    My Aunt and Uncle had a place in Chelsea, so I crashed at their beach house for the weekend, Or should I say, “THE Weekend”. I think it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was hopelessly hooked on the rock music scene from coast to coast and almost every one of my icons was there. I did regret not seeing the Who, but since I had seen them live a few times already, I didn’t feel completely cheated out of the experience. On the other hand, I got to see Frank Zappa and The Mothers, and the band who replaced CSN and Y turned out to be a great “discovery” for me – the Chambers Brothers! When they broke into Time Has Come Today, I nearly lost mind. I don’t know if anyone els has mentioned this, but on the last day of the festival, on the way to my car, I saw David Peel and the Lower East Side busking outside the stadium. I think they should have been on stage closing out the show officially 🙂

    Reply this comment
  5. Snare10
    #5 Snare10 9 March, 2016, 02:00

    Yes I was there too ! The 3 days were awsome beyond words. Decent weather ( unlike Woodstock). Just the right sized crowd, and needless to say the music was over the top !!!! BTW, Santana was announced as the “Santana Blues Band ” , not Santa Ana. The reason is that they actually were once called Santana Blues Band. Also, there actually was an area to camp. A bit outside the track, there was an area that you set up your tent and parked your car right next to it. I know this cause we did it. I remember all this like it was yeaterday. I (we ) were so blessed to live in these times and to have these experiences.

    Reply this comment
    • SirKlutz-Lush
      SirKlutz-Lush 9 September, 2016, 20:58

      I camped also with three other car loads of my fraternity friends who talked me into going 2 weeks before I was being drafted into the army. Fantastic weekend. I remember AUM rocking the crowd (never heard of them before or after – only 3 guys) and seeing their lead guitarist jumping into the crowd in front of the stage. Then came Joni Mitchell (who I wanted to hear) but the crowd was still buzzing and wasn’t ready for soft sound. She tried her best rocker but couldn’t get the crowd with her so she said “I can’t do this” and walked off. After she didn’t come back is when I remember the crowd booing. I also was told that Little Richard was the replacement for Crosby Stills and Nash by my friend that was a musician in NJ (never made it but knew a great deal about music and bands).

      Little Richard captured the crowd. At one point, he began doing a semi-strip tease, twirling his clothes and throwing some out to the crowd. I had come down from our seats to the stage area at night for Janis Joplin and stayed for Little Richard who closed out Saturday night (80% sure about the night). I came expecting to see the Chambers Brothers and ‘Time’ was tremendous and well done. One night there was a break in from some non-paying fans – the Iron Butterfly Army, that came through the fence opposite the stage and marched across the inner field and melded into the stage crowd. Unfortunately, Iron Butterfly were not the greatest musicians (the only song they could play was Inna-Gada-Da-Vida). I actually have met one person later in life that was also at AC – 69 and stories flew and were remolded by both of our memories. Great times and some of my friends then went to Woodstock and I wanted to go but that was the weekend I was inducted. I called my friends to come and get me so I could go too, but they had better sense and kept me from ruining my life and going AWOL. Instead I listened to the radio all weekend and dreamed.

      Reply this comment
    • Noel
      Noel 7 June, 2018, 19:25

      Your comments are quite correct, unlike some I have read. It seems time causes poeple to remember it differently.
      I thought it was great, except that we had to wait until after noon for the gates to open for each day. I remember the “2:00 a.m. freak express” conga line that snake throught to campers outside the gates at night. Also, there was a trememdous amount of trash in the racetrack building under the seats. Santana was new to me. To see the Airplane and CCR alone made it worthwhile.

      Reply this comment
    • Spirit
      Spirit 10 August, 2018, 18:10

      The “grassy area” was called the greens, and as tailored as they were, the ACR people let us camp there two nights in a row, Bless them.

      Reply this comment
    • Poppy
      Poppy 12 February, 2020, 19:18

      I was at the same campgound.

      Reply this comment
  6. Jim Zim
    #6 Jim Zim 28 March, 2016, 17:20

    I was there and will never forget it.. Inna godda davita went on for hours it seemed with streamers of toilet paper flying .I had a front seat to the show …

    Reply this comment
  7. doc
    #7 doc 28 April, 2016, 18:55

    I was there & have told many people that it was the Woodstock prequel but better due to the amazing lineup of artists, and most people think I am crazy because it has been largely lost to the dustbin of history

    Reply this comment
  8. Buzzy
    #8 Buzzy 3 May, 2016, 22:01

    We had the best time of our lives. Great performances and you could wander between the grandstand and the track area in front of the stage to get a closer look every once in a while. I particularly remember Joe Cocker’s performance – what a trip. All in all, a real “orange sunshine” event!

    Reply this comment
  9. dandelion
    #9 dandelion 5 June, 2016, 01:50

    add me to list, also made woodstock

    Reply this comment
  10. Ray
    #10 Ray 25 June, 2016, 20:43

    Was there on Saturday. I let my part=timers at Wawa go to Woodstock and the tradeoff was my going to AC. Remember walking in bare feet over lfields of broken glass and watching Airplane on the b&w video monitors in the racetrack clubhouse. Great stuff. Also remember Chambers Bros.

    Reply this comment
    • Antonio
      Antonio 17 July, 2016, 22:29

      Chambers were phoenominal!

      Reply this comment
    • RayRay
      RayRay 5 August, 2020, 19:09

      must be video if that was running. I was there with my cousin. me 15 him 16. I stayed mostly by the stage. I stood for 3 days! hot pink Janis mooned right at me. lol. when I heard airplane was there I knew I had to go. loved every minute but really welcomed the evening sans sun. I got so burnt.

      Reply this comment
  11. Antonio
    #11 Antonio 17 July, 2016, 22:28

    Johnny Winter did play, Rollin and Tumblin for one. Also the clip above is probably the only footage on record for Lighthouse (the band that played for Peace ).

    Reply this comment
    • Barry
      Barry 13 July, 2017, 21:48

      Yes, that’s correct, I remember Johnny Winter played last. We started to weave our way out to go home.

      Reply this comment
      • Jeff Tamarkin
        Jeff Tamarkin Author 14 July, 2017, 12:08

        I don’t remember Winter but I’ll take your word for it. I’m pretty sure that Little Richard closed the festival though, with Janis sitting in.

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        • Butch
          Butch 2 August, 2017, 11:35

          Yes….I say little richard closed Sunday night….standing on his piano!!!!!

          Reply this comment
          • Quig
            Quig 30 July, 2022, 18:27

            Yes! You are right! An unbelievable performance. We didn’t think anyone could top Janis but Little Richard did!!

        • R BARRY
          R BARRY 10 November, 2019, 02:18

          Mr. Tamarkin- (A) Yes, Little Richard closed w/ “Shake, Baby, Shake”, and whole crowd shook on way out, all the way to Turnpikes or Bridges. (B) As some commenters have noted, although camping was supposedly prohibited, “the greens” areas were ideal for such, and so thousands of us camped there without complications. (C) Can you confirm what commenters, and I, remember: The Who played, though not listed on Program or showing up on semi-official Playlists?

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          • Jeff Tamarkin
            Jeff Tamarkin Author 11 November, 2019, 12:35

            Thanks for your comment. The Who definitely did not play at Atlantic City.

          • Spirit
            Spirit 31 August, 2023, 13:28

            Sorry, but not true. It was announced over the PA system that the track owners were going to allow anyone to camp on the greens – and we had heard that was going to be the case before we arrived.

    • Snorklehead
      Snorklehead 13 December, 2017, 13:29

      Johnny Winter jams with The Allman Brothers Band on the ABB “Live at the Atlanta Int’l Pop Festival” set, so I’m pretty sure he was there.

      Reply this comment
  12. bkeating
    #12 bkeating 18 July, 2016, 14:49

    A memorable weekend. Too many highlights. Jefferson Airplane played far into Saturday night and Sunday morning. About Janis’ performance, Rolling Stone in her obit not much more than a year later called it one of her finest performances. Having Little Richard close was perfect, bringing rock back to its roots.

    But for years I wondered, “where was the music?” Was it possible that the promoters had let millions of dollars worth of sound waves just escape?

    About 15 years ago, through an intermediary I got an email through to Larry Magid, the chief promoter who had gone on to become the king of concert promoters in Philly. He thanked me for my interest and told me that it had been one of his most enjoyable weekends. But no one had recorded the music. And he knew of no bootlegs, which certainly would have emerged by now.

    Go figure.

    Reply this comment
    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin Author 19 July, 2016, 22:15

      Not only are there no official recordings, there are very few photos!

      Reply this comment
      • Brian
        Brian 5 February, 2018, 19:50

        I have some 8mm footage that’s not great but I’d have to dig it out. Joe Cocker, Mothers, and some others. It was a great weekend…

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  13. Tracy
    #13 Tracy 24 July, 2016, 20:14

    Anniversary coming up. My first and most favorite pop/rock festival experience. It was what made folks want to go to Woodstock – for more – and was responsible for huge word of mouth PR for Woodstock – and, Yes, Lothar and the Hand People and his wonderful Moog Synthesizer was definitely there as an early act. They were great. And Janis said she would sing to stop the rain, and it did stop. Just an amazingly great time.

    Reply this comment
    • Mark
      Mark 29 July, 2019, 22:28

      Lothar and the Hand People did a great version of Danny and the Juniors hit “At the Hop”

      Reply this comment
  14. Will
    #14 Will 3 August, 2016, 02:39

    I was there as well, probably more great Bands played there in 3 days than any other festival ever. I met Todd Rundgren in the crowd !

    Reply this comment
  15. Scott Paton
    #15 Scott Paton 5 August, 2016, 00:22

    Best account ever of this nearly forgotten music fest. I’m guessing the poster is yours, too, Jeff? Priceless! One of my favorite BCB articles yet.

    Reply this comment
    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin Author 5 August, 2016, 12:57

      Thanks! No, I wish the poster was mine. I do have a t-shirt with the poster on front but it’s a recent one.

      Reply this comment
  16. Doug
    #16 Doug 5 August, 2016, 06:47

    I was there. Favorite acts include Janis Joplin, Airplane, CCR, Santana, Joe Cocker and Booker T. & The MGs (who were supposed to be at Woodstock, but drummer Al,Jackson, Jr. refused to get on the helicopter),

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  17. Bill Wax
    #17 Bill Wax 5 August, 2016, 07:26

    I also was there and Lother and the Hand People did indeed play

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  18. Josephpj
    #18 Josephpj 5 August, 2016, 08:15

    I was there all 3 days and as a drummer I was in heaven.
    The bands that stood out to me were; Santana blues band, Chicago Transit Authority & AUM a three piece band that brought the house down with a rendition of Ray Charles, Georgia on my mind, what ever happened to them?
    I at one point thought that may have changed the name to; Grand Funk Railroad, if any one knows I would like to find out what happened to them, One fantastic Band!
    I also have to say it was the first time that I got to see a Latin,Jazz, rock band called Santana what a great show, one time in my young life age 14 I will never forget!

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    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin Author 5 August, 2016, 12:55

      Yes, I remember Aum being pretty great too. I saw them one other time, opening for Creedence at Fillmore East. I also wonder whatever became of them.

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    • Mike
      Mike 28 July, 2020, 13:07

      Joseph…it’s been a while since you posted, but I can fill in some blanks about AUM. I too was at AC Pop and it was a seminal event in my musical history I had seen AUM about 3 months earlier at the original Electric Factory in Philly, opening for Iron Butterfly I believe, so I knew of them and had purchased their Resurrection album. The lead guitarist’s name is Wayne Ceballos. He is still performing today (somewhat mellowed since then) and lives in Austin, TX. You can listen to the old AUM material online.

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  19. rflynn
    #19 rflynn 11 August, 2016, 09:51

    I was there for the Saturday show. I was 14 and my dad took me and my younger brother, on the condition that I promise not to go to Woodstock. Creedence Clearwater Revival was deafening, even at an outdoor racetrack. My dad wanted us to leave and drive back to DC. I threw a fit because I wanted to see my beloved Jefferson Airplane. He relented and we saw JA in their prime.

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  20. BVC
    #20 BVC 31 October, 2016, 05:39

    Great article, & good to see something on this AMAZING weekend! 3 of us, my drummer, his brother & I, made it from Pittsburgh to A.C. for this… to this day, still 3 of the most amazing days of my life! (& Day 2, Aug 2, was my birthday! What a way to celebrate!) And yes, musically historic! As billed, the Carlos Santana Blues Band (2 wks later, the short name was carved in stone, & history!) played their entire 1st album, introducing 16-year-old drummer Mike Shrieve to the world!, as did Chicago Transit Authority, whom most hadn’t yet heard of. Procol Harem played “Thus Sprach Zarathustra” w a live Moog synth – unheard of at the time! Standing ovations for all! B.B. King said he was playing for the 1st time in 13 years… broke into tears when he felt MASSIVE love! CSN were billed on the marquee, but sadly for all, didn’t show. The Who, 10 Years After, the Airplane, CCR, Joplin, Sly & Family Stone, Chambers Bros, who got an enormous dance line, 100s of people coursing through the stands. Remember it all like yesterday! Hendrix wasn’t there… a few other Woodstock greats, but in all, it was about the same show for all 3 days – complete with thunderstorms, rain & lotsa soggy people & sleeping bags! Never dampened the spirits! I saw mention here of a group called AUM. AMAZING. Still have their record, but admittedly they were better live. It’s NO wonder why Woodstock became so huge. As I heard it, we had some 250,000 people at A.C. Racetrack, & the going question by Day 3 was, “Are you going to Woodstock?” Everyone who did likely brought someone… & almost doubled the crowd! What a time that was! They can throw all the festivals they want now… but like the music of the time itself, they will NEVER be able to “recreate” the ACPF or Woodstock. It was History. And yes, I still have my tickets stubs from Days 2 & 3… a little wrinkled, & Priceless!

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    • Cheryl
      Cheryl 8 July, 2017, 19:07

      Hendrix absolutely was there. He was on the left stage where Joplin performed. He came out wearing white and played the Star Spangled Banner. The crowd was transfixed never having heard such a shocking take on the national anthem. I was hardly able to breathe and in awe of his earth shattering guitar version It was as if he turned music upside down by opening a new door. I have always been able to watch this performance in my head. Yea, it totally blew me away. Hendrix

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      • Jeff Tamarkin
        Jeff Tamarkin Author 9 July, 2017, 12:12

        Thanks for your comment, but no way did Hendrix play “The Star Spangled Banner” at Atlantic City. Maybe at another festival but not that one. And of course he played it at Woodstock two weeks later. I was at Atlantic City and saw Janis’ set. She did a couple of duets with Little Richard at the end, but no Jimi. I’ve never even seen anyone mention that before, let alone any documentation.

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      • Spirit
        Spirit 10 August, 2018, 18:08

        Sorry, Cheryl, but Jimi Hendrix wasn’t on stage or anywhere near Atlantic City that weekend.

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      • Tom
        Tom 30 January, 2022, 20:28

        I definitely remember Jimi Hendrix playing Star Spangled Banner with Janis Joplin onstage.Wild day!

        Reply this comment
        • Jeff Tamarkin
          Jeff Tamarkin Author 1 February, 2022, 07:46

          That definitely did not happen at the Atlantic City Pop Festival, although Little RIchard did join Janis onstage

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        • Carl
          Carl 2 April, 2022, 23:06

          I was there and handed out free watermelon . Saw two people I went to school with . It was the last thrill before Uncle Sam had my next 3 years

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      • Norman Gaines Jr.
        Norman Gaines Jr. 28 July, 2023, 22:25


        Reply this comment
  21. Albert
    #21 Albert 4 November, 2016, 22:00

    Joni Mitchell definitely walked off stage no one was listening to her. The Chambers Brothers and Janis Joplin were amazing beyond words. Camped out nearby and remember the relief with the fire trucks doused the crowd to the oppressive heat. Still have my peace pin purchased at the festival for $5. I proudly display it with other memorabilia I have from that era

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    • Jaws
      Jaws 19 March, 2023, 18:30

      After reading all the comments and the memories people have I realize the benefits sometimes of having documentation. As time goes on memories fade and events start to blend together. Who was there who wasn’t etc. We know who played at Woodstock since we have film to prove it. I have a friend that was the Atlanta Pop Festival and other than him saying he had an amazing time I had never heard about the concerts themselves. Thanks for all the sharing!

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  22. Ann
    #22 Ann 20 January, 2017, 09:48

    Thanks for this article. I was there but there but theres so little written and known about this festival I thought maybe I was high and dreamed it LOL. I remember Joni walking off because “no one was listening” Hey I realized she sang the verse twice what should I have done yelled Hey Joni you screwed up Such a diva huh? LOL Good time, good people GREAT MUSIC!!

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  23. drjiggyfly
    #23 drjiggyfly 11 February, 2017, 19:12

    I was there, too. Santana was unknown at the time and just blew me away. Almost got run over in my sleeping bag when people started driving across the grass to avoid the stalled traffic.

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  24. Ron
    #24 Ron 8 March, 2017, 22:05

    I went with girlfriend from Cape Cod on a 175 Bridgestone motorcycle and we arrived and camped on the grounds for two nights. Awesome show!!

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  25. radiojohn
    #25 radiojohn 22 March, 2017, 21:52

    OK, I was just out of the Army and didn’t go to Woodstock because I had to drive to California to go to school. But I went to this with a friend from the Associated Press and got a bird’s eye view. I have slides of it! And a buton. People climbed up the very tall stadium flagpoles and stuck there heads in the very, very large stadium speakers.

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  26. KO
    #26 KO 27 April, 2017, 12:05

    A bunch of my friends and I rented a Ryder box truck and headed down to Atlantic City from Connecticut. We’d made a hand-painted, very colorful sign that said “Atlantic City or Bust” and hung it above the truck cab. Those riding in the back kept the door open a few inches so we could all breathe. I remember that, at one point, we were rumbling down the New Jersey Turnpike when suddenly, the truck slowed, pulled to the side of the road and ground to a halt. Had no idea what was going on until the back door opened and there stood two NJ State Troopers. They surveyed the lot of us then asked, “You haven’t got any marijuana in, there do you?” “Oh no, sirs! No – that would be illegal!” Of course, a cloud of smoke had whooshed out the door when the troopers had opened it. Amazingly, they just shook their heads then let us move on. As we pulled back onto the highway, the troopers had their lights still flashing and followed us for a while. Before they pulled away, one said over the loud speaker, “You look groovy” and gave us the peace sign.

    I don’t remember a whole lot of details about that weekend, except not getting a lot of sleep and having the climb the chainlink fence to get in–even though I’d bought tickets, they’d been stolen. My absolute favorite musician at the time was Janis and I snuck ’round back of the stage when she was waiting to perform. She turned and smiled at me as I snapped her photo. It was the only performance photo I took, unfortunately.

    Three days of little sleep, bad/no food, too much partying, in-fighting among the group of friends over paying for the van and the rest did me in–when I got back home, I was sick for days. When my boyfriend started talking about doing it all over again and heading to Woodstock, I just flat-out said ‘no way!”

    Reply this comment
    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin Author 27 April, 2017, 20:05

      Great story! Isn’t it weird how so many of us who were there remember so little detail about it? Of course it WAS 48 years ago!

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      • Rick
        Rick 1 May, 2017, 19:30

        CSN did show up at the last minute. The organizers would not let them play. I was standing about 20 feet from them while Crosby was screaming “this is a f-n pop festival! Why can’t we play?”

        Reply this comment
    • Mickey
      Mickey 18 May, 2019, 08:42

      haha! Great story! I drove to Woodstock from Vt in my 61 Beetle which I had painted up with poster paint, done by the kids in the local rec program I was running that summer. It looked “groovy”. The cops that pulled us over somewhere in NY thought so too. Go figure.

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  27. BD
    #27 BD 16 May, 2017, 17:59

    I always tell people about this festival because it was so awesome. It’s been frustrating not to find much history written about it. The guy who has slides needs to dig them up and share, man, share!!

    Reply this comment
  28. Jeffro
    #28 Jeffro 6 July, 2017, 01:38

    I was 14 years old and I went there by bus from Philly by myself. I couldn’t convince anyone else to go but I really had to do it. The music was a cultural explosion. The most memorable part for me was CREEDENCE Clearwater Revival and Hugh Masekala.

    The other most memorable part was LIFTING A POSTER OFF A POLE WHICH I STILL HAVE TO THIS DAY (yep I had to yell that part) on my way to the bus. I got back to Philly by bus because I didn’t want to get stuck there overnight by missing the last bus. It was so late that I missed the last train to the suburbs (Media, PA). Had to walk home in the middle of the night as no one would give me a ride. I saw a kids bicycle and …… Hey I had to do what I had to do.

    I have to say I always wondered who the girl with the multi colored face was on the poster and why the hell they ruined a beautiful face with such an bad design. It should have worked but it just didn’t.

    My friends and I all decided to go to Woodstock (where is this Woodstock???) a couple of weeks later but his parents were away. We looked at each other and said “why drive hours in this rain- it is raining so hard” let’s just party here at the house, exactly what we did.

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  29. MA2AZ
    #29 MA2AZ 14 July, 2017, 15:29

    Well, over the 4th of July weekend, 1969 There was the Newport Jazz Festival. I was a bit naïve and didn’t know I should have gotten there a day or two early. It was jammed with people. Needles to say our ‘reserved’ tickets were useless; I recall reading about it later and the authorities didn’t know what to make of it. It was the 1st or 2nd year they also had rock and blues artists. First time I had heard of Jethro Tull. I didn’t stay the whole weekend, but it was really amazing. Got to see most of the acts within a year or so of that summer.
    Also, my future wife (who I hadn’t met yet) got stuck in the traffic going to Woodstock and turned around and went home. I guess neither of us were the adventurous type.

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  30. Norman
    #30 Norman 31 July, 2017, 17:27

    The Wikipedia listing of groups is wrong – it doesn’t have The Looking Glass who had the hit song “Brandy”. Back then it wasn’t a cliche song and I think they were the only group there that had a current Top Ten hit on AM radio, which was the standard then. By the way, they were quite good. The few of us who did this festival and then did Woodstock had a rude shock coming….we went from the best organized rock festival in the era to one of if not the worst one two weeks later. To get to AC we took a subway to the Port Authority Terminal, got a bus to Atlantic City where there were shuttle buses to the track/festival. They even let us tent camp on the track greenspace overnight. When the festival was over, we just reversed the process. To get to Woodstock…we took a bus from NY to Bethel. We hitched a ride with a chicken farmer to “the race track”. We then walked the last 10 or so miles, all of which took about 12 hours. Going back we walked some, hitched a ride to the Bethel Greyhound office, slept on the sidewalk until the bus came…sound like fun to you? Good nostalgia? AC was the better festival in almost every way, including musically.

    Reply this comment
    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin Author 1 August, 2017, 09:40

      Looking Glass didn’t have “Brandy” until 1972 and were definitely not at Atlantic City. Enjoyed your story.

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    • Norman Gaines Jr.
      Norman Gaines Jr. 28 July, 2023, 22:31

      Looks like I was wrong about Looking Glass. Was that The Festival of Hope instead? Thanks for the correction. Lighthouse was outstanding though, as were Jefferson Airplane and Booker T and The MGs. Did they ever play another rock festival?

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  31. Norman
    #31 Norman 31 July, 2017, 17:45

    It’s a real shame this festival isn’t better known. It’s kind of like The Festival of Hope – a great music festival but almost unknown except to the lucky ones like myself who were there.

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  32. Steve F
    #32 Steve F 2 August, 2017, 17:45

    Thanks for writing about this festival. I do love reading the stories about all the fabulous concerts I unfortunately missed! I collect sixties posters and this one is truly rare. It could be almost as rare as the Altamont poster. I missed one on ebay last week – one of the best ones I’ve ever seen too. Keep on writing this stuff!

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  33. Ron S.
    #33 Ron S. 8 August, 2017, 22:41

    I also was there for one of the greatest experiences of my life.
    To be ONE with 70,000 on their feet waving the Peace sign for Janis was unforgettable. Chartered a bus in Montreal with 50 others and made great memories. A tragedy that it wasn’t filmed or recorded.

    Reply this comment
  34. Dr Bob
    #34 Dr Bob 8 January, 2018, 20:27

    As the stage stated to turn, The Byrd’s started their set with “Turn Turn Turn “. The Mothers were powerful! Zappa earned my kudos as a lead guitarist that day. It was just as hot out as it was at Woodstock that weekend. I do remember some Kat in some kind of Indian garb in the stands on some acid who was gonna jump off but said he wasn’t that f***ked up! We were all choking on some kind of powder that was in the air! Santana was great even though they opened during the noon day heat! Great memories that summer! I played in an area band called Colorless Rainbow and had to be the best summer of my life!

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  35. Joel
    #35 Joel 3 February, 2018, 08:32

    I often tell people that it was probably better than Woodstock, because many of the same people were there, and the sound system worked, plus I had a seat with some protection form the rain. Joni wasn’t booed off, but stopped on her own and left the stage. Then people booed. During the Zappa set, he stopped and made an announcement. It was (paraphrasing) that people were crawling around under the stage and that there were many wires under there. He asked that they please move out, because if someone happened to fry themselves he would have to stop playing for a few minutes while they fixed the short.

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  36. RumZ
    #36 RumZ 13 February, 2018, 00:08

    Yea it was the best no rip off at Woodstock we paid 9 dollars for water.Mud AND SHIT MIX WAS TOUGH. The bands were the to meet Paul butterfield,It was close to my home.

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  37. Guru19
    #37 Guru19 2 June, 2018, 00:32

    I remember Carlos Santana coming onstage with the band and said “This is our second gig…the program says ‘Santana Rock Blues Band’….just call us Santana…you’ll hear from us”….but I can’t remember the songs CTA(Chicago) played..also Iron Butterfly played In Gadda Da Vida for 35 minutes….it was 19 minutes on the album…..fantastic piece,,,,great writing

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    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin Author 2 June, 2018, 12:05

      Thanks. I remember Carlos saying that as well, but I think they were actually billed as the Santa Ana Blues Band!

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  38. V
    #38 V 14 June, 2018, 15:39

    Hey Jeff,I was definitely there and have lots of photos in which I was looking for Iron Butterfly, but could not find. The gal who said Jimi H was there probably saw him at the Atlanta Pop Fest the next year, July 1970..played a killer Star Spangled Banner at midnight with fireworks resembling our flag. Those were the days!

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  39. Jayk
    #39 Jayk 5 July, 2018, 10:41

    Jeff, in your description, noting “no camping” took place. In a sense, there was camping, only it was at Wharton Track..adjacent to Lebanon State Forest, just off route 206. “Freddie’s Lake,” more commonly known as the “Hidden Lakes.” Rt 206 to Rt 9 south. We went by motorcycle but I recall the pileup of cars at AC International in Pomona…we got through it simply because we were on cycles.

    Reply this comment
    • Pat
      Pat 26 March, 2019, 11:51

      We camped just outside the racetrack gate on the lawn next to the Garden State Parkway.
      during the concert, I saw a guy walk up to a Cop and ask for a light for his joint. The kind Cop obliged!

      Reply this comment
  40. Janice
    #40 Janice 1 August, 2018, 10:22

    I can still remember her black limo coming down the racetrack to pick her up. Most of us weren’t even aware of what happened until it was over. Best weekend of my life!!! ❤️

    Reply this comment
  41. rhino
    #41 rhino 2 August, 2018, 00:52

    I was working the summer in AC. NJ Transit ran buses from AC to the track and back. I was able to work, catch a bus enjoy some great music and get back to go work. What a great time. I remember being on the track when Jefferson Airplane was moving their equipment and also that ‘Inagadadevita’ that just kept going.

    Reply this comment
  42. BB
    #42 BB 18 August, 2018, 19:09

    Lother and the Hand People were the second band that weekend they followed Aum. The third act was a Philadelphia band American Dream who had Al Cooper playing with them that day. There wasn’t organized camping but we set up camp along with our car right outside the race track. We called it “Tranquility Base” as the festival was 12 days after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Some memories are Procul Harum’s Salty Dog complimented by the local seagulls was so cool! Lighthouse doing Eight Miles High. Bob “the bear” Hite and Canned Heat always a great band live! Dr.John and his entourage taking the stage. Joni leaving the stage, I don’t remember who she followed but I do remember it was not a good slot for her that day. It really was a matter of her following the wrong act, the crowd wasn’t ready to be mellow. Seeing Zappa and The Mothers for the first time. Santana’s Soul Sacrifice, Janis and Little Richard, CCR, The Airplane the list goes on. I have a home at the Jersey shore so I’ve been back to the track a couple times over the years just to stand there and reminisce. Absolutely one of the best weekends of my life! There is no question I was very fortunate to grow up with those bands of the 60’s and early 70’s

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  43. Al B
    #43 Al B 2 September, 2018, 15:17

    What a magical weekend that was! All my friends who shared it with me are now mostly just memories of a distant past and a time when we were Young and free. A shout out to the gang who shared those wonderous 3 days with me – Squid, Weed, Geez, Cindy, and beautiful Sonny (Sonya). Wherever life has taken you – remember those days of our youth. May love and peace follow you for all your lives!

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    • Al B
      Al B 1 August, 2023, 14:12

      It’s 5 yrs on and I couldn’t resist commenting one last time. I only wish I could have known all who have added their experiences during that magical weekend. We lost Squid (Vietnam) and Geez has left us too. I still wonder where my beautiful Sonny (Sonya Springfield) has landed. I was a stupid 19 yr old back then and have many fond memories of what it was like to be so young and free. I’m a 73 yr old man now, but still young at heart. Our memories are sometimes a bit burnished by time but they still burn brightly in our minds. Nothing can ever diminish them because they are the essence of who we were and what we are today. I have to admit that I don’t remember many of the acts who performed during the 3 days but I really enjoyed Lighthouse and I felt a little sorry for Joni, but she was just in the wrong spot, having to follow the likes of Procol Harem. Got to see Crosby, Stills and Nash a few yrs later at the AC Race Track with Santana opening. It stormed that day, unlike the crazy heat at the Festival. But I digress. We were a blessed generation in some ways; a wonderful sense of freedom (no cell phones, no computers, no Facebook, tik tok, or other mind dumbing distractions) that allowed us to express ourselves without repression. Peace and Love to all you old hippies who shared such unparalleled experiences.
      P.S. If any of you see or know Sonny please tell her she will forever have a special place in my heart.

      Reply this comment
  44. Eman
    #44 Eman 3 September, 2018, 17:09

    Was 21 and there with 4 others. Kept running into people from the neighborhood in Brooklyn. Stayed 36 hours but ran out of brain cells. Music was first rate. Lighthouse playing Chest Fever sent me to the moon. B.B. King got like 5 encores. People were sitting in huge speakers. Highest place ever.

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  45. Fletch
    #45 Fletch 12 September, 2018, 18:23

    Great reading the article & 44 comments above. I’m English – was working at Shelburne Hotel on the Boardwalk and one of the guys had a car. Took us there on Sunday. Remember Janis, Cocker & Little Richard. Amazing experience and as someone said already, coming soon after the Moon landing, just seemed like America was best place in the World. Weird how everyone remembers Woodstock instead: must be the much-shown film.

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  46. Rich
    #46 Rich 25 September, 2018, 00:03

    I remember being there on Saturday night with the girl I had been madly (and one widely) in love with since 1961 when we both in sixth grade. We came late because she was was working that night at the Dairy Barn in Woodbury Heights so we only saw a couple of bands. I specifically remember Credence Clearwater and Jefferson Airplane.

    We had tickets, but it was so crowded that we could not get down to the seats where my friends were who had come earlier that day. So we watched some of the performances from afar and some on the TV screens in the grand stand. Progressive music was just not her thing though so we wound up leaving before the Jefferson Airplane had even finished

    Two weeks later I and some of the same friends went up to Woodstock with even less success. We were stuck in that awful traffic jam on Friday night and never got within ten miles of the concert site before leaving Saturday afternoon. At least though I had seen a few songs at AC.

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  47. fredfancon
    #47 fredfancon 10 November, 2018, 10:45

    Being a little inebriated most of the time, I remember only bits and pieces of it at age 19. A friend who was going to make the 500-mile drive from Ontario cancelled so went alone in my 63 Corvair Monza, arrived sometime Saturday morning. Spent two or three nights, can’t remember exactly, sleeping on the grass but nobody bothered me.

    One motorcycle cop was ferrying lightly dressed girls around, sometimes three of them embracing him from the back of his Harley, laughing his head off. Went into town to get more Drambuie where it was forbidden to be on the boardwalk without a shirt and shoes.

    I don’t remember who most of the bands were except for a few that I had followed because I thought they were important such as Richie Havens and Frank Zappa. Stood a few feet from Janis Joplin before she went on stage. She was swallowing from a bottle of bourbon and I was astounded at how elderly and dissipated she looked.

    Before I left somebody gave me a pill, said it was synthetic mescaline, the only street pill I’ve ever taken. Kept me awake for nearly a day during which I managed to find the New York State Turnpike going north, approaching a roll of toll booths and picking the line that was empty and blasting through it without slowing down. Nobody chased me but I soon got mixed up and ended up near the detroit-windsor border where I picked up a hitchhiker wearing Army fatigues. We crossed the border and headed east towards Toronto. In the middle of nowhere somewhere around London Ontario, he yelled “stop this is where I’m going”. After he retrieved his long duffle bag from the back seat I reached over to close the door and he said “wait, this is for you”. He opened the bag which had about 2 bushels of grass wrapped in smaller bags and nothing else. Gave me one of the bags which must have weighed a few pounds. Last time I drove a hitchhiker across the border. My little brother and his friends stole most of it.

    Nearly 30 years later I happened to be in a Johannesburg bar when Richie Havens and his accompianist turned up unannounced and played a set. It had been many years since I paid any attention to the music scene but it brought back memories. As I was having a fag outside on the sidewalk he came through the door and I mentioned that I had heard him in AC. We chatted for an hour, what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he was, made my trip.

    The driving behavior wasn’t unusual for those less crowded times and it would be another half dozen years before I realized how stupid some of my behavior had been, not just for me but dangerous to other people too.

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    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin Author 10 November, 2018, 13:31

      Great story, but Richie Havens did not play the AC Pop Festival. Zappa did, however.

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      • fredfancon
        fredfancon 10 November, 2018, 15:45

        Ha! Maybe somebody else reminded me of him. At any rate it shows what a gentleman he was for humouring me so many years later.

        Reply this comment
  48. George Liebert
    #48 George Liebert 2 December, 2018, 12:41

    I was at the Saturday show-lot of B groups…BB King, Biff Rose, Tim Buckley, Butterfield Blues Band, also, American Dream, Jefferson Airplane

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  49. Fred
    #49 Fred 31 January, 2019, 11:12

    I remember when Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were performing the man in the yellow raincost. He made his way int othe infield next to the stage and exposed himself. The cops and security had a hard time getting to the infield, then he ran around in circles as they chased him, much to the amusement of the crowd.

    Then after the concert was over there was a massive traffic jam. We were sitting in gridlock not movin. The cops were chasing a guy dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He was running across the roofs and hoods of the gridlocked cars. In the August heat! Good times.

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  50. steve space
    #50 steve space 1 May, 2019, 14:06

    Okay! I was one of the fools who climbed the light towers !(very tall) and also stuck my head in the speakers ! (my hearing is still excellent)Chris Hillman was there with McGuinn 2 original members. I mistakenly thought since there were video monitors everewhere, that it was being videotaped!(Wrong!) It was much more sanitary than Woodstock because they had real rest rooms, not port-o-sans! The Alfred Hitchcock movie “Marnie” had a brief scene with Sean Connery filmed at Atlantic City race track! Also, there is a Procal Harum bootleg of thier entire set at A. C. Even though I was “not sober” I remember the late ’60s contrary to the saying! I told my Mum I wanted to go to Woodstock 2 weeks later, and she said”No more LSD festivals for you!!

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    • Mort
      Mort 18 May, 2019, 09:02

      Hahaha! LSD festivals! Is that what they were? No wonder I can’t remember them.

      Reply this comment
  51. Richard
    #51 Richard 3 May, 2019, 17:08

    Well I remember this wild weekend very well. I have referred to it often as the precursor to Woodstock. Some of the same bands CCR and Procol Harum stood out for me but there were so many great performances. On Saturday afternoon in the blazing heat we stood in line for food and drink. In front of us was Jeff Buckley! He had no special privilages. He was just hanging out with the crowd. God I wish there was visual documentation of this monumental musical event!

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  52. King
    #52 King 11 July, 2019, 17:56

    I went on Saturday and saw Butterfield, BB, the Byrds and get this…Booker T. & the MGs. The poster etc. say that they were scheduled for Friday, but being a huge Steve Cropper fan, I was blown away to see them on the Saturday show. Anyone remember that? First time I saw real “raw” hippies and they struck me as pretty weird. No Woodstock for me! 😉

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  53. OldMan
    #53 OldMan 13 July, 2019, 19:47

    I was there too. Frank Zappa was upset and played a 50 instrumental. Then walked off stage.

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    • Mellotronster
      Mellotronster 14 February, 2020, 03:50

      Yeah but that was some instrumental. He was upset. I remember it as he was upset because he felt that all everyone wanted to hear was his satire, which he did do a bit of. Something happened, I don’t know what but I remember him getting angry. Angry enough to want to show everyone what he could do with a guitar. So yeah for 50 minuets he played an incredible set of progressive rock.

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  54. Bangor Bob
    #54 Bangor Bob 17 July, 2019, 15:49

    I was there for all 3 days. A great festival! I had been monitoring the news reports about Woodstock being on again – off again so my buddies and I opted for AC Pop. The Electric Factory people had much experience putting on music & did a great job. My memories are of great shows by Santanta, CTA, CCR and the Chambers Bros. No- Hendrix was not there.

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  55. Mark
    #55 Mark 29 July, 2019, 22:32

    BB King came out to a bit of a lukewarm reception and even some boos because in his 3 piece suit some probably considered him “the man” (in the negative sense). But once people heard him they changed their tune very quickly.

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  56. Shadow
    #56 Shadow 1 August, 2019, 15:59

    I was there with a friend! Rented a room in AC but never used it. Slept at the race track. Had a ball. Loved Janis, Little Richard was great as was the Chambers Brothers. Because I wasn’t supposed to be there( I was 17 and grounded) I didn’t make Woodstock. No lose for me. Concert was great

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  57. neil
    #57 neil 3 August, 2019, 17:16

    We drove from Texas. I had an ss396 and we averaged 90 mph the whole way. My buddy brought a 16mm camera. Unfortunately, he died of a drug overdose years later and the footage is probably lost. Tim Buckley blew my mind. No one mentioned Miles Davis. Some bad voodoo there. Zappa gave the crowd the finger after most of his songs. Bought some acid from a dude and it hit when creedence walked onto the stage. What a night. It’s a shame no one talks about this festival. Best line up ever.

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  58. TK
    #58 TK 18 August, 2019, 19:29

    Many thanks for this article. I was there with a few friends. I don’t remember much except I have a clear memory of the Chamber Brothers singing Time Has Come Today. It also pinpoints a time frame relative to Woodstock. I went there with a different friend. We stayed only one night because we were completely unprepared and because of the misery factor of everything being water logged.

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  59. Tom Noddy
    #59 Tom Noddy 19 August, 2019, 03:35

    I dropped out of college that year. I left Memphis and hitchhiked back to New Jersey where I picked up a few things from my parents’ home and headed to Greenwich Village and then to the Newport Jazz Festival. They had a lot of rock and blues acts that year and they had a lot of people like me who arrived with no money and no tickets.

    The festival there had wooden fences that didn’t hold up well when masses of people pushed their way in.

    Atlantic City Pop was more secure, the fences weren’t temporary, large chain link fences with turnstiles and such. As others have noted, there was camping there and it was a colorful scene. One night a group of people who called themselves Ripple City organized a big smoke-in … had everyone sharing their stash and all lighting up at once. The next day they snake danced through the campgrounds calling together people who had no tickets. When they led them all to the front entrance the leader, a guy carrying an American flag with a peace flag on the staff below it, stepped up and called to the security people at the front “We’re coming in!”

    The security guy tried to explain that if they didn’t have tickets they couldn’t get in and the guy interrupted him to say “No, you don’t understand, We …” here he pointed to the many many people who had gathered ” … don’t haven’t any tickets and we’re coming in or we’re wrecking your fucking turnstiles.” The security guy could be seen getting on a phone and … I was never certain whether this was a direct response to this challenge or an unrelated act, but the very tall vehicle gate to the right side of the turnstiles opened up and the whole crowd ran in behind this guy with the flags.

    The paying ticketholders were in the stands but these new invaders were able to go right up to the stage … the party had moved on to the infield and the ticketholders came down to party too.

    It was a great weekend and all of these people who’d made all of these friends over the weekend could be heard calling out “See you at Woodstock” as they parted. According to the rumors, this Woodstock thing was going to be really something … surely Dylan would be there because he and The Band lived up there and all of these other bands … some people were sure that the Beatles would be getting back together for it and no one would have been surprised if Jesus returned for this event that we all knew would be some big party..

    I went to Woodstock too … no Beatles or Jesus but … they were right about the party.

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  60. Dr. Rockington
    #60 Dr. Rockington 26 September, 2019, 15:13

    I was there all day Sunday. I remember seeing these 5, in this order. Sir Douglas Quintet, Santana, The Mothers Of Invention, Janis Joplin, Little Richard. Can anyone else remember any other bands that played on Sunday. Thanks, Randy Borresen

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    • Howard
      Howard 16 January, 2021, 21:41

      I believe 3 Dog Night was on Sunday. My girlfriend Sara & I left when it was announced Johnny Winter a no-show. Hitched a ride to Castor & Cottman in Philly as bud was nowhere to be found.

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    • Fighterflea
      Fighterflea 23 June, 2023, 19:45

      Sir Douglas Quintet, Lighthouse, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sha-Na-Na, Canned Heat, Three Dog Night, Santana, Frank Zappa and the Mothers, Dr, John the Night Tripper, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin with Big Brother, Little Richard

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  61. sriprank
    #61 sriprank 17 January, 2020, 11:17

    We camped very close by. I remember it was in the woods not sure if it was a real campground. I remember it raining while Janis was performing and she stepped into a puddle and got shocked. The mic shorted out and she yelled ‘motherfucker’.

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    • Orion
      Orion 11 May, 2020, 23:51

      Okay, so it’s been 50+years now. Does anybody remember the fire company arriving one afternoon with tanker trucks that sprayed water in the infield so us hippies could get showers? And some of them, boys and girls getting nekkid?

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      • Jeff Tamarkin
        Jeff Tamarkin Author 12 May, 2020, 08:20

        I remember it.

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        • Bll
          Bll 18 August, 2023, 00:46

          Correction: I was there Sunday and remember hippies getting naked and playing in the pond in the infield. I even had 8mm film of it for years.

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          • Jeff Tamarkin
            Jeff Tamarkin Author 18 August, 2023, 11:53

            I also have some silent Super 8 film from the festival but I need to get it digitized one of these days.

  62. Jim
    #62 Jim 13 February, 2020, 19:11

    Byron Ga 1970 Atlanta 2nd Pop Festival was the best .. Jimi Hendrix was at peak

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  63. Earthmom Bote
    #63 Earthmom Bote 3 August, 2020, 06:01

    I remember that. When Zappa ventured into some jazz-tinged material that was unfamiliar to many of us, some of the crowd sitting near by us got pretty rowdy and booed him. (Probably the same people who booed Dr. John, who was also phenomenal.)
    Mr. Tamarkin, your article brings back memories of this incredible concert that I had nearly forgotten. Thank you.

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  64. Bob
    #64 Bob 11 January, 2021, 02:39

    I was there as I lived in S. Jersey. I thought it was great. I was 17, then.

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  65. Worrierking
    #65 Worrierking 2 May, 2021, 22:48

    The weekend of the AC Pop Festival, I was in Basic Training at Ft. Bragg. My girlfriend/future wife and our best friends went and they told me all about the festival. On August 15th, I finished training and started a week’s leave. The four of us headed for Woodstock and got as far as the NY Freeway and got stuck in traffic. I missed AC, got within a few miles of Woodstock. But lucky me, I did get to see the other decade defining event. In November ’69, I got a free trip to Vietnam.

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  66. BuckDunn
    #66 BuckDunn 1 August, 2021, 15:59

    Better lineup than the Lewisville International Pop Festival? Not so sure.

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  67. Jeff
    #67 Jeff 28 September, 2021, 22:58

    I was invited to ride along with some friends who were loading their Chevy station wagon to go up to some other rock concert, some place called Woodstock. I was just about recovered from the Atlantic City festival the previous weekend, and I said, “No thanks man, I just did that thing. Have fun!”
    As it happened, they never got further than the great Thruway Jam, so it’s just as well I didn’t ride along.
    Must have had a good time in AC…. I hardly remember anything except the Airplane, one of my all time favorite groups.

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  68. Luig
    #68 Luig 26 July, 2022, 09:38

    These posts have been wonderful in restoring context to my memories of that weekend. I hitchhiked up from the Baltimore area and it must have been on Saturday as I remember Credence performing as well as the Jefferson Airplane sound and light show. At some point l wound up going over one of the chain link fences which I recall being about 8′ high and caught my hand on one of the barbs on top. I was still recovering from that experience 2 weeks later when Woodstock went off. I still have the scar and fine memories of the music and lightshow from that weekend.

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  69. Gale
    #69 Gale 26 November, 2022, 23:08

    It was fabulous music! Not fair putting Joni on after Tracy Nelson blew us away singing Down So Long. I was broken hearted when she walked off. Santana … Jefferson Airplane … Janis … Little Richard… loved every minute Beg to disagree about one thing – we had a contact high all weekend. And were among those who camped outside of the fence

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  70. Jeff
    #70 Jeff 17 March, 2023, 18:32

    I was there for this. I took the bus from Philadelphia. I had to leave to catch the bus back but on the way to the bus door I walked over to a utility pole and grabbed the poster for it. I still have the poster. Funny to see the prices I could barely afford for this event.

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  71. Dukie74
    #71 Dukie74 15 July, 2023, 15:13

    I was there for Sunday only. Amazing festival and far better organized than videos I have seen of Woodstock. The revolving stage made it much more efficient to change bands. My band was playing at a bar in Rehoboth Beach and we only had Sunday off. We had one-day tickets and when we arrived, there were no ticket takers and no ushers. Our “reserved” seats had obviously been occupied for two days by others and we just squeezed in wherever we could. Drugs of all kinds were available with make-shift vendor “booths” set up all over.

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  72. MoodyStew
    #72 MoodyStew 2 August, 2023, 01:22

    I was but a young naive 17 year old fresh out of high school when my best buddy and I actually got permission from our parents to go to Atlantic City. Needless to say, it was a definite lifechanging event for me, I had never seen people smoking joints or topless girls before (contrary to our writers observation of no naked girls…lol) We walked into Procol Harum, CTA (later Chicago) and Blind Faith (didn’t know who they were but knew Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker from Cream, and Steve Winwood from Spencer Davis. This was, IMHO, the greatest three days of music ever, there’s not enough room for me to recall all the insanely iconic performances in one text cokment, but I will say Sat night (2nd night) stands out in my mind with Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, and CCR finished off the night with one of the truly greatest most exciting concerts ever, man were they fun live. Being a lifetime Moody Blues fan, I never knew till this article that they were supposed to be there, how I would’ve loved to have seen them then at that incredible time of their unparalleled careers when they were still kids themselves. One of the greatest experiences of my life, I’ve been telling my wives (lol) and my children about this festival my whole life. Thank you Best Classic for writing this great article about it. Now I can send it to my kids and prove it really happened…lol

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    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin Author 2 August, 2023, 08:59

      Blind Faith didn’t play AC. They were in the Midwest that weekend. But the rest of your account is spot-on. Thanks!

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  73. Archivist
    #73 Archivist 31 August, 2023, 17:39

    There is a bit of footage with sound that was fount a couple of years ago in the abc footage compilation video below.. Starting at 12:17 there is over 3 minutes of Jefferson Airplane footage with sound from the Atlantic City Pop Festival followed by an interview with Paul Butterfield at the Atlantic City Pop Festival followed by video of a band from the Atlantic City Pop Festiva that I am not familiar with. Does anyone know who they were?

    The rest of the video is unrelated to Atlantic City Pop Festival and contains footage from Isle of Wight 1968 (including the Beatles in the audience), Woodstock interviews and concludes with an interview with a policeman at Watkins Glen (with Grateful Dead Playing Big River in the background)

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    • Archivist
      Archivist 1 September, 2023, 12:56

      Through some research the other band filmed with sound from the AC pop fest in the video linked in the post above was a band named American Dream.

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  74. Archivist
    #74 Archivist 5 September, 2023, 02:00

    This is purported to be a recording of Procol Harum at Atlantic City Pop Festival.

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  75. Archivist
    #75 Archivist 7 September, 2023, 19:45

    True the more important find related to AC Pop is the recently discovered (2021) professionally recorded abc footage in post 73. Over 12 minutes of footage in total. Not exactly like the Woodstock film but it least its something from the festival that only took 52 years to emerge.

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  76. Venice
    #76 Venice 13 September, 2023, 14:56

    When Janis performed I was lifted onto the stage by a hells angel who stood guard in front. I was a little stoned (like being a little pregnant) I danced for a minute while Janis was dancing all the way on the other side of the stage oblivious of me. When I tell this story I always start by saying I danced with Janis Joplin-and then tell the full revealing tale. It was accurate if misleading. But the weekend was great and then 2 weeks later I went to Woodstock. Best month of my life.

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  77. Thebasicpilot
    #77 Thebasicpilot 23 September, 2023, 13:33

    I don’t know why there is no footage of the event. I saw a crew with multiple (at least 3) 16mm cameras operating during the event.

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