Atlantic City Pop Festival 1969

Atlantic City Pop Festival 1969
Authored By Johnny Blogger

Held from 1st to 3rd August 1969 in Atlantic City. 110,000 people turned up to the Atlantic City racetrack to see a fine line-up of bands. It was the first rock fest in the New York/New Jersey/Philly area. The first day featured Joni, Aum (anyone remember Aum?), the Chambers Brothers, Iron Butterfly, Dr John, Mother Earth, Chicago and Procol Harum. CSNY and the Moody Blues were set to play, but didn't show. The stage was designed by notable physics dude, Buckminster Fuller. At $15 for three days of top flight rock music, it was pretty good value.

During her set Joni was performing 'Cactus Tree' and sang one verse twice, then stopped and said, "I sang that verse twice, and no-one noticed" But, as crowds who are distracted by themselves tend to do, they ignored her and were not even paying attention enough to realise what she'd said. The sound system was in and out a bit and she blamed their lack of attention on that. But even when the PA was fixed, things were not any better, so she left the stage early in tears. Presumably, the crowd didn't even notice that, either! Playing delicate solo acoustic songs to a festival crowd became less and less easy to do as the gigs got bigger. You needed loud guitars and a big sound system to keep people's attention.

The weekend wasn't without some violence. A couple of thousand people climbed the fences on Saturday night. Getting in free had become a bit of a political statement to some, to other's it was...hey...free music! Security was virtually non-existent, so perhaps it was surprising that more trouble didn't break out.
Other performers that weekend included regular festival favourites Jefferson Airplane, CCR, Butterfield Blues band, BB King, Johnny Winter, Janis, Santana ( their first east coast appearance and introduced by Janis and Mama Cass), Joe Cocker, Canned Heat and Three Dog Night.
None of these sets seems to have been recorded and had official releases, but if you search YouTube you can find Janis's and Chicago's sets.
After it was all over, the city fathers and Chambers Of Commerce, who had largely been in favour of the festival seemed to take against the idea of staging another, passing laws to prevent it. Stories in the local papers began to run the usual 'drug orgy' stories (which rarely had much substance - as though a drug orgy was always such a bad thing, anyway, as opposed to Mr & Mrs Straight getting loaded on booze and fighting) ensured no other festival was held in the New Jersey area in that era.

Johnny Winter t-shirtCarlos Santana t-shirt



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