Cincinnati Pop Festival March 1970

Cincinnati Pop Festival March 1970
Authored By John Nicholson

A significant festival not so much in itself but for the fact that its success inspired a bigger and more famous show in the summer which was broadcast on TV.

Held on Thursday Mar 26, 1970 at Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati Ohio, it was organised by Mike Quatro (brother of Suzi and Patti and quite the mover and shaker in the Ohio/Michigan rock promotion scene at the time) and a chap called Russ Gibb. He’s an interesting dude. He was from Dearborn, Michigan, best known for his role in the "Paul is dead" phenomenon, a story he broke as a disc jockey on radio station WKNR-FM in Detroit

On October 12, 1969, a caller to Detroit radio station WKNR-FM told disc jockey Russ about the rumour and the 'clues'. Gibb and other callers then discussed it on the air for the next hour. Two days after the WKNR broadcast, The Michigan Daily published a satirical review of Abbey Road by University of Michigan student Fred LaBour under the headline "McCartney Dead; New Evidence Brought to Light".

It identified various clues to McCartney's death on Beatles album covers, including new clues from the just-released Abbey Road LP. As LaBour had invented many of the clues, he was astonished when the story was picked up by newspapers across the United States. Gibb further fuelled the rumour with a special two-hour program on the subject, "The Beatle Plot", which aired on October 19, 1969

He also operated the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, and was a major player in the late 1960s and early 1970s Detroit music scene. He was instrumental in giving the MC5, Ted Nugent and Iggy Pop their start. The Grande Ballroom also was where The Who played their rock opera, Tommy, for the first time in the United States.

On top of this, he owned or leased other live music venues around the Midwest including the Eastown Theatre, Michigan Theater and the Birmingham Palladium. He also invested in the  1970 Goose Lake International Music Festival in Jackson County, west of Detroit, where a crowd estimated at 200,000 turned up. He put money into Creem magazine and later was a much loved video-production teacher at Dearborn High School where he pioneered streaming classes over the internet more than 20 years ago. He only died last year in his late 80s. What a man! Cheers, Russ. Thanks for all the rock n roll.

The show itself attracted a strong bill with a mix of touring bands and local outfits.  Balderdash, Bitter Blood,  Street Theatre, Brownsville Station, Cradle, East Orange Express, Frijid Pink, Glass Wall, Iggy and The Stooges, Joe Cocker, MC5, Mountain, Savoy Brown, The Amboy Dukes, The Pleasure Seekers, Westfauster, and the fantastic psychedelic blues rock of Whalefeathers.

Joe Cocker was a no show. It was a 12-hour marathon gig and all for just 5 bucks. A mighty 11,500 turned up even though it was held on a Thursday.


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