Los Angeles Pop Festival December 1968

Los Angeles Pop Festival December 1968
Authored By John Nicholson

The Los Angeles Pop Festival was held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on December 22 and 23, 1968. It was also called a Christmas Happening, which sounds far more groovy. It hadn't been a busy year in Southern California for festivals really. The Newport Pop Fest had been held in Costa Mesa in August to an audience of over 200,000 but this was a much smaller, low profile affair. 

Despite extensive research I can't find out much about the gig. It was one of the earliest to be held in a sports stadium, which was later to become the norm. The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was a multi-purpose arena at Exposition Park, in the University Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The arena was closed in April 2016, and was demolished in September of that same year. It was replaced with BMO Stadium, home of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC, which opened in 2018.

This meant people went home at the end of the first day. So it's really not a festival in the way we think about it now with 3 days worth of bands, with everyone camping and raging around naked, high on PCP. Or was that just me? 

The bands that played were all festival regulars. Weird addition of the Righteous Brothers - can't quite see them fitting in with the heavy crunch of Blue Cheer. The Love Exchange were a short-lived but interesting folk-psyche band from LA whose only album came out in 1968.

Jose Feliciano was a popular act on the festival scene as he provided a cooling acoustic come-down off the peak acid rock. The Steve Miller Band had released their debut album 'Children Of The Future' in June and 'Sailor', their second in October which got to #24 around this time. Blue Cheer's first album had been released in January 1968 and had got to #11, 'Outsideinside' their second had come out in August but made just #90. The Box Tops were having hit singles and The Chambers Brothers had a growing live following for their psychedelic funk show. Sounds like a cool, low-key, pre-Xmas show. 

Blue Cheer
The Box Tops
Canned Heat
The Chambers Brothers
Jose Feliciano
The Grass Roots
The Love Exchange
Buddy Miles
Steve Miller Band
The Righteous Brothers
Three Dog Night
The Turtles

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