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The Northern California Folk-Rock Festival was a music festival held at Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose, California on May 23-25, 1969. A year earlier, the first festival held here had ended in a drug-fuelled mess with 1000s of people out of their minds on industrial strength PCP. So it was lucky to get the go-ahead at all for an encore. Supposedly the promoters managed to rent the Fairgrounds on false pretences, and then started advertising Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, even though they had neither under contract at the time. The festival was well attended and without the drug issues of the previous gig, but the city and county made sure there wasn't any further events.
The Aquarian Family Festival, which I document here, sprung up across town as a counter-weight to this festival, with many hippies feeling that the 2nd annual Northern Californian folk Festival was all about the bread and not about the heads.
The Northern California Folk-Rock Festival wasa brilliantarray of heavyweights that included the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Santana, Spirit, Chuck Berry, the Steve Miller Band, Muddy Waters, Canned Heat and the Chambers Brothers, whose mind-expanding Time Has Come Today was a new psychedelic epic. It also presented one of the first-ever live shows by a budding super-group, formed from the ashes of England's Yardbirds called Led Zeppelin.
Led Zeppelin: The Concert File (Dave Lewis and Simon Pallett, Omnibus Press 1997) quotes Peter Grant as saying that Led Zeppelin had a gig in Chicago all weekend, so they played Friday afternoon (May 23) and the promoter hired a Lear Jet to fly them to Chicago for their Friday Night show. At this time, their first album had just been released to enormous acclaim.
At the time of this show, Santana was just another popular local band without an album, although their groundbreaking debut album would be released a few months later.
It's also significant for one of the earliest gigs country rock innovators Poco ever played.
The full line up: Jimi Hendrix Experience/Jefferson Airplane/Chambers Brothers/Led Zeppelin/Eric Burdon (didn't play due to time restrictions)/Spirit/Canned Heat/Buffy St. Marie/Youngbloods/Steve Miller/Chuck Berry/Muddy Waters/Taj Mahal/Noel Redding (and Fat Mattress)/Lee Micheals/Blues Image/Santana/Aum/Elvin Bishop/Poco/People/Linn County/Loading Zone/Sweet Linda Divine/Cat Mother/Doc Watson/New Lost City Ramblers
Related t-shirt Led Zeppelin