Pacific Pop Festival, Stockton, CA May 1969

Pacific Pop Festival, Stockton, CA May 1969
Authored By John Nicholson

This was a typical one-day festival put on by the University of the Pacific, whose home was in Stockton in Northern California, not the one on Teesside where I grew up!

Held at Pacific Memorial Stadium which was a 28,000-seat outdoor multi-purpose stadium, built in 1950 and which put on a few festivals back in the day before closing its doors in 1988. 

It hosted the Stockton Rock Festival later in 1969 headlined by the Byrds, because this show on May 10 had been so successful, by which I mean, made the University a lot of money. 

The bill was drawn from San Franciscan bands all of whom were on Fillmore promoter Bill Graham’s talent agency books. 

Santana headlined, supported by Cold Blood, the Sons of Champlin, Elvin Bishop, Sanpaku - a 7-piece jazz-rock band from Sacramento, and Country Weather, a psychedelic band from ‘Frisco who were always around but never got a record deal. 

The maths wasn’t hard to do. You got 28,000 hairies paying $5 each, paid the bands a total of $50K and by the time you’d paid to hire the venue and paid staff you cleared about $40K in a single day. While the counterculture was putting on more ramshackle, some might say shambolic 3-day-fests, I believe it was these one-day college funded gigs that really put a flame under the scene. They were well run, didn’t end up looking like a battlefield in Vietnam and you got to hear lots of great bands. 

This was where the rock and roll business as we later knew had its seeds. Those with an eye for the main chance saw as early at late 68/early 69 that if you wanted to make bread more than you wanted to make revolution then this was the way to do it. Not as romantic or politically charged of course, but plenty good rock n roll all the same.

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