Superball Fest 1971: Open Air Celebration II

Superball Fest 1971: Open Air Celebration II
Authored By John Nicholson

This was a one day gig held on Saturday July 24, 1971 at Midway Stadium, Saint Paul, Minnesota and was widely acclaimed as a huge success. We have to remember that while such shows were called a ‘festival’ they really weren’t, or at least not in the way we would normally think of a festival - a three-day event held in a field, with no sanitation, but with helicopters dropping flowers onto 100,000 trippy freaks. I suspect ‘fest’ was attached as a kind of branding, the sub text of which was ‘hippie music for hairy freaks ahoy.’

For this show it was a fantastic bill featuring It's a Beautiful Day, Joy of Cooking, Little Richard, Long John Baldry, Poco, Redeye, The Allman Brothers Band, Mike Quatro Jam Band

It was put together by Harry Beacom who knew that you needed a well-trained, not too stoned road crew to keep the music rolling. 25,000 were in attendance and only had to wait 15 minutes between bands, which was positively revolutionary in 1971! He is reported as wearing his fishing hat throughout the day for luck. Good man. At the request of the St. Paul City Council, he installed an additional 42 portaloos Phew, that was literally a relief.

Sound was provided by Magnum Opus of Boulder, Colorado, who brought a 24-channel system “the only one of its kind” with 60 microphones and 12,000 watts worth of amplifiers.  Far out.

A Jesus People group claimed they had converted 15 people during the day. 15 people were treated for bad trips (the same 15?!) Big psychedelic paisley balls were thrown into the crowd. Of course they were. They bounced around all day and knocked some people down. Someone said it was like the Apple Bonkers in Yellow Submarine movie. Ha, yeah, gimme a toke on that, dude.

In his report for the Minneapolis Star, the excellently named Marshall Fine said “group after group took to the stage to lift the audience a little higher, culminating in a powerful set by the Allman Brother Band.” He later describes them as ‘absolute magicians,’

And also gave good reviews to Long John Baldry, Joy of Cooking, Poco and IABD, though seemed unimpressed by Mike Quatro and Redeye. Little Richard only played 20 minutes and had to leave the stage with some sort of illness. Probably over-inhalation of hairspray. 

A Saint Paul police chief had tried to stop it going ahead, fearing trouble - they always feared trouble - but everyone was cool, even if some without tickets were a bit rowdy outside. 

It was only a $6 in advance ticket or $8 on the gate. The Allmans set is available as a bootleg and is reportedly absolutely sizzling, not least because by this time, they were pretty much telepathetic.

Everyone went home full of good vibes. Which is as it should be.  



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