Event Title

The 1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival and the Beginning of the End of the Festival Era

Streaming Media

Presentation Type

Event

Location

Columbus State University

Start Date

3-11-2022 8:00 AM

Description

In July 1969, a month before the famed Woodstock Festival kicked off in upstate New York, 100,00 people gathered at the Atlanta International Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, for the first annual Atlanta International Pop Festival. The event was the first of its kind in the Deep South, drawing music fans from across the United States. A veritable cross-section of the nation's youth packed into the infield of the 1.5 mile oval track to listen to an incredible lineup of performers that included Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joe Cocker, Grand Funk Railroad, and Led Zeppelin. For two days and nights, in some intolerable conditions, the attendees built a community of sorts, sharing what they had with their neighbors, avoiding the internecine conflicts that had become all too familiar in the late 1960s. If the attendees did have a common enemy, it was the festival organizers, who seemed bent on sacrificing basic human necessities, like food, water, and proper bathroom facilities, to turn a quick buck. "The Atlanta Pop Festival was the perfect example of the pig, capitalism, in microcosm," wrote David Doggett, the editor of Kudzu, a Mississippi-based underground newspaper. "The callous exploitation of the musicians and the crowd's love for music, the criminal negligence of the human condition of the people, and the backstage privilege of the ruling class were not accidents. That is the way the system works." Such criticism had become quite common in the summer of 1969. In the pages of the Great Speckled Bird, the Chicago Seed, and other underground publications, festival organizers were demonized as "pigs" and tools of the establishment. The festival organizers became convenient targets. They charged exorbitant ticket prices. They treated festival goers with contempt. They stood in between the people and the music they loved. They were, according to the Great Speckled Bird, the greedy middlemen who derived "their existence from the [same] capitalist system that jails in Atlanta, bloodies heads in Chicago, murders in Berkeley." My paper will argue that the accumulated effect of such rhetoric inspired thousands of music fans to begin demanding free entrance to festivals like Woodstock, leading to huge financial losses for the promoters. It may have even contributed to a premature end to the festival era itself.

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Nov 3rd, 8:00 AM

The 1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival and the Beginning of the End of the Festival Era

Columbus State University

In July 1969, a month before the famed Woodstock Festival kicked off in upstate New York, 100,00 people gathered at the Atlanta International Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, for the first annual Atlanta International Pop Festival. The event was the first of its kind in the Deep South, drawing music fans from across the United States. A veritable cross-section of the nation's youth packed into the infield of the 1.5 mile oval track to listen to an incredible lineup of performers that included Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joe Cocker, Grand Funk Railroad, and Led Zeppelin. For two days and nights, in some intolerable conditions, the attendees built a community of sorts, sharing what they had with their neighbors, avoiding the internecine conflicts that had become all too familiar in the late 1960s. If the attendees did have a common enemy, it was the festival organizers, who seemed bent on sacrificing basic human necessities, like food, water, and proper bathroom facilities, to turn a quick buck. "The Atlanta Pop Festival was the perfect example of the pig, capitalism, in microcosm," wrote David Doggett, the editor of Kudzu, a Mississippi-based underground newspaper. "The callous exploitation of the musicians and the crowd's love for music, the criminal negligence of the human condition of the people, and the backstage privilege of the ruling class were not accidents. That is the way the system works." Such criticism had become quite common in the summer of 1969. In the pages of the Great Speckled Bird, the Chicago Seed, and other underground publications, festival organizers were demonized as "pigs" and tools of the establishment. The festival organizers became convenient targets. They charged exorbitant ticket prices. They treated festival goers with contempt. They stood in between the people and the music they loved. They were, according to the Great Speckled Bird, the greedy middlemen who derived "their existence from the [same] capitalist system that jails in Atlanta, bloodies heads in Chicago, murders in Berkeley." My paper will argue that the accumulated effect of such rhetoric inspired thousands of music fans to begin demanding free entrance to festivals like Woodstock, leading to huge financial losses for the promoters. It may have even contributed to a premature end to the festival era itself.