Exactly 47 years ago my buddy Mike Williamson and I were in Atlantic City to experience the glorious and highly-underrated three-day Atlantic City Pop Festival.
It took place on August 1, 2, and 3, 1969, and we got there a few days early, hung around the boardwalk, smoked dope, and then decided to find a ride to the racetrack 12 miles away, where the big show was about to begin.
Imagine that. A huge, honkin’ rock and rock extravaganza, one of the greatest in rock and roll history, and one that most have never heard of.
I feel it’s kind of my mission to keep it alive.
I didn’t even bring a sleeping bag for some reason, and slept for a few hours every night for a week on hard ground, with my jean jacket as a lousy pillow. But it didn’t matter. I was there for the music and friends and vibes and chicks and drugs. And Orillians are tough bastards anyway.
Janis Joplin was there, and so was Creedence Clearwater, Santana, Procol Harum, Joe Cocker, Mothers of Invention, Jefferson Airplane, Moody Blues, Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Johnny Winter, and a whack of others. About 30 bands in all, with guitars soaring.
Guitars soaring except for Joni Mitchell, who left crying half-way through her set because no one was listening to her quiet and dignified set.
Skip Prokop of the Toronto-based Paupers told everyone that if they were about to be drafted and sent to Vietnam, they could just come to Canada, where there’s plenty of room.
I met a girl there from Washington D.C. and the plan was for me to go home with her and then on to Woodstock, but it never happened. I was probably too tired and hungry, and most importantly, I had a ride home lined up. She was cute though.
Back in Orillia I began planning on Woodstock, but a night or two before I was going to go, me and four of my buddies met a guy in the park who was drunk, leaving his wife, and driving to Vancouver the next morning. So that next morning we all piled into his car and went to Vancouver instead.
I missed going to Woodstock, which I feel bad about, but at least I have Atlantic City, with this kick-ass lineup.
Below: A couple of years ago, one of the guys we got a ride home with, Brad Emmons (that’s him with the cigarette in his mouth), sent me some Atlantic City photos that I didn’t know existed. I’m on the far left, and Mike is next to me with the yellow and black striped shirt.
Below, taken from behind the stage, B.B. King doing his thing,