Tag Archives: Skip Prokop

Atlantic City Rocked

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, Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, 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.

Atlantic City

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.

At 2

Below, taken from behind the stage, B.B. King doing his thing,

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We Interrupt This Habs Blog To Bring You A Special Message

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Exactly 40 years ago today, my buddy Mike and I were in Atlantic City to experience the glorious and highly-underrated three-day Atlantic City Pop Festival. It was 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.

Everyone, whether they know it or not, knows the music of many of the bands who were there. Any time you’ve ever heard classic rock at weddings and bars, on TV or movie soundtracks, or wherever your travels have taken you, then you’ve heard bands from this festival that compares favourably with Woodstock which happened two weeks later. Only Atlantic City didn’t have rain and mud.

And the lineup:

Janis Joplin was there, as were Creedence Clearwater, Santana, Procol Harum, Joe Cocker, Mothers of Invention, Moody Blues, Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Johnny Winter etc, etc. About 30 bands in all. (Joni Mitchell left crying half-way through her set because no one was listening, and Skip Prokop of the Toronto-based Paupers told everyone that if they were about to be drafted and sent to Vietnam, just come to Canada, there’s plenty of room.

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.

I would’ve liked to have been at some of the other festivals. People talk about Woodstock, and soon the 40th anniversary of the historical event that defines a generation of baby boomers who had had enough of formality, politicians and the man, and spread the message of love, drugs, body odour, laziness, ego-tripping, social ladders to climb, and many low-lifes.

And Monterey in 1967  at the fairground, where Janis, the Who, and Jimi Hendrix broke big in North America like a tornado hitting a corn field. After Jimi lit his guitar on fire, the Who smash their guitars and amps, and Janis wail like a banshee with the blues, music took on a whole different meaning after that. All of sudden, things began to get serious. No more Herman’s Hermits. This was the real thing.

People recall the Isle of Wight, and John Lennon’s ‘Live Peace in Toronto’, and here and there and everywhere. But no one talks about Atlantic City. The lineup was as good as Woodstock, there were only 125,000 folks there instead of half a million, and it didn’t rain like Woodstock, where people played in ther mud. And going to the bathroom at Woodstock meant going anywhere. Must’ve been tough to impress the chicks when you’re squatting with your pants down.

So I’m using my Habs blog to tell as many people who read this that Atlantic City was a historic event in its own right, and when you hear soon that Woodstock is celebrating it’s 40th birthday, please keep in mind that the one Mike and I were at in Atlantic City, two weeks before Woodstock, deserves a place in history books too.

That's me on the left in white, about a year after Atlantic City. I'm with another buddy, Frank. I wish I had a picture of Mike from this time but I don't. Poor hippies didn't have cameras.
That's me on the left in white, about a year after Atlantic City. I'm with another buddy, Frank. I wish I had a picture of Mike from this time but I don't. Poor hippies didn't have cameras.