The Full Wiki

More info on Summer Jam at Watkins Glen

Summer Jam at Watkins Glen: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Poster for the event

The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen was a 1973 rock festival which once received the Guinness Book of World Records entry for "Largest audience at a pop festival." An estimated 600,000 rock fans came to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway outside of Watkins Glen, New York on July 28, 1973, to see The Allman Brothers Band, The Band, and the Grateful Dead perform.

Contents

History

The concert was produced by Shelly Finkel and Jim Koplik, two promoters who previously organized a successful Grateful Dead concert at Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1972. Similar to the 1969 Woodstock Festival, an enormous traffic jam created chaos for those who attempted to make it to the concert site. Long and narrow country roads spawned fans to abandon their vehicles and walk 5-8 miles on that hot summer day. A young woman, 8-9 months pregnant, travelled on foot as well. Once in the concert area, she went into labor. Ambulances struggled to reach her until after her baby was born. 150,000 tickets were sold for $10 each, but for all the other people it was a free concert. The crowd was so huge that a large part of the audience was not able to see the stage; however, twelve huge sound amplifiers, installed courtesy of legendary promoter Bill Graham, allowed the audience to at least hear.

Although the concert was scheduled to start on July 28, thousands of music fans were already at the concert site on the 27th. Robbie Robertson of the Band requested to do a soundcheck, but was perplexed that so many people were sitting in front of the stage. Bill Graham allowed the soundcheck with the crowd of people in front, and the Band ran through a few numbers to the delight of the audience. The Allman Brothers Band did their soundcheck next, playing "One Way Out" and "Ramblin' Man". The Grateful Dead's legendary soundcheck turned into a two set marathon, featuring their familiar tunes such as "Sugaree", "Tennessee Jed" and "Wharf Rat". They also performed a unique jam that was eventually included on their retrospective CD box set So Many Roads (1965-1995).

On July 28, the day of the concert, 600,000 music fans had arrived in Watkins Glen. The Grateful Dead performed first, playing two long sets. They opened with "Bertha" and played many hits such as "Box Of Rain", "Jack Straw", "Playing in the Band", "China Cat Sunflower" and "Eyes of the World".

The Band followed the Dead with one two-hour set. However, their set was cut in half by a drenching thunderstorm, in a scene again reminiscent of Woodstock, people were covered with mud. During the storm, keyboardist Garth Hudson performed his signature organ improvisation "The Genetic Method;" when the rain finally let up, the full Band joined Hudson on stage, and segued into their signature song "Chest Fever," in a manner similar to how the songs were presented on the Band's live album Rock of Ages.

Finally, the Allman Brothers Band performed for three hours. Their performance included songs from their soon-to-be-released album Brothers and Sisters, along with their standards "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed", "Statesboro Blues", "Les Brers in A Minor" and "Whipping Post".

Following the Allmans' second set, there was an hour encore jam featuring musicians from all three bands. The jam featured spirited renditions of "Not Fade Away", "Mountain Jam", and "Johnny B. Goode".

Although there were no reports of violence at Watkins Glen, the day was marred by the death of Willard Smith, 35, a skydiver from Syracuse, New York. Smith, who dove from an airplane carrying flares. One of the flares ignited his body suit, and he was engulfed in flames. Smith's body was eventually found in the woods near the concert site. There is also the unsolved disappearance of two high school teenagers from Brooklyn who were hitchhiking to the concert.[1]

Many historians claimed that the Watkins Glen event was the largest gathering of people in the history of the United States. In essence, that meant that on July 28, one out of every 350 people living in America at the time was listening to the sounds of rock at the New York state racetrack. Considering that most of those who attended the event hailed from the Northeast, and that the average age of those present was approximately seventeen to twenty-four, close to one out of every three young people from Boston to New York was at the festival.[2]

Pirate radio

CFR Studio at Watkins Glen

A pirate radio station out of Hartford, Connecticut operated for seven days from the site of the concert.[3] Broadcasting as CFR AM and CFR FM,[3] they pulled a camper with a fully equipped radio studio into the concert's press area five days before the gates opened and were accepted by the other media as a Canadian radio station setting up to do a remote broadcast of the concert. Broadcasting commenced almost immediately after arrival at the site and consisted of live disc jockeys (10 people were involved with the pirate station, including several prominent Hartford DJs at the time). As opening day approached, station personnel interviewed Bill Graham, Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead and various musicians as the studio/camper was set up along the access road between the heliport and the stage. Adjacent to the press area were a detachment of New York Mounted Police who appeared to be thrilled to have a station broadcasting from the site. In exchange for free food, the radio station relayed New York State Police announcements about traffic congestion every thirty minutes.[3] Due to Watkins Glen being on a hill, the station's AM and FM signals traveled several dozen miles. The station interrupted its regular programming to carry the last two days of the concert live and continued to broadcast for four days after the show ended to provide information and entertainment to the departing crowd. See http://www.hartfordradiohistory.com/Pirates.html

Discography

  • The Band — Live at Watkins Glen (Capitol Records, 1995). A 10-song excerpt from their set.[4]
  • Grateful Dead — So Many Roads (1965–1995) (Arista Records, 1999). This 5-disc box set includes an 18 minute jam performed as part of the Dead's sound check the day before the concert.

Footnotes

References

  1. ^ Kingsley, Jennifer (February 21, 2009). "Couple vanished on way to 1973's Summer Jam". Star-Gazette. http://74.125.93.104/search?q=cache:jwEu1m1JGxkJ:www.stargazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article%3FAID%3D/20090221/NEWS01/902210320+Mitchel+Weiser+and+Bonnie+Bickwit&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.  
  2. ^ Excerpt from "AQUARIUS RISING" by Robert Santelli
  3. ^ a b c Brant, Marley (2008). Join Together: Forty Years of the Rock Music Festival. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 132. ISBN 0879309261.  
  4. ^ Allmusic review

External links


Advertisements

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message