Saturday, July 4, 2020

July 4th, 1970

1970:  July 4th – Casey Kasem’s syndicated weekly countdown program, American Top 40, debuts, airing at first on just seven radio stations during the 4th of July Holiday Weekend.  It is still broadcast today with its current host, Ryan Seacrest.  Meanwhile, recordings of Casey’s original broadcasts continue to air all over the country in syndication.

Casey had built quite a reputation for himself as a jock on KRLA in Los Angeles ... and had one of those perfect radio voices.

The concept was simple ... let's face it, countdown shows had existed from the beginning of time ... (or at least since the days of "Your Hit Parade"!) ...

But each week Casey would countdown the 40 Biggest Hits in America as determined by Billboard Magazine, which was considered to be the industry bible.

He would throw in interesting facts and tidbits about each song and artist and, as time went on and more stations climbed on the bandwagon, feature things like "Long Distance Dedications" and more in-depth features on any given song or artist.

The first show took a little over eighteen hours to record ... an unheard of amount of time in the days before voice-tracking ... plus each record featured had to be played and recorded in its entirety to reflect "real time" when being rebroadcast.  And, because they hadn't started pressing these on vinyl LPs yet (that wouldn't happen until much later in 1971), copies were distributed on 14" reel-to-reel tape that each station would have to load and monitor during the broadcast.

The plan all along was for this to be weekend programming ... and what better time to launch it than Fourth Of July Weekend, 1970!  People would gather together in the backyard for barbecues, and Casey would have their somewhat-divided attention as he played down each week's 40 biggest hits.

Since the 4th of July fell on a Saturday that year, the seven stations who signed on as the original syndicators had the option to run it on Saturday or Sunday ... or, if they chose, both. 

However, KDEO in El Cajon, California, a station located just outside of San Diego, decided to jump the gun and air the program on Friday Night.  Thus, they became, on July 3rd, 1970, the very first radio station ANYWHERE to broadcast an edition of American Top 40.

(The other six stations ... all of whom followed the rule book and aired the program over 4th of July Weekend as planned ... were WMEX in Boston, WPGC in Washington, DC, KPGC in Henderson/Las Vegas, NV, KMEN in San Bernardino, CA, KHYT in Tucson, AZ and KPOI in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Incredibly, Casey's "home station," KRLA, was NOT one of the original seven to broadcast the program!)

Because Casey had to fill three hours with 40 songs ... and songs back then only averaged about three minutes in length ... there was time to fill with local ads, commentary and a few "American Top 40 Extras."  That first program consisted of four of these ... "Little Ole Man" by Bill Cosby, "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat and Tears, "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones and "Hello Dolly" by Louis Armstrong.

For trivia buffs, the first song broadcast on American Top 40 (at #40 that week) was "End Of The Road" by Marvin Gaye.

#9 and #8 that week were "The Wonder Of You" by Elvis Presley and "The Long And Winding Road" by The Beatles ... a rare back-to-back event of the two biggest recording acts in history.  (Both were enjoying two-sided hits at the time!)

What were The Top 40 songs that week?

Well, I can tell you what they weren't ...

They were NOT The Top 40 Songs shown in Billboard Magazine for the Week Ending July 4, 1970.

Because the show was airing that 4th of July Weekend, it was decided that they should be counting down the brand NEW Top 40 that Billboard would publish on Monday for the Week Ending July 11th.  (Which, of course, brings into question as to just how accurate these charts really were ... if Billboard was preparing their charts a full week in advance ... speculation abounds ... but that's fodder for another day.)

As such, people listening to the program that weekend already knew what the new #1 Song was before subscribers were receiving and reading their brand new issue of Billboard Magazine!  (One of the questions most asked of AT40 at the time was why "The Love You Save" by The Jackson Five wasn't the #1 Record when they heard that first program.  That's because Three Dog Night knocked them out of the #1 spot the following week with "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)"!!!)

This continued to be the practice until the weekend of May 8th, 1971, when, for the first time ... and from that point forward ... the air date and the Billboard issue date were synchronized. (Amazing!) 

Of course, I don't know how many of us kids listening at home had ANY idea about Billboard's weekly Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart ... I know I didn't!  I have since heard that many record stores displayed the Billboard Chart in their Record Department ... but we didn't see this here when I was growing up.  We had our own WLS and WCFL surveys to follow (which is typically how the records were displayed in the racks at the time.)  And stores like Woolworths and Korvettes published their OWN list of most popular 45's ... and had THOSE on display.

Also on this date, the three-day Atlanta Pop Festival opens to a crowd of 200,000.  Jimi Hendrix performs his feedback version of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which closed the Woodstock Music And Arts Festival last year.  
What kind of impression did this festival leave on the State of Georgia???
Two days later, Georgia Governor Lester Maddox said that he would seek legislation that would ban any and all rock festivals in the state.

Friday, July 3, 2020

July 3rd, 1970

July 3rd, 1970 - KDEO in El Cajon, California (just outside of San Diego) becomes the first radio station ANYWHERE to broadcast the brand new syndicated program "American Top 40," hosted by Casey Kasem.  (They actually jumped the gun, airing it a day earlier than originally planned) ...

More on this tomorrow in Forgotten Hits!

As we have been doing since our year-long salute to 1967 a few years back, our 1970 50th Anniversary Calendar was written a full year in advance, finishing up Thanksgiving Week, 2019.  (Believe it or not, we're already written thru October for next year's look back at 1971!)

One of the highlight spotlight features of this year's tribute to 1970 was the 50th Anniversary of American Top 40, the weekly countdown show hosted by Casey Kasem.

As that official anniversary is this weekend … (it was scheduled to start on seven stations on The 4th of July but one station jumped the gun and ran it on the 3rd, becoming the first station ever … anywhere … to run the countdown), it really doesn’t come as any surprise that Billboard Magazine is celebrating this anniversary this week, too.  American Top 40 is nothing short of a radio milestone ... it continues to run in syndication today, hosted by Ryan Seacrest.

But even though radio stations from coast to coast had been running their own local countdown shows for years ... and you could go all the way back to the early '50's to find programs like "Your Hit Parade" saluting the biggest hits of the week, the launch of American Top 40 was still considered pretty innovative.

With Joel Whitburn’s first Record Research book coming out the same year, all of a sudden EVERYONE knew what Billboard Magazine was … (even though it had already been the established “Music Bible” for decades prior!)  All of a sudden, we were being exposed to the biggest hits in the COUNTRY ... many of which were not featured on our local radio stations in Anytown, USA.

You can read Billboard's 50th Anniversary coverage here …

And then be sure to stop back tomorrow (Saturday, July 4th) to see our American Top 40 salute, too!  (kk)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The People's Fair

FH Reader Robert Campbell … who last month sent us that detailed recap of The Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival … is back with another page of Rock And Roll History for us … 

This time, it’s The People's Fair, held in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, fifty years ago this week.

50 years ago this week in 1970 …

It’s been just under 30 days since the Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival wrapped up and it’s already time to head up to Wisconsin for the 4th Midwest / regional rock festival during the 1970 summer of rock festivals …

The People's Fair aka The Stevens Point Rock Festival /
The Reverse Altamont of the Midwest

Now the interesting thing is that no one really knew the proper name of this festival. From its inception, it was always referred to as the Stevens Point Rock Festival, even though it was not in Stevens Point. Stevens Point was the largest city 30 miles away, but it was actually near Iola, WI. It was located northeast of the intersection of Highway MM & County Road T. And here is the best part. The site straddled the border of Portage County and Waupaca County, both of which abstained from claiming any jurisdiction over the site during the course of the festival. It wasn’t until approximately 10 years ago when I stumbled upon the above poster that discovered the real name of the festival and where it actually was. And yes, I was there.

The festival was held on the 26th, 27th and 28th of June, 1970. The listed spokesmen / promoters of this festival were Fritz Von Buckholtz and James Sitton of Madison, WI.

Official Map to Site

I attended this festival with my friend Rob, who also went to Kickapoo with me. This time, for whatever reason, we are not bringing any girls with us. It’s a boys’ weekend out. 

Having learned the benefits of arriving at a festival early, we loaded all of our camping gear into the 1967 MG 1100 Sedan on Thursday afternoon and headed due north on 90, currently 39, up into Wisconsin. Our route was 90 north, east on 10 by Stevens Point to 161, east on 161to CTH-A north, North on CTH-A to CTH-MM east to site.

1967 MG 1100 Sedan

Somewhere north of Madison and prior to the turn off on 10, the usually dependable MG 1100 Sedan just stopped. The engine went completely dead and we coasted over to the shoulder. We did what everyone elese did at the time … we popped the hood and looked at the engine compartment with absoulutely no idea what to do. Our chances of repairing an American car on the road were zero and our chances of repairing an English car were way less than that. We looked and looked with absolutely no idea what we were looking at. We then got determined … we were going to get to this rock festival one way or the other. 

I sent Rob about 100 yards back south down the freeway. We had many car loads of friends driving up to the festival that day and his job was to wave at me when one of them passed. I would the flag the friend over. The first car we knew came by about fifteen minutes later. It was our friend Randy in his 67 Pontiac Lemans with a black vinyl top ... a nice car in those days with plenty of room for us and our gear. 

We were just getting ready to transfer our gear and I had to go and take one more look under the hood. I was looking down and I noticed that their was only one wire clipped onto what I believe was the alternator. The other wire had come loose and dropped down. I grabbed it and put the wire back where it was supposed to be, got in and turned the key and the 1100 fired right up. Other than a flat tire, I believe that this was the only road side repair I successfully made in my life. A minor miracle.  

It was almost dark when we got to the festival grounds. I have no idea how we got there, as it was out  in the middle of nowhere. We pulled in and there was a large field for parking with plenty of room at the time. I think we were in the third row. Unlike Kickapoo, you could not park at your campsite at this festival. There was the typical dirt road that led up to what turned out to be the center of the grounds. You walked down this dirt road, around and past a barn and then up a hill to the camping area. It was about two blocks from the car to the camping site. As it was gettng dark, we could really not see anything at this time. We packed the tent and some basic gear and headed up to this site. We then set up the tent, but that’s all we basically had on that trip. It then started to rain lightly.  Rather than get soaked, we got in the tent, but it was really too cold and uncomfrotable to sleep on the floor of the tent. The rain let up a little and we decided to make another trip for our sleeping bags and back packs. When we got back to the car, it started to rain harder. Rather than getting ourselves and our gear soaked by packing everything up and walking the two blocks back to the tent, we decided to sleep in the car. We got in the back seat, pushed the backs of the front seats down and it really wasn’t too bad … plenty of room.  

Friday: 6/26/70 (Weather: sunny and nice) 

Bam, Bam, Bam, at first light in the morning were rudely awoken by pounding on the hood of the car. Some really pissed off guy had, what turned out to be one of his friends, by the head and was pounding it into the hood of the car. They appeared to be just out of high school and must have been drinking all night in the rain and apparently tempers flared. We did not realize that this would set the tone for events later in the festival. Apparently, this drunken anger subsided and they just walked away. The rain had finished for the weekend so we got up and made the several trips necessary to get all of our gear to the campsite. We also got a better lay of the festival site. 

We walked from the parking lot to the barn, which was in a low area in the center of the property. A handful of people had taken refuge in the barn.  There was a lot of hay bales in there and a large tanker trailer full of water. We had set up our campsite in a perfect location. The large open area was kind of like a bowel. The stage was on a flat area on the east side and our campsite was on the west side of the bowel with a dirt road and a woods behind it. We actually could see the stage and hear the music from our site. The north side of the bowel was where the vendors and porto-lets were. We then made several trips to the barn for bales of hay and water. 

We also spent most of the morning scouting out the entire 200 acre site. The woods west of the campsite had several small ponds in it which would adaquetly provide the bathing facilities for the duration of the festival. 

During the day, a lot of our friends showed up and joined our campsite. I also noted that a handful of bikers were arriving and hanging out at the barn. We really didn’t think much about this at the time.

We have absolutely no verification of who actually showed up or at what time they played.

The scheduled entertainment for Friday was as follows …

Friday, June 26, 1970, Noon – 3 am: (Names in bold have been posted as being seen there) 

Django, Sound Street, Buddy Rich, Bowery Boys, Taj Mahal, Seigal-Schwal, SRC, Hope, Melanie, Manitoba Hugger, Paul Butterfield, Lockinger, Strophe, Pye, Omaha 

As it turns out, the music did not start until around 6:00 pm as there were problems with the sound system. The only thing I remember about Friday night was that the music was forgettable ... because I have forgotten most of it. The only one I remember actually playing was Melanie, because she bored the hell out of us. One of my friends from Kickapoo reported that he sat right in front of the stage and could look right up her dress and “that was cool.”  I guess you had to have good seats.

She came on about 8:00 pm. By then, the crowd was ready to rock and this just sent the evening headed in the wrong direction. The music must have gone on all night because there wasn’t much sleep. 

Saturday: 6/27/70 (Weather: Sunny and warm)  

For whatever reason, I did not bring my camera with me on this trip. In addition, there are very few good photos available on the internet. A number of years ago, I stumbled on a site that was established by a professional photographer by the name of Sanderson. Apparently, he had just graduated from photography school and his first project was The People’s Fair. He has them posted on his Facebook page. I do not do Facebook, but you can view them without getting involved in Facebook. These are some of the best photos of a rock festival that I have seen. Not too many band shots, but really good. If you want to view the photos, go this site:  Iola Rock Festival June of 1970 | Facebook

By Saturday, the grounds had really filled up … 40,000 to 60,000 was the typical accurate estimate. We had breakfast and I remember going to the car and getting something. On the way back as I walked by the barn, I noticed that the bikers had completely taken over the barn area and had kicked any hippies out that were staying there. We had no idea who they were, but there was a lot of them. Later from articles or posts, it was rumored that they were from Rockford, which would have been the Hell’s Henchmen or The Outlaws from Chicago. Also, unknown to us at the time, the bikers had set up a roadblock at the entrance to the parking field and were charging $10.00 per car to park. We also noticed that several of them had large caliber handguns tucked into their belts. At this time, we decided to stay clear of the barn and take the long way back to the car if we had to go there again. We also went to the pond to take a bath. There was a handful of people there along with about four of the bikers. We went into the pond along with most of the folks there and got cleaned up. Everyone came out about the same time and just about everyone had bloodsuckers on them. I know I had two on me. As no one had any lemons or salt, we had to yank them off. The bikers solidified their standing in the community by yanking theirs off and eating them. After that, we brought containers to the pond and did not go into it again. Our buddy Randy, with the 67 Lemans, and another friend, Larry, were camped next to us. Larry’s folks owned the largest dairy in town and he had this insulated container about as big as a mini frig. It had a compartment in the bottom that you could put a block of dry ice in and then put food and stuff in the top. It would stay cold all weekend. It normally was used to sell ice cream products at outdoor events. They typically would sleep until after noon and them get up and start pulling out eggs, bacon and then steaks for dinner. This would irritate the hell out of the rest of us.  (More on that later)

The posted line up for today’s music was …

Saturday, June 27, 1970, 11 am – 3 am: (Names in bold have been posted as being seen there) 
Bare Fat, Brownsville Station, Oz, Soup, Spirit, Bowery Boys, Crow, Amboy Dukes, U.S. Pure, Buffy St. Marie, Tayles, Mason Profit, Moses 

Once again, with the exception of a few bands, I have no idea who showed up and when they played. The Amboy Dukes were actually Ted Nugent and he did not play until Sunday night. There is very little info on the internet about this festival compared to Kickapoo. Just like the NC6 being at Kickapoo, I just read a blog today that somebody thought The Ides of March played at this festival and I have never heard that before. But, in my opinion, the musical highlights of this festival were on Saturday afternoon.

Every now and then a band really comes out of nowhere and puts on a peak performance at a festival. The size of the venue and the large sound system seems to fit them perfectly. At this festival there were two bands that achieved this:  Brownsville Station and Crow.

Nobody was familiar with Brownsville Station and they were just flat out fun and hilarious. Their stage set up was similar to Led Zeppelin, The Who or Jimi Hendrix ... huge stacks of Marshall Amps. Their opening chord would have been appropriate for those bands as well, but that’s where it stopped. Most of their songs were hard rock, and I mean hard rock covers of late 50s early 60s songs. They also had a few originals. Their set list at the time was off of their current album, “No BS”, and included Be-Bop Confidential, Rockin’ Robin, Road Runner, Hello Mary Lou, My Boy-Flat Top, and Rumble. Originals in the set were Guitar Train, Blue Eyed Girl, City Life, Do The Bosco and Cadillac Express. Members of the band were Michael Lutz, Cubby Koda, Tony Driggins and T.J Cronley. There is a very crude video of this festival and I think the only musician you can identify is Tony Driggins in this goofy pointed hat he would wear on stage. Later in life, Cub Koda went on to record several blues albums that I have and are worth a listen. T.J. Conely went on to become a fighter and commercial pilot. Brownsville Station was just the boost this festival needed after a lackluster Friday Night.

Crow, from Minneapolis, played shortly thereafter and was another band that most were unaware of. They had one hit with “Evil Woman,” but had no previous exposure with most of the crowd. Their set typically starts off with a hard version of “Slow Down” and then proceeds through the contents of their second album, “Crow By Crow”. Once again, the mood of the music was perfect for a festival crowd. My wife recently bought me a mini turn table to play my old albums on. I organized them, alphabetized them and the first album I played was “Crow by Crow.”  I also vaguely remember seeing Mason Profit and we spent most of Saturday night waiting to see Fuse, who had been added to the lineup. We ended up waiting all night because they did not play until 9:30 on Sunday morning.  

During the course of Saturday afternoon, we heard a few rumors that the bikers were really hassling some of the crowd. The rumors consisted of robberies, fights and rapes. I actually never witnessed any of this at the festival. Saturday night was mostly a large party at our campsite which was now full of friends and people that dropped by. The weather was so nice that we just pulled our bags out and dozed off and on under the stars. Sometime in the middle of the night, a girl came along and crawled into my sleeping bag with me. She struck me as being totally overwhelmed by the festival, had no place to go and took a chance on hopefully finding a safe space. I just let it go at that.  

Sunday: 6/28/70 (Weather: Sunny and warm)

There was no line of demarcation between Saturday and Sunday. One day just bled into another.       

Sunday, June 28, 1970, Noon - 11 pm: (Names in bold have been posted as being seen there)

Short Stuff, Tongue, Ravi Shankar, Chuck Berry, Django, Bloomsbury People, Terry Reid, Morgan, Bowery Boys, (Two more names you can't 
read). Also Known to Appear: Fuse, Lightning

Rumored to have appeared, The Ides of March The Stooges, Mountain 

We were still waiting to see Fuse, who finally played at 9:30 on Sunday morning. Somehow, they were able to muster a superb set to the totally burned out crowd. Being from Rockford, we saw Fuse all the time and it was fun to watch the reaction to the crowd, most of whom had not seen them before.

The Reverse Altamont of the Midwest: 

We had actually gone up to the front of the stage for the Fuse set. Near the end of their set, there was a huge commotion on the dirt road back behind our campsite. It looked like several thousand people were charging down the hill towards the barn where the bikers were. Rocks and bottles were flying. Supposedly the harassment from the bikers had been escalating all night and the people near the barn had just had it. My guess is there were a lot of feisty college students from Madison. As the story goes, the hippies started to throw rocks and bottles at the bikers. The bikers then started up some of their bikes and charged up the hill. A couple of bikes had girls on the handlebars firing guns. Several different sources indicate that one of the hippies charging down the hill got shot in the stomach. Vastly outnumbered the bikers turned and made a run for it. Some were caught and their bikes were burned. One biker couldn’t kick start his bike and abandoned it and jumped on the back of another bike. His bike was burned. One hippie came out of the woods with a 22 rifle and approached an armed biker. For what seemed like a long time they were pointing their guns at the other guy’s head. Finally, the biker lowered his gun and took off. They were running for their lives. The Steven’s Point Journal reported that 23 members of a Chicago area cycle gang were taken into custody.  Three other persons were arrested on disorderly conduct and theft. Of the 26 arrested, 19 were men and 7 were women. Three persons were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds following the violence, which broke out after confrontations over a number of rapes and strong arm robberies by the cycle gang. None of the shooting victims were seriously hurt. Shot were Kevin Henry, 19, Downers Grove, Frank Rees, 21, Chicago and Michael McLauerin, 26, Madison.  

After the ruckus died down, the festival basically fizzled. We went back to our campsite and Randy and Larry were still in bed. We opened up Larry’s dry ice frig and took out all of their steak and eggs and cooked them up and ate them. We figured that’s what they got for sleeping in. It took us most of the day and many trips to pack our gear back to the car. My guess is that we left sometime in the middle of the afternoon. I am sure we listened to the music, but never went back up to the stage again.

In reviewing the schedule, I am very upset about missing Terry Reid. I had one of his albums at the time and really liked some of his music. I have no idea whether he played or not.

I have also read a report that Mountain showed up and played prior to Ted Nugent. In this report there was a guitar battle between Ted and Leslie West and Ted won hands down.

As reported in a blog, the festival ended when one of the stagehands accidently poured a glass of water on Ted Nugent’s guitar amps power box, ending the three day festival.

We were not alone on our way home. Somehow, we ended up with two girls on our way home that claimed they lived in Loves Park, which is right next to Rockford. They had come to our campsite at some point in time and had never left. We had no idea who they were, how old they were and quite frankly were afraid to ask. As we had no desire for any interaction with anybody’s parents at the time, we left them on a corner of Business 51 in Loves Park and went home.  


a)    There is a very crude DVD comprised of surveillance film footage. I received it from Tony Menzer, the bass player for The Mel Ford / Westside Andy Band out of Madison. Apparently, they had checked the film out from the local historical society and made a crude DVD of the festival. But that’s all there is available.   

b)    Apparently, it was a huge endeavor to get the site cleaned up. One of the counties apparently imposed a $5,000.00 per day fine on Fritz Von Buchholtz for every day it was not cleaned up. By 8/10/70 the fine was up to ($200,000.00). That’s 1970 dollars. 

-- Robert Campbell

In an effort to set the record straight, I asked the members of The Ides Of March if they did, in fact, appear (uncredited) at The Peoples Fair in 1970, much the same way The New Colony Six appeared at The Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival a month earlier.

Jim Peterik tells us that it’s absolutely true …

We were there and we played our young asses off.   
I think we were a last minute add on ... but we killed.
Good days indeed!
Rock on!!  

So there you have it … filling in a few more details in rock and roll history!