A Historical past of L.A.’s Most Legendary Bygone Music Festivals – LA Journal


In Los Angeles, summer time music competition season is almost so long as baseball season (and that’s lengthy as hell). From mid-April by means of mid-October—aka Coachella by means of Desert Daze—music followers descend on L.A. and its environs to catch a bunch of their favourite acts in a single place over the course of 1 or only a couple days.

Multi-day music extravaganzas are a part of our DNA. Now that competition season is in full swing, let’s take a second to mirror upon the music fests of yesteryear that helped form the panorama of at present.

T.A.M.I. Present

Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1964

Maybe the primary broadly publicized rock & roll occasion in American historical past, the T.A.M.I. Present (or “Teenage Awards Music Worldwide”) was a two-night jamboree filmed for an accompanying live performance movie by director Steve Binder. Hoping to capitalize on the rising youth tradition of the ’60s, T.A.M.I. Present branded itself “once-in-a-lifetime expertise,” boasting a jaw-dropping lineup of acts nearing the height of their cultural significance.

Amid piercing, pubescent screams, viewers members had been handled to a cavalcade of historic performances by illustrious pop acts just like the Seashore Boys, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Lesley Gore, Smokey Robinson, and a closing set by the Rolling Stones. Surf rock heartthrobs Jan and Dean emceed the showcase, whose rhythm part was made up by the esteemed collective of session musicians generally known as the Wrecking Crew.

T.A.M.I. Present spawned an analogous, equally spectacular sequel, the Massive T.N.T. Present, in 1965 on the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Hollywood. That present was produced by Phil Spector and featured Ray Charles, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Joan Baez, the Ronettes, Donovan, the Byrds, Ike & Tina Turner, and others.

The Newport Pop Pageant

Orange County Fairgrounds, 1968

Devonshire Downs, 1969

The monumental imprint of 1967’s Monterey Pop Pageant impressed a wave of imitation “pop occasions,” hoping to encapsulate the spirit of the newfound rock competition. The Los Angeles Pop Pageant, held on the L.A. Sports activities Area in December 1968, included performances by the Chambers Brothers, Canned Warmth, the Field Tops, and the Turtles.

Earlier that 12 months, Orange Nation’s Newport Pop Pageant broke admission information as the primary live performance with over 100,000 paid attendees. The inaugural occasion was booked with a meager $50,000 expertise finances and hosted the likes of Tiny Tim, Sonny & Cher, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Lifeless, and Steppenwolf.

Trash left behind within the wake of Newport ’69

Herald Examiner Assortment/Los Angeles Public Library Picture Assortment

The competition doubled in attendance the next 12 months, when it relocated to Devonshire Downs in Northridge and was renamed Newport ‘69. The occasion’s successor was the higher identified of the 2, notably for an iconic set by the Jimi Hendrix Expertise and police clashes with its riotous attendees. Additionally on the invoice had been Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Love, Jethro Tull, Eric Burdon, and Marvin Gaye.


Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 1972

L.A.’s black neighborhood come collectively on August 20th, 1972, to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts Rise up. Memphis label Stax Information organized the profit live performance, a daylong celebration of black tradition on the Coliseum supposed to unify the devastated neighborhood in South L.A.

Rev. Jessie Jackson notably launched the occasion as “a day of black consciousness” in his commanding opening speech, “I Am Any individual.” With tickets priced at simply $1, greater than two dozen Stax recording artists carried out on the charity occasion, together with Albert King, the Staple Singers, the Bar-Kays, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Luther Ingram, and Kim Thomas.

Its spotlight, after all, was a rousing headlining set by Isaac Hayes, on his 30th birthday. Up to now, Wattstax stays a big second in Los Angeles race relations and black cultural id. Its namesake documentary Wattstax, directed by Mel Stuart and starring Richard Pryor, splices collectively moments from the occasion with scenes of every day life in Watts.

California Jam

Ontario Motor Speedway, 1974

To not be confused with CalJam—the annual Foo Fighters-curated music competition of reincarnated fame—the unique California Jam was co-headlined by laborious rock heavy-hitters Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, together with appearances by Black Sabbath, the Eagles (feat. Jackson Browne on keys), Uncommon Earth, and Earth, Wind & Hearth.

Many had been unsure if there can be one other large-scale music competition after the grisly Altamont Free Live performance proved to be a deadly catastrophe, however ABC Leisure based the showcase with the intention of selling a stay simulcast over its tv and radio networks. Over 250,000 tickets had been bought for the one-day competition, way over had been bought for Woodstock, making California Jam the best paid-attendance and highest grossing live performance of the period. The occasion additionally boasted the loudest amplification system of its form at 54,000 watts.

An equally profitable follow-up to California Jam was held in 1978 and included performances by Aerosmith, Foreigner, Ted Nugent, and Coronary heart.

US Pageant

Glen Helen Pavilion, 1982-1983

San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Pavilion is a well-known location for Southern California festivals and large-scale concert events—Ozzfest, Smokeout, Nocturnal Wonderland, and Rock the Bells, to call a number of—however the outside amphitheater wouldn’t exist at present if it weren’t for Steve Wozniak and the Us Pageant.

On go away and affected by amnesia after surviving a airplane crash, the Apple co-founder hoped to create the “Tremendous Bowl of rock events” along with his unifying mega-event, which might mix unparalleled musical expertise with the most recent technological achievements at an on-site expo. Woz himself paid for the bulldozing and development of the open-air venue at Glen Helen Regional Park, its state-of-the-art stage being the primary in historical past to make the most of jumbo screens for unobstructed views.

Teaming up with infamous rock promoter Invoice Graham, the debut three-day live performance over Labor Day weekend in 1982 noticed performances by the Police, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Speaking Heads, Jimmy Buffett, and the Ramones. Excessive ticket costs and 112-degree warmth made US Pageant an utter failure, however it returned once more months later for a bash over Memorial Day weekend in 1983.

This time round, present dates had been separated by style, with the Conflict, Van Halen, David Bowie, and Willie Nelson headlining. The most important draw of the competition was its “Heavy Steel Day,” which set a world document with 375,000 tickets bought. Its headliner Van Halen too set a world document with “highest quantity paid to an act for a single efficiency” at $1.5 million. Wozniak allegedly misplaced $20 million of his personal cash for what promoter Barry Fey known as “the most costly backstage go in historical past.”

Desolation Heart

Mojave Desert and San Pedro Harbor, 1983-1985

desolation center

Gary Leonard/Los Angeles Public Library Picture Assortment

When punk rock hit it huge within the early ’80s, DIY promoter Stuart Swezey sought to take the homegrown motion out of L.A.’s nightclubs and away from the oppressive police drive who aimed to dismantle it. The end result was Desolation Heart, a sequence of guerrilla, nomadic happenings that occurred at off-the-grid areas within the Mojave Desert. A whole bunch of punks traveled by rented faculty buses to covert generator events for a night of revelry and complete anarchy. Otherworldly bookings noticed fabled performances by German industrialists Einstürzende Neubauten, calamitous machine artists Survival Analysis Labs, Paisley punks Redd Kross, and the West Coast debut of noise-rock pioneers Sonic Youth.

Its 1984 incarnation titled “Pleasure at Sea” concerned a nighttime cruise of the San Pedro Harbor with seminal punk bands Minutemen and the Meat Puppets. The liberated, escapist ethos of Desolation Heart has confirmed extremely influential to mainstream fashionable festivals, akin to Coachella, Burning Man, and Lollapalooza (founder Perry Farrell’s post-punk band Psi Com carried out one 12 months). The competition is the topic of a forthcoming eponymous documentary, launch date TBA.

All Tomorrow’s Events (curated by Sonic Youth)

UCLA, 2002

Queen Mary, 2003-2004

Named after a Velvet Underground tune, All Tomorrow’s Events was a UK-based music competition that celebrated various, underground genres in an intimate setting. Every manifestation of the occasion was curated by a cultural authority of the group’s selecting, and for its U.S. debut, programming was carried out by experimental rock band Sonic Youth.

Initially rescheduled as a result of 9/11 terrorist assaults, the third ATP competition was held at a number of venues all through the campus of UCLA. The huge lineup introduced collectively an eclectic mixture of musicians, together with ambient techno mainstay Aphex Twin, avant-pop pioneers Stereolab, legacy acts Massive Star and the lately reunited Tv, noise artists Boredoms and Merzbow, rising alt-rockers Wilco, feminist trio Sleater-Kinney, and Pearl Jam chief, Eddie Vedder. All Tomorrow’s Events returned to Los Angeles for 2 further years at Lengthy Seashore’s Queen Mary, curated by Matt Groening in 2003 and Modest Mouse in 2004.

KROQ’s Inland/LA Invasion

Glen Helen Pavilion, 2001-2006

House Depot Heart (now Dignity Well being Sports activities Park), 2007

The autumn counterpart to KROQ’s wintertime “Nearly Acoustic Christmas” and spring’s “Weenie Roast” bash, the Inland Invasion was a showcase mixtape of the beloved radio station’s alt-rock programming. The lesser-known of the ROQ’s yearly concert events, the Invasion performed host to some outstanding lineups, consisting of mega-acts like The Remedy, Oasis, Weapons N’ Roses, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, Duran Duran, Morrissey (who cancelled), and Velvet Revolver.

What’s most spectacular is the present’s punk leanings, one thing that after helped form KROQ’s recognition in Los Angeles, however barely exists on its airwaves at present. Followers had been handled to units by the reunited Intercourse Pistols, Circle Jerks, X, Devo, Siouxsie Sioux, the Damned, Buzzcocks, TSOL, and Social Distortion. Smaller facet stage acts, simply barely rising on the time, included Kings of Leon, Dying Cab for Cutie, and the Walkmen. After shifting to Carson and altering its identify to LA Invasion, the occasion lasted one ultimate 12 months— most likely as a result of Child Rock carried out.

Detour Pageant

Streets of downtown L.A., 2006-2008

Coachella organizers Goldenvoice and different weekly newspaper LA Weekly teamed up for Detour Pageant, a celebration of mid-aughts indie rock and electro, which happened on the streets of downtown LA surrounding Metropolis Corridor, previous to the opening of Grand Park. Beck, Queens of the Stone Age, and Basement Jaxx headlined its first incarnation, primarily to combined evaluations, however the fest spectacular nonetheless, particularly for an inaugural occasion. The competition returned for 2 extra years earlier than happening “hiatus,” that includes appearances by Bloc Get together, Justice, Gogol Bordello, and the Mars Volta. Over latest years, occasion organizers have tried to capitalize on stay music set towards L.A.’s iconic skyline—FYF Fest, Camp Flog Gnaw, Made in America, Air + Type, and Grownup Swim Pageant amongst them—however with excessive prices and ranging limitations on zoning and different rules, it hasn’t at all times confirmed possible.

FYF Fest

Echo Park Venues, LA State Historic Park, Exposition Park, 2004-2017

When it was introduced that final 12 months’s female-dominated, salvaged version of FYF Fest can be canceled on account of low ticket gross sales, music followers declared an finish of an period for the homegrown music competition. FYF, or “Fuck Yeah Fest” because it was initially identified, started as a humble celebration of up-and-coming and native expertise, rooted in Echo Park venues just like the Echo, Echoplex, and Jensen Rec Heart.

The enlargement of its tasteful, well-curated lineup prompted a relocation to State Historic Park in Chinatown and a partnership with Goldenvoice allowed organizers to tackle extra aggressive bookings. Its ultimate, most triumphant years happened at Exposition Park surrounding the Coliseum, with legendary units by the Strokes, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Grace Jones, Missy Elliott, Björk, Kendrick Lamar, and 9 Inch Nails. Misconduct allegations towards the fest’s booker precipitated the occasion’s demise. At the moment, it’s unknown if FYF will return.

RELATED: The L.A. Magazine Information to Ever Music Pageant That Issues in 2019

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