Atlanta Pop Festival 1969

Atlanta greets the world

1969 Atlanta Pop Festival poster

 Philip Rauls 40th anniversary essay

Appropriately enough this event was at a stock car track. No trees inside, no shade, Fourth of July in Georgia. A drought of rain and grass made it miserable … except for the music.

Photo from Duane Blalock. Photo from Duane Blalock. Atlanta Pop Festival – I was there or was I? on Facebook
Ms. Toots

 Here is Mz Toots taking pictures of Sweetwater, a great band featuring a cello. The interplay between the two main vocalists, Nanci Nevins and the flute playing Albert Moore, were magical and full of love like a jazzed out Jefferson Airplane. We really had like Sweetwater at Miami Pop and now they were even better.

Ticket courtesy Darrell Brooks
Ticket courtesy Darrell Brooks

Performers included Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Chuck Berry, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Canned Heat, Spirit, Ten Wheel Drive, Joe Cocker, Chicago Transit Authority, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grand Funk Railroad, Sweetwater, Al Kooper, Pacific Gas & Electric and Led Zeppelin.

Starman and Ms. Toot’s funky sunhat

In those days there were unique individuals you seemed to see everywhere. One we called Starman when we saw him selling metal twirling star toys at the Miami Pop Festival. He was also allowed on stage .

Local favorites The Allman Brothers had been signed by a phony promoter and were not allowed inside when they arrived. Yet later the announcer said a band driving by on I-75 had been stopped with the traffic, so they had asked to play. They were Grand Funk Railroad.




Sweetwater – (Starman at left)   Fire trucks sprayed the crowd to cool the air. People got wet, some naked, some muddy. We camped in our bus with friends around a communal pot and pot under a few pecan trees. Everyone welcomed the sunset. Joe Cocker poured out his soul. We planned to leave, but had seen a leather jacket proclaiming- “I came from England to see Led Zeppelin”. We are ever grateful we decided to stay to hear this unknown band.
We really had like Sweetwater at Miami Pop and now they were even better.
Sweetwater with United Farmworkers flag

Atlanta’s hip community had been introduced to the world. A young hippie lady swirled by and gave us a piece of paper saying, “Come to Piedmont Park Monday at 1 PM” Little did we know what the next day would hold…TheGrateful Dead! (click)

Memories from viewers—->

I  cannot believe that it’s been 40 years!  Where did the time go?  And, am I really THAT old?  At any rate, here’s my input!

My brother, Emmett, and several friends decided that we had to go to the festival.  Tickets were available at Atlantis Rising for (as I recall) $12 for the whole weekend.  We got our tickets, packed up my 1961 Plymouth Valiant and headed to the Atlanta Raceway.  We knew we were camping so we made bedrolls – didn’t have a tent just slept near or in the car.  We were fortunate enough to find a place to park in the shade.  One morning a local farmer came through with a truck-load of watermelons he was hoping to sell to the hippies – unfortunately for him his truck was taken over and melons were flying!  Someone in our group snagged one for our breakfast.


As we were enjoying a slightly warm just picked melon a guy came up and really wanted a slice.  He traded a gram of hash for a slice of melon – my brother said “Brother, you can have all that’s left!”.  After three days of fantastic music, pure love of one another, and getting sunburned, it was time to head home.  My brother and friends wanted to leave before I did, so I found a friend who wanted to stay thru Janis Joplin – and I’m glad we did.  We waded thru the trash and made it all the way to the stage.  All I can say is, it was memorable!

Grand Funk Railroad

My brother and I also attended the festival in New Orleans over Labor Day Weekend the same year.  Had to hitchhike home because our ride didn’t want to leave!

Sarah (Bell) Murphy Norfolk, VA

Pacific Gas and Electric
Pacific Gas and Electric
Pacific Gas and Electric

“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.”




The “First Atlanta Pop Festival” was originated in a meeting between myself, Chris Cowing (White Wolf), and Fred Logerquist, who we have since lost – God Bless His Soul. Alex Cooley and others were additional contributors after the fact.  Actually Alex, who was the Manager of the Midnight Sun Restaurant invested $5000 along with his neighbor, David Cooper, later in the game.  This is just to set the record straight. Briefly, the first meeting didn’t take place until February or maybe March of 1969.  There had been a festival in Florida over Christmas and we said, “If it could happen there it can happen here.”  The group ended up being 13 I believe.  We moved pretty fast.  Fred had connection to the Atlanta Raceway in Hampton.

The Piedmont show which actually 2 or 3 days after, Tuesday I believe was the result of politics.  According to the Great speckled Bird, “How could we charge $$$ for music … even $13.50 a day.”  we had to do something to appease the social uproar over our commercialism.  Spirit, CTA, and Delaney and Bonnie stuck around for room and board.  And the Dead played for travel, rooms and beer.  So yes I was very involved in it as well as the rest of the team.

I remember Pigpen cracking two cases of beer, neatly arranging them on the balustrade around the pavilion, and calmly dosing each one with premium Owsley Acid.  Everyone around the pavilion was glowing.

I would love to have a list of the people that attended the FREE concert in Piedmont Park after that Festival with Spirit, Chicago Transit Authority, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends (including Dave Mason and others), and THE GREATFUL DEAD.  That was the seminal moment.- Robin Conant

Sunset at the Atlanta Pop festival 1969

My brother was working onstage back then. I think he worked all the Florida Festivals and a lot of Miami rock shows. He called me and said I could have all the free tickets I wanted. I was 19 and just out of high school. All I had to do was bring my friends. Well, out of this whole town, about 140 miles from the Speedway, only three wanted to go.

When we got there, my brother had left four “all-access” passes ( I think they were called backstage passes at the time). We got to meet and talk with so many performers, it really was a blur, although I do remember talking with Janis Joplin (very distinctly).

We got there right as Dave Brubeck (with Thelonius Monk?) was playing. We were woefully short-handed on everything except wine and beer (very little food). All weekend we traded beer and wine for weed.

I remember going to look for food and seeing all these “No Hippies Allowed” signs. We were more like political Yippies than Hippies, but, lol, I don’t think the way we looked convinced the locals we were not Hippies (I wore my first leather headband that weekend). Finally, we found a place to eat and a store about thirty or forty miles away). Ended up missing Tommy James and the Shondells we were told.

The band I remember most was Johnny Winter. Credence Clearwater Revival put on a show that was good, but it seemed liked they played every song like it appeared on the record. I enjoyed Spirit and Canned Heat, mainly because there were sort of like legends to us. As a matter of fact, I really can’t recall a bad performer. Oh yea, the Staple Singers blew us away, and I really liked Booker T.

There was a pond and quite of few people were swimming naked.

Saturday, because of my brother, I got to read a couple of announcements on stage. That was kind of weird.

We heard about the Dead at Piedmont Park, but left Sunday for some reason.

At the SC/GA line on the way back, we pulled over into the rest area with four girls from the Festival ( I forgot how we flagged each other down). We swam a while in the lake, and they invited us to Charlottesville VA, but we went home, dazed and confused and never the same again.

Too bad the country became more repressive and everything just sort of faded away.- Joe from Greenville SC

attended the festival…loved all the people I met…everyone was sharing water melons …and their shade. camped out in peach orchid. swear I saw big bird walk by the van….It was very HOT there but the people were wonderful…wish I coul relive it over again. I was also on 14 street . Middle earth head shop & the Catacombs. Did a little typing on Speckled Bird. Wonder if anyone remembers me? I remember you. and love you. Jesus was at the Catacombs in 68. So very meek & sincere. (well, we tried…didn’t we!) TWIGS

Ohmigosh. I was there too. My boyfriend and a dozen others came from Miami. I don’t think we all had tickets, but that didn’t stop us from attending one great concert. It was HOT. PG&E played Wade in the Water (?) in the afternoon and water would have been good then… All the bands were fantastic, great music, and great memories. I came home broke, exhausted, and sunburned. Told my parents I stayed with a school friend over the weekend – HA.

We know “Starman” has Reverend Star and he was a regular at the love-ins and concerts in Miami at the time. billym

I was around to see Starman in the Miami area. I was told he was a UM student. At Atlanta a huge local cop was trying to direct traffic in the hot sun. Starman, with only a cloth diaper on prances up to him. The cop then went and sat down in the shade. Starman with his wand then did a great job of directing traffic

I went to the concert & had a really great time. I befrended people with a Uhaul set up as a sales booth of posters & funstuff and slept a few short hours under their truck. I awoke to Creedence CW playing around 2am I think. Got up & went to the front wiht my can of Ranch Style Beans opened & shared them with too many people on the way to the front to see. I have some pics that I will dig up soon of the firetruck & waterparty etc. PEACE

Robert Plant in Atlanta Pop T-shirt

Atlanta newspaper reports on the festival.


2 thoughts on “Atlanta Pop Festival 1969

  1. We were there! It was so hot, it was blistering. The sun reflected off the track and into the infield and made it into an open air oven! I wore my hard contacts too long and scratched my eyes and had to go to the hospital in Griffin to get them treated. Transported back with bandaged eyes and dumped by the ambulance. Couldn’t see anything and was taken care of by total strangers who took me to a trailer backstage. It was a very moving experience for me and completely turned my head around. The rest of the summer was like a dream, then I got my draft notice! I managed to enlist in the Air Force rather than be drafted. All in all an eventful summer for me!

  2. I had gone to the 68/69 Miami Pop Festival, hitchhiked there and back. It was great so when I found out there was going to be a festival fairly close to where I lived, I jumped on getting tickets. The weekend before the festival, I met this guy in Athens and asked him if he wanted to go with me, so we went. I wasn’t prepared for the lack of food, drink, or shade, but the music was wonderful. A friend and I walked right up to the stage when Janis came on; I could have touched her boot as she danced by. We camped out by a nearby pond and cooled off in the water; slept in sleeping bags. I was awakened by a cop the next morning, who was a living, breathing personification of the image of a “pig” back then. He stood and watched me get dressed, with no shame. By the way, I married the guy that went with me, we raised two children and have three loving, lovely grandchildren. He was the love of my life. He died in 2012; I miss him terribly, but being Christians, we knew our goodbye wasn’t forever (it just kinda seems like it).

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