Music was essential in our lives. Most of us started out wanting to be The Beatles. It looked like their lives were exciting and interesting. Some of us went so far as to become musicians. The times did have an INCREDIBLE soundtrack! Which was good because at times with many of your heroes assassinated, you felt the music was all you could depend on.
And to hear that soundtrack in 1967 we mostly depended on AM radio. ATLANTA WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE A GOOD RADIO STATION FOR POPULAR MUSIC. THIS WASN’T TRUE EVERYWHERE. IN SOUTH GEORGIA WE HAD POP MUSIC PLAYING ONLY A FEW HOURS IN THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING. LATE AT NIGHT YOUR TINNY TRANSISTOR COULD MAYBE GET MEMPHIS, CHICAGO OR EVEN COUSIN BRUCIE IN NYC. BUT IN ATLANTA YOU HAD
QUIXIE IN DIXIE
WQXI first went on the air in 1948 as an all music station, playing pop standards. Their independent status was unique. By the 1960’s WQXI was Top 40 with the moniker “Quixie in Dixie”. Among the stations personalities was Dr. Don Rose in the late 1960s, who went on to near legendary status at KFRC in San Francisco. His fame made ever-lasting by his inclusion as the 1967 entry in the popular series of “Cruisin’” LP records.WQXI was the inspiration for the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. Series creator Hugh Wilson dealt with the station when he worked in advertising. WKRP episodes which included dropping turkeys from a helicopter and the “dancing ducks promotion,” with ducks dancing on hot plates, were actually done by Jerry Blum at WQXI. Blum leased an 18-wheeler and tossed hundreds of live turkeys from a suburban Atlanta shopping center.
From 1968 Atlanta Radio Time Warp: “Atlanta was on the verge of being a boomtown in 1968. Residents and visitors flocked to the new Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown to ride the bubble shaped elevators up into the canopy of the atrium lobby. The rotating floor of the Polaris Lounge on top of the Regency gave a panoramic view of the city through the transparent blue dome over the lounge. The Braves on WSB-AM and the Falcons on WQXI-AM were new teams in town and the Hawks were on their way with WSB-AM to be their home. Atlanta had just discovered live theater and theater reviews were becoming common on the radio. The now defunct Theater Atlanta was a ground breaking class act which went to Broadway and performed a play that spoofed then Governor Lester Maddox who, in the early ’60s, gave out pick ax handles at his Pickrick fried chicken restaurant as a symbol of resistance to integration.
The Vietnam war was raging and tearing the country apart in 1968. Atlanta was a magnet in the south for hippies and youthful war protesters. The sidewalks in the “Tight Squeeze” area around 10th and Peachtree Streets were packed with so many hippies that pedestrians literally had to walk in the streets. People driving through the area stopped to stare, creating massive traffic jams that snaked for blocks around the area. The alternative newspaper The Great Speckled Bird was hawked by vendors wearing tie-dyed T-shirts from street corners for 15 cents a copy. As a sign of the changes that were to come, Plough’s WPLO-FM would soon convert to an automated underground rock format.
Military service was mandatory in 1968. The young men who were drafted that year who were fortunate to make it back to Atlanta would find a big change in the radio scene. When they left, people were listening to AM. When they returned, people were listening to FM.”
Sgt. Pepper’s started a trend towards experimentation with sounds and influences. It was finally decided that guys old enough to die in Vietnam should be mature enough to drink. Lowering the drinking age to 18 filled the clubs with young men and women wanting to dance and forget about what possibly faced us in the Nuclear Threat -Vietnam era. Customers now demanded more than records; many places hired a variety of live musicians.
Since it was possible to earn a living around Atlanta, some very unique and talented musicians were attracted here. The sheer variety of bands in Atlanta at the time made for very enriching and inspiring evenings, and afternoons in the Parks.
Atlanta’s hip community was lucky enough to have had the services of many great musicians, but two of the most extraordinary groups of musicians stand out. They were always ready to play and support our community. One, The Allman Brothers, is still enjoying increasing success as they bring joy to listeners with music based in the musics of the South including blues, country, gospel and jazz. The other, Hampton Grease Band, had one album that became an industry joke and a trivia fact. Only now in retrospect is the complexity of their music being noticed and appreciated beneath the Dada zaniness that inspired it. Both Hampton and Glenn play astounding music and continue to amaze and inspire musicians around Atlanta and the world. Both can walk almost unnoticed in Atlanta while being adored by fans all over the world.
We just enjoyed hearing them play in the park and wish to say thanks for providing all the pleasure and a soundtrack for our lives.
One of my fondest memories is racing with my dog at twilight across the Piedmont Park open field as the Allman Brothers started Whipping Post roaring in the air like a storm gathering to release all that energy at once! Boom!
Atlanta’s 60s music scene Facebook group
- “…he not busy being born is busy dying…”
The Great Speckled Bird 5/12/69 vol 2 #9 p11
“I will secretly accept you,
And together we’ll fly South.”
“Leave your stepping stones behind
There’s something that calls for you.
Forget the dead you left, they will ... Read more >>
- Duane Allman obituary Issue of The Great Speckled Bird
Great Speckled Bird v. 4 no. 45 (November 8, 1971) available as a pdf from Georgia State University Library here.
- Haynes McFadden interview
Haynes McFadden was typical of the experimental artist of the time. He came from the world of photography and got interested in color. He helped the Electric Collage Light Show rise to acclaim. He was involved in some of the early ‘scene’ in Atlanta. He resided ... Read more >>
- Bucky Wetherell interview
Bucky Wetherell was at Atlanta School of Art when ‘the scene’ started, worked with early light shows at The Catacombs with The Electric Collage Lightshow. He then became part of STOMP. STOMP was a tribal musical like Hair, but actually created by hippies. ... Read more >>
- Joe Shifalo (Pig Iron) and Toni Shifalo (La Banana)
Joe Shifalo, aka Pig Iron, loved music and played guitar and harmonica. He was a lawyer and civil rights activist, and he retired as executive director of the Little Five Points Community Center. The unofficial ‘Mayor of Little Five Points’. (photo on right by Boyd Lewis)
Joe’s ... Read more >>
- Alex Cooley interview
Thanks Alex for all the great music over the years.
Thanks especially for bringing The ... Read more >>
- The Bird Reviews Cream at Chastain
After Jimi Hendrix we really felt excited about Cream coming to Chastain park. This was among the most memorable moments for many, and is still a touchstone for many memories today. My understanding mother brought a carload of folks for my going away to college concert. Hope you were lucky enough to have been there.
- Ricky Bear
Ricky Bear sent these to share.
PigIron was Joe Shifalo
Backstreet was a dance club off Peachtree. It was a gay club but welcomed those exploring all freedoms. Remember oral sex in Georgia, even between a married couple, could land you in jail before 2003! Backstreet and later The Limelight both served as battlefields against Georgia’s antiquated laws on sex.
Backstreet was where the music and ... Read more >>
- 2007 Allman Brothers return to Piedmont Park
September 8, 2007 (9/8/7) The Allman Brothers Band returned to play Piedmont Park with the Dave Mathews Band. Here are MysterE and R. Tim on the front page photo from that day’s Atlanta Journal Constitution.
And the Brothers brought it all backRead more >>