Saturday, September 15, 2007

70s Rock Festival, Sen. Tony Rand and Alice Cooper


What we have with this entry is a convergence of politics past, politics present, rock-and-roll, motorsports, and flower power. And it happened in the Eighth Congressional District, all of which makes it eligible for posting here at Wayne's World. And, for lovers of the movie which coincidentally has the same name as this blog, it is fitting that we refer to rocker Alice Cooper. But I digress. ...

A love for trivia, youthful memories from the 1970s, and years of interviews with late Richmond County Sheriff R.W. Goodman helped me answer a question in a national motorsports industry newsmagazine recently that is of note to the worlds of politics, motorsports, and rock music.

In this month's September 2007 issue (Volume 2, Number 9) of Motorsports Industry News, columnist and State Representative Karen Ray identified me as the one person answering the question most correctly and most vividly.

What was the question? In the July 2007 issue, Rep. Ray – on a dare from powerful State Senator Tony Rand of Fayetteville - asked whether any reader knew what the "Peachtree Celebration" was and who attended. (Rand, as I pointed out, had good reason to make his dare.)

According to the magazine, "Wayne had enough correct information about the event to convince me he was either present or knew someone who was there." (Being only six years old at the time of the event, I did not attend, but know persons who attended and survived.)

What information did I provide?

"The Peachtree Celebration in Rockingham was a large Woodstock-like rock music festival hosted by the North Carolina Motor Speedway in the early 1970s - I believe it was in 1972 or '73. Special guests included Three Dog Night, Alice Cooper, Poco, Fleetwood Mac, the Fabulous Rhinestones, and other contemporary rock music bands. Due to the persistent smog of marijuana smoke over that part of the county brought by these rock enthusiasts and the rampant nudist romps by hippies and other celebration attendees, then-Sheriff R.W. Goodman declared that he would never allow such an event to occur again at the Speedway. Goodman was part-founder of the track. On information and belief, and not knowing how it would turn out, future Senator Tony Rand helped bring the large event to the speedway. For the record, true to Goodman's word, no such event was ever held at the Speedway again; the Rockingham Dragway, across the highway from the speedway, did host Lollapalooza in 1996."

Upon further research it appears that the event was on August 18, 1972, which makes this the 35th year since it happened.


I also have recollections of seeing a most unusual photo-display across the pages of the Richmond County Daily Journal and Hamlet News-Messenger from those halcyon (not to be confused with hallucinogenic) days of the 70s. Apparently news reporters had a field day following the mayhem. Sheriff's deputies and others reported even more intriguing sights, all of which my good friend and fellow author John Hutchinson plan to share in our future biography of former Sheriff R.W. Goodman.

I am amused at how politics and arena rock had some roots in rural Richmond County.

# # #

Footnote 1: See below for photos from the event. Alice Cooper flew out on the helicopter; some attendees reported that he was actually hanging out of it as the copter flew over the speedway. Also, check out the hair; circa Brady Bunch's last two seasons. Red Cross tents/booths were chockful due to the heat. With many of the men going without shirts, and reports that Poco stopped performing because the band members were losing their cookies, it was clearly a hot August weekend. The horrid heat and humidity may explain why the aforementioned "haze" did not drift away quickly. ...

Footnote 2: Alice Cooper wasn't supposed to perform. He was a stand-in for a band called "Faces", whom you may not have heard of. However, you have heard of 2 of that band's members: Rod Stewart - yes, that Rod Stewart - and Ron Wood, of the Rolling Stones.

Footnote 3: Interchangeable, at least in the minds of attendees and some folks in the region, is the name "Peachtree Festival" with "Peachtree Celebration." Both titles are used in published materials.




25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wayne, I was at the Peachtree Celebration. It was about a month after the 1972 Democratic National Convention, and as a volunteer from the McGovern campaign I went down there with 5 others to set up a fundraising table. The efforts were coordinated by Charlie Dean (Howard's late brother). I recall hearing Alice Cooper's sets. The table was a miserable failure. We collected about $100 the whole weekend, let's just say that the festival goers appeared under the influence of various substances and had no political interest whatever.
-Gerry Cohen

Drew said...

So, Wayne, when are you going to start doing a Podcast on NC Politics? I just got an mp3 player ...

Anonymous said...

I went to this festival, I was 15 years old,
I remember alot about it, (are statutes of limitations up?), lots of pot smoke, & music, a sudden cloud burst of rain, it's hard to find any record of it happening, I have news clippings of the "hippie invasion" bedrockjon@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Rod Stewart (billed as Faces) did not show for this event. Alice Cooper did show. The stage was huge. One band would set up on the left side while another band played on the right. Rory Gallager, now deceased, Bertha, all female band, Black Oak featuring Jim Dandy, James Gang with Joe Walsh. Wow! it was one of the last great American festivals. Man! it was a great show and as I recall it was $23 a ticket. I can't believe it's been 36 years. Please contact me via email if you have more photos. Awesome Concert. Thanks for the memories. marooned@dcemail.com

Anonymous said...

wrong on the ticket price! Tickets were $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Alice Cooper replaced The Faces as there Visa didn't come thru in time.....

Backsasser said...

My cousin was at Peachtree.I read somewhere there was also one in 73 and 74.
Where these shows filmed?It would be nice to get this gem.
Email me wmbunn@msn.com

Anonymous said...

I was there! It's amazing that such a big concert has left such a lack of documentation!
Its great that you posted an image of the poster...

Anonymous said...

I love the internet, I was telling some younger guys I work with about the"Peachtree Celebration" and the "August Jam" in Charlotte in 74' I was 18 and 20. I couldn't remember all of the bands and don't remember much about the shows. I do remember people walking around with cardboard case bottoms full of pot, hash and various other goodies for sale in the wide open. I heard a hwy. patrolman say it was pointless to start arresting people. Geez,I'm getting old.

Jeff said...

I was on my way to Miami Beach for the Republican Convention, hitchhiking, and caught wind of this festival so I sidetracked slightly for it. It was a great time. I woke up the first morning underneath the front fender of a van that had pulled in late the night before and hadn't seen me. Alice Cooper impressed me. The rest I wasn't too familiar with but I'm glad now to know who they were.

William said...

I was disappointed because Joe Walsh had just left the James Gang and was replaced by somebody else. As I recall, Savoy Brown didn't show, either. For a few weeks afterward, you could identify people who attended by their terrible sunburns/peeling.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the female rock band Bertha?

This was my first concert, two days before I turned 18? I remember rolling joints during the drive there and hiding them in 8-track tapes that had gone bad. We thought for sure we would have to sneak our pot in. Whoo, was that unnecessary!

The all female band Bertha, the Fabulous Rhinestones and Poco were also there. I remember the announcer's "Poco's puking" as the heat got the better of one of them.

sharon said...

Wow I was 16 when I went to the festival, it was a great experience for me, it is great to read your page.

Sharon

KodainVegas said...

Me and Karen Elizabeth were there for `72. Drove down from DC. the night before. We beat the heat because we lugged a Coleman cooler in with a 25# block and mostly liquid to drink. I was trading the yellow pages from a phone book as rolling papers for anything we may have wanted. It was an excellent crowd, I was with Venus, I don't recall anything but a great time.

Anonymous said...

Wow that brings back memories. I was 17 and me and a couple of buds drove down from Greensboro. Never will forget someone lit a big bag of pot on fire and you could get high from 20 feet away. Great fun but it seems like two lifetimes ago.

Anonymous said...

3 guys from down east had one heck of a trip there in a VW van running on 3 cylinders.The music was great. 3 Dog Night got booed off the stage as I remember.I got a good sunburn that day.Oogy

Anonymous said...

Wayne, I was at the Peachtree Festival in '72. I had just graduated from Rockingham High School. I was there with my then girlfriend, the daughter of a prominent local citizen. The reason I bring that up is that then County Commisioner, Richard Conder, wandered through the crowd not ten feet from me and my girlfriend on an observation tour of the festival. We recognized him and did our best to hide from him. Fortunately he didn't turn around or we would have been seen. Condor was a lesser player in the local political machine run by R.W. Goodman. All that aside, I still tell people about "making the scene" in rural North Carolina in '72. It was a great time and I hope more people find your site and report their experiences from the concert. BTW, I also remember Emerson, Lake and Palmer being there. Carl Palmer and the airborne, spinning drum set still lives in my memories.

JIMR said...

I was in nc at a speedway I think it was Rockingham but it wasnt the festival with Alice Cooper it started with Brownsville Station I think and then Marshall Tucker ended with mahavisnu orchestra and the allman bros for the finale very very hot that day Does anybody remember that show cant find anything on it

Anonymous said...

The Mahavishnu concert was at the Charlotte Memorial Stadium and It's A Beautiful Day & ZZ Top & Free & Wishbone Ashe & The Flock and others were there. I called John McLaughlin a name from the front of the stage as he pleaded for quiet and peace before he would play and he went insane and went off on me.I was mad because Captian Beyond did a no show and they replaced them.
I was also the kid on the left tower at the Peachtree Festival that would not come down and everyone tried to take me down and I fought them off for hours and Alice Cooper said "You think I'm crazy?...look at him!"

There was no concessions and no water and ice went for a high price just in a small cup.
If someone had not tried to kill me by knocking me off of the tower with a full unopened "Chug-A-Mug" beer that I caught and opened and drank then I might have passed out from dehydration.
I scaled the tower because I was tripping bad and needed to escape the crowds as I had escaped from the OD tent earlier and they were after me.
A redneck slugged me in the mouth when I crawled down and busted it pretty bad.
He saw how wasted I was and apologized but I told him that he was just a redneck and meant to hurt me.
I went with just a pair of too short cut off jeans and nothing else , not even a shirt or shoes including no underwear and no money just 15 years of age an advance ticket that turned out to be a forgery but the man felt bad for me because I was a long way from Charlotte with no ride and so he let me in anyway.
Because that concert was so traumatic I never went to the next big NC concert with ELP as headliners.
The Alice Cooper Band had a hot air balloon dropping panties on the crowd.(paper ones like on the "School's Out" LP.

I saw a guy with a "Grit" newspaper bag full of bags of weed for sale and people walking invisible dogs (with a leash with a wire hooked up to it).
Everybody was wasted on the acid.
Rory Gallager played a mandolin and came on way after Alice Cooper.
His set was soothing from all the madness.


I had a full fledged panic attack but once I got up on the tower I felt like I was Electric Tarzan!

Rick Phillips said...

Three of us drove to Rockingham for the Peachtree Celebration concert in a '55 Chevy. Exactly two weeks later I stepped off a Greyhound Bus at Parris Island, SC.
I will post another poster that I have of the event on this blog if I can.

Anonymous said...

I was at peachtree and august jam,both were wild, although august jam was much larger.The bands at both were good although not the caliber of hendrix,zep,mountain- I saw a few years before. I met the guy who knocked down the fence at august jam the night before and knew he was planning it. He was selling 4 way blue barrel for a dollar.Both were basically huge parties- amazing we servived.

Gordy said...

Peachtree Celebration was one hot high. I was 17 and my boyfriend was 18. I waited over an hour in a line to buy a very expensive snow cone as I was in serious need of liquid. People began sharing what they had to help each other cope with the heat. Joints were constantly circulating. On our way out a naked man zigzagged back and forth in front of our car. Of course we were not moving faster than he was. I remember the boy on the tower and actually ran in to friends from my home in Fayetteville. Gordy

Pankey said...

We drove over from Knoxville the year Alice Cooper was there. As we got there early, we were right up front by the stage. I remember things started "rolling" early and the first band I remember was Birtha. No one had ever heard of them, but as soon as they started, we just were in awe that the girls were making that music. From the fog, I still remember Three Dog Night, James Gang, and of course finally Alice Cooper. I wish I remembered more because I liked the rest of those bands.

As a side, we were driving back to Knoxville,and were so messed up , no one could really drive anymore, so we just pulled up on the exit ramp of the expressway and crashed. Early the next morning, at daybreak, a huge, black, NC state patrol officer tapped on the driver side window and woke us all up. The man just looked at us and told us to get along, we couldn't sleep there. Boy, today, they would have had the riot squad, the dogs, and who knows else after us. Times have changed.

Anonymous said...

We drove over from Knoxville the year Alice Cooper was there. As we got there early, we were right up front by the stage. I remember things started "rolling" early and the first band I remember was Birtha. No one had ever heard of them, but as soon as they started, we just were in awe that the girls were making that music. From the fog, I still remember Three Dog Night, James Gang, and of course finally Alice Cooper. I wish I remembered more because I liked the rest of those bands.

As a side, we were driving back to Knoxville,and were so messed up , no one could really drive anymore, so we just pulled up on the exit ramp of the expressway and crashed. Early the next morning, at daybreak, a huge, black, NC state patrol officer tapped on the driver side window and woke us all up. The man just looked at us and told us to get along, we couldn't sleep there. Boy, today, they would have had the riot squad, the dogs, and who knows else after us. Times have changed.

Anonymous said...

I had just came back from Orientation from Fort Jackson, as I was originally going to join the Army a month before, but, I had met this beautiful lovely lady, named Yanna, back home,and we planned on going to this concert, so, I got out of orientation, and made a desision to NOT join the Army, because, I wanted to goto this Concert with my NEW LOVE!!!...And I did!!!!!...and we got there at the beginning, early morning and The Fabulous Rhinestones, started it, then Birtha, Three Dog Nite, Black Oak Arkansas, Fleetwood Mac, Poco, and then I lost my memory, until, James Gang, Alice Cooper, and the Greatest of all was this unknown guitarist, named Rory Gallagher....of course, during Alice, I succombbed to drastic LSD poisoning...and was in another world during all of it and Gallagher........BUT, it was a wonderful experience with my best friend Rob, and the love of my life, Yanna, and a hitchhiker, that I can't remember his name!!!!
Of course, we were all dehydrated from lack of being able to find liquids to drink, in that alful hot and humid weather of August!

But, somehow we survived and are friends today, except for that hitchhiker, which, we don't know what happened to him....hope he alive and well now....I was 18 then and now I am 59....Wow!!!!!

Right on Rock 'n Roll!!!!!....
From BUTCH E. from NC!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Me and 2 friends took off that summer for Colorado, and Rockingham was our first stop. One of the guys had been to Woodstock and he knew the value of liquids, so we were there 2 days before the show and bought about 3 cases of Boones Farm from a store in a nearby town. Man, one of those bottles was worth GOLD! It was a GREAT time, everyone was grooving to the great music. Bertha (has balls) ROCKED, as did James Gang and Alice Cooper. I don't even remember who all played there. (Not a surprise)! One stage was setting up as the other one played, as I remember. We sure met a lot of great people there, and it was an incredible time. Later that summer we went to another festival at Bull Island, Indiana, and ran into many of the same people there. Best summer of my life!