One thing you can count on in Texas for
Labor Day, is the heat. In '69, as it always does, the temperatures were
as high as some of the festival attendees. The first campers to arrive at the free
campgrounds knew how to cool off. The designated campgrounds were on a lake, and
that meant skinny-dipping. To the uninhibited flower children, there was
nothing wrong with the human body or sharing a swim with newfound friends.
But once the straight-laced community of Lewisville got wind of it, they
were out for blood. After all, if you're uptight, shouldn't everyone else
Locals demanded that the mayor crack down, then went back to peering
through binoculars at the young, naked bodies. Rednecks piled into their
bass boats to head out for a look at some tits and a chance to shout
stupid remarks at the freaks. Some were spoiling for a fight, or
better yet, a chance to beat on the heads of people who wouldn't fight
Many citizens demanded that the police chief go
in and crack heads, but the heat of the summer was the only heat these
hippies had to worry about. Ralph Adams, the Lewisville Chief of Police,
was paid by
the brilliant organizers to be head of security! Cops, however, weren't
needed except to keep the rednecks from starting trouble. These kids didn't want
trouble. Anyway, the chief had already turned in his resignation and was
on vacation. The mayor swears he would have stopped it, but he was in
Colorado, and didn't hear of it until he was on his way home. The Texas International Pop Festival was on its way, and nothing would stop it.
Railroad opened the festival for free just for the chance to be noticed.
And noticed they were. They soon became the highest paid music group in
Janis Joplin made her return to Texas for the first time since
she had left on very bad terms, and she was in awe of the welcome she
Sweetwater, who had
been the first full band at Woodstock with their strange and wonderful sound, played what would
sadly be one of their last gigs before their lead singer, Nancy Nevins,
would have her voice stolen in a wreck with a drunk driver.
King, who played all three nights, jammed with Johnny Winter at the
free stage, by the campgrounds.
the music went on until Monday night, when Sly and the Family Stone closed
appropriately enough with "Hot Fun in the Summertime."
Gravy and the Hog Farm served free food and
counseled with anyone who might have forgotten that their acid-induced
scene was only a movie. Ken Babbs, of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, ran the free stage.
Security was handled by the "Please Force." Every member of the
audience was deputized.
a chance to be free, really free, and to be among a crowd that didn't look
down on you or threaten to cut your hair or harass you for the way you
looked. This was a time that would never come again, and everyone seemed
determined to soak it up as much as they could. Each one took a piece
of it home to cherish for a lifetime.
Read about the hippie movement on the Hippies
Check out the artists for photos and bios on the Artists page and take a
magic carpet ride on the links we've provided, including links to sites
for the bands. Dig on the festival
program and check out the photo gallery.
It was a phantasmagoria!