While driving through the Everglades two weeks ago, I had a flashback.
I realized that this green lush wilderness had been the site for a huge rock festival back in 1969 where my band at the time, Bethlehem Asylum performed with an all star line-up of the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Grand Funk Railroad, Johnny Winter, Spirit, and many others. The whole week of strange events replayed itself in my memory as I drove down to Lake Worth to teach a Helmtone Drum Healing seminar weekend of Nov. 21-22.
I remembered flying out to the festival site in 1969 in a helicopter that picked us up at the Collanades Hotel on Palm Beach. The normally staid conservative hotel was usually full of retired rich North Easterners. But for that one weekend, it was overrun by a horde of hairy, bearded rockers. The jam band in the lounge was so hot that it never stopped. The Rolling Stones suite was overrun by Bikers and holes appeared in the walls. Every suite had a party going with various rock stars hanging out. Out at the festival site, the local National Guard camped out across the road behind the Pratt & Whitney aircraft engine factory, anticipating a revolution. They wanted to kill all the hippies. The sheriff tried to get alligators to attack the campers. The Governor personally busted a hippie.
The music was incredible too. Cliff, one of the attendants in my healing drum workshop in Lake Worth, Florida sent me a link to a website with photos of the 1969 festival. Alas there are no pics of my band. We were undiscovered at that point.
This is the link to the historical footage of the 1969 West Palm Beach Pop festival.