The Atlantic City Pop Festival took place on August 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1969 at the Atlantic City Race Course, just two weeks before the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York.
There was heavy security, and single day tickets were $6.00 and a ticket for the entire 3-day weekend was $15.00.
Due to the scorching heat, water trucks occasionally sprayed the crowd on the grounds, while others were seated in the stands.
I’m stunned that just two weeks before The Woodstock Music And Arts Festival on Max Yasgur’s farm, over 100,000 music lovers from near and far attended the Atlantic City Pop Festival and very few people talk about it! I found out about it by accident while looking online for some other music related New Jersey event.
Look at this amazing line-up:
Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Tim Buckley, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Byrds,
Canned Heat, The Chambers Brothers, Chicago Transit Authority, Joe Cocker,
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills & Nash (billed, but did not perform due to Graham Nash having polyps on his tonsils),
Cass Elliot, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, Dr. John the Night Tripper, Janis Joplin,
B.B. King, Lighthouse, Little Richard, Looking Glass, Lothar and the Hand People,
Mississippi Fred McDowell, Hugh Masekela, Buddy Miles, Joni Mitchell, The Mothers of Invention, Tracy Nelson & Mother Earth, Procol Harum, Buddy Rich,
Biff Rose, Santana, Sir Douglas Quintet, Three Dog Night, The American Dream, Johnny Winter (billed, but did not perform due to equipment issues.)
Here’s a 42 second clip of Janis Joplin at the festival.
According to Wikipedia, here are some of the highlights from those three days:
Janis Joplin and Mama Cass introduced Santana as their favorite band; this was their first appearance on the East Coast.
Procol Harum performing “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and a series of songs from “A Salty Dog” while the wind whipped up the lake behind them.
Iron Butterfly’s extended set of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”.
The Chambers Brothers followed Iron Butterfly with a memorable rendition of “Time Has Come Today” that had many in the crowd dancing on the huge speakers on the stage, some even with clothes on. They were the final Friday night act.
Dr. John the Night Tripper performing “Gris-Gris” and “Walk on Gilded Splinters”.
Little Richard filled in for Johnny Winter playing a set on a white grand piano and rocked the track as he invited the audience to come up and dance on stage.
Janis Joplin and her Kozmic Blues Band electrified the audience with “Try”, a cover of The Chantels “Maybe” and “As Good As You’ve Been To This World.”
Joni Mitchell performed one song, complained that people were not listening, “I’ve just played the same verse twice and no one noticed”, then left the stage. Per a source, she was pelted with toilet paper streamers. One of them fell into the baby grand piano, she slammed down the cover and walked off stage…
Joe Cocker performing “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “Feelin’ Alright” while playing air guitar.
Mother Earth’s lead singer Tracy Nelson wowed the crowd with her bluesy performance of “Mother Earth” and “Down So Low”
A lot of the same artists played at Woodstock, so this was kind of a warm up to one of the biggest historic music festivals of the 20th century.
The weekend festival ended with Janis Joplin joining Little Richard on stage for the event’s finale.
Very little film footage and photo evidence exists. Maybe just a few grainy videos on You Tube, but that’s it. Were you there? Jeannie Whitworth was, and here’s a clip of her talking about it.