February 24, 2018

Carney Rock

Len Barry's huge hit, "1-2-3," came out a few days after this show.

Kansas City amusement parks were often the site of rock concerts in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
The tradition of “School’s Out” concerts at Fairyland sponsored by Top 40 radio station WHB goes back farther than I realized in my earlier “World’s Happiest Broadcasters” post. Those events took place in the early 1970s. I have since found a newspaper ad (above) from June 1965 touting such a show with Len Barry of “1-2-3” fame as the headliner. That song came out the following month on Decca Records and went to #2 on the pop chart. I wonder if Barry sang it here? Anybody out there recall that show, or others at Fairyland?

This poster is from the second Carney Rock, circa 1974.

I have heard the Shadows of Night played there once. And of course, Chris Fritz promoted multiple Carney Rock bills there in the mid-’70s featuring bands like Spirit. (See photo, below left)
As for Worlds of Fun, I recall seeing shows by Squeeze and Ray Charles in an outdoor amphitheater there, but it must not have been in 1980, the year this ad (below right) was published. The big-name headliners that year were Rick Nelson, Hall and Oates and Kool & the Gang.

An ad for summer 1980 concerts at Worlds of Fun

I contacted the folks at Worlds of Fun earlier this year, but they have no record of what acts played there when. The park is now owned by the Cedar Fair group, and they have not promoted a concert series. The 1980s-era shows took place under WOF’s original Hunt Midwest ownership. I don’t have any WOF-concert ticket stubs, and I’ve saved almost all of mine, so I wonder if tickets were even printed for these shows. It looks like some were free with regular admission, and some carried a 99-cent surcharge.

Ed Cassidy and Spirit at the first Carney Rock in July 1973

So who out there can help? Anyone recall seeing a rock concert at Fairyland or Worlds of Fun? Got any photos or memorabilia to share? Leave a comment below or contact rick@kcrockhistory.com


  1. Anne Hellman says:

    I remember going to WoF to see a band but I can’t remember who it was. Maybe it’ll come to me…

  2. The GoGos played at either Oceans of Fun or Worlds of Fun. I seem to remember them on water skis!!

  3. mark bond says:

    i saw the marshall tucker band at worlds of fun in the mid 80s. probably 1986. seen the marshall tucker band many times through out the years and by far this was the crappiest. i blamed it on the setting.. dont know why setting shouldnt matter.

  4. I think I recall seeing Quiet Riot and Ratt in 1983 at WOF Grad Night.

  5. J. Cheever Loophole says:

    I remember going to a Carney Rock at Fairyland Park sometime in the mid-70s. There were four or five acts; I can only remember three: Brownsville Station, Nazareth, and Rare Earth. Rare Earth was not originally on the card, but their show (maybe at Memorial Hall) the day before was cancelled, so they re-scheduled and played the next day at Fairyland.

  6. I went to the Carney Rock with Spirit, I think Dr Hook was there, and a number of others. It was very hot that day. I also was at Carney Rock 2, but I don’t remember much of the music. We went to the haunted house then on alot of rides, and heard very loud music while on the Wildcat, but I have no idea who was playing. It was very cold that day.

  7. Glen Hunter says:

    I remember going to Carney Rock end of July 1973 and seeing REO Speedwagon, Joe Walsh and others. Remember several people hanging off the speaker towers and a bunch of naked people walking around stoned. Awesome.

  8. Mike Epstein says:

    I saw Asleep At The Wheel with someone else there in the 70’s.

  9. Doug Hughes says:

    I went to both Carney Rocks, which were fun but the bands were not really A- list. The first was on July 18, 1973 and the second on Sept 16, 1973. The first featured Spirit, REO Speedwagon, Dr. Hook and Bachman Turner Overdrive. The second Carney Rock had Quicksilver, Nazareth, Rare Earth and Brownsville Station. I kept a list of all the concerts I’ve attended by date which helps, because otherwise I wouldn’t recall the dates and artists.

    One story I can tell was watching the bumper car ride when the two guys from Dr. Hook were bumping into each other plus the other riders. (That’s right, the carnival rides were part of the experience of Carney Rock). The guy with the eye patch got really upset at some people because apparently he was getting bumped too hard (more likely he had been drinking too much). It didn’t get real ugly so it was somewhat humerous.

    Another memory, I think it was the second Carney Rock, Flo and Eddie were scheduled but cancelled at the last minute. So my frend Mark and I kept yelling out for Flo and Eddie! and theneventually for Pink Floyd!!! We were just having fun but we were disappointed in the bands on that day.

    By the way, this is potentially a great site. I would like to see posts about KCJC – 98.1FM, which was the first of two progressive underground radio stations in KC before KUDL, the other being KBEY 104.3 FM . Both stations were amazing to listen to back then and really opened my mind to the wonderful world of psychedelic, underground progressive, art rock, folk and jazz music- in all its forms in the late 60’s. Also, how about a page on KAAY’s Beaker Street with Clyde Clifford, which came out of Little Rock Ak. but came through well in KC (when it wasn’t stormy) in ’69-’71. Blue Rock Records was one of the shows sponsers, a cool record store in the Westport hippy district back then.

  10. I went to the 1st Carney Rock, with REO Speedwagon. I remember riding the Wildcat and there were a lot of drugs around. I remember seeing this girl get on stage with REO and dancing across naked. She met the police when she got to the other side. I remember having a fun time and never been back

  11. Rebecca Gavin says:

    I saw the Sugar Hill Gang at WOF in around 1982, not sure of the year.

  12. Kevin Pritchett says:

    I remember two shows at WOF: KC and the Sunshine Band (maybe 1980) and Eurythmics (maybe 1983)

  13. Jay Rollins says:

    2 shows I went to at WoF… Jay Ferguson and the other was Flock of Seaguls.. No stubs.. Thinking the admission ticket got you in the concert…

  14. Larry Pollard says:

    From 1972 to 1989 I had a band in KC by the name of Union Station. We played many Grad Nights at WOF. On August 3, 1976 we played with Head East there also. I remember the date well. As we were packing up our equipment after the park had closed I had my radio in the band van blasting away when the news came on. Jerry Litton won the Democratic Party candidacy for the US Senate. Jerry, his wife Sharon and 2 kids died in a plane crash as they were taking off for a victory celebration in KC from a small airport in Chillicothe, MO. Many in both parties touted Jerry as being the next John Kennedy. He was 39 years old. A sad ending to a great night of music.

  15. guitarlizard says:

    Saw Lemon Pipers at Fairyland about the time of Green Tambourine, me and friend helped unload their amps etc.
    Saw Brownsville Station, Dr. Hook, QMS, at different times there as well. I went to see Blue Oyster Cult, but they didn’t show. Also went to see Foghat, even met them at old Municipal Airport near NKC, their equipment was all set up, but due to the small crowd (we assumed) they wouldn’t and didn’t play. This would have been on their first US tour, but not sure of date.

  16. tom williams says:

    I have a Carney Rock 2 poster, cardboard, with all the bands names, etc., trying to find out what its worth, if any, it is framed under glass, some, very little water damage in one corner, was given to me by a friend, OX, when he found out I could not make it to that concert, cool poster.

  17. Around ’72-’73 at Fairyland my girlfriend and I saw King Harvest do their hit Dancing In
    The Moonlight. One of the band members signed my girlfriends tit with a magic marker. This was quite a different Fairyland than the one my grandmother had taken me too as a child. Starting to get old, with some of the rides not able to run anymore. Lovets of hippies with drugs.

  18. Around ’72-’73 at Fairyland my girlfriend and I saw King Harvest do their hit Dancing In
    The Moonlight. One of the band members signed my girlfriends tit with a magic marker. This was quite a different Fairyland than the one my grandmother had taken me to as a child. Starting to get old, with some of the rides not able to run anymore. Lots
    of hippies with drugs.

  19. Jim Kelley says:

    There were more than two Carney Rocks at Fairyland. In the summer of 1975, a hot lineup on a hot day included Bob Seger, Climax Blues Band, Blue Oyster Cult and Styx. Bringing your own coolers full of beer/liquor was perfectly acceptable, and the air was scented with a fabulous aroma all day. The open field was set up so that no matter where you spread a blanket, your view would be fabulous. The bands ALL brought their A-game! It is a day I’ll remember as one of the best days of my youth.

  20. Was Blue Rock Records connected with River City Records in Lawrence circa 1970. Owned by McGrannahan and later became Ride-On Bicycles?

Speak Your Mind