October 18, 2017

Calling all shutterbugs!

Jimi posed backstage with morning DJ "Humble" Harry Miller from concert sponsor KUDL-AM.

Among the holy grails of the Kansas City Rock History Project, in terms of photos, is the Jimi Hendrix Experience concert Nov. 1, 1968, at Municipal Auditorium.
If anyone out there has photos of Jimi, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell on stage in Kansas City, please be in touch with me. And anyone who attended, please feel free to share your memories by commenting below.

Ad for Jimi in The KC Star

I have found some ads for the concert, whose opening act was Cat Mother and All-Night Newsboys, on the back of a KUDL Boss 30 survey and in the Kansas City Star.
My other top photo wants are, of course, the Beatles Sept. 17, 1964, at Municipal Stadium and the Who (with the Buckinghams) Nov. 17. 1967, at Shawnee Mission South High School Auditorium. I am looking for candid photos of the Who — something besides the 1968 yearbook spread.
I am also searching for snaps of such concerts as Led Zeppelin Nov. 5, 1969, at Memorial Hall, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Feb. 1, 1978, at Pogo’s, and any of Elvis Presley’s five KC concerts: May 24, 1956, Nov. 15, 1971, and June 29, 1974, at Municipal Auditorium, and April 21, 1976, and June 18, 1977, at Kemper Arena.
If you have photos of these shows or any others you are willing to share with the Kansas City Rock History project, please write to rick@kcrockhistory.com. History will thank you.

The Day of the Locusts

The KC Star and Times' coverage of the OMF was sometimes positive, sometimes sneering.

Thirty-seven years ago this week, more than 100,000 young rock music fans descended on Sedalia, Mo., (population 22,000) for three days and nights of debauchery known as the Ozark Music Festival.

The event held at the state fair grounds July 19-21, 1974, has been called the height — or the nadir — of decadence in a decadent era. The 22-act bill included several destined to become Rock Hall of Famers (Eagles, Skynyrd, Seger) performing at their peak. Yet critics called it a disaster, likening the OMF to Sodom and Gomorrah, Hooverville and the aftermath of a tornado.

To be sure, the Ozark Music Festival featured epic quantities of sex and drugs and rock and roll. But there was also violence and overflowing toilets, injury and even one death. And heat. Everywhere throughout the fair grounds and the adjoining town, 100-degree, no-shade, oppressively humid, mid-summer heat.

High temperatures led to lots of nudity and semi-nudity among festival-goers. That probably freaked out the good citizens of Sedalia almost as much as reports of rampant drug sales and use in and around the fair grounds, even as outnumbered police and highway patrolmen sat on their hands outside the gates. The kids drank from people’s garden hoses and peed on their lawns; they stripped corn and pigs from farmer’s fields; they bum-rushed and broke windows at a grocery that had been limiting the number of entrants.

Things got out of hand rather quickly at OMF, given the number of people who showed up. But the actual attendance figure is impossible to know (estimates generally cite 100,000 to 150,000 or more over the three days) because, as KC-based promoter Chris Fritz noted, the perimeter fences were breached even before the doors officially opened on Friday morning of the festival weekend.

When the show was over, the event was probed by a special committee of the Missouri Senate, a Pettis County grand jury and a couple of lawsuits. In the end, nothing much came of it.

Headlines from the aftermath of the OMF.

But what a difference a generation or two can make.

When Chris Fritz held an April 25 news conference at the Kansas Speedway to announce his Aug. 5-6 KanRockSas Music Festival there, KCK tourism officials were at his side to hail the economic impact of a hoped-for horde of 100,000 attendees.

Even Sedalia now looks at the OMF through rose-colored glasses. In 2009 the Chamber of Commerce mounted an exhibit at the Historic Katy Depot to mark the 35th anniversary. A related website remains up, containing among other things a guestbook filled with comments from people who attended. (See Links below and “We were there” below for excerpts.)

Jeff Lujin was born in Sedalia in 1971 and grew up hearing tales – some true, some apocryphal — of the OMF.

“It’s part of Sedalia’s lore; everybody’s heard about it,” Lujin explained.

Veteran KC promoter Chris Fritz, the man behind the Ozark Music Festival and the upcoming KanRockSas Music Festival.

He’s been working on a documentary film about the festival for a couple of years now, recording hundreds of hours of interviews and collecting a like number of photos, plus Super 8 movie film shot by attendees.

“There were some biker gangs … everyone talks about the tunnels, mostly with fear. Lots of violence happened there. Lots of drugs,” Lujin said. “It wasn’t quite Altamont, and it wasn’t quite Woodstock.”

Fritz today says the problems at OMF were mostly attributable to the unexpectedly large crowd that showed up – four or five times what he and his partners expected.

He insists he will be better prepared, should the crowds at KanRockSas rival those of the OMF 37 years earlier.

 

“We were there at Ozark Music Festival”

 

(Note: all misspellings sic)

 

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on the OMF stage.

“I can remember Wolf Man Jack announcing the first baby being borned there during the Eagles concert … I was SO sunburned across my shoulders that I was blistered, but we were having the best time of our lives … Naked people were everywhere. People swam in the lagoon near the race track to cool off. Drugs were everywhere. The tunnels leading into the racetrack were lined with drug vendors selling anything I had ever heard of. People were passing out and being hauled off. The music was outstanding but conditions were horrid. If you needed to relieve yourself you did so openly in public. There was no other option … do remember Joe Walsh sing Rockey mountain way. The guy on the loud speaker selling everthing from Weed to Mexican junk red … I also remember the tunnell. Any drug you wanted was in that tunnell. Tables set up and guys with billboards on … People don’t believe me when I tell them that Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynryd, Joe Walsh w/ Barn Storm and The Eagles played one after another in one night  … It is the first time I had ever seen anyone shooting up … It was clear that there was no police control. we were free for the first time in our lives … I remember seeing someone with a dog pulling a little red wagon filled full of bags of pot with a sign that said LIDS $15 … I can’t believe my parents let me go.  Maybe I didn’t tell them where I was going … By the time I left I was dazed confused and dehydrated and had to hitchhike all the way back home.”

Were you there at the Ozark Music Festival? Please leave a recollection below. And contact rick@kcrockhistory.com if you have photos or memorabilia to share.

 

Links:

 

Chamber of Commerce exhibit

http://www.ozarkmusicfestival.com/

 

OMF documentary film preview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWm51kJGIKo&NR=1

 

Home movie showing crowd:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LLpgi8-xGY&feature=related

 

Home movie showing crowd, infamous tunnel, Electric Flag performing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sYy83nO-bY&feature=related

 

One guy’s recollection:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKDPclPlIxE&feature=related

 

German group Locomotiv GT performing at OMF:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAcndR5gUX0

 

 

 

World’s Happiest Broadcasters

 

Interviewing Phil Jay at the North Kansas City classic car cruise May 14, 2011.

I got a chance to talk to a boyhood idol this past weekend: Phil Jay, formerly the #2 on-air personality on WHB-AM, Kansas City’s dominant #1 radio station during rock’s golden era of the 1960s.

 

This event in 1965 was the fourth rock 'n' roll party sponsored by WHB at the Plaza Theatre.

As Phil and many other reference works tell it, WHB owner and Omaha, Neb., native Todd Storz was the inventor of Top 40 radio. WHB was one of the first to employ the format 24-7, starting soon after Storz bought the station in 1954.

 

Phil Jay joined top dog Johnny Dolan on air at WHB-AM 710 in 1968, at a time when it was drawing huge ratings and its announcers were local celebrities. He remained with WHB until 1993. Today he lives in Olathe and has a mobile disc jockey service.

 

This handbill is from 1970. Similar events were held in 1971 and '72 at Fairyland.

WHB played a role in promoting lots of events around town, too, including some of KC’s earliest rock concerts. A series of “Plaza Parties” were held at the Plaza Theatre in 1964 and 1965 featuring national names like Ray Stevens and locals such as Roger Calkins and the Silvertones. In the early 1970s, the station also sponsored a series of concerts and special high school days at Fairyland Park, which was at 75th and Prospect.

The 40 Star Survey for Dec. 18, 1970.