Texas International Pop Festival, 1969

Two weeks after Woodstock, the Texas International Pop Festival occurred outside Dallas at a speedway in Lewisville. Among the notable acts available for a $6.00 ticket (but absent in New York) were Led Zeppelin, a brand-new act from Flint, Mich., called Grand Funk Railroad, and Chicago Transit Authority. Zeppelin’s set is generally considered one of the best from the band’s early US tours. Grand Funk made the most of the opportunity by opening the main stage on each of the festival’s three days.

Led Zeppelin performed the second night, wrapping up a five-week string of 23 US dates before returning to the UK the next day. They played five songs, starting off with ‘Train Kept A-Rollin’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ before launching into extended jams of ‘Dazed and Confused,’ ‘You Shook Me,’ and ‘How Many More Times’ (two parts and more than 22 minutes!). An encore of ‘Communication Breakdown’ followed.

Zeppelin and Janis Joplin were the festival’s two highest-paid acts, pulling in $10,000 each. Grand Funk, by contrast, played for free and paid its own expenses.

Camping was not allowed on the festival grounds, but The Merry Pranksters ran a nearby camp site and free stage. Hijinks were rampant but peace ruled the day, with no violent incidents reported. Hog Farm commune leader Wavy Gravy, there running festival security, got his name over the weekend. In addition to security, the Taos, NM,-based commune provided free food.

Participants who had also been at Woodstock, where this festival was promoted, found the “vibrations” better in Texas. “Things have been real smooth,” agreed Lewisville police chief Ralph Adams on the first day of the event. That night, a patrolman watched from a distance as 25 or so festival-goers swam nude at the camp site’s lake. “I don’t care what they do as long as they don’t hurt anybody else,” he said.1

Despite the tranquility, however, Lewisville’s Mayor held a press conference a few days afterwards to say he didn’t think there’d be another such event, explaining that “this type of thing just does not fit into our mode of living in this area.”2

An estimated 120,000 people attended the event. About one-quarter of 85 arrests made were for drug violations. No arrests were made at either the festival site or the campground.

Grand Funk had released its debut album, ‘On Time,’ via Capitol Records earlier in August 1969. Produced by Terry Knight, it went Gold, peaking at #27 on the Billboard charts and kicking off Grand Funk’s multi-platinum, stadium-headlining career. Knight (former bandmate of Brewer’s in Terry Knight and the Pack) produced the band’s first seven albums, through 1972’s greatest hits compilation, ‘Mark, Don, and Mel: 1969-71.’ The band self-produced ‘Phoenix,’ released later that year, before turning the reins over to Todd Rundgren for ‘We’re An American Band’ (1973) and ‘Shinin’ On’ (1974).

 

LINEUP

Saturday, Aug. 30, 1969

Grand Funk Railroad
Canned Heat
Chicago Transit Authority
James Cotton Blues Band
Janis Joplin
B.B. King
Herbie Mann
Rotary Connection
Sam & Dave

Sunday, Aug. 31

Grand Funk Railroad
Chicago Transit Authority
James Cotton Blues Band
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
The Incredible String Band
B.B. King
Led Zeppelin
Herbie Mann
Sam & Dave
Santana

Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1

Grand Funk Railroad
Johnny Winter
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
BB King
Nazz
Sly and the Family Stone
Spirit
Sweetwater
Ten Years After
Tony Joe White

 

‘Got No Shoes, Got No Blues’ festival film

 

Grand Funk Railroad

 

Led Zeppelin

 

King’s X – ‘Closer/Captain’ cover – Cardi’s, Houston, 1996

 

References

  1. Kifner, J., “Texas Pop Fans Don’t Have Bethel’s Problems,” New York Times, Aug. 31, 1969, p. 46.
  2. “Pop Festival The Last, Mayor Says,” Reading Eagle, Sept. 5, 1969, p. 3.