Rock and Roll History! The last Woodstock-style rock festival held in the United States was in Charlotte North Carolina, on August 10, 1974. We were there!
Today marks the 42nd Anniversary.
The Allman Brothers Band, Foghat, Marshall Tucker, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Black Oak Arkansas, Grinder Switch, PFM, and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils all performed. (The Eagles were scheduled; they were a no-show).
Wolfman Jack was the master of ceremonies. He introduced the Bands; he tried to keep the enthusiastic crowd under control.
My brothers David, Joe, and I, along with our friend Mike, were at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the August Jam on Saturday August 10, 1974.
Helicopter footage of the Jam can be viewed on this Black Oak Arkansas video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tHtAV3uMRI
Black Oak Arkansas at the August Jam
"There was a limited number of tickets sold prior to the concert, and when many thousands of additional fans showed up on the day of the performances, those thousands proceeded to crash the fences and rush to the infield.
Many of the facilities were overwhelmed due to the crowds, and the weather did not cooperate either, producing a sporadic rain that drenched the concert goers, and turned the infield into a muddy quagmire.
However, the music went on as scheduled, the fans helped each other stay moderately comfortable, and to many it turned out to be an unforgettable experience."
Photo courtesy of Sandy Boggs Kosarski, via 1974 August Jam Facebook Group
The exact number of Attendees is not known, but estimates show that well over 300,000 people were present. The Charlotte Motor Speedway was inundated with partiers, rockers, teenagers, college students, hippies, locals, and thrill-seekers from all over the United States.
The Allman Brothers Band. They played all the classics, including "Statesboro Blues", "Whipping Post", and "Rambling Man". Greg Allman passed out from the heat about halfway through the set, and had to be carried off. Dickie Betts and the Band finished the set without him.
Foghat! Lonesome Dave Peverett and Rod Price were in their absolute prime. These men were true blues-rockers, the likes of which has rarely been seen since. "Road Fever", "Eight Days on the Road", "Dreamer", "Stone Blue", "Slow Ride". This was unforgettable rock history! See great photos on this website.
Wolfman Jack introducing Foghat!
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Pioneers in techno-rock music. They played "Hoedown" late night Saturday with an incredible light show. Keith Emerson's "flying piano" was absolutely unreal.
Black Oak Arkansas. More Southern rock at its best! Proudly waving the Flag of our Southern Heritage; Jim Dandy and the boys went all out. The videos attached to this blog are priceless, they give a true picture of how it was at the August Jam.
The two Black Oak Arkansas videos on this page are the only live footage of the August Jam that I have ever seen.
Black Oak Arkansas plays "Dixie" at the "Southern Woodstock" in Charlotte, North Carolina August 10, 1974: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSoIi_KkOUU
Black Oak Arkansas at the August Jam
My View from the Top of the Press Box
I had climbed up onto the top of the press box, and spent Saturday afternoon and evening up there. The acoustics and the view from that vantage point were amazing. You heard the music, you saw the entire crowd that stretched to the horizon in all directions. What a great place to take in the show!
Our Family Road Trip to Charlotte from Brevard, North Carolina
My brother Joe was 15 years old, my brother David was 12, I had turned 18 the week before. Joe's friend Mike came with us; he was also 15.
My brothers and I told Mom that we would hitchhike to Charlotte from our home in Brevard (near Asheville, a distance of about 150 miles). Mom quickly proclaimed: "No way! If you are going, I am driving you boys to Charlotte!"
We left for Charlotte early Friday morning, in Mom's 1968 Dodge Dart. As we got close to Charlotte, the traffic was already backing up. (You can see a helicopter view of the traffic, in the Video clip posted below).
Mom pulled into a Texaco Station near the Speedway. She said, "You boys can walk the rest of the way from here. I will be back at this gas station to pick you up on Sunday morning." Brother Joe, Brother David, friend Mike and I eagerly trekked toward the Speedway, while Mom u-turned and headed back to Brevard.
Joe, David, and Mike headed straight to the infield; they wanted to be up close (and they were close - they sat right at the front of the stage!). I wanted to hang around the exterior for a time, and take in the sights and the crowd. We agreed to meet up at the Texaco Station where Mom had dropped us off.
The Sunday Morning aftermath.
I had fallen asleep on top of the Press Box (thank God I didn't roll off the edge during the night!). Someone woke me up around dawn. Police were coming through, with loudspeakers and megaphones blaring, telling the stragglers and the campers that it was time to leave. It was eerily similar to the Ozark Music Festival in Sedalia, Missouri that I had attended a few weeks before... there were no cops to be seen anywhere during the show, but when it was over, an armada of Mayberry / Andy Griffith police cars showed up to run everyone off.
I walked to the Texaco station where Mom had dropped us off on Friday. As I approached, I saw Joe, Mike, and David lying on the curb in front of a Coke machine, sound asleep. I woke them up. We looked at each other in amazement. "Wow, can you believe what we just saw?" "Wasn't that the coolest thing ever?" "Wow, we were a part of it!"
A 1968 Dodge Dart pulled up; the driver honked the horn. It was Mom! She was glad to see us, but was rather perturbed when she saw the shape that we were in. We had slept on the ground for two nights, and not showered or bathed since we had left Brevard on Friday.
We got into the car and headed home. Mom stopped somewhere for breakfast. I fell asleep with my head on the table. Before I knew it we were back in the car, rolling down the highway. My brothers and Mike and I rehashed the concert all the way to Brevard, while Mom sighed and shook her head.
The Charlotte newspaper said 200,000.
However, local TV reporters said there were 300,000.
The August Jam was the last of the Woodstock-style rock concerts. The California Jam in April 1974, the Ozark Music Festival at Sedalia, Missouri in July 1974 (I was there, too!), and finally the August Jam in Charlotte, to end the Era.
There would be no more of these epic multi-band rock festivals. Massive crowds of people, an acute shortage of sanitary facilities, no police presence, traffic backed up for miles, open-air drug markets, and other issues were simply too much for the Authorities to condone. The August Jam was the end of an era in American music history.
Crowd Photo believed to be in Public Domain, source unknown
Sincere, heartfelt thanks goes to Tammy Shropshire (the administrator and creator of that Group). She has reunited so many of us August Jam Alumni; over one thousand of us are together again after all these years! It is a closed group, mention this Blog or my name, ask Tammy to let you join.
See more photos of the Jam on these websites:
August Jam, Charlotte, North Carolina
August 10, 1974
We were there!