44th Anniversary of the Greatest Rock Festival in American History!

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Fred Griffin Real Estate Florida Broker BK436788
https://activerain.com/droplet/5dnT

     The Ozark Music Festival!  On a hot July weekend in 1974, a small Missouri town that had only been known as the trailhead for the TV show "Rawhide", became the epicenter of American Rock and Roll. 

 

Ozark Music Festival Poster

 

 

We were there!

     32 bands were scheduled to play in 3 days.  An estimated 350,000 fans overwhelmed the Missouri State Fairgrounds (500,000 according to Ted Nugent, when he talked about the Festival on the Mike Douglas Show a couple of years later). 

     Lynyrd Skynyrd, Electric Flag, The Eagles, former members of The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, Buddy Miles... they just kept coming!

 

 Classic Cars Ozark Music Festival 1974

 

     100 degree heat.  Not enough water.  Not enough sanitary facilities.  Interstate 70 had slowed to a crawl at the U.S. Highway 65 exit.  Traffic was backed up for miles in every direction.  The small town of Sedalia was overwhelmed and inundated.  Grocery stores were sold bare to the walls, restaurants ran out of food, the gas stations sold out of gas.  Local banks reportedly ran out of money to cash Travelers Checks (in those days before debit cards and ATM machines).  

     There were open air drug markets, biker gangs roaming the outskirts (real bikers, not today's retired CPAs and dentists riding Honda Gold Wings).  Fences were trampled by eager fans who would not/could not stand in mile long lines waiting to get in. 

     Throughout the weekend, Wolfman Jack implored people to "get down off those towers before you fall and get hurt!", and "Do NOT take the yellow window pane... it is leading to bad trips, the First Aid center can't handle anymore OD's!" 

     It was epic!  It was the best time we had in our entire lives!

 

 

 

     The Festival was about the MUSIC!  Monster speaker towers (Altec Lansing and JBL) blasted the music so loud that it could be heard and felt a mile away. 

 

 

 

     The Ozark Music Festival 1974 was so incredible, that thousands of us who were there still talk about it, all these years later, on Facebook and other social media outlets.

________________________________

 

        This week marks the 44th anniversary of "The Ozark Music Festival", an epic three day rock concert held in Sedalia, Missouri in the summer of 1974.  Some 350,000 people came from all over America to party, to relax, to escape, and to listen to the greatest bands of the time. 

     Rockers from the 60's and 70's put on a non-stop show for 3 days straight, playing late into the night. The list of bands and musicians that performed that weekend is absolutely staggering!

 

 

Classic Autos and Classic Cars 1974 

 

    Unlike Woodstock, no movie was made, and no record album was released.

     NBC Television cameras filmed the event.  Wolfman Jack was master of ceremonies.  It was allegedly recorded for "The Midnight Special" TV show.

     But those NBC film reels were confiscated by Missouri State Police, and later destroyed by the Missouri State Senate, in the aftermath of Senate Hearings on "how could such a thing have been allowed in our state?" 

     The only tangible reminders of the Festival today are photographs taken by the attendees, some remaining posters and souvenirs, and newspaper articles from the time.  There  are a few audio clips and scratchy amateur videos available on YouTube and Vimeo.

_______________________________

 

     The shared memories of those of us who attended The Ozark Music Festival in 1974 are as vivid as ever!  I was 17 years old, I had just graduated high school, I hitchhiked all the way from my home in Florida to be a part of it.  The music, the free spirits, the hundreds of thousands of people sharing a common "campground"... I remember it like it was yesterday.

 

Remembering The Ozark Music Festival

Sedalia, Missouri

July 19-21  1974

 

 

Ozark Music Festival Poster

 

 Festival Goers in Sedalia Missouri 1974

 Photo courtesy of Mike Moreno, OMF Facebook Group

 

 

The Lineup of Bands and Musicians was mind-numbing:

 

Electric Flag, with Buddy Miles and Mike Bloomfield (they had played at Monterey in 1967!)

Lynyrd Skynyrd, in their prime, with Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, and Leon Wilkerson.  

Ed King, former lead guitarist and vocalist of Strawberry Alarm Clock, jammed with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes

Aerosmith

 

Aerosmith at Ozark Music Festival in 1974
              Photo courtesy of Richard Galbraith; posted in the OMF Facebook Group

 

Joe Walsh

The Earl Scruggs Revue (at a rock concert!) played the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies, and Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

The Eagles

 

The Eagles at Ozark Music Festival 1974

              Photo courtesy of Richard Galbraith; posted in the OMF Facebook Group


The Marshall Tucker Band  (the original line-up, with Toy Caldwell)

REO Speedwagon

Boz Scaggs

Bob Seger

America 

 

Elvin Bishop


Charlie Daniels

Cactus

Leo Kottke

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

David Bromberg

The Souther Hillman Furay Band  (members from The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield)

Triphammer

Bill Quateman

Fresh Start

Babe Ruth

 

Bloodstone

 

Locomotiv GT 

 

Puzzle

 

Ozark Music Festival Stage

 



     No-Show Bands who were scheduled, but did not appear:


 Jefferson Starship

 Bruce Springsteen, who got LAST BILLING on the promotional posters.

 The Mahavishnu Orchestra with Jean Luc Ponty.

 

 Bachman Turner Overdrive with Randy Bachman and Fred Turner

 

  The Ozark Mountain Daredevils  (scheduling conflict)

____________________________________

 

     Wolfman Jack was the MC.  He introduced the bands; he tried to keep the crowd under control.  I can still hear him pleading, "You guys, please come down from those speaker towers before somebody falls off and gets hurt!"

 

Wolfman Jack Ozark Music Festival 1974

 

The bands were flown in by helicopters.    Two stages were set up (see the photos).  While one band was playing and rocking the masses, the roadies for the next band were setting up their equipment on the other stage. 

 

Speaker Towers at OMF 1974

 

 

     Crowd Estimates ranged from 250,000 to 500,000 people.  Traffic was backed up for 20 miles.  The little town of Sedalia was inundated with cars, campers, vans, buses, hitchhikers, hippies, college students, teenagers, bikers, rock and roll fans, and partiers who came from all over the United States.  

 

 

 OMF Photo Album by G. Peterson

                                           Photo Album courtesy of Gigi Peterson, OMF Facebook Group

 

     Nobody remembers the reason for the banner with the name of an Assyrian king, "Tilgath Pileser III".  It was hung between the two stages.

 

Ozark Music Festival Photo Courtesy of Rod Sievers 

                                                Photo courtesy of Rod Sievers, OMF Facebook Group

  

Is there any Film Footage of the Festival?

 

     NBC Television reportedly filmed the entire concert for the TV Show, "The Midnight Special". During a follow-up investigation of The Festival by the Missouri State Senate, it is claimed that those films were destroyed by the State of Missouri.  A long-standing rumor is that a family member of one of the promoters has copies of the films, and hopes to release them some day.

 

 OMF Newspaper Articles

 

Some audio recordings of the Festival are available on YouTube.  They are said to be from VHS tape, but VHS was not available in the United States until two or three years after the Festival. These clips must have come from 8mm or other film reels. 

On the following audio montage, Wolfman Jack welcomes everyone back on Saturday.  The audio is rough at first, then becomes clearer, as the Wolfman introduces Cactus.  Other bands in the recording include Aerosmith, Buddy Miles, Electric Flag, and more. 

Ozark Music Festival, Sedalia Missouri 1974 Audio 

 

 

     Traffic before and after the Festival was bumper to bumper for miles, all the way from Sedalia to Interstate 70.

 

 Line of Cars at Sedalia Ozark Music Festival 1974

 

 

Charlie Daniels at OMF

Charlie Daniels, photo courtesy of Rod Sievers, OMF Facebook Group

 

     I was 17 years old when the Festival was held.  I hitchhiked all the way from Florida to attend the Ozark Music Festival.  It was the experience of a lifetime.  I met many other teenagers who hitchhiked from across the United States to enjoy the greatest rock festival in American history!

 

 

 Ozark Music Festival July 1974

  Photo above courtesy of Rod Sievers, OMF Facebook Group

 

*** Where can I see more Photos? ***

Where can I hear or read stories from people who were there?

 

     There are many photos of this event, along with dozens of stories and remembrances  by attendees posted on the Facebook Group, Ozark Music Festival July 19-21, 1974 .  There are close to 3000 members in the Facebook Group.

     This is a Private Facebook Group.  Please mention my name, or this Blog, to Group Moderator Lanette Brown Giese; ask permission to join.

 

     An excellent website with photos, articles and more:

                  Ozark Music Festival, website by Rod Sievers

         

     Some truly great PHOTOS, taken by David Mann (warning:  some nudity)

                       MannMadePhotos

                   

     Another great place to see photos, and hear the Promoters talk, is on this video.

 

 

   

 

Remembering The Ozark Music Festival

Sedalia, Missouri

July 19-21  1974

 

 

 

     Footnote:  If you were at The Festival, and have corrections to which bands played or did not play, or if you have additional information to share, please let me know in the comment section below.

 

     Be sure to join the  Facebook Group, Ozark Music Festival July 19-21, 1974 

 

 *** Many of the photos in this article are from the OMF Group on Facebook, and from various other websites on the Internet.  I believe that these photos are posted with permission, and I have attempted to give proper credit.  However, if you are the creator of a photo, and I have failed to give you proper credit, please comment below, or email me, and I will give full  attribution, or remove the photo.

 

Sedalia Missour Ozark Music Festival 1974

Posted by

Frederick Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker    

 

Leave of Absence, January 2019

      Fred is not soliciting new business at this time.

     If you are a current or former client of Fred, and need to speak with him, use the CONTACT button on this page.  

  

 

 

 

Tallahassee Florida Metropolitan Area    

 

Disclaimer:  Nothing in the above blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.

 

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Rainmaker
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Endre Barath, Jr.
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Wow Fred Time Flies, loved this post the memories and the pictures, I could have sworn years ago you wrote about this event or am I loosing it? Or am I having a Deja Vu moment?? Endre

Jul 18, 2018 11:08 PM #1
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Tony Lewis
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I love my fellow Rockers!!!

Jul 18, 2018 11:29 PM #2
Rainmaker
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Sally K. & David L. Hanson
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Your musical memories have lasted a lifetime...!

Jul 19, 2018 01:50 AM #4
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Wayne Martin
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Good morning Fred. The locals lost their way. The crowds enjoyed the music. Enjoy your day!

Jul 19, 2018 06:07 AM #5
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Ron and Alexandra Seigel
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Fred,

Thanks for that retrospective on the Ozark Music Festival.  I enjoyed your pictures as well as the list of performers.  A

Jul 19, 2018 07:41 AM #6
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Amanda Love 

Endre Barath, Jr. 

     In the year 1974, there were three of these epic rock festivals.  California Jam in April (I was still in high school; could not make that one).  The Ozark Music Festival in Sedalia, Missouri (this totally eclipsed the others).  Finally, the August Jam in Charlotte - I was there, too!

    These were the end of an era in American Rock Music History.  Massive crowds, no security, insufficient sanitary facilities, not enough drinking water, traffic jams... the authorities were no longer going to condone these Festivals.

   Every July, and every August, I post these article about the Festival and the Jam, and share them with my fellow attendees in our Facebook Groups.  There are always a few "new" people reading my posts; "Hey!  I was there, too!"  We invite them to share their memories with us on Facebook. 

Jul 19, 2018 08:14 AM #7
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Ron and Alexandra Seigel 

Tony Lewis 

Sally K. & David L. Hanson 

 

    Between this Festival, and the August Jam in Charlotte a few weeks later, I saw close to 40 of the biggest names in music in the course of 3 weeks! 

 

   Side note:   

       Most of us who were at the Festival are now in our late 50's or 60's.   We have since cut our long hair, we snuffed out the last joint, we turned down the music and we became productive citizens.  Our Facebook group is filled with nurses and police officers and factory workers and lawyers and real estate brokers.   We went our separate ways, but there is a Kindred Spirit among us that will never be broken.

Jul 19, 2018 08:20 AM #8
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George Souto
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Jeff that was a Hall of Fame list of bands that played there that day.

Jul 19, 2018 11:08 AM #9
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Brian England
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That definitely sounds like an epic event, why didn't the event continue to be held year after year, since it was such a huge success?

Jul 19, 2018 11:30 AM #10
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Brian England   comment #10

    The State of Missouri held hearings on how this thing got so out of control.  The promoters were threatened with imprisonment.  In the video clip I posted you can hear one of them say how he paid $200,000 to some farmers, because "hippies" had slaughtered several of their hogs and steers for food.

     The promoters had told the town of Sedalia (where the Missouri State Fairgrounds are located) that it was a bluegrass festival, probably 35,000 tickets would be sold.

    Starting on Wednesday and Thursday, hundreds of thousands of people descended upon the place.  Open air drug markets, considerable toplessness and nudity (mainly because it was 107 degrees that weekend), mountains of trash and garbage left behind.  The cleanup costs were enormous.  The townspeople had their own hearings, attendees say that it bordered on a lynch mob.

     Incredibly, there was only one death; that was attributed to a drug overdose.  There were some injuries from fighting (one guy was cut pretty badly by a Biker), and there were a lot of drug overdoses (exacerbated by the oppressive heat wave).

    In spite of all that, people looked out for each other.  And the music... Lynyrd Skynyrd playing "Free Bird" with a huge Southern flag behind them, Ted Nugent jamming with Joe Walsh, Buddy Miles and Mike Bloomfield of Electric Flag playing their hits, and on and on.  It was an incredibly good time!

       A few weeks later, I was in Charlotte at the August Jam, which was essentially a one-day version of the same event.  It brought the same problems:  traffic jams, drugs, absolutely no security or police presence.  "The Authorities" had decided that enough was enough.  There would be no more of these unrestrained, out of control monster rock concerts!

    

Jul 19, 2018 12:05 PM #11
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Debe Maxwell, CRS
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Oh my gosh, that WAS an epic event! I was not old enough to go (at least according to my parents) but, I remember it and I believe I've read some posts of yours before on this too, Fred!

I think it's so cool that you not only went to Missouri but, to Charlotte for the 1-day concert...and that you remember it so vividly. There are times in our lives that these types of events are so 'huge' and the time that we have there just can never be as 'large' in our minds - ever again.

I still say that my high school years were the best years of my life - so many 'firsts' in life, like concerts and....well, you know! LOL

Jul 24, 2018 02:52 PM #12
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   Debe Maxwell, CRS  comment #12

       In a couple of weeks I will post my annual remembrance of the August Jam 1974 Charlotte, North Carolina. 

   I am looking for a video clip of local weatherman Larry Sprinkle doing a piece on the 40th anniversary of that event... Larry was there in 1974, very young, he introduced some of the bands, then he introduced Wolfman Jack who took over from him.   4 years ago WCNC sent Larry back to the speedway to do a tribute piece on the Jam.  They ran it on the 6 o'clock news.

   

Jul 24, 2018 04:07 PM #13
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Lisa Von Domek
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Wow Fred Griffin what an epic event.  My husband is from Missouri and this was his era...I'll have to ask him if he was there!

Jul 25, 2018 06:43 PM #14
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 Lisa Von Domek  comment 14

      I have been to Missouri several times in my life.  Beautiful scenery, wonderful people!

Jul 25, 2018 07:21 PM #15
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Joe Pryor
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I remember seeing that advertised on Oklahoma and thought about going but at the time I had a fear of crowds. I remember all of this folks and look at Bruce's billing.

Jul 26, 2018 07:48 AM #16
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 Hi Joe Pryor   

      Bruce Springsteen's equipment truck broke down on the way.  So he did not show up.  Hard to believe that he got last billing in the Rolling Stone advertisement, and on that poster!   

     Bachman Turner reportedly was in the helicopter flying in; Randy Bachman saw the hordes of people and told the pilot to go back. 

     As for Jefferson Starship:   a different version of the poster that did not list Jefferson Starship appeared a few days before the Festival, so they probably backed out of their contract with the promoter.   

    I don't know what happened to Mahavishnu Orchestra.  This was about the time when Jan Hammer left the band, and Jean Luc Ponty joined it.  Maybe personal/personnel issues.

    But in spite of the no-shows, we still enjoyed 28 different bands and singers in 3 days.  Some of the best performances were impromptu jam sessions (Ed King of Strawberry Alarm Clock playing with Lynyrd Skynyrd; also Ted Nugent coming back on stage to join Joe Walsh for a jam).  The musicians were clearly having a great time!

    

Jul 26, 2018 08:14 AM #17
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Debbie Reynolds
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Hi Fred, I was not aware that this big event took place. I was married and just had my first child. I guess I was thinking about how to furnish a nursery and listening to lullabies. These are great memories and glad to share them with you.

Jul 30, 2018 05:42 PM #18
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