So much has been written over the last 50 years about what happened on Aug. 15-17, 1969, in Bethel, N.Y. — the site of the Woodstock festival — and so much more will surely be written in this Golden Anniversary year.
But did you ever wonder about what happened in New Jersey, musically, that weekend? I, as the editor of NJArts.net, did, and here’s what I found, using the invaluable resource, setlist.fm.
(To make things simple, I will use “Friday,” “Saturday” and “Sunday” to refer to Aug. 15, 16 and 17, 1969, respectively).
On Saturday, Led Zeppelin — still relatively new, but already quite popular — headlined at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, with Joe Cocker opening. Cocker, then traveled up to Woodstock and presented a well-received, early afternoon (2 p.m.) set on Sunday.
It was actually a busy weekend for Led Zeppelin. They played in San Antonio, Friday, with Jethro Tull opening, and in Wallingford, Conn., Sunday, with a band called the Mustard Family opening.
Back to New Jersey … Aretha Franklin was at the Garden State Arts Center (now the PNC Bank Arts Center) in Holmdel, on Saturday. And Bruce Springsteen’s band of that time, Child, was at the Student Prince in Asbury Park, Friday through Sunday. (Child, which also featured Danny Federici on keyboards, Vinnie Roslin on bass and Vini Lopez on drums, changed its name to Steel Mill later that year.)
These are the only New Jersey shows that made it onto setlist.fm for that weekend; if you know of any more, please let me know in the comments section, below.
Here are shows that took place in other states that weekend, listed by day:
Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie at The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.
Al Kooper, James Cotton Blues Band at Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park, Manhattan
Miles Davis, Nina Simone at The Spectrum, Philadelphia
Jerry Lee Lewis at The Beach Ball, Revere, Mass.
Steppenwolf at Toledo Sports Arena
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
Elvis Presley at International Hotel, Las Vegas
Johnny Cash at Wisconsin State Fair Park, West Allis, Wis.
Bo Diddley at Grande Ballroom, Detroit
Marlene Dietrich at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Md.
Linda Ronstadt at Aragon Ballroom, Chicago
Johnny Winter at Kinetic Playground, Chicago. Winter performed at Woodstock at midnight Sunday.
FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY
Ray Charles at the Cocoanut Grove, Los Angeles
Chicago at the Fillmore West, San Francisco
Ella Fitzgerald at the Carter Barron Amphitheater, Washington, D.C.
Frank Sinatra at Astrodome, Houston
Blind Faith at the Santa Barbara Fairground, Santa Barbara, Calif.
James Brown at the Freeman Coliseum, San Antonio
Diana Ross & the Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Edwin Hawkins Singers at The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell at Auditorium Theatre, Chicago. CSNY performed at Woodstock late Sunday night (or to be more precise, at 3 a.m. Monday morning).
St. Louis Jazz Festival with Miles Davis, Herbie Mann, Nina Simone, Mongo Santamaria, Ten Years After, Newport Allstars at Kiel Auditorium. Ten Years After performed at Woodstock on Sunday night.
Jethro Tull at Catacombs Club, Houston
The 5th Dimension, Oliver at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, Queens, N.Y.
Folk Festival with Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tim Hardin, Tom Paxton, The Pentangle at Singer Bowl, Queens, N.Y. (Hardin had performed at Woodstock, Friday.)
Steppenwolf at Hara Arena, Dayton
Lou Rawls, Carl Holmes and the Commanders, Ruth McFadden at Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park, Manhattan
Poco at California State College at Fullerton
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
Jerry Lee Lewis at the Where It’s At Club, Boston
Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, Ted Nugent’s Amboy Dukes and Brownsville Station on the front steps of the Detroit Public Library
Diana Ross & the Supremes at the International Sports Arena, San Diego
Nina Simone, B.B.King, Hugh Masekela and the Harlem Festival Jazz Band at the Harlem Cultural Festival in Mount Morris Park (now known as Marcus Garvey Park), Manhattan
The Bob Seger System at the Oakland Mall, Troy, Mich.
Jr. Walker & the All Stars at the Whisky a Go Go, West Hollywood, Calif.
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On August 11 and 12 of 1969 both the Jetro Tull and Led Zeppelin bands attended two of Elvis Presley’s 58 sold out shows at the International Hotel. Zeppelin was playing the Ice Palace on the 11th,so they took a night off to see Elvis. This is how the top groupie in the world a woman who bedded Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon,Nick St. Nicholas, Noel Redding, Jim Morrison, Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings, and actors Brandon deWilde, Michael Richards, Woody Allen and Don Johnson, LOL, said about the experience of seeing Elvis. And I quote from page 139 of her auto biography. “I am with the band”
He was wearing black and looked like ten Greek Gods as he tore through “Love me Tender, “Don’t be cruel, and “Jailhouse Rock”. He was sweating, in the flesh, alive, inhaling and exhaling. And there I was, breathing the same air, sitting with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, completely and entirely beside myself. Some sideburned greased monkey appeared after the show, asking Jimmy if he would like to meet Elvis. He said “No, thank you,” and I never quite got over it….Unquote. Pamela Des Barres, blaming her then love interest Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin for declining to meet Presley after his midnight show at the International Hotel (now the Westgate, Las Vegas) on August 12, 1969, ostensibly in reference to the fact Page knew she was a huge Elvis fan but because of his jealously-derived decision, never got to meet him.