Average: 4.6 (35 votes)

July 5, 1969

Hampton, GA US

Atlanta International Raceway (Atlanta Pop Festival)


set includes: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, You Shook Me, White Summer ~ Black Mountain Side, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown


Zeppelin return to America and play in front of their largest audiences yet.

The first Atlanta International Pop Festival was held more than a month before Woodstock. It was organized by Alex Cooley, who later went on to organize the Texas International Pop Festival. The crowd numbered in the high tens of thousands, perhaps close to one hundred thousand. With temperatures nearing a hundred degrees, local fire departments used fire hoses to create "sprinklers" for the crowd to play in and cool off. It was a peaceful, energetic, hot and loud festival with few (if any) problems other than heat related. 

Press Review excerpt - Atlanta: Led Zeppelin, relative new comers to the rock heap, saved the late night crowd from impending lethargy and put the mob into a riotous mood.

Cool wnough to move around a little more now, the mass of humanity began dancing and swinging thourgh the infield, as Led Zeppelin, with the accent on blues, ran through a sebers and a few borrowed ones, dedicating them to Johnny Winter. [Inquirer / 7/69 / -J. Knippenberg]


Press Reviews: Atlanta Pops Was a Hot First Festival

Some of it is still going on inside heads. It was simply The Atlanta Pop Festival, but what an event it was. An estimated one hundred thousand people – most between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two, with some from as far away as the west coast – had amassed for two days and nights at the Atlanta raceway.

Yet with all the excitement of both Janis Joplin and Johnny Winter, there was a moment when it became very hard to imagine how anyone could follow Led Zeppelin.  The four Englishmen who comprise the group made their largest impression recently at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East. They exhibited some of the finest original blues material ever to come out of Britain. From there, they proceeded mostly underground with none of their records on the top 40.

At Atlanta though, Zeppelin performed such fierce music that many people were sure that either they or their equipment would blow.

Zeppelin emanates a high voltage electric fever. Several times in each number, the crowds were demolished and rebuilt by sheer sound. The stage show was exhausting just to watch. If any of their sound is an indication of how they live, by all rights they should be long dead. Their efforts are super-human.

Some groups are good enough to command an audience. Zeppelin, however, is in the category of those which can assault one. [-G.Butte, Sun, 7-13-69]

Atlanta Pop - Greatest Musical Fair Ever

Approximately 120,000 hip people trekked to the Atlanta Raceway last weekend for the Atlanta International Pop Festival, for two days of solid sounds, sweat, and suffering.  Billed as the greatest musical fair ever, it lived up to expectations though, what with top groups like Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Canned Heat plus super-rock-stars as Janis Joplin and Al Kooper.

Performing in near 100 musicians managed to satiate the multi-crowd. However, despite the free camping and watermelons, facilities were almost nonexistent. Freaks were bathing in murky lakes, sucking on ice cubes and popping salt tablets to keep cool. Casualties ranged from heat strokes to bummer trips to an unfortunate miscarriage, and an ambulance seemed to be always in front of the clinic. On top of it all, on day Fri- night July 4,  all the power went out for about a the half hour. Johnny Rivers had just begun its set and was cut off in the middle of his second number. The audience became impatient especially with Rivers' drummer who evidently wasn't prepared to do a 30-minute drum solo. However, once plugged in, the show continued until close to five in the morning.

Saturday's line-up included Spirit, Led Zeppelin, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, plus repeat performances by Sweetwater, Delaney and Bonnie, and Pacific Gas and Electric.

Led Zeppelin received several standing ovations and was called back to do more Janis and her new band tore everybody's minds.

The atmosphere back stage was happening. Groups and groupies mingled with the pseudo press and the hip hierarchy.  Food and drinks were passed around and limousines carried fame to and from gigs. Outside, kids huddled close to the stage now and then one catapulted onstage providing a free show or obstructing one. During the daylight hours which usually lasted until nine in the evening, makeshift tents sprouted like mushrooms.

A water hose provided free refreshment and a good dousing, and a few johnny -on-the- spot closets added a touch of reality to the festival. A menagerie of sorts inhabited. The grounds: straight cats, Haight cats, teeny hoppers, Pinkerton coppers, vegetarians, and Aquarians, all were grooving or seemingly so. Consider Atlanta ZAPPED! [C.Zarco, July 11, 1969]


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Submit your personal review of a particular show you attended, updates, corrections, etc., which will be considered for addition to the official online archive.You may also contact the webmaster at: webmaster@ledzeppelin.com

Legendary promoters revisit rock and roll careers

Led Zeppelin got $2,500 to play before an estimated 700,000 people in the first Atlanta International Pop Festival in 1970. Janis Joplin made just $500, legendary concert promoter Alex Cooley recalled Tuesday.

But the music industry is a different animal now, Cooley and his longtime partner Peter Conlon said.

Back then, artists toured to promote their albums, which provided the bulk of their income, said Conlon, president of Peter Conlon Presents.

“Now they make 90 percent of their money touring. It’s the opposite.,” said Conlon, who co-founded Atlanta’s Music Midtown festival with Cooley in 1994.

The two came to the University of Georgia campus Tuesday to record an interview with Lisa Love, former executive director of the shuttered Georgia Music Hall of Fame. An audience of more than 100 people, many UGA music students and local musicians, filled an auditorium in the university’s Richard B. Russell Building to hear the men talk about the arcs of their careers and the music business.

“What would that be in today’s money?” Conlon asked his former business partner, who retired seven years ago, about the payments to Led Zeppelin and Joplin.

“Not that much, really,” replied Cooley.

He’s right. Inflation-adjusted, Led Zeppelin got a little more than $14,000 and Joplin got a little less than $3,000.

“Today, the acts control things,” Cooley said. “(Concert promotion) is a rough business now. It’s a rough way to make a living.”

Some acts can gross $2 million from a single concert, Conlon said.

And take along three certified public accountants on their tours, Cooley added.

The artists make more money, but their tours are expensive, they said. U2 chartered a jumbo jet for one tour, setting up a dining room inside.

Even paying the expenses of chartered airliners and entourages of dozens of people, the big groups make big money, Cooley said.

Middle range groups, though, can’t make money, he said.

Cooley said he didn’t want to sound like someone longing for the good old days.

“I’ve spent seven years just downloading music. It’s such an incredible technology thing,” he said. “I love downloading music.”

But the same technology has changed the way we experience music, Conlon said as Cooley nodded in agreement.

“You’re by yourself in a room,” Conlon said. “It’s not a social thing.”

Besides observations on the evolution of the music industry, the men also shared stories and memories of some of the great musicians they’ve met through their work, like Michael Jackson and Chuck Berry, an unpleasant man, both agreed.

Cooley recalled early days staging concerts for the Allman Brothers as they burst out of Macon to became international superstars.

“It was magic, it really was,” he said. “They can play for six hours without drawing a breath.”

Conlon began as a UGA student, working in a student organization that booked concerts for the campus. When he began, the University Union was booking the same soul acts that had been popular years before, but were drawing just a handful to UGA concerts in Stegeman Coliseum.

Conlon convinced them to bring in rock and roll acts like Jethro Tull and the Allman Brothers, which sold out.

Conlon took a four-year detour to work for Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign and then in the White House during the Carter administration.

While there, he organized benefit concerts for Carter. When Carter lost his 1980 re-election bid, Conlon got into concert promotion full-time.

Conlon and Cooley formed a partnership in 1982 that lasted until seven years ago, when Cooley retired.

Born in 1939, Cooley attended UGA and Georgia State University before going off to see a bit of the world

He and some friends got the idea for the first Atlanta International Pop Festival — staged months before the more famous Woodstock — when they drove down to south Florida to scuba dive and heard about a rock music festival that weekend in Miami.

They went to hear the music instead of diving. Cooley was so taken with what he had experienced that when he returned to Atlanta, he got together 17 partners and staged the first Atlanta International Pop Festival, he said.

“We did it because we didn’t know it was impossible,” he said. “Looking at it now, I wouldn’t even dream of it.”

Unlike the disastrous, yet iconic, Woodstock festival that followed, the first pop festival in Atlanta had no major problems and turned a profit, he said.

“We felt guilty (because it made money),” Cooley said.

The second festival, in small-town Byron, drew an estimated 700,000 people, the biggest gathering ever in Georgia except for the 1996 Olympics. More would have come, Cooley said, but traffic was backed up north all the way to Atlanta’s Varsity restaurant.

by Lee Shearerupdated January 17, 2013