Sounds of the ’60s: Miami music festivals

The Miami Pop Festival of 1968, held over three days at the end of December at Gulfstream Race Track – 45 years ago this month – drew thousands of fans from all over the country. Musical acts included Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Chuck Berry, Procol Harum, Country Joe and the Fish and Joni Mitchell, to name a few. The 1968 event was touted as the first significant pop festival on the East Coast. Tickets cost $7.  A year later, inspired by Woodstock the summer before, the Miami Rock Festival of December, 1969, drew thousands of young people determined to have fun – and avoid paying an entrance fee if possible. It wasn’t in Miami. It took place at the Miami-Hollywood Speedway, 15  miles west of Hollywood and now a housing development in Pembroke Pines. Performers included Mother Lode, Sweetwater, Canned Heat, Johnny Winter, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Vanilla Fudge and the Amboy Dukes. Fans were searched by police, lashed by cold winds and encouraged to “turn on to God” by Billy Graham. Graham said he appreciated the respectful welcome he got, but police arrested at least 47 people and one young man died in a fall from a spotlight tower. On Thanksgiving weekend, 1969, Palm Beach held it’s first and last Palm Beach Pop festival. With the country still buzzing -or reeling depending on which side you’re on- from Woodstock, the local authorities threatened to make life miserable for free-loving festival attendees. The lineup included Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Sly and the Family Stone, Grand Funk Railroad and Jefferson Airplane.

Were you there? Share your memories in our comment section below or email us at flashbackmiami@miamiherald.com.

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