August 30, 1969 – The Lewisville Pop Festival
Two weeks after Woodstock, Lewisville Texas hosted the Texas International Pop Festival (also called the Lewisville Pop Festival or the Dallas Pop Festival) on the grounds next to the new Dallas Motor Speedway. That was 44 Years ago, if you’re keeping score.
There was a nice lake up there, and it was a hot Labor Day weekend, so it was just natural for the early campers to practice the traditional Texas custom of skinny-dipping.
Word got back to the God-fearing Bible bangers in town, and they got all riled up about the naked hippies doing God Only Knows up at the lake. They called the Mayor, who was out of town in Colorado, and demanded that he take immediate action. Then they grabbed binoculars and hopped in their trucks to get a closer look at the flower children cavorting.
A few of the locals put their bass boats in the water. Ostensibly they were there to catch fish, but mainly they were out there to look at all the hippie chicks running around naked. Some of them were creepy enough to make lewd remarks and even make threats.
Rednecks turned out in pickup trucks, cruising around looking to grab a hippie and chop off his hair. Back then, they actually called it “taking scalps” and it was a real redneck hobby.
A delegation from the town went to the Lewisville Chief of Police, Ralph Adams, and asked him to get out there and bust a few heads and run off the hippies.
Bear in mind, this was the older folks talking. The young folks thought the music festival was wonderful. That was the problem, as the worried parents feared their kids might begin to grow long hair and espouse peace, move to California, take LSD, and then jump out of a window.
But the organizers of the event had covered their asses. They had hired Lewsiville Police Chief Ralph Adams to be their Chief of Security for the event. His resignation was pending with the city, and he was using his earned vacation time to work the event.
In any case, the hippies who attended weren’t there to fight. There was no serious trouble with the huge crowds who attended, although several local troublemakers were arrested.
The festival was extensively advertised through radio and newspapers and was promoted at Woodstock. Consequently, music enthusiasts from all over the United States, and even from foreign countries, poured into Lewisville to pay the admission fee of $6 a day.
Although the promoters anticipated a crowd of over 200,000, actual attendance for the three days was more like 120,000. The festival lost money, but was generally considered a success by those who attended. The promoters created a “carnival-like” atmosphere that featured booths catering to “flower-children.” Astrologers, painters, artists, craftsmen, leather workers, sellers of incense, T-shirts, jewelry, and candles; and food vendors all peddled their wares.
The opening act was a little-known band called Grand Funk Railroad out of Flint, Michigan. The band had just completed their first album, called “On Time”.
Janis Joplin took the stage in Texas for the first time since she became a star. The last Texas stage she had played on was at a little dive bar in Seabrook on open mike night. This time, she was overwhelmed by the welcome she received.
Sweetwater, who had been the first full band at Woodstock with their strange and wonderful sound, played what would sadly be one of their last gigs before lead singer Nancy Nevins would have her voice stolen in a wreck with a drunk driver.
B.B. King, who played all three nights, jammed with the amazing Johnny Winter at the free stage, close by the campgrounds. Wild Texas blues filled the nights by the lake.
And the music went on until Monday night, when Sly and the Family Stone closed the event appropriately enough with “Hot Fun in the Summertime.”
The lineup was even better than Woodstock had been two weeks earlier. Sam and Dave, Santana, Canned Heat, the Grass Roots, Chicago Transit Authority, Tony Joe White, Spirit, Ten Years After, Freddie King, and an unknown British rock band called Led Zeppelin also performed during the three-day festival.
Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm served free food and counseled with anyone who might have forgotten that their acid-induced scene was only a movie. Ken Babbs, of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, ran the free stage. Security was handled by the “Please Force.” Every member of the audience was deputized.
Local musician Richard Rhea (Richard The Drifter) was there, fresh out of the Air Force, and says it was one of the greatest experiences of his life. “After being on active military duty, this was a complete 180 degree turn for me. It sent me spinning in a whole different direction.” he said, “It was an actual life-changing experience for me and I‘m sure for others.”