Our own mini Woodstock, back in 1972

peach-tree-rock-festival-poster.jpegMost of today’s Live Wire deals with a music festival in Rockingham back in 1972 — the Peachtree Celebration — which drew tens of thousands of people to the grounds of the N.C. Motor Speedway to hear (and watch) acts like Alice Cooper, Three Dog Night and the James Gang.

It was a huge event for this area — a kind of one-day Woodstock — but there’s only a minimal amount of  information about the festival online.

peachtree-celebration-poster.jpgYou can check here and here for some attendees’ reminiscences and even some snapshots from that time. One guy talks of having ridden his bike to Rockingham from Whiteville, where he was a rising high school senior. Another guy remembers the sweltering late-August heat did Poco in after its set so the band couldn’t do an encore. He remembered the MC announcing, “Poco is puking!”

Meanwhile, go here to see photos of that day’s performance by a little-known, but well-received all-girl hard-rock band called Birtha.

ticket-stub-from-peach-tree-concert.jpgIn the top poster, you’ll see it talks of the event being “a hit of fresh air and sound,” playing on the drug term, and, from an Observer report of the show, it sounds like there was plenty of pot around, as well as some LSD.

I didn’t find any video from the festival but if you want to see and hear what some of the festival’s artists looked and sounded like then, check the following YouTube videos from 1972 or thereabouts:

*Alice Cooper, doing “School’s Out,” his mega hit which had just been released at the time of Peachtree.

*Three Dog Night, doing “Black & White.”

*The post-Joe Walsh James Gang, doing “She Runs, Runs, Runs.”

*Fleetwood Mac, doing “Spare Me a Little of Your Love.” (If FM doesn’t look/sound like the FM you’re used to, well, that’s right. This was that band’s earlier incarnation.)

*Poco, doing “Just For Me and You.”

*Rory Gallagher, doing “Going to My Hometown.”

The festival was put on by a group of people, including Fayetteville attorney Tony Rand and Fayetteville accountant Lyndo Tippett. Rand would later become a state senator and he’s now the Senate majority leader. Tippett would eventually become the state’s secretary of transportation under Gov. Easley.

Back then, the friends were just trying to work the business side of the show that was organized by some of Rand’s clients.

“I didn’t have a dang thing to do with picking the bands,” Tippett said Friday.

He and Rand were focused on the logistics of the huge event and most especially the finances of it. It was raining when the sun came up on the day of the festival and Tippett remembers thinking, “Lord, why did I ever do this?”

Then the sky cleared and the crowd — including thousands of people who’d camped in fields and woods across from the speedway — started streaming into the gates. Tippett and Rand rode motorcycles from gate to gate to gate to collect the money and take it back to a central office to be counted.

Luckily, Tippett said, they collected enough to pay the show’s expenses by the time some people started knocking down the fences, which defeated all further attempts at collecting entrance fees.

Tippett and Rand didn’t hang out with the musicians and didn’t get to hear all of the performances.

Still, the whole experience is a fond memory for them, from the crowds of kids to the helicopter that they’d arranged to ferry the artists between the speedway grounds and the Holiday Inn where they were all staying in Southern Pines to the stir that Alice Cooper caused by swimming in the hotel’s pool with his boa constrictor.

“I can assure you I was not in the pool,” Tippett said.

There was actually a second Peachtree festival in 1973. It was a smaller event, held at the Jaycee Fairgrounds in Fayetteville. It featured Santana — whose performance that day remains much admired because of a still-passed-around bootleg tape — and Foghat, as well as Mott the Hoople, Savoy Brown and Tower of Power.

In 1974, the event went really big-time, moving to Charlotte, with the Allman Brothers as the mega draw. That was too big and too expensive and too risky for Rand and Tippett and they withdrew.

“It is, in its final balance, a very serious business,” Rand said.

Tippett said he often looks back and wonders “why the heck” he got involved in the Peachtree festivals.

But he said he’s glad he did.

Rand said he is, too. “It was a happening. I’ll tell you that,” the senator said. “I wouldn’t take anything for it. We had a good time.”

–cp

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21 Responses to “Our own mini Woodstock, back in 1972”

  1. Daryl Cobranchi Says:

    Working overtime? 🙂

  2. Mr. Potatoe Head Says:

    Wow! That brings back a lot of memories. I didn’t get to catch all of the “mini Woodstock” concerts as I was a touring musician myself, but the acts were great and the music was fantastic. Little did I know what a special time in musical history it would turn out to be. The music is just as powerful today as it was yesterday.
    Long live ROCK!

  3. kit Says:

    That was a great concert. I was only 17 when I went.
    Now this stinking town don’t even hold any good concerts in that billion $$$$$$ coliseum that the tax payers are paying for!!!!!!

  4. topstevie Says:

    Talk about memories !! I worked that show as well as had fun. All the girls talked about Jim Dandy and Black Oak Arkansas, but I remember a all girl group at the first of the show called Big Bertha. There was this big old girl wearing bib overalls playing guitar in that group and i think i was smitten.
    Good Times ! Like it was yesterday, except im 55 and have 3 grandkids to teach music to. Rock n Roll is heat to stay !

  5. The Moose is Loose Says:

    I just don’t understand why big rock shows don’t work here. Over the last decade that I’ve been covering the local music scene, I’ve asked – and have been asked – that question often.

  6. Jeff Thompson Says:

    Ms. P., is there a local clearing house for disposing of old encyclopedias? My wife saw your article the other day, but didn’t recall how we could get rid of ours.

  7. Sidonia Schumann Says:

    The http://www.Freecycle.org local group is the best site I have seen; persons post an OFFER, WANTED, PPU (pending pickup) or TAKEN to give and receive any legal item free. This has given huge relief to many people who need things for their families and for themselves. The Freecycle mission is to keep things out of our landfill, but the site offers so much more, such as free weekend postings for businesses. Thank you.
    Sidonia Schumann

  8. Catherine Pritchard Says:

    Hi Jeff. There’s no clearing house for the books, sadly. The local Freecycle group is one place to try. Unfortunately, I think at least some of the people who might want encyclopedias don’t have Internet access.

    Simply because I hate the idea of these books being thrown away or not being put to good use when other people want them, I’m trying on my own to connect people who want to get rid of encyclopedias with those who want them. We’ll see how it goes!

  9. Ron Says:

    The concert was held 4 days prior to me joining the Navy. I wish I could remember it like it was yesterday but too many years have passed. I do remember my buddies and I hi spending the night outside the the racetrack grounds. A lot of adrenaline flowing through the night and early morning hours. I didn’t get a second of sleep because of the high and anticipation. I remember the gates opening and rushing to the stage. We got close but for some reason we moved to the top of the track. I think to get a better view. I remember a path of humans cut out in the middle of the field. People flowing back and forth. The best act, without a doubt, was Birtha. I believe it was because no one knew them and they were a big surprise. That’s about all.

    Thanks for the site.

  10. Kit Says:

    Mr. Moose is Loose!
    Big concerts don’t work here, because the liberals and the religious people don’t want them here!!!!!!!!! There scared.

  11. Teresa Grace (Hodges) Mock Says:

    WOW. Thoughts of this ultra cool festival came to my mind tonite and so I started looking online for info and hopefully, photos of it.. I was 17 & I was SO there 🙂 …I don’t remember the drive to Rockingham or the 5 hour drive home back to S.E. Georgia, tho’ and unfortunately didn’t have the hindsight (or sense!) to bring a camera..
    I fondly remember the little quaint “village feel” that the camping area had, during the late night hours..Candles and lanterns lit the pathway thru the tents and all the peaceful, long haired people….This festival will always be a very sweet memory for me…..

  12. john Says:

    because the LIberals don’t want the here? hey KIT what the hell planet are you on? it’s the right wingers and religiuos right! wake your ass up!

  13. Gary Says:

    I just saw Fleetwood Mac last night for the first time since the Peachtree celebration. It brought back fond memories. We were hanging at Virginia Beach when we decided to drive all night to experience a mini Woodstock. Thanks for posting this to rekindle some memories form the 70’s. What a great time to be alive!

  14. Joe B Says:

    Hitch hiked from SC to this show. All of 16 years old and long haired. Had a great time. Slept under the stars with plastic cover for a blanket. Never forgot this but never found any info on it till now.

  15. Gene Davis Says:

    I, along with three of my buddies drove down from Virginia Beach for the concert that week end. Man did we have an awesome time. We were all in the Navy together at that time stationed at NAS Oceans just outside VA.Beach. Haven’t had that much fun since.

  16. Ted Says:

    I lived in Richmond, Va. at the time. Drove down to the speedway with friends. Didn’t have enough money to get in so we snuck in under the fence on the back side. The show was great saw Rory for the first time, James Gang, and Alice Cooper I think it was. A helicopter flew in at one point. There were a bunch of people who were freaked out on bad acid that night I remember and were being attended to. We just walked around the speedway enjoying the show. I saw Rory again opening for Rod Stewart a year or so later and he was great again.

  17. Michael Denton Says:

    Its a day I’ll always treasure in my heart rock and roll all day long. High school sweetheart and I had to thumb back to Rockingham to her parents couldn’t find my car had to come out the next day there its all by itself 69 z28. Went to a lot of concerts back in the late sixties and seventies but this top them all.

  18. Ted Says:

    Made the last evening of the event and it was an interesting show.. Lots of bad acid floating around and people having bad experiences. They acts were good and I remember a helicopter flying in during the show. Didn’t have enough money to buy tickets so we climbed in under the fence at the Speedway. Barely had gas to get back home. Walked around the Speedway all night listening to the bands and had such a good time.

  19. roerwier Says:

    Reblogged this on Site Title and commented:
    This was my first outdoor concert. I remember all the blankets with lids of weed laid out so any perusing buyer could look at what they were buying. I remember one where if you bought a lid you got a swig off a bottle of Boones Farm Apple wine and a lot of acid crushed up and stuffed in the bottle. It was a concert that went on all day and into the night. Three dog night and Alice cooper and their fantastic fireworks display at the end. I was only thirteen but it was absolutely something a thirteen year old would never forget.

  20. Gary Leland Says:

    I was there, and it was a great event. So many great bands.

  21. Ray White Says:

    I was there lived in charlotte, sure do miss those days.

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