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Son of Bethel
The 1969 Texas International Pop Festival


"They are nice, beautiful kids. They bring me flowers and try to pay me for being kind. We are going to hate to see them go."

- Ruth Davenport, a Lewisville grocer

"No one can live in this filth and be happy. We think God is the only way to help them. We are here if they need us.

- Member of a religious group who attempted to convert festival "hippies"

"Drugs Mar Pop Fest!" shouted the front-page headline of Sunday's Dallas Morning News. An accompanying story told of "freak-outs" and "bad trips" suffered by at least thirty youthful "hippies" who'd taken mescaline or LSD, requiring treatment in the festival's first aid tent. "Otherwise," The News said in the tenth paragraph of the same article, "Texas' first big-scale rock festival unfolded smoothly and the overwhelming majority of those in attendance seemed to be glad they came."

"The press hurt us bad," one of the promoters later told Rolling Stone magazine, "I could just see parents looking up from their papers at breakfast and telling their kids, 'You're not going out there.'" Thanks partly to the exaggerated reports, said the nationally circulated rock magazine, less than 25,000 showed at the festival each of the last two days. Considering that there were an estimated 40,000 people in attendance on the first day and that the percentage who required medical treatment for "bad-trips" was less than one-tenth of one percent, the promoters certainly seem have been justified in their assertion that the media had blown the drug situation at the festival all out of proportion.

Unfortunately, as studies have shown, few people read beyond the first one or two paragraphs of a news story. Like it or not, the festival was stuck with a negative image - at least in the minds of the area's adult population. It didn't help that one of those requiring medical attention on Saturday night was a three-year old girl who accidentally ingested some LSD belonging to her hippie parents and had to be rushed to Parkland Hospital.

The News also reported that another fifteen people had been treated on Saturday for heat exhaustion and many more for cut feet, obviously the result of going barefooted.

At the festival campsite the kids continued to go skinny-dipping throughout Sunday despite the "sight-seers" who flocked to the park to watch them. Numerous oglers cruised past in boats and some took photographs or used home movie cameras to record the scene. Responding to Lewisville residents' concerns about the nude bathing in Lake Dallas, Mayor Houston, late on Sunday, formally announced a crack down, declaring, "Generally, I must compliment the crowds as far as their overall conduct is concerned, but nude bathing in area lakes and the use of drugs by visitors will no longer be tolerated," adding, "We are clamping down on this activity because it is not in the moral interest of Lewisville.1I "Everyone," he said forcefully, "has to obey the law. There will be no lawlessness whatsoever. This will be put into effect immediately."

By Sunday night, more than twenty-five persons had been arrested for violation of drug laws, said The Dallas Morning News. And although Denton County Sheriff Wylie H. Barnes admitted that so far "virtually all" arrests for drug possession "were made away from the site of the rock show," he denied that the festival grounds had become, in the words of the News, "a virtual arrest-free, open air sanctuary for drug users." "If we receive a complaint on someone in there," Barnes declared, "you can be sure that he will be arrested. II He added, however, that the only two people arrested at the festival grounds were picked up for "carrying prohibited weapons."

Despite Houston's announced "crack-down," it appears that little, if anything, was done to stop either the skinny-dippers at the campsite or drug users on festival grounds. Instead, the police closed Lewisville Lake Park to all but the youthful campers, posting officers armed with shotguns at entrances to the park, "in order to keep out those more interested in ogling the hippies than hard rock music," said The Dallas Times Herald. And at the speedway, Chief Adams continued to keep his officers outside the festival grounds, where the "long-haired and beaded hippies appointed by the festival acted as police," said the Times Herald, remarking that their "only apparent duty was to escort drug-sick pop fans to candlelit tents for treatment"

Not surprisingly, some Lewisville residents were upset "They told me to just turn my head," a Lake Dallas marina owner complained to a reporter for The Dallas Times Herald, "This thing has just ruined my business." He claimed that his weekend customers "would take one look and get their wives and children out of here." At the same time, other residents wanted to get into the park ? some to ogle, others to cause trouble.

Chief Adams told of stopping a "local drunk who decided to try to go out to the Hog Farm and strum a few heads with a beer bottle," and about an elderly woman in a car in which there were children, who stopped the Chief "and asked how to get to the lake and see the naked people."

In contrast to their fellow citizens who deplored the festival, some Lewisville residents remained upbeat One woman, who'd lived in the area for seventeen years, told Marilyn Schwartz, a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, "There's been a lot of talk about the drugs and the carryings-on, but I can't say that I've seen any of it. All these young people have been polite and friendly and take the time to stop and chat a bit. Sure, they look different that a lot of us around here do. But I can't say that's anything to say against them."

Other residents, quoted in the same news story, echoed her sentiments, one saying that the visitors were such "friendly, warm and such nice kids you kind of overlook the fact that the boys have hair down to their shoulders and the girls don't have on much underwear." Another, who ran a bait store near the lake, commented, "They're about to run me to death working, but that sure is good for business. Everyone has behaved beyond reproach. Hope they come back more often." In the same article, Schwartz also noted that the festival campground was located adjacent a golf course. "The weekend golfers," she wrote, "teeing off alongside the hordes of young people sitting in trees dressed in everything from Indian blankets to old Salvation Army uniforms, makes for one of the sharpest contrasts between the visitors and the natives."

From the time the music ended at 4:30 a.m. until nearly noon, festival workers were busy cleaning up and getting ready for the second day. As on Saturday, long lines and traffic jams formed long before the gates opened at about 11:30 a.m. and as before, it was around 4 o'clock in the afternoon that the day's performances began.

Sunday's line-up included five acts who had performed the day before: B. B. King; the James Cotton Blues Band; Herbie Mann; the Chicago Transit Authority; and Sam and Dave. The remainder of the day's scheduled acts were Delaney, Bonnie and Friends, the California Latin-rock band Santana, an English group called the Incredible String Band, and Led Zeppelin, another relatively new English group whose specialty was hard rock.

Santana, whose outstanding performance at Woodstock two weeks earlier was featured in the documentary film about that festival, was fronted by Mexican-born guitarist Carlos Santana, who lent his name to the band. An experienced session musician in the San Francisco area, Santana had formed the group in 1969. That same year their debut album on Columbia records (simply called Santana) had been released during the summer. In addition to Woodstock and Lewisville, they'd also appeared at the Atlantic City Pop Festival. Like some of the other bands who performed at Lewisville and elsewhere in 1969, Santana's greatest commercial success still lay ahead of them. In 1970 the band would enjoy having two hit singles on the Billboard Top Forty, "Evil Ways," which reached number nine in February and "Black Magic Woman, If which went even higher ? to number four, in November. They'd have other hits throughout the 1970s.

Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett and "Friends" were a husband and wife team with a back-up band (hence the "Friends") who, said Ann Sack, a reviewer for The Dallas Morning News, churned out "a fine balance between country-blues harmony and rock background," adding, "their use of brass punctuates the vocals." They too had a new album out in 1969 and the following year would record another one with English guitar virtuoso Eric Clapton. However, their commercial success was short-lived. In 1971, they had two records in the Top Forty, which reached numbers 13 and 20 respectively. Afterwards, they faded into musical oblivion.

The Incredible String Band was a group who'd originally played folk music in England's coffee houses during the mid-1960s. Changing with the times, by 1969 they had become a five-member pop band that wore colorful robes and played exotic instruments to create a unique sound. Like Santana, Janis Joplin and Canned Heat, they'd played Woodstock only two weeks before coming to Texas.

On Sunday evening, Lewisville Mayor Houston and City Manager Sartain visited the festival site to tell the promoters of their decision to crack down on drugs and nude bathing. And at 8 o'clock, a festival spokesman warned from the stage that anyone found outside the immediate area in possession of drugs was subject to possible arrest.

However good the others musicians' performances might have been, the undoubted stars of Sunday's show were the four members of Led Zeppelin, a British hard rock band who were then flying high on the phenomenal success of their debut album, released earlier in the year. Touring the States throughout the summer of 1969, they played the Newport (Rhode Island) Jazz Festival, the Atlanta Pop Festival and the Seattle Pop Festival, as well as several concert dates. The group's latest "gig" just prior to their arrival in Texas was a concert at Jacksonville, Florida. Texas would be the final show of their summer tour, and the most lucrative. Peter Grant, the band's manager, managed to negotiate a fee of $13,000 for their single performance in Lewisville.

Guitarist Jimmy Page had founded the group when the Yardbirds, another successful British rock band, of which he was a member, broke up in 1968. For a time Led Zeppelin had been called the New Yardbirds, until someone sarcastically said to Page that his new band would go over not like a lead balloon, but more spectacularly, like a lead zeppelin. Page not only liked the name but also proved his detractor wrong. Led Zeppelin, far from crashing, soared high, becoming one of the most outstanding and successful rock bands of the 1970s. In addition to Page, who in terms of ability on the guitar was likened to Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck (also former members of the Yardbirds), Led Zeppelin's line-up included the wavy-haired Robert Plant providing outstanding vocals, powerful drummer John Bonham, and John Paul Jones on bass guitar and organ. Page and Jones also sang back-up vocals.

Although the group was then recording their second album, Led Zeppelin II, in between concert and festival dates, their repertoire for the 1969 summer tour included primarily songs off their first album. Everywhere they went Led Zeppelin drove audiences wild. At Jacksonville, Florida, a week before the band played in Texas; overenthusiastic fans had repeatedly rushed the stage, causing authorities to threaten to stop the show if the kids didn't return to their seats. After Robert Plant personally pleaded with the audience, the show went on. In Texas, the crowd was no less excited.

As the band played their final number for the evening, "The Lemon Song," two young fans down front, seated on the shoulder of their friends, waved a British Union Jack excitedly. And when the group left the stage the audience went wild with appreciation for what had been an unbelievably outstanding set.

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