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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"

On Monday morning at 5:00 a.m. Mayor Sam Houston visited the festival campsite at Lewisville Lake Park to implore the kids to keep their clothes on. "I told them I understood they didn't think what they were doing was wrong," he said, "but I stressed, while in Lewisville, they had to abide by our laws."

Later on Monday, said a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, at least one member of the Hog Farm commune, wearing a World War II vintage pilot's suit, waded out into the water to ask ten young people to comply with the Mayor's request "Is skinny-dipping for a few hours worth ruining the whole scene?" the man asked. Regardless, the activity continued, and as on Sunday, it appeared no efforts, aside from the Mayor's early morning visit and the Hog Farmers' attempts to intervene, were made to stop it Instead, Lewisville Police continued to maintain their roadblocks leading into the campsite, to prevent carloads of oglers from entering the immediate area, some of whom had driven all long distances. "I hear they are swimming naked all along the lake," a man from Fort Worth told a Dallas Morning News reporter, as he and his friends kept a look-out for skinny-dippers. When interviewed, they expressed disappointment that so far, they'd only seen two or three.

During the day, members of a religious group visited the campsite in an effort to convert the "hippies." "We must make them see the light," said one, adding, "No one can live in this filth and be happy." A newspaper reporter who encountered them speaking to the Hog Farmers, said she told the group they ought to become "revolutionists for Jesus."

The reporter also noted that the Hog Farmers had spent all morning cleaning up thousands of paper leaflets the religious group and others had strewn all over the campsite, thrown from car windows and dropped from an airplane. "They keep telling us to clean up," one said, "but believe me, the thing that has been giving us the most trouble is the stuff they keep littering the place up with." No sooner had they finished, said the reporter, than another airplane flew low over the campsite, dropping even more leaflets ? these inviting the campers to a downtown Dallas movie theater.

The Hog Farmers pointed out the stage they'd erected near their encampment, using funds provided by the festival promoters. "It's a free stage," they told the reporter, "Anyone can perform who wishes to. We've kept it going practically around the clock for three days." They also remarked that they were still dishing out free food to anyone who was hungry and asked for it. Even the "sightseers" were welcome.

At the festival grounds, to the dismay of Monday's ticket holders, the musical performances for that day began ahead of schedule, at 11:00 a.m. "We just didn't want another ending as late as we got Saturday," Alex Cooley, festival press information director, told a reporter for The Dallas Morning News. As a result the first performers played to a relatively small audience as people continued to arrive throughout the afternoon, thinking the show was scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m.

Again, B. B. King was on the bill, with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends performing a second time. The rest of the line-up were acts which had not yet appeared at the festival: Johnny Winter; the Nazz; Sly and the Family Stone; Spirit; Sweetwater; Ten Years After; and Tony Joe White. B. B. King, said Philip Wuntch, a Times Herald reviewer, "seemed to improve with each performance, flawless, hitting those low blues-filled notes and proving his birthright to the title of King of the Blues." Still enthusiastic about the festival, King told the audience, "Now you can go let everyone know that we can get together outside of Woodstock and have a good time."

Tony Joe White was probably the only performer whose music was heavily country-influenced. At the time of the festival, his hit single, "Polk Salad Annie," was still on the charts. Ann Sack. A writer for The Dallas Morning News remarked that White "put forth that down-home sound which is rapidly gaining momentum," adding: "The crowd ate it up."

During the afternoon, British power-rockers Ten Years After hit the stage, turning in one of the best performances of the day, despite the heat. Fronted by guitarist Alvin Lee, the band had most recently played at Woodstock, where they were captured on film performing a song called, "I'm Going Home." By the end of their set at Lewisville, the crowd was on their feet giving the band a standing ovation.

Spirit, another California rock band, were relative newcomers in 1969. At the time of the festival they had one album out, "The Family That Plays Together," and a hit single entitled "I Got a Line On You." A year later, their lead singer, Jay Ferguson, would leave to form a new band, Jo Jo Gunne.

Sweetwater, who had appeared at Woodstock, delighted the crowd by throwing Frisbees and candy bars into the audience. Performing after dark they asked the crowd to light matches or lighters and hold them up - as the kids had done at Woodstock. Before long the whole field was aglow.

Monday night, in between musical acts, Lewisville Police Chief Ralph Adams no doubt surprised a lot of people when he appeared on the festival stage, apparently for the purpose of easing tensions aroused by rumors that resulted from Mayor Houston's reported "crack-down." "Good scene!" Adams shouted to the no-doubt amazed audience as he stood in front of the microphone. Like Max Yasgur, the farmer on whose property the Woodstock festival took place, the Chief was complimentary of the crowd. "The only arrests I know of, " he announced, looking out over a sea of faces framed by long hair, "were the people coming in, not on you folks. All the trouble is coming from our good old hometown gawkers." Adams went on to declare: "I can't say too much good about you people. You've shown the elders something they've been hated to be shown for a long time. Anytime you want to come back," he added, "the town is yours."

To say Adams' remarks were received warmly by Monday night's crowd of festivalgoers would be an understatement. Not surprisingly, they cheered and gave him a standing ovation, and someone shouted out, "God love the Chief!" But his comments that all the trouble was coming from the locals, among other things, got him into hot water with his neighbors.

In his book about 60s and 70s rock festivals, Aquarius Rising, author Robert Santelli included Johnny Winter's recollections of the festival, which were not entirely pleasant. For one thing, the white-haired bluesman said, "Neither me nor Janis Joplin wanted to go back to Texas, man. That place was a thing of our past." Commenting on the advertising of the festival as a "homecoming" for the two Texas natives, Winter said he looked on it "as a bunch of crap the promoters rigged up." Winter was also dismayed by the drug scene at the festival, which was "pretty heavy as I recall," commenting that by the time he came on stage, it "seemed like everyone was blown away on acid." And although he promised himself that he "was goin' to stay clear of any drugs," a pretty young girl who ran up to him in the stage area and flung her arms around the surprised singer derailed his resolution. In the next instant she gave Winter a deep kiss and "with her mouth and tongue slid 'bout three tabs of acid" down his throat. Winter was not amused. "I was blown away for two days," he later said. "I didn't even know my name. People like that girl thought she was doin' me a favor."

Regardless of his feelings about playing in Texas, on stage Winter declared the festival to be "unbelievable" and turned in an outstanding performance - leading Dallas Morning News writer Ann Sack to comment: "Although its his voice that he is primarily noted for, he is a guitarist par excellence."

The final act of Monday night's show (which didn't end at midnight as planned) was Sly and the Family Stone, whose equipment took more than an hour for stagehands to set up. Like Janis Joplin and Johnny Winter, Sly (Sylvester) Stone, was a native of Texas, a fact inadvertently overlooked by the festival producers when they promoted the event as a "homecoming" for the other two. In fact, Sly was closer to "home" than either Janis or Johnny, having been born in Dallas in 1944. There, he'd honed his musical ability in church, releasing at the age of only five, a single record entitled "On the Battlefield of My Lord."

Sly spent his teen years in California where he attended Vallejo Junior College, majoring in music. He later formed a band, the Stoners, and became a disk jockey for radio station KSOL in San Francisco. In 1967 he formed the Family Stone, a band whose music was a deliberate merger of white rock and black soul.

By 1969 Sly and the Family Stone were one of the most commercially successful musical groups in the United States, churning out one hit after another ? "Dance to the Music," "Everyday People," "Stand!" and the song which was number two on the charts when they appeared at Lewisville, "Hot Fun in the Summertime." The only complaint anyone had was that Sly did not always show up in time for a performance and frequently cancelled. At Woodstock, it was reported; he had to be forced to go on stage when the audience, tired of waiting, grew restless. Despite that, his band, like the Who and Ten Years After, turned in one of the most memorable performances at that festival. They reportedly did no less at the Texas International Pop Festival.

In view of the season and the weather, probably the most appropriate song Sly sang at Lewisville, wearing his trademark sunglasses and fringed white jumpsuit, was "Hot Fun in the Summertime." But Ann Sack, who wrote that "because of the later hour, they could not perform nearly as long as the audience wanted them to," remarked that "Higher" was the number most applicable, adding, "Although the crowd was long on its feet, the mood continued to soar."

Following Sly Stone's performance, the Texas International Pop Festival was history. As festival employees worked to clear up the speedway's twenty-five acre meadow, many of the campers went back to spend at least one more night at Lewisville Lake Park while others drove home to Dallas and its surrounding suburbs. But, as Ann Sack commented in her review of the festival in Wednesday's News, for area residents Labor Day weekend 1969 would not soon be forgotten.

Sunday     Aftermath

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