Written by: Jared Majeski, Historic Resources Management Branch
Summer isn’t over just yet, which means its still appropriate to reminisce about the events and people taking part in what’s now a regular, annual tradition: the summer music festival.
In what may have been one of Edmonton’s first outdoor weekend music events, the Edmonton International Pop Festival took place August 26 and 27, 1972. Held at the old Edmonton International Speedway in northwest Edmonton, the hastily-organized and promoted festival cost $15 to attend, which, if you’ve ever attended a Folk Fest or Interstellar Rodeo festival, is microscopically cheap in comparison.
You may be wondering, I wonder what a rock festival in Edmonton in 1972 looked like? Well, you’re in luck, because the event was taped by two brothers, Myron and Malcolm Achtman. Check out the video below to bask in the glory of awkward dancing, men backstage in top hats, cutoff jean shorts, screaming guitar solos and a smoking cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”.
The headliners at the festival were: Joan Baez (who would just have released her Come From the Shadows LP); Taj Mahal; Billy Preston (who you can see playing the organ during the Beatles’ famous rooftop concert); and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (hot off the release of the legendary Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, recorded at the Jubilee Auditorium). Edmonton blues mainstays Hot Cottage also performed.
Legendary hard blues trio James Gang were scheduled to perform, and if I was there, they would have been at the top of my list to check out. But there were disagreements about their contract, and when it looked like wouldn’t get paid before their set, they decided to vamoose. In the concert review by the Edmonton Journal’s Ron Faulds, he included a great little anecdote from the bands’ road manager accusing someone of ripping out the distributor from their van to prevent them from leaving. Edmonton festival promoters did NOT mess around!
If you attended the Edmonton International Pop Festival, and have pictures or videos to share, leave a comment and let us know!
Malcolm Achtman (YouTube)