Concerts Wiki
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Letter to advance ticket holders

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July 3-5, 1970 Middle Georgia Raceway, Byron, GA

The second Atlanta International Pop Festival was a rock festival held in a soybean field adjacent to the Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, Georgia, from July 3–5, 1970, although it did not finish until near dawn on the 6th. It was the only successor to the first Atlanta Pop Festival, which had been held the previous summer near Hampton, Georgia. The event was promoted by Alex Cooley, who had helped organize the '69 Atlanta festival as well as the '69 Texas International Pop Festival, and two years later would promote the Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico from April 1-3, 1972.

Like 1969's Woodstock festival, the event was promoted as "three days of peace, love and music." Tickets for the festival were priced at $14, and also like Woodstock, it became a free event when the promoters threw open the gates after large crowds outside chanting "Free, free, free. Music belongs to the people" threatened to overwhelm even the biker security crew the promoters had hired. Crowd estimates for the festival varied widely at the time, and still do, ranging from 200,000 to 600,000.

Construction crews worked at the festival site for over a month prior to the event’s opening day building the main stage, two spotlight towers atop soaring tree-trunk tripods, an eight-foot tall plywood fence surrounding the entire 24-acre audience seating area, and other facilities. A separate, much smaller stage – the “Free Stage” - was also built some distance away in a wooded camping area to accommodate impromptu performances by mostly local Georgia musicians who wanted to play during the festival, and many did - including The Allman Brothers Band. During the construction phase, the band Wet Willie performed for the construction crew but did not perform during the festival itself. The festival sound system was supplied by Hanley Sound of Medford, Massachusetts, and a rear-projection light show was provided by The Electric Collage of Atlanta, both of which had provided similar services at the first Atlanta Pop Festival the previous summer.

Temperatures at the festival were sweltering, surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day. Nudity and drug use were widespread, but local law enforcement officials, who knew they were vastly outnumbered, stayed outside the festival gates and employed a general ‘hands-off’ policy towards most festival-goers during the event’s duration. However, Georgia’s colorful governor, Lester Maddox, who had tried repeatedly to prevent the festival from taking place, vowed that he would do whatever it took to block any similar event in the future. The state legislature willingly complied and enacted sufficient restrictions to make it much more difficult for anyone to organize another rock festival in the state. Like Atlanta's Ramblin' Raft Race, the gathering was, to some extent, the victim of its own success. A third Atlanta Pop Festival never took place.

Over thirty acts performed on the main stage during the course of the event:

The Allman Brothers Band Ballin' Jack Bloodrock Bloomsbury People Cactus Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys Chakra Chambers Brothers Goose Creek Symphony Grand Funk Railroad Gypsy Memphis State University cast of "Hair" Hampton Grease Band Handle Richie Havens Hedge & Donna The Jimi Hendrix Experience It's a Beautiful Day Johnny Jenkins B.B. King Lee Michaels Mott the Hoople Mountain Poco Procol Harum Radar Rare Earth Terry Reid Rig Savage Grace John Sebastian Bob Seger System Spirit Ten Years After U.S. Kids Johnny Winter

Jimi Hendrix performed at around midnight on the Fourth of July to the largest American audience of his career, presenting his unique rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" to accompany the celebratory fireworks display. The Anunga Runga Tribe of the musical HAIR, which had performed for two weeks in April 1970 on the campus of Memphis State University, were the last act to perform, following Richie Havens, who opened his set at dawn on Monday morning (July 6) with his version of "Here Comes the Sun."

Among the artists billed in various promotional materials and programs but who did not perform at the festival were: Captain Beefheart, Ginger Baker's Air Force, Taos, Jethro Tull, Ravi Shankar, Country Joe and the Fish, Judy Collins, Rotary Connection, and Sly and the Family Stone.