CLICK for 1969 Palm Beach Pop Festival Documentary Trailer by Jack Connell/Ken Davidoff, Photos of Ken by Bob Davidoff, other photos by Ken Davidoff, Music by Jack Connell, Mark Andes, Steve Krawzyn, Chris Leuzinger, Richard Hott from the song "Palm Beach Pop"
I have been a Professional Photographer since 1966, and photographed many Rock Concerts and Festivals in the 60’s, my archive has some of the biggest Icons in Rock and this archive has been in a vault never seen by the public until recently. I have been working with my partner Jack Connell, who worked for 22 years Freelance Sound and Lighting for TV, and film, on a Documentary of a rock festival that I Photographed. For over 4 years now we have found ourselves in the position of being the only Historians to gather the memories of those who were involved in these Forgotten Historical Events. Mainly because my Photographic Archive is the visual documentation that is needed to bring back memories that are over 40 years old, and represent the stories. Please help us to make this Documentary the right way, by having the neccesary funds to complete this project while there is still time to gather the interviews.
The 1969 Palm Beach Pop Festival
The 1969 Palm Beach Pop Festival was held on a 250 acre property, owned by the promoter, with the local drag strip as it’s main attraction. The festival had many of the same acts as Woodstock, and featured the Rolling Stones as the closing act. This documentary has a multi faceted story line, and is not a rock performance film. This was 3 months after Woodstock, and 6 days before Altamont. The Rolling Stones were at Madison Square Garden recording “Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out” and were coming from there directly to Palm Beach. We were in the Deep South, and segregation still had a strong presence in our area. Now Hippies were coming, and the crowd that Woodstock drew had struck fear into our Local, State and even Federal Government. What if they weren't able to control the crowd? County Government held zoning meetings to try to stop the festival. The opposition brought in Sam Houston, mayor of Lewisville, a small Texas town that hosted the first Texas Pop Festival. He testified that they had over 100,000 attendees and only a nine man police force, they were overwhelmed.
The first Republican Governor in the State of Florida appointed his crony in the insurance business, William Heidtman, to be the sheriff of Palm Beach County. At the Governors wedding in Palm Beach was another crony, President Richard M. Nixon. The Governor came out to the festival to meet a hippie, and it escalated into an arrest/photo op. We interviewed the Rolling Stones tour manager, Ron Schneider; he told us that The Rolling Stones plane was held up for 6 hours on a Newark Airport tarmac, because Richard Nixon’s plane was landing. The promoter brought in a local Baptist Minister, The Reverend Dr Jess Moody, who persuaded the local government officials that it would be a peaceful event if he was allowed to have a Jesus tent and could hold a church service on Sunday. He would bring Rev Arthur Blessitt, the Hippie Minister from California who was ministering to the Hell’s Angels on Sunset Strip. This reversal of the “Footloose” mentality, Baptist ministers in the South condoning a Rock Festival was simply amazing.
So many obstacles still had to be overcome by the promoter. His house was shot at and invaded in the middle of the night by an unknown group of people. “Don’t you bring any Hippies into Palm Beach County”. The opening night of the festival the promoter’s place of business, a used car lot where he sold muscle cars to the local teens, was burned to the ground. Counterfeit tickets were being circulated, and the crowd breached the fences. On the weather side, it had rained for weeks before the festival on the edge of the Everglades. On the first day a cold front moved through and rain and freezing cold wind turned the site into a giant mud pit.
This documentary is supported by over 600 35mm images of mine, and our own theme song. You can see our Palm Beach Pop Festival Documentary Trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=777UEHKyka4 . We have gathered and done many interviews beyond what you see. My Partner Jack Connell is also responsible for creating the Music (Palm Beach Pop / by Jack Connell) and editing the Trailer, as well as doing the interviews. We recently found news footage of the festival; but we need funding for footage, that is very expensive. You will see some in our trailer with time code. We also can get some footage of the bands, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Winter and more. We need to raise enough funds to travel for interviews all around the US, and license the news footage necessary to tell the history. It seems that this history is in our hands, and will be forgotten if we don’t gather the memories before all the participants just fade away, after all it was 1969.
Here is the website that will show you what we have to offer. Right now we are trying to get the Palm Beach Pop story done first, as we have another festival we will do a documentary on in the future. www.oldrockphoto.com/palmbeach.html. We have been supporting these projects on our own for over 4 years now and can no longer move forward without financial support. Some of our other expenses that we need to cover include, get more sound track, updating our equipment, getting a crew for our travel interviews, and editing the doc. We are hopeful that Indiegogo is the answer for completing our project.
We have put together a nice selection of perks to entice you to donate to us, but if you can’t donate at this time, please post us on your face book page, talk about us on movie blogs, post on twitter, tell your friends and parents, and “Share” us anywhere you can..
At this festival people’s lives were changed; it gave them a new perspective on their own generation. We were powerful in a group, and if we wanted to protest an unjust war, or march for civil rights, or just listen to rock music for three days in a row, don’t try to stop us, it won’t do you any good. This documentary covers all of these aspects of the festival and the interviews we have reflect these attitudes.
Thank You, Ken Davidoff
Some of the people that we have spoken with that attended the Palm Beach Festival, but have not been interviewed yet include, Wavy Gravy, he was there with The Hog Farm, Tom Law, also of the Hog Farm, David Butkovich, a Ken Kesey Merry Prankster who became the Producer because he drew the short straw, Mark Andes, bass player for Spirit, a band that played at the festival and also bass player on the song “Palm Beach Pop”, Barry “The Fish” Melton, from Country Joe and “The Fish”, Ron Schneider, The Rolling Stones 1969 Tour Manager, and Vinnie Martel, guitarist from Vanilla Fudge, they jammed with Janis Joplin, and Johnny and Edgar Winter at the Palm Beach festival
Florida Governor Claude Kirk's Wedding Guest, Richard M Nixon. Florida Governor Claude Kirk's Wedding Guest, Richard M Nixon. The Wedding was held at the Breakers Hotel,there were armed guards on the roof of the hotel. photo by Ken Davidoff
Buddy Helm – Buddy was the drummer for a band called Bethlehem Asylum, They were an up and coming Rock band that got a big break playing at the festival
Bill Hanley sound engineer Bill Hanley Center
Bill Hanley – Bill is world renown as the Premier Sound man of Rock Concerts, He was responsible for The Newport Jazz Festival, Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock, The 1969 anti war rally at our Nations Capitol, Washington, DC, and of course the 1969 Palm Beach Pop Festival
Sam Cutler and Mick Jagger
Sam Cutler – Sam was Mick Jagger’s personal manager at the time of our festival . Sam has great memories of Palm Beach, and gave us a very interesting account of their arrival to the festival by helicopter. Today Sam is a very successful author. Check out his book. “You Can’t Always Get what You Want”
Greg Rice – Greg was an attendee with very clear memories of the festival. One of his friends drove Greg around the festival site on a motorcycle. Today Greg is a very successful business man and star of many local TV commercials.
The Reverend, Arthur Blessitt – known as “The Hippie Minister”, Arthur came from California’s Sunset Strip where he was preaching to The Hell’s Angels. He came to help the promoter convince the Palm Beach County Zoning Board that the kids are coming, so let’s keep it peaceful. He was successful and also inspired. On Christmas Day, one month after the Palm Beach Festival, Arthur embarked on the journey of a lifetime. He carried a wooden 12 ft cross 38,102 miles around the world, was arrested 24 times, and traveled to 315 countries, finishing his trip on June 7th, 2008. Check out his movie “The Cross”
The Reverend Dr. Jess Moody - He is the founder of Palm Beach Atlantic College, and at the time of the festival was the head of the Palm Beach Christian Alliance, and the minister of the First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach. Dr. Moody was the person that contacted Arthur Blessitt to come here; together they combined to help make it a peaceful festival.
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