— Days Without Shea —

Shea Stadium Festival for Peace
Kingman and crew are off for a summer siesta. Here is some required Summer Shea Reading...

Now that the last concert has been played at Shea Stadium, Loge13 is going to spend a few days remembering the rich rock and roll history spawned in Flushing.

Of all the posts I've written on Loge13, perhaps the most fun was the item I wrote about the Shea Stadium festival For Peace, which occured August 6, 1970. Neither I nor many longtime Met fans knew much (or anything) about this little documented concert, which featured some of the hottest acts of the post-Woodstock day.

As I wrote last year, the show was held 25 years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. To recognize the anniversary, organizers staged a 12–hour anti-war concert at Shea Stadium. Very little exists online or in literature about this show. There was no concert film and I have never seen any concert footage from the Shea Peace Festival. Some of the hottest acts of 1970 appeared at the gig, including:
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Janis Joplin (surprise guest)
  • Johnny Winter
  • Paul Simon
  • The James Gang

and many more. There are rumors that Jimi Hendrix was there but as you'll learn, Loge13 commenters have cleared up this urban legend.

The show began at 10:00 AM and ended by 11:00 PM that night.

Here is Poco’s set list from that night. By their own accounts, Poco rocked:

  • Pickin' Up the Pieces
  • Just in Case it Happens 
  • Grand Junction  
  • Consequently So Long
  •  Don't Let it Pass By 
  • Nobody's Fool 
  • El Tonto de Nadie, Regresssa

Janis Joplin did make a surprise appearance. She was in New York and had just filmed a Dick Cavett TV appearance with her band Full-Tilt Boogie. Sadly, this was one of Joplin’s last appearances. Less than two months after rocking Shea, Janis Joplin was dead.

My post last year produced a pile of comments from folks who were there and are still looking for audio or visual evidence of the massive gig. One commenter started a WikiPedia page on the subject, so perhaps in some small way, Loge13 helped keep the memory of this fantastic afternoon alive.

According to the Wikipedia entry:

The importance of these concerts were manifold. First, unlike the for-profit Woodstock Music & Arts Fair which became increasingly political as it unfolded, the Festivals for Peace were the first large venue U.S. events which were produced with the sole intention of fund raising for political, and specifically anti-war, purposes: not unusual later but not seen prior to 1970. Secondly, again in contrast to Woodstock where performers insisted on being paid handsomely, Peter Yarrow and Friedmann were able to convince the top acts of the day (including many that were paid at Woodstock like CCR, Hendrix and Joplin) to donate their time and performances to the Festival for Peace shows just months after Woodstock.

This may have been the first time that some of the world's most famous rock acts came together to aid a specific socio-political agenda in such large venues and The Summer Festival for Peace was most certainly larger and earlier than other more publicized benefit concerts. It pre-dated The Concert for Bangladesh (August 1, 1971), Farm Aid (September 22, 1985), and others by a year and more.

And where were the Mets August 6, 1970? They were in St. Louis, losing to the Cardinals 3-0. Tom Seaver (16-6) took the loss and Tommie Agee went 2-4 with a stolen base. A couple future Mets in the Cardinals lineup: Joe Torre (0-3 with an error) caught and a young Jose Cardenal played centerfield. You may remember him as the old Jose Cardenal.

Tomorrow I will post some of the amazing eyewitness accounts of the festival for peace left by Loge13 readers. If anyone is interested in further researching this wonderful moment of Shea history, please drop me a line.

[September 28, 2008 2:20 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Gene Chiamulera said

I remember that concert. I was lucky enough to get on the stage with my friend & guitarist Paul Frehley. Some other acts that perfomed that day were The Young Rascals, Richie Havens, Dionne Warwick and I think the cast of HAIR. I remember my friend Paul helping John Kay from Steppenwolf change his guitar strings, later on Paul became better known as Ace Frehley lead guitarist of Kiss. I can't believe it was over 38 years ago.

[July 16, 2009 8:55 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Ruby Harris said

I was there. Janis sang with Jonny Winter. Credence rocked the stadium. Peter Yarrow mc'd. Poco's first gig, James Gang's first gig, Joe Walsh changed a string during a long guitar solo.

[July 28, 2009 1:06 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Tommy said

It was a great show and I have never heard anyone talk about it on radio or in print. Grand funk railroad was also there. I also saw Janis Joplin at the N.Y pavilion of the old worlds fair in Flushing Meadow Park.

[August 14, 2009 2:02 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Caryn Leschen said

The Summer Festival for Peace. I was 15 years old and in High School, and from Queens, and my friends and I worked a table for Environment! in the halls behind the seats and took turns seeing out favorite bands. By the time Janis and Creedence and Poco came on, the table was shut down and we all took a place among the seats, the place was rocking so much.I also remember John and Yoko and I can't be imagining that. Anyone know for sure? I was so certain. Anyway, I DO remember the place rocking so much I was terrified the place would cave in--this kind of thing was still somewhat new, and Creedence made everyone bounce so much it was a real combination of exhilaration and terror! I hadn't remembered--or cared at the time, i was so young--that it was the 25th Anniversary of Hiroshima. That's pretty cool.

[August 6, 2010 2:55 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Steve Nesich said

I was there with my younger brother and three of our best friends, Rocco, Neal and T Man!

We brought enough food to last us for 12 hours. We couldn't believe how much music there was and how cool it was just to be there.

It's hard to believe that we sat in that hot NY sun, in early August, for all of those hours. But we did. And I don't remember anyone complaining about it.

I do remember being very moved by the politics of the day. A lot of great speakers in between the acts, raising our consciousness about the war, injustice, and the need to build a better world.

It's a day I'll always remember, in the heart of "Nixonland", it was a true spot of light in an otherwise very dark time.

[August 13, 2010 9:48 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Robin Briguglio said

This was a summer fest for peace concert that was rocking full tilt all day. The stands and railings, seats and everyone attending, was rocking...and it was a little scary. I was 15 and went to school in Manhasset, and about a dozen friends and I took the train into the flushing station, for a day of amazing music! Long, crazy hair, bell bottoms, peasant tops, buffalo sandals...fringed bags and belts...it is such a shame no major videos or photos have emerged......that seems really peculiar. Janis was the highlight for me, and every band there was or became a headliner. It was a very hot day, it was peaceful concert. The concession lines were very long, and I remember people buying juice in those little cans (Mott's?) and sodas......drinking all day to beat the heat. Our seats were perfect..back a few rows from the very front, and the place was packed right up to the nose bleed seats waaaaay up top! it was a the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima which put a stamp on a huge reason for being there.....peace.
Such an exciting day.

[November 12, 2011 8:50 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Larry Gross said

Wow. I was there. I remember that it was a gorgeous New York summer day. It was in the middle of the week. I think a Thursday. I'm pretty sure Poco opened at 10 am. It's so clear to this day. People started dancing, balloons started appearing all over Shea. Poco was spectacular and the place became magical. There weren't many people in the stands when the it started. Had great seats. It was a fantastic concert.

[January 27, 2012 4:27 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Victor Gulotta said

I was there, and have a fairly good recollection of who performed (Janis was there; Hendrix wasn't). Nonetheless, I'd love to see the ad that appeared in the NYC-area papers announcing the event. Someone wrote to say the he still has the ad, clipped from a paper. Would he or someone else who has one be willing to post a scan of it? As I recall, it provided a complete or near-complete list of the performers. Thank you.

[January 27, 2012 4:33 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Victor Gulotta said

Addendum to my previous post: At the top of this column is a reproduction of the ad for the concert--the one about which I inquired. Unfortunately, it's not readable. It would be great if someone could post a clear image of this clipping. Thank you.

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