Today in 1973 - thousands of music fans arrive one day early for the "Summer Jam at Watkins Glen"

The 'Summer Jam at Watkins Glen' was a 1973 rock festival

which once received the Guinness Book of World Records entry

for "Largest audience at a pop festival"

An estimated 600,000 rock fans outdrawing Woodstock

came to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway

outside of Watkins Glen, New York on July 28, 1973

to see the Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead and The Band perform

 

Although the concert was scheduled to start on July 28th

thousands of music fans were already at the concert site

on the the 27th of July that paid $10 a ticket - if they bought one

 

On July 28

The day of the concert an estimated 600,000 music fans

had arrived in Watkins Glen

 

The Grateful Dead performed first playing two long sets

They opened with "Bertha" and played many hits such as "Box Of Rain", "Jack Straw", "Playing in the Band", "China Cat Sunflower" and "Eyes of the World"

 

The Band followed the Dead with one two-hour set

However, their set was cut in half by a drenching thunderstorm

in a scene again reminiscent of Woodstock

people were covered with mud

During the storm, keyboardist Garth Hudson performed his signature organ improvisation "The Genetic Method"

When the rain finally let up, the full Band joined Hudson on stage

and segued into their signature song "Chest Fever"

in a manner similar to how the songs were presented on The Band's live album Rock of Ages

 

Finally, the Allman Brothers Band performed for three hours

Their performance included songs from their soon-to-be-released album 'Brothers and Sisters' along with their standards "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed", "Statesboro Blues", "Les Brers in A Minor" and "Whipping Post"

 

Following the Allmans' second set

there was an hour encore jam around midnight

featuring musicians from all three bands

The jam featured spirited renditions of "Not Fade Away", "Mountain Jam", and "Johnny B. Goode"

 

Although there were no reports of violence at Watkins Glen

The day was marred by the death of Willard Smith, 35

a skydiver from Syracuse, New York

Smith dived from an airplane carrying flares

One of the flares ignited his body suit and he was engulfed in flames

Smith's body was eventually found in the woods near the concert site

There is also the unsolved disappearance of two high school teenagers from Brooklyn who were hitchhiking to the concert

 

Many historians claimed that the Watkins Glen event was the largest gathering of people in the history of the United States

Considering that most of those who attended the event

hailed from the Northeast

and that the average age of those present

was approximately seventeen to twenty-four

close to one out of every three young people

from Boston to New York was at the festival!

 

 

 

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