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1970’s Festival For Peace

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Creedence Clearwater Revival Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Twenty–five years earlier America dropped the first Atom bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and so on the same day in 1970 a Festival For Peace was staged at New York’s iconic Shea Stadium in Queens – the first pop/rock event since the Beatles last-ever live appearance in 1966. The motives behind it centred around raising money to help fund anti-war political candidates at a time when the war in Vietnam was very much at the forefront of both politics and the minds of many musicians. One of the show’s producers and MC was Pete Yarrow from the band, Peter, Paul & Mary and the event has the distinction of being the first with the sole intention of raising funds for a cause. To aid the cause many of the top artists did not seek any payment for their appearance.

The music began around 10 a.m. and was scheduled to run for 12 hours but late additions to the bill meant it over-ran by nearly 2 hours, with an impressive array of talent from across the musical spectrum. Among the bands that played were Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steppenwolf, who were the second last to play, the James Gang, Poco, Sha Na Na, Pacific Gas and electric, Ten Wheel Drive, and local favourites The Rascals. Such was the fans excitement for Creedence, who closed the show, that they had to stop their performance to get people sitting in the top tier of the stadium to stop bouncing around so much.

Paul Simon, Al Kooper, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, a year after his tie-dye Woodstock appearance, played along with Johnny Winter with Rick Derringer, Herbie Hancock, and Miles Davis. One of the late additions to the bill was Janis Joplin who was in New York for a TV show with her band, Full Tilt Boogie, but she opted to play the festival with her old band Big Brother and The Holding Company who had already agreed to play. During the festival Joplin memorably sang a duet with Dionne Warwick on Burt Bacharach’s ‘What The World Needs Now’. Two months later Janis Joplin died.

Shea Stadium was demolished in 2009.

Format: UK English
17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Ron Mosey

    August 6, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Interesting concert! I Really like Steppenwolf, The James Gang & Creedence Clearwater Revival!!! I was only 12 yrs. old when this concert happened. I’ve seen Steppenwolf a number of times & I saw Joe Walsh twice!!! Rock ‘n Roll!!!!! 🙂

  2. Carol

    August 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    We could use some concerts like that now

  3. Jay

    August 7, 2014 at 1:41 am

    I was there!
    It was amazing!!

  4. john

    August 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    James Gangfirst concert ever ever early 70 s cost 5.dollars to get in Louisville Kentucky

  5. bob c.

    February 28, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Thanks for posting this remembrance!! I still have my ticket stub from this concert..$6.50 for the mezzanine I can still remember looking up at the upper deck at Shea bouncing up and down a full 6 inches….What a day!!! what a show!!

    • Jeff

      November 22, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Do you have a picture of your ticket stub

  6. Steeler Bob

    August 12, 2015 at 5:24 am

    So glad I found proof this wasn’t a dream!!!
    I believe there were even MORE name acts.
    ANYONE?

    • Deerslayer

      February 4, 2018 at 4:06 am

      Yes there were more acts, Van Morrison, also I remember Steppenwolf in the morning and CCR was afternoon. Janis came on when it got dark. I don’t know which act closed the show. After the show ended we went over to the worlds fair site and hung out at the earth sphere and one building they had power inside it and music.

      • HiHat

        January 26, 2019 at 9:03 pm

        CCR wasn’t afternoon; they closed the show with a somewhat truncated set. But they rocked Shea so hard the upper tiers were traveling up and down on their steel supports, and they had to ask the crowd up top not to dance so hard!!!

  7. G.A."Jake

    March 24, 2016 at 1:23 am

    Unforgettable WELL endowed young lady who danced on her seat sprinkling her assets in a cloud of baby powder.I got up the nerve and we made our way to. The upper deck to share some Herb and some heavy petting.Sadly I never did get her name,but the music the vibe and that girl were AMAZING

  8. Mike

    August 10, 2016 at 12:02 am

    That should have been filmed for posterity! Quite a line-up & CCR would have been in their absolute peak-Cool.

  9. Ken Meissner

    March 26, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    A beautiful day in every way. I played hooky from my job at Prentice-Hall. Just about everybody you’d care about was there. I remember Janis’s set. Did not realize it was her last appearance with Big Brother (and one of her last appearances anywhere). Peter Yarrow put together an amazing line-up. I remember being in the stands and worrying a little was everything (and wveryone) was bounding up and down. Cast of Hair was incredible. They also turned up at the National Mall in DC for giant marches against the war triggered by the revelation of Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia and the deaths of the Kent State martyrs. Incredible times, incredible music, incredible feelings of one-ness.

  10. Peggy Sur

    June 13, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    I remember this so well. Shea stadium upper deck bouncing and great music all day long. Those were the days and you could afford to see all the music you wanted. Filmore, Academy of Music all for a couple of bucks

  11. Ed Hazelwood

    May 16, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Glad to see this. I was there too and it was amazing. Drove up with a group of fellow hippies from Hampton, VA. We camped in the Catskills for a few days then drove in for the concert. Truly amazing. The music was great and when the police announced they would not bust anyone for smoking pot, only for selling it, dealers started giving it away for free. That trip made life long friendships that continue to this day!

  12. Anthony M

    August 18, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Love to see that my Wikipedia article back in 2007 has inspired so many knock-off articles online!!!! :
    But if they all jog more people’s memory banks, and spread the word on this amazing and groundbreaking concert – that’s just great. If anyone here has any ideas about where there might be more informarion, photos and or FILM of the Summer Festical for Peace? PLEASE contact me at rhomea at gmale dot com and let me know. I would love to pull together a documentary about it before all the people involved are gone. THANKS.
    Peace and be wild.
    AM

  13. Maria E Sellitto

    August 18, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    I was there! 15, cut school, amazing time. I am glad to see writing about this event. I tell people and they look at me like I’m nuts! haha the good old days

  14. DENNIS DUCA

    June 29, 2020 at 5:04 am

    I started a Facebook page for the Festival. Free free to share your comments on there.
    Would especially appreciate if anyone had a ticket stub to post.
    https://www.facebook.com/The-Summer-Festival-For-Peace-103721921403104/

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