Labor Day weekend 1969, just two weeks after Woodstock, Lewisville was the location of one of the largest music events Texas had ever seen. The event drew more than 100,000 music fans -- including more than a fair share of colorfully dressed hippies that sparked a bit of controversy among the locals -- for three days of live entertainment at the former Dallas International Motor Speedway (near the modern-day Waters Ridge development) and a smaller free stage on the shores of Lewisville Lake.
The Texas International Pop Festival was headed by promoter Angus Wynne and featured such performers as Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Santana, Sly & the Family Stone, Canned Heat, Grand Funk Railroad, Chicago Transit Authority, Johnny Winter, Sweetwater and B.B. King. According to participants, it was during this event that Wavy Gravy got his nickname. But it was reports of nude bathing in the lake and easily obtained narcotics that fascinated (and scandalized) much of the public outside the concert grounds.
An official Texas Historical Marker was installed at the A-train Hebron Station in 2011. To read more about the marker and other historical markers around Lewisville visit the Historical Markers webpage.
| Historical documents courtesy of the family of Murphy Martin,
former longtime news anchor for WFAA Channel 8
| MEMORIES OF A ROCK FEST OF OLD: 'LEWD AND LOOSE IN LEWISVILLE'
(Reprint Courtesy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
|Date: June 20, 1997
Writen by DAVE FERMAN, STAR-TELEGRAM WRITER
You may think Blockbuster RockFest '97 is the first major multiday rock festival North Texas has ever seen.
If so, you are wrong.
Back in the hot, heady summer of 1969, just a few weeks after the original Woodstock captured the world's attention, the tie-dyed hippie nation came to town - specifically tiny, unassuming Lewisville.
The Texas International Pop Festival - or, as just about everyone called it, "Lewisville" - brought the counterculture (plus Led Zeppelin, Sly Stone, Grand Funk Railroad, B.B. King, Janis Joplin, Canned Heat and a whole bunch more) to a big field adjacent to the Dallas International Motor Speedway for a Labor Day weekend of music, sunburn, music, skinny-dipping, music, pot, traffic jams, and more music.
Lewisville was actually the third big rock festival of the summer, and the second to be held at or near a raceway: Over the July Fourth weekend, the Atlanta International Raceway hosted the Atlanta Pop Festival, which included Joplin and Grand Funk.
After the huge success of Atlanta, Angus Wynne, the 25-year-old booking agent, club owner and president of Showco, decided to try the same sort of venture in North Texas. He called Alex Cooley, who had put on the Atlanta festival, and started making plans.
"In our youth, we were very enthusiastic," Wynne told the Star-Telegram in 1989. "We just didn't know how hare-brained an idea it was."
The upstanding citizens of Lewisville were not pleased: The local newspaper ran editorials against the show, and Mayor Sam Houston consulted an attorney to see if there was any way to stop the fest.
There wasn't, and so on Saturday, Aug. 30, Grand Funk roared into one of its patented boogie numbers, Are You Ready?, and the show was on. The rest of Saturday, and all of Sunday and Monday, were filled with music, heat and a surprisingly calm atmosphere.
"It was a mini-Woodstock in every respect, and it worked just fine," says Scott Fraser, guitarist-vocalist for Fort Worth band Space Opera, which played the festival. "It was fun and it was well-controlled. I remember being onstage and seeing a vehicle flying through the makeshift campsite that was the audience and thinking, `I hope he doesn't run over a baby or a child,' but nobody was hurt. That was the only problem I remember."
Counterculture DJ Wavy Gravy was on hand to help out; Minnie Pearl Inc. donated 3,000 fried chickens to his Hog Farm collective. And all in all there were few problems: The final attendance was 120,000 or so, and there were only 36 arrests.
There was also one death: John Allen Shope, 27, of Arlington, collapsed the first day and died of heat exhaustion at a Dallas hospital.
The festival was so relatively problem-free that on the final day both the mayor and the city's police chief, Ralph Adams, climbed onstage and congratulated the audience on its good behavior.
"You have really shown us older people you know what you are doing," Adams said. "Some of them should take an example from this."
In the end, the Lewisville festival lost Wynne and his fellow organizers around $100,000; just a few months later, a death and general unpleasantness at the Rolling Stones' show at the Altamont raceway outside San Francisco (documented in the movie Gimme Shelter) put a dark cloud over huge festivals in general.
There would be big shows in North Texas in the coming years (including numerous concerts at the Cotton Bowl and Texas Stadium) but none to match Lewisville for sheer size and madness.
The concert site became an industrial park in the '80s; nearly 28 years later, there's hardly anything to remember the festival by except for some hazy memories, a torn poster or two, and a song, Lewd and Loose in Lewisville, by Dallas folk singer Lu Mitchell.
"It was a very loving, gentle environment," Mitchell said in 1989. "Whatever discomfort we had, we endured, 'cause it was like, `We're all in this together and isn't it wonderful?' It was freedom - we'd been let out to do something we never thought we'd be able to do. But, God, it was so long ago."
| The Forgotten Festival: The 1969 Texas International Pop Festival
(originally published by the Houston Press and Dallas Observer)
Date: September 3, 2009
Writen by CHRIS GRAY, HOUSTON PRESS REPORTER
This entire summer, pop culture has been inundated with Woodstock nostalgia. Warner Home Video got the ball rolling back in June with a deluxe DVD edition of Woodstock, featuring the four-hour director's cut of Michael Wadleigh's Oscar-winning 1970 documentary and yards of bonus footage in a box designed to look like a fringe jacket.
Rhino Records followed a few weeks later with Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm, a six-disc monster with performances by most of the artists who appeared that rain-soaked August weekend in upstate New York — Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & the Fish, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Grateful Dead — with stage announcements like Chip Monck's famous "brown acid" remarks.
|THE BEST LITTLE WOODSTOCK IN TEXAS
Love, peace and music came to Lewisville for 3 unlikely days in 1969
(Originally Published by the Dallas Morning News)
Date: August 6, 1989
Oh, how quickly we forget.