I did 7 years in Cincinnati (well, Dayton, ’76-’82) and followed the Reds (never a fan, thanks, Marge) during my deepening disaffection with the Yankees. Absolutely HATED Riverfront. And that hate was just intensified with my experience at The Who concert in Dec ’79. That tragedy was caused by the crowd, but exacerbated by the geometry of the area between the Riverfront Coliseum and the stadium.
Which reminded the hardworking staff of its own experience at the 1970 Cincinnati Summer Pop Festival in Riverfront Stadium’s predecessor, Crosley Field.
Among the featured acts: Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Mountain, and Iggy Pop and the Stooges.
Brian Powers of Cincinnati’s City Beat wrote a great retrospective for last year’s 40th anniversary.
Among the highlights:
Without a doubt, the one contribution that the Cincinnati Summer Pop Festival gave to Rock history was capturing on film for posterity the performance of a young Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the godfathers of Punk Rock.
The footage shot by WLWT cameras shows Iggy, then 23, performing the songs “T.V. Eye” and “1970.” He dives into the audience, gets lifted by the crowd and then stands upright, held up by a sea of hands. He’s shirtless with his taut muscles exposed to TV viewers and every face on the field turned toward him.
Iggy later said at that moment he thought that possibly he was Jesus Christ. The next moment, Iggy received a large jar from an audience member and proceeded to smear peanut butter all over his bare chest and face, then threw huge globs of the jar contents out into the crowd.
The Stooges’ record company would later distribute photos from the performance, and it remains the defining image of Iggy Pop. (Check out Steven Rosen’s story “Pop Goes Cincinnati” for more about the 1970 music festival and a look at Iggy’s famous photo.)
The late Stooges guitarist John Asheton had a different memory of their set: “All I remember from that was the big video camera guy didn’t care about anyone on stage. I had to follow him, his wires were hooked up to my lead cords, and he’s dragging my fuzz tone and wah all across the stage. For me that was a pain in the ass.”
Another notorious Rock moment documented for the nation’s viewing happened during Alice Cooper’s performance. Cooper leaned down close to the edge of the stage, holding up a pocket watch to the crowd. He began attempts to “hypnotize” audience members, repeating the phrase “Bodies … need … rest.”
At that moment an accomplished marksman in the crowd lobbed a whole cake at Cooper, hitting him square in the face. Maintaining his cool, Cooper proceeded to take a handful of the cake and slap it right back into his own face. Again and again he repeated the gesture, smearing it in good.
One highlight Powers omitted: During Mountain’s set, some oversmoked longhair jumped on stage and started flinging his hair around, which got tangled in Leslie West’s guitar. West proceeded to jerk him around like puppet timed to the music. It was painful and artful at the same time.
Powers also wrote:
Despite the large presence of police, there was marijuana smoke in the air and pills being passed around in the stands. Several arrests were made, but for the most part both sides remained friendly.
The hardworking staff remains grateful for that.