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Friday, November 3, 2017

Vintage Edmonton: The Edmonton International Pop Festival (August 26-27, 1972)



The Edmonton International Pop Festival seemed doomed from the start; put together and promoted  at the last minute at Speedway Park by Edmonton businessmen under the name North American Events, the festival attracted big names such as Joan Baez, Billy Preston , Blues legend Albert King, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (coming off their landmark live LP with Procol Harum), along with lower billed but still well-known acts as Cold Blood, Elvin Bishop, The James Gang (who ended up bailing when the the terms of their contract was in their words"not honored") and various other bands and multi-media artists.

One oddity was the appearance of the band The Family Stone; presumably the complete backing band of the then-ultra-hot on the charts Sly Stone, the band turned out to be The Family Stone's backing vocalists (including Sly's sister Vet) who also performed as Little Sister, Sly's brother (and Family Stone co-founder) Freddie Stone and a pick-up band put together especially for the festival.

With tickets running for $7.50 a day and $15.00 for the weekend and a budget of upwards of $170,000 for the bands, the promoters needed 11,000 at Speedway Park to break even. In the end, 3,000 or so people attended watch the lineup and fireworks display over the weekend, with The Journal giving their take on the festival proceedings:





An hour of black and white footage of the Festival posted by Malcolm Achtman on youtube is an absolutely fascinating artifact and a must-see for those interested in Edmonton Rock Music History: 





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