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What was bigger than Woodstock? Watkins Glen.
The Summer Jam was held at the Watkins Glen Raceway on July 28, 1973. The Allman Brothers, The Band, and the Grateful Dead - all at the height of their powers - provided the music for this all-day affair, which is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “largest audience at a pop festival.” An estimated 600,000 fans were in attendance, which loosely translates to one out of every 350 people living in America. Put another way, considering that most of those who attended the event hailed from the Northeast, close to one out of every three young people from Boston to New York was there.
Of the $1 million spent by the promoters only $50,000 was used on advertising. They didn’t need it. Some 125,000 $10 tickets were sold out by the afternoon the day before. Because all the tickets sold, the gates at the concert site were left open and the overflow of 400,000 people got in without any attempts to check for tickets. Many thousands of music fans who arrived the day before the concert were treated to what has been called a "legendary soundcheck" by all three groups, the Grateful Dead effectively playing a 2-hour concert.
The Dead kicked off on the 28th and accounts say the band performed for more than three-and-a-half. They played two songs with rain in the title, "Box of Rain" and "Looks Like Rain," which would look prophetic when, during The Band’s set, a huge thunderstorm descended that forced them from the stage and turned the ground into a muddy bog. Reporters likened the mess to "something from the Civil War," but others thought it added to the Woodstock-like atmosphere.
The Allman Brothers were the final act at the Summer Jam concert. The group was joined on stage with the Grateful Dead and The Band for a three-song encore and it was past 3 a.m. before the concert was over. Interestingly, photos from Watkins Glen reveal a sea of denim with literally 100% of those who were wearing clothes at all in blue jeans.
The popularity of this poster by Sokoloff, Saban & Mahn, led to a second printing as well as a couple of different bootlegs. This one is from the original, first print run and carries the “Scoop Printing” credit at the lower right.