This weekend is the 40th anniversary of Newport '69, the first — and last — ginormous rock festival to be staged within a leafy Los Angeles suburb. On June 20, 1969, a Friday, schools let out for the summer and tens of thousands of music fans — including this one — headed for the corner of Devonshire and Zelzah in Northridge, the location of the former horse racing track and fairgrounds called Devonshire Downs. Ike and Tina Turner opened the show Friday night, and by the time Jimi Hendrix jammed with Buddy Miles on Sunday afternoon in a session still bootlegged around the Internet, neighbors were calling the hippie invasion of the San Fernando Valley a "holocaust," cops and overdosed teens were in hospitals, and officials were looking to blame somebody. Before this piece of L.A. lore fades completely from memory, I asked the only Newport '69 scholar I know to tell us the story of L.A's Woodstock, two months before the real thing. Jim A. Beardsley, an independent archivist and historical consultant, gives the background to that wild weekend at Devonshire Downs in a visiting blogger piece for LA Observed.
Big summer: Apollo XI astronauts walked on the moon on July 20, actress Sharon Tate and four other Manson family victims were found murdered on August 9, and the Woodstock Music and Art Fair opened on August 15.