Denver Pop Festival

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Denver Pop Festival
Genre Rock, pop, etc.
Dates June 27-June 29, 1969
Location(s) Mile High Stadium, Denver, United States
Years active 1969
Founded by Barry Fey
Attendance 50,000 (est.)

The Denver Pop Festival was a three-day music festival promoted by rock promoter Barry Fey (Feyline) on June 27-June 29, 1969 which was largely overshadowed by Woodstock two months later. Unlike the free-form happening in upstate New York, the Denver festival had the full support and local resources of a major city. It was commonly called the "First Annual" Denver Pop Festival, though it was held only one year. The peak attendance was estimated at 50,000, and after those who had bought tickets were let in, it was declared a free festival by the organizers. Frank Zappa is credited by some with inventing the audience wave during his set, and the festival featured the final performance of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.


Unlike the free-form happening in upstate New York, the Denver festival had the full support and local resources of a major city, taking place in Denver Mile High Stadium. There were high expectations for the Festival; it was commonly called the "First Annual" Denver Pop Festival. The peak attendance was estimated at 50,000.

Frank Zappa is credited by some with inventing the audience wave during his set. He actually selected sections of the stadium (audience) to each make different odd sounds and gestures. He then composed a "tune" on his "crowd instrument".[citation needed]

Tickets and gatecrashers[edit]

Throughout much of the festival, a crowd gathered outside the venue and demonstrated against having to pay to hear the acts. They also tried to breach the gates and security fences. The Denver Police were forced to employ riot tactics to protect the gates.

On the second day the battle between gatecrashers outside the stadium and the police suddenly affected those inside. With a combination of shifting wind and re-thrown canisters, tear gas suddenly swept over the crowd. The seats emptied into the concourses and onto the field.

It was fortunate that the fence that had been erected to keep the crowd from the field was torn down by the crowd on Friday night. On Friday night Iron Butterfly "encouraged" the crowd to bring down the fence - which they did. If the fence had been up on Saturday there may have been injuries with the crush of people that would have likely occurred with people trying to get out of the stands onto the field to get away from the tear gas. Announcer Chip Monck should be credited with calming the crowd that day as the tear gas came into the stadium. With his amazing voice he instructed the crowd to stay calm - to cover their faces with whatever they had (like a jacket or t-shirt) - etc. Chip Monck was also the announcer at Woodstock - you can hear him in the movie Woodstock.

Ticket prices were $6 per day, or $15 for all three days (Fri, Sat, Sun). On Sunday, after all possible tickets had been sold, the promoter announced from the stage that he was declaring it a "free festival". The people from outside the stadium were let in and took seats in the South Stands of the old Mile High Stadium.


June 27[edit]

  1. Liar
  2. One
  3. Drum Solo - Floyd Sneed performed his amazing solo featuring his "Lafrican" method of playing the drums for an aspiring 10+ minutes including over 3 minutes of Congo style hand playing.
  1. Hungry Freaks Daddy
  2. Downtown Talent Scout (long version, called "The Heat's Out Every Night")
  3. The String Quartet
  4. Some Ballet Music
  5. Zappa conducts the audience

June 28[edit]

  1. Rollin' & Tumblin'
  2. Help Me
  3. Leland Mississippi
  4. Going Down Slow
  5. Mean Town Blues
  6. I'm Not Sure
  7. It's My Own Fault
  1. Dolphins
  2. Gypsy Woman
  3. Buzzin' Fly
  4. The Train
  1. Bad Moon Rising - note: the moon rising large and bright behind the stage at dusk prompting an immediate encore performance.

June 29[edit]

  1. Tax Free
  2. Hear My Train A Comin'
  3. Fire
  4. Spanish Castle Magic
  5. Red House
  6. Foxy Lady
  7. Star Spangled Banner
  8. Purple Haze
  9. Voodoo Child

Further reading[edit]


See also[edit]