Schaefer Music Festival

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Schaefer Music Festival
Poster for the Shaefer Music Festival, August 3, 1974
GenreRock, folk, blues rock, folk rock, jazz rock, Latin rock, reggae
Location(s)Wollman Rink, New York City (site of original festival), Pier 84, New York City
Years active1967–1990
Founded byHilly Kristal, Ron Delsener

The Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park was a recurring music festival held in the summer between 1967 and 1976 at Wollman Rink in New York City's Central Park. It featured a number of notable performances. The sponsorship was taken over by Dr. Pepper in 1977 and the name changed to the Dr. Pepper Central Park Music Festival until the location of the festival was moved to Pier 84 in 1981 and the Wollman Skating Rink ceased being used as a concert venue.


The festival was sponsored by Rheingold Breweries until 1968, when the task was handled by F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company.[1] The cost of the annual music festival was about $500,000, and admissions, at $1 per person in 1968, were expected to bring in $250,000 to $270,000 for the summer program, leaving a deficit, picked up by Schaefer, of more than $200,000. "Until Schaefer decided to assume sponsorship, the prospect was that the ticket price [from 1967] would have to be doubled. The $2, [Commissioner of Parks August Heckscher] said, would have been 'too expensive for a lot of New Yorkers.'"[2]

In the 1960s, before the rise of corporate concert organizers and ticket agents, top rated bands would often play for free (especially in San Francisco) or for amounts that resulted in reasonable concert ticket prices. Just before the Schaefer Music Festival kicked off in the summer of 1968 a free concert was given in Central Park featuring the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, three of the top acts at that time. 6,000 people "jammed into the bandstand near the [Central Park] Mall while thousands more sprawled out on the grass and under the trees."[3]

Club owner and musician Hilly Kristal co-founded the series with producer and concert promoter Ron Delsener. Over the years a Who's Who of superstars of the popular music scene performed there. Inexpensive tickets, which started at $1 in 1967 and rose to only $3 by 1976, further contributed to the event's popularity. While the capacity of the Wollman Rink was usually limited to about 6,000 to 7,000 people, it is reported that Bob Marley's performance in 1975 had attracted about 15,000 people.[citation needed]

In 1977, Dr. Pepper assumed sponsorship of the Central Park concert series, renamed the Dr. Pepper Central Park Music Festival. Due to residential noise complaints, this series was moved to Pier 84 on the West Side in 1981. The festival name was changed to Dr. Pepper Music Festival after the move away from Central Park in 1981. In 1983 Miller Brewing Company took over sponsorship with the name Miller Time Concerts on the Pier until 1988. In 1989 Reebok took over sponsorship of the concert series at Pier 84, renamed Reebok Riverstage, which lasted through 1990.[4]

Good Vibrations from Central Park (1971)[edit]

During the 1971 music festival, concerts on July 2 and July 3 were filmed for an ABC-TV special.[5] The performers included Carly Simon, who made her TV debut, Ike & Tina Turner, Kate Taylor, Boz Scaggs, and the Beach Boys.[6][7] Art Garfunkel and George Harrison also appear as non-performers.[8] The concert aired as Good Vibrations From Central Park on August 19, 1971.[9]

Festival line-ups[edit]







1972 Concert Schedule


1973 Concert Schedule
1974 Concert Schedule


1975 Concert Schedule


1976 Concert Schedule


1977 (Dr. Pepper Central Park Music Festival)[edit]

1984 (Miller Time Concerts on the Pier)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rockwell, John (18 June 1975). "A Tradition Here Ends as Event Seeks Site for 1976". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Schaefer Rescues Park Jazz Series; Rheingold is Out". The New York Times. May 29, 1968.
  3. ^ "6,000 in Park Rock to West Coast Sound". The New York Times. May 6, 1968.
  4. ^ "Rickey Lee Jones to Open Riverstage Concerts". The New York Times. 1990-05-12. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  5. ^ a b c "Concerts". New York Magazine: 16. July 5, 1971.
  6. ^ "Television". Jet: 66. August 12, 1971.
  7. ^ Betts, Stephen L. (April 27, 2017). "Flashback: See Beach Boys Cover Merle Haggard's 'Okie From Muskogee'". Rolling Stone.
  8. ^ Good Vibrations from Central Park (TV Movie 1971) - IMDb, retrieved 2019-10-06
  9. ^ "Television". Jet Magazine. 40 (20): 66. August 12, 1971.
  10. ^ Wilson, Johns (29 August 1975). "SCHAEFER FESTIVAL DRAWS JAZZ FANS". The New York Times. ProQuest 120646754.

External links[edit]