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California Jam 1974
|Genre||Hard rock, progressive rock, heavy metal|
|Dates||April 6, 1974|
|Location(s)||Ontario, California, USA|
|Founded by||ABC Entertainment, Sandy Feldman and Leonard Stogel|
|Attendance||250,000 (tickets sold)|
California Jam (also known as Cal Jam) was a rock music festival co-headlined by Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, held at the Ontario Motor Speedway in Ontario, California, on April 6, 1974. It was produced by ABC Entertainment, Sandy Feldman and Leonard Stogel. Pacific Presentations, a Los Angeles-based concert company headed by Sepp Donahower and Gary Perkins, coordinated the event, booked all the musical talent and ran the advertising campaign. Don Branker worked for Leonard Stogel and was responsible for concert site facilitation, toilets, fencing and medical. The California Jam attracted 300,000–400,000 paying music fans. The festival set what were then records for the loudest amplification system ever installed, the highest paid attendance, and highest gross in history. It was the last of the original wave of rock festivals, as well as one of the most well-executed and financially successful, and presaged the era of media consolidation and the corporatization of the rock music industry.
Acts that performed at the festival in order of appearance:
Deep Purple's performance was one of the first with their third line-up, which included the vocalist David Coverdale and the vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes. Deep Purple was given the choice of when to go on stage, and chose to go on during sunset, thus pushing Emerson, Lake & Palmer to the last performance. Assuming that, as with all festivals, the show would run late anyway, they still waited when the festival was actually ahead of schedule. Angry concert organizers tried to force Deep Purple to go onstage, and then threatened to cancel their performance. A quick thinking announcer told the crowds that Deep Purple would be coming on "soon". The band made concertgoers wait nearly an hour until near dusk before they went on stage. Richie Blackmore, the Deep Purple lead guitarist, has said the concert agreement at Cal Jam was always for Deep Purple to go on stage at dusk, and concert promoters were in violation of a signed agreement. In spite of this delay, the show did not end up running late. At the end of their concert, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore threw a guitar, and a small speaker monitor out into the audience, and suddenly attacked one of the network's video cameras (the camera had been getting between Blackmore and the audience) with a guitar. Later on, a mishap with a pyrotechnic effect caused one of Blackmore's amplifiers to explode, which briefly set the stage on fire. Deep Purple left the concert area by helicopter to avoid a possible confrontation with Ontario fire marshals and ABC-TV executives. The damage to the ABC video camera was estimated to be $10,000, later settled by the band managers.
The weather on the day of the Cal Jam concert was unusually warm for April. At one point in the late afternoon, thousands of plastic gallon jugs were handed out to the audience, who were able to fill the jugs up at the many drinking fountains set up on the grounds. During the prolonged delay waiting for Deep Purple to hit the stage, restless concert goers began tossing their water jugs in the air. More and more of the audience joined in, until the air above the crowd was filled with hundreds of water jugs flying around, spraying water over the audience.
Deep Purple's California Jam performance, along with some of the performances by other bands, was broadcast on TV and radio nationwide in the US. It was at this festival that the footage of Keith Emerson playing a grand piano spinning end-over-end 50 feet above the ground was taken.
The concert set a record for the largest paid attendance at such an event. Although more people attended the festival at Woodstock in New York, only a few thousand had purchased tickets.
Another record established at California Jam was for the largest (most powerful) concert sound system ever assembled, particularly from the demands of Deep Purple, who were identified as the "loudest band in the world" by the Guinness Book of World Records. Tycobrahe Sound Company combined the touring systems of Deep Purple, Black Oak Arkansas, Black Sabbath, Earth Wind and Fire, and Rare Earth (each manufactured by Tycobrahe), plus 16 feet (4.9 m) bass horns from Phoenix Sound and several folded bass horns from Flag Systems. Total power was 54,000 watts RMS, provided by a number of BFA-2000 amplifiers, manufactured by Tycobrahe.
The Goodyear blimp hovering overhead was a first for a music festival. Deep Purple arrived for the concert in their own chartered jet, the Starship, with their name painted on the plane's sides, the first time a major band arrived specifically for a music festival in their own plane.
Another first was the setting of the stage sets for each band on rails, allowing rapid changeover to the next band, thus eliminating delays and allowing the rock festival to run on time; in fact, ahead of time.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer's touring sound system was set up about half a mile from the stage and timed with a tape delay to coincide with the sound from the stage.
Unlike other rock festivals such as Woodstock, the concert was not planned for release as a film or sound recording. However, the ABC television network (which was also a sponsor of the concert) broadcast several portions of the show as part of its In Concert series several months later. The audio portion of the show was also broadcast in stereo on FM radio stations, an early example of simulcasting. KLOS FM (then owned and operated by ABC) promoted and broadcast the concert around Los Angeles.
Deep Purple's California Jam performance was the first full-length music concert film to be released and sold on video tape in the early 1980s.
Several performances from the show were eventually released on CD and video, both in bootleg and authorized form. One of the more notable bootleg recordings was from a fan who tried to pass off his recordings of a recording from the radio broadcast as something he created. His web site was shut down after he tried selling his unauthorized products without creative approval from the artists involved and the producers of the festival.
Authorized releases include:
A sequel concert, California Jam II, was held March 18, 1978.
A Facebook page called California Jam created by Allen Pamplin has become a focal point for attendees, organizers, and bands to submit photos, movies, and memorabilia.
A special limited edition photo book of 1,000 copies (some with band autographs and purple vinyl) was compiled by Simon Robinson and released as:
Deep Purple at The California Jam published by Rufus Stone Limited Editions (UK), 2013.