Woodstock Can't Hold a Candle to This

Baker is a Times assistant metropolitan editor. Shipper is a Los Angeles comedy writer. And they were there, man

Wow, man, it's time to correct a major historical injustice.

All these East Coast intellectual types are talking about some music festival we don't even remember when a far more mind-blowing festival happened right here in our own back yard.

Dig it: 200,000 people got together in June of '69 for peace and love, and the weirdest thing was, they got together at Devonshire Downs in Northridge, man.

It really happened! And Northridge in '69 was kind of like the moon--there was nothing much there: a barren, desolate landscape, sort of like the brain of Howie Mandel.

But greatness happened there. Try to imagine Jimi Hendrix and Three Dog Night on the same stage. It really happened! It covered the waterfront, you know what we mean? Name us another concert that would feature Janis Joplin and The Grass Roots.

Three days. Two-dozen bands. Two hundred thousand people: the biggest concert in the history of rock 'n' roll, and you can look it up. Before Northridge, the biggest festival anybody had ever seen was 99,000 people in Miami. This crushed it, man, and now nobody remembers it.

But we do.

Who could forget the sight of that woman in the pink tank top--we see these TV ads for Dianne Feinstein, and we swear it was really her--on the PA system, warning people not to taste the brown acid?

We think we saw Wally George with his real hair.

We think we saw 75,000 people--the Northridge Nation--rise up on that Saturday when Jimi hit the first chord to "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)."

It had everything, man. It had cops, heat, dirt, dust--real dust, man, not angel dust . . . although, come to think of it, it had that, too. And one more thing: Elvis was alive back then. Nobody had to dream about seeing him in a market in Grand Rapids. He was alive! He just wasn't there.

It was so cool, man, that after the second day, Joni Mitchell calls Eric Burden from a phone booth in Canada and reads him this song she wrote on the back of a Pez candy wrapper and tells him: "Eric, you gotta sing this tomorrow, bro'. Give it to the people."

The next day, in front of 110,000 sweltering, wild-eyed, tie-dyed souls, there was Eric, singing the original version of the song that later would become famous:

We are stardust

We are golden

Kitty-corner to an alley

And we got to get ourselves out of the Valley

So, like, now we're supposed to pay our cable company $49 to watch a 25-year tribute to Woodstock on pay-per-view TV. Why? We have our own festival to remember. Why isn't there a 25-year tribute to Devonshire Downs?

Hey! We got it. Today, let's do it! Let's everybody meet, corner of Devonshire and Zelzah. We'll get Eric, Joni, Jimi, two of the guys from Three Dog Night, Chambers Brothers, Tricia Toyota. This was our generation's moment, man, and you know what they say about those who forget history. We wish we did. Too much brown acid. Well, maybe you can tell us when we see you later.


(The Northridge festival, called Newport '69, took place over three days the weekend of June 20, 1969, two months before Woodstock. It made national headlines because of a melee that broke out the last day, but was quickly forgotten.)

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