memories of the ’80s – US Festival

1982USFESTIVALPOSTER-705x480In the early 1980s, a music festival launched in 1982 to celebrate community and technology: the US Festival.

Created by Apple II founder Steve Wozniak and promoter Bill Graham, the US Festival held its inaugural edition on Labour Day weekend in 1982.

Wozniak paid for the construction of a temporary stage at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California and the concert was sponsored by MTV.

The weekend was one of the hottest weekends of the year, with an average temperature of 110F. The Friday featured seven bands: The Ramones, Gang of Four, Talking Heads, The English Beat, Oingo Boingo, The B 52s and The Police.

The Saturday also featured seven bands: Eddie Money, Santana, The Cars, The Kinks, Dave Emunds, Pat Benatar and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

The Sunday finale featured five bands starting with Breakfast with The Grateful Dead, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffet and The Coral Reefer Band, Jackson Browne and Fleetwood Mac.

Although a success for the bands and fans, Wozniak and Graham reportedly lost $12 million on the event, there were 100 arrests and 35 drug overdoses.

The festival was remounted for a second and last time on Memorial Day weekend in May 1983, with promoter Barry Fey, who expanded the festival to four days, each day focusing on a different type of music: new wave, heavy metal, rock and country.

New wave day featured Divinyls, INXS, Wall of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, The English Beat, A Flock of Seagulls, Stray Cats, Men at Work and The Clash.

Heavy Metal day featured Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph, The Scorpions and Van Halen.

Rock day featured Los Lobos, Little Steven, Berlin, Quarterflash, Missing Persons, U2, The Pretenders, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks and David Bowie.

Country day, which happened a week later, featured Thrasher Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, Hank Williams Jr., Emmy Lou Harris, Alabama, Waylon Jennings, Riders in the Sky and Willie Nelson.

Despite the expanded line up of bands, with 670,000 in attendance, the festival still lost $12 million and was not repeated.




About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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