70s Rock Festival, Sen. Tony Rand, and Alice Cooper

What we have with this entry is a convergence of politics past, politics present, rock-and-roll, motorsports, and flower power. And it happened in the Eighth Congressional District, all of which made it eligible for posting at Wayne's World, my personal blog. Moreover, for lovers of the movie which coincidentally has the same name as that blog, it is fitting that we refer to rocker Alice Cooper. But I digress. ...

A love for trivia, youthful memories from the 1970s, and years of interviews with late Richmond County Sheriff R.W. Goodman helped me answer a question in a national motorsports industry newsmagazine recently that is of note to the worlds of politics, motorsports, and rock music.

In this month's September 2007 issue (Volume 2, Number 9) of Motorsports Industry News, columnist and State Representative Karen Ray identified me as the one person answering the question most correctly and most vividly.

What was the question? In the July 2007 issue, Rep. Ray – on a dare from powerful State Senator Tony Rand of Fayetteville - asked whether any reader knew what the "Peachtree Celebration" was and who attended. (Rand, as I pointed out, had good reason to make his dare.)

According to the magazine, "Wayne had enough correct information about the event to convince me he was either present or knew someone who was there." (Being only six years old at the time of the event, I did not attend, but know persons who attended and survived.)

What information did I provide?

"The Peachtree Celebration in Rockingham was a large Woodstock-like rock music festival hosted by the North Carolina Motor Speedway in the early 1970s - I believe it was in 1972 or '73. Special guests included Three Dog Night, Alice Cooper, Poco, Fleetwood Mac, the Fabulous Rhinestones, and other contemporary rock music bands. Due to the persistent smog of marijuana smoke over that part of the county brought by these rock enthusiasts and the rampant nudist romps by hippies and other celebration attendees, then-Sheriff R.W. Goodman declared that he would never allow such an event to occur again at the Speedway. Goodman was part-founder of the track. On information and belief, and not knowing how it would turn out, future Senator Tony Rand helped bring the large event to the speedway. For the record, true to Goodman's word, no such event was ever held at the Speedway again; the Rockingham Dragway, across the highway from the speedway, did host Lollapalooza in 1996."

Upon further research it appears that the event was on August 18, 1972, which makes this the 35th year since it happened.

I also have recollections of seeing a most unusual photo-display across the pages of the Richmond County Daily Journal and Hamlet News-Messenger from those halcyon (not to be confused with hallucinogenic) days of the 70s. Apparently news reporters had a field day following the mayhem. Sheriff's deputies and others reported even more intriguing sights, all of which my good friend and fellow author John Hutchinson plan to share in our future biography of former Sheriff R.W. Goodman.

I am amused at how politics and arena rock had some roots in rural Richmond County.

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Footnote 1: See below for photos from the event. Alice Cooper flew out on the helicopter; some attendees reported that he was actually hanging out of it as the copter flew over the speedway. Also, check out the hair; circa Brady Bunch's last two seasons. Red Cross tents/booths were chockful due to the heat. With many of the men going without shirts, and reports that Poco stopped performing because the band members were losing their cookies, it was clearly a hot August weekend. The horrid heat and humidity may explain why the aforementioned "haze" did not drift away quickly. ...

Footnote 2: Alice Cooper wasn't supposed to perform. He was a stand-in for a band called "Faces", whom you may not have heard of. However, you have heard of 2 of that band's members: Rod Stewart - yes, that Rod Stewart - and Ron Wood, of the Rolling Stones.

Footnote 3: Interchangeable, at least in the minds of attendees and some folks in the region, is the name "Peachtree Festival" with "Peachtree Celebration." Both titles are used in published materials.

CROSS-POSTED at "Wayne's World," www.eighthdistrictdemsnc.blogspot.com


Thanks, Wayne!

I drive past the empty speedway on a fairly regular basis, and often wonder why there aren't more events like the one you describe held here. I know that Lollapolooza was there in 96 - that show is legendary in the minds of several of my friends. I'd love to see it used for more concerts instead of standing like the forlorn giant that she is.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I was at Peachtree in 1972

Wayne, I was at the Peachtree Celebration. It was about a month after the 1972 Democratic National Convention, and as a volunteer from the McGovern campaign I went down there with 5 others to set up a fundraising table. The efforts were coordinated by Charlie Dean (Howard's late brother). I recall hearing Alice Cooper's sets, and the chopper. The table was a miserable failure. We collected about $100 the whole weekend, let's just say that the festival goers appeared under the influence of various substances and had no political interest whatever.