Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Goose Lake
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Goose Lake

Rick Coates - August 9th, 2010
Goose Lake : America’s Forgotten Festival
By Rick Coates
The abundance of music festivals now taking place in Northern Michigan probably are better known than one of the largest and most successful in American history.
Last weekend marked the 40th anniversary of Goose Lake International Festival that originally took place between Jackson and Ann Arbor August 7- 9, 1970 and attracted more than 200,000 attendees.
While Woodstock received full fanfare from the media last year in honor of its 40th, little is being made about Goose Lake, despite the fact that Billboard calls it one of the most successful music festivals of all time.
“I will take the blame for the lack of media coverage,” said Tom Wright, one of the organizers and production manager for the festival. “All this media from Rolling Stone Magazine to others showed up looking for backstage access and I wouldn’t give it to them. I gave them free passes to get in an’ sit with everyone else, but they wanted backstage and I think they held it against us.”

THE ORGANIZERS
Wright, retired to the Bellaire area several years ago. He is one of rock and roll’s best photographers who also made a name for himself managing such bands as The Who, James Gang and also managed the legendary Grande Ballroom in Detroit during its heyday as one of the top music venues in the country during the ’60’s (the Grande is the subject of a forthcoming documentary).
Wright along with Grande Ballroom owner DJ and school teacher Russ Gibb, also had put on the successful Detroit Rock and Roll Revival three months before Woodstock that attracted 30,000-plus to the Michigan State Fairgrounds. So in 1970 when Southfield businessman Richard Songer wanted to put on a large music festival, he turned to Wright and Gibb to run it.
“This guy has purchased over 300 acres near Goose Lake and wanted to put on a bunch of events on his property including a major music festival,” said Wright. “The first event was going to be this three-day Goose Lake Festival.”
While he didn’t personally attend Woodstock, Wright had a lot friends who did, including his best friend Pete Townshend who played the festival that many have estimated had close to 500,000 people attend.
“The problem they had was only about 50,000 paid to get in,” said Wright. “We had close to 100,000 buy tickets in advance for Goose Lake. Plus, their other problem was they were so far behind; in fact bands were playing seven hours after they were scheduled.”

A TIGHT SHIP
Wright and Gibb were determined that not only was everyone going to pay to get in, but also that the bands were going to go on as scheduled.
“Tom was the perfect production manager, he had proved that at the Grande and other events. He ran a tight ship,” said Gibb. “He was very ingenious as well and he did something no one thought could be done; he kept the festival on schedule.”
Because of all the publicity Woodstock received, the Detroit papers questioned how Goose Lake would manage the large crowds and not follow into the same footsteps as Woodstock. When the schedule was released, Iggy Pop told the Detroit Free Press, “I will play as long as I want to. no one tells the Stooges how long they can play.”
But Wright had a plan to keep each performer to a 45-minute set.
“I built a circular stage and we put curtains across the center of it,” said Wright. “So while one act was performing the other was setting up. When the 45 minutes was up we would start cranking on the stage and it would turn.”
So as the stage turned a frustrated Iggy Pop dove into the crowd.

SOMETHING BIG
Ian MacLagan, who was a member of The Small Faces (Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane) back in those days recalls how much fun everyone had at Goose Lake.
“We played on Friday night and supposedly had gigs in New York over the weekend,” said MacLagan. “Folklore has it that we cancelled the other gigs and hung out at Goose Lake. I don’t recall, but I do know that we did hang out at Goose Lake all weekend. A big part of that was because we knew if Tom Wright was involved something big was going to happen.”
Something big did happen in the tune of 200,000 plus.
“I think the number was close to 300,000 and I do know this -- they all paid,” said Wright.
So Goose Lake must have been a big payday for Wright and the others.
“I can’t speak for the others, I thought it was going to be for me,” said Wright. “I could have shown up a couple of days before and hired a minimal crew. But I arrived on site a month ahead of time and hired the best in the industry, so it wasn’t the pay day for me that I thought, but it was a well-run festival. In fact when the last band walked off the stage we finished seven minutes ahead of schedule.”

THE LINE-UP
Goose Lake featured Joe Cocker, The Faces, James Gang, MC5, Jethro Tull, the Stooges, Mitch Ryder, Brownsville Station, Mountain, Chicago, Ten Years After and the Flying Burrito Brothers among others. It was billed as “Michigan’s Woodstock.”
As the festival neared, law enforcement and government leaders including then-Governor William Milliken vowed to shut the festival down. Concerns over large crowds and drugs had some fearing the worst.
“Certainly the drugs were prevalent,” said Wright. “But law enforcement stayed away, fearing possible riots. We had few arrests over the weekend and few injuries. It wasn’t perfect, but it was as close as possible.”
Even Tom Wright was caught off guard when he was called about the 40th anniversary of Goose Lake.
“It has been 40 years -- wow it seems like yesterday,” said Wright. “I have been called a handful of times over the past couple of years from some media about Goose Lake, but I kind of forgot about it.”
Wright’s only regret from Goose Lake?
“Not keeping closer tabs on my camera. It was stolen. I had several rolls of pictures that I had taken, all gone now.”
The facility at Goose Lake that Wright oversaw never hosted another event, nor did Wright. He and some of his production team got on a boat and headed to Europe.
The Goose Lake International Music Festival never received the recognition it deserved from the media and Woodstock and Monterey have gone down in the annals as rock’s greatest music festival. But for the 200,000 plus who attended Goose Lake, they know differently.


 
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