Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

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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