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On July 3,4,5, 1970 the Second International Atlanta Pop Festival was held in a bean field at Byron GA. Bryon GA is a small community just off the Interstate in the Macon area. It was hot, getting up to 105 in the shade during the day. I had seen Johnny at West Palm and told everyone about his brother Edgar and the jam session with Vanilla Fudge, Janis Joplin, and the Winters. We were pumped, cause we figured Johnny would be ready to jam and I had everyone hyped to see Edgar. And we figured the possibilities were endless in that the band list included the headliner, Jimi Hendrix and also some other fine axe men, like Robin Trower, BB King, Alvin Lee, Leslie West, Duane Allman, Dickie Betts, Terry Reid, and some others on instruments like Dave LaFlamme on violin and Lee Michaels on organ.

So, I was VERY disappointed to read in the paper just before the show that Johnny had a new band. And it was the McCoys. I mean, what was he going to play, Hang on Sloopy!!!!!! The write ups of the new album didn’t really give us a clue. But, I was bummed. Big time.

Well, when we get to Byron, we eventually learn that Johnny and Jimi play on different nights (Jimi played at midnight, July 4th with fireworks) so that possiblity was out. But, the Allman Brothers and Alvin Lee with Ten Years After were set for the same night, Sunday, as Johnny.

Well, needless to say, we need not have worried about Johnny. When the band hit the stage, they just flat kicked ass. The only SONG I really remember was Rock N Roll Hoochie Coo. But Johnny and Rick just played their hearts out and were great. I was only about 50 feet from the stage and was actually right under the mic that Johnny used when they came out. The stage was well over our heads, so I went back to out spot to have a better view and to hear the mix coming out of the speakers.

As a side note, there was a strange group of people near us at the show. They had a leader who they thought was a wizard and he was dispensing Electric Kool Aid. At one time they were passing around a joint that was as big as a cigar and was rolled in the Sunday funnny papers. About 20 years later, I was waiting to take a picture of Johnny when he came off his bus before a show (And I don’t know where the pictures are, really.) when this hippie with hair down to his ass says to me, “Man, I been seeing Johnny for 20 years.” I say, “Me too.” We talk for a while and figure out that we were both in Atlanta. Then we figure that we were both on the left hand side of the stage, about 50 feet out. And he says, “Well man, you might remember me, I was the dude that rolled the joint out of the Sunday funnies man. I put three lids of Columbian in that thing dude.” I asked him about the wizard, but he just wanted to talk about his joint.

Anyways, as the night goes on, the Allman Brothers are playing and they are hot. They had the harp player who is on the Fillmore East album with them and are wailing. Then, they mention a guest is coming out. Just as they break into Mountain Jam, out pops Johnny and is he wired or what. I can not really describe to you how he picked that show up. (This jam of Johnny Winter and the Allman Brothers is available on the recording: The Allman Brothers Band – Atlanta International Pop Festival) In my humble opinion, he flat blew Dickie and Duane away. I mean, he can play the slide or without and is dueling with them both. Now, I guess I exaggerate a bit when I say he blew them away, cause this was in their prime and as you might imagine, Duane and Dickie didn’t back down at all. But it just seemed like the whole place, including about 500,000 of us, just kept getting higher and higher and Johnny was the energy driving it all.

The jam-session “Mountain Jam” of the Allman Brothers with Johnny Winter , has been released on an unofficial record.

JWS Atlanta Pop Festival July 1970 9692