If you think Woodstock was wild, then you might want to check out it less known but equally or even more scandalous successor: the Ozark Music Festival.
Today in History (1974): The Ozark Music Festival opens in Missouri
It’s summer, the season for music festivals, and the tradition for holding them around this time of the year goes way back.
The most reminisced music festival is probably 1969’s Woodstock, which created a benchmark for festivals that followed. But it doesn’t mean that it’s the only one that deserved attention.
If you think Woodstock was wild, then you might want to check out its less known but equally or even more scandalous successor: the Ozark Music Festival.
On this same day in 1974, the Ozark Music Festival officially opened to the public on the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri. The event organize assured Missouri officials that it would be a ’blugrass and pop rock festival" with only 50,000 tickets sold. The locals were in for a big surprise!
A crowd of an estimated 350,000 people went to the three-day event. The festival was slated to begin on Friday, July 19th, but thousands had already arrived the evening prior, via a long line of vehicles and on foot, in eager anticipation of possibly one of the biggest—-but least recognized—- rock festivals in music history.
The Ozark Music Festival had an impressive lineup including The Eagles, Boz Scaggs, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Reo Speedwagon, and Aerosmith.
Aside from an exciting band selection, there is much to remember about Ozark. Personal accounts and post-event investigative reports convey the widespread nudity, violence, and drug overdose during the festival. You heard that right. Men and women alike strolled around the concert grounds topless and even stark naked. There was a pool where anyone was welcome to bathe in the nude.
The Ozark Music Festival was controversial, to say the least. State legislators in Missouri who conducted an investigation concluded:
“The scene on the grounds at Sedalia made the degradation of Sodom and Gommorrah appear to be rather mild. Natural and unnatural sex acts became a ‘spectator sport.’ Sex orgies were openly advertised… The fairgrounds’ underpass was transformed into an Oriental Bazaar where all forms of hard drugs were sold. Motorcycle gangs perpetrated acts of extortion, rape and physical violence.”
It must have been one big outrageous party, but we probably wouldn’t want to attend something as raucous these days!
Intrigued? Take a look at analogue photos taken by the festival goers themselves.
No dress code…
…or no dress at all.
A swimming pool for everyone!
Participants went to the festival to have fun with their friends…
…and for the music.
Had much fun in a less chaotic music festival lately? Tell us about your experience by submitting an article.