Memories of the Midwest Rock Festival

Were you there? We would love to hear about your experience at the festival. Do you have any pictures or video? Do you still have your ticket stub or the program? We want to make this site as complete as possible, so please click here to add your story to our site. Thanks in advance!

One of the most memorable times of my life. 50 years ago but yesterday. We knew we were witnessing history and so lucky to be there, at only 14. It felt like an honor. And then Howie became a rock star himself. Makes me sad he’s not around to reminisce.

But I pat my teenage self on the back for BSing my folks into granting permission. And for bringing Grandpa’s old Kodak.

I remember nobody stood up blocking the view like at shows today. We sat packed in up front on the ground and everyone leaned back on the knees of the person behind. Peace, Love and Rock & Roll permeated us. I think a tiny bit still remains.


Led Zeppelin concluded the first day of what would be an awesome 3 days of music with a stellar set. I remember vividly that they opened with the first few bars of Good Times Bad Times, then quickly the song morphed into a tune that I was not familiar with (Train Kept a Rollin’?). All the great tunes from LZ 1 were played including How Many More Times (with Jimmy Page playing the guitar with a bow and the Lemon Song being spiced into the middle). I believe the show concluded with a unforgettable performance of Communication Breakdown. We were so impressed we went to Chicagos Kinetic Playground in Oct. of 69 to see them play much of their new LZ 2 album. Bonham lives forever! Source.

Bill Rietow

I was living on the streets in Berkeley, CA in July. I talked to my sister in Milwaukee, whose husband worked at Radio Doctors. She said I had to get back to Milwaukee to see this concert. So I took off hitchhiking back to Milwaukee. I was supposed to meet up with them there and get a free set of tickets for all three days, but he got busted for possession there. I never did get free tickets, so I could only afford to go for the first two days. I thought Led Zeppelin was too loud and scary. But then I was tripping the whole time on some stuff a guy called Blue Sunshine. Plus I drank some wine called Bahli Hi. The best act for my state of mind was Blind Faith. Especially I Can’t Find My Way Home. Which was true, because I didnt make it back to the East Side of Milwaukee, but headed right back to CA with two chicks (sorry) from Oregon. One gave birth to twins in Laramie WY. There I got a free haircut from the pigs (sorry). It rained all three days and was quite miserable. But Ill never for get it. Seems like yesterday. Source.


Photographer back stage at the festival with interview Dr Arthur Rapkin.

Marc M. Dulberger

A group of us got our tickets for all 3 days for $20 through the local freak radio station. Great music, lots of weed, and covered grandstands when it rained. Too bad for them, but hilarious when Kenny Rogers and the First Edition got booed off the stage when they tried leading off with Ruby, don’t Take Your Love to Town. The song didn’t quite fit the crowd, and the crowd let them know it. No big disaster though cause there was a lot more great music. Liked MC5, and Pacific Gas & Electric was pretty tight too. Really great lineups, without huge crowds. Source.


I was living in Menomonie that summer, working for Dunn Co Highway Dept, and hitchhiked to Milwaukee for all 3 days of the show. Id not heard of several of the groups, some of which (Mayalls Bluesbreakers, for example) became lifelong favorites. I tripped all weekend, and smoked a toke or two of anything that passed by, and had an absolutely transformative weekend of incredible music that has stayed with me ever since. 44 years later I still remember most of it, and have NEVER forgotten the music! Source.


I attended all 3 days. Tickets were $15.00 for the 3 days. I still have a playbill/poster of the event in pretty good shape. It rained Sunday afternoon so Jeff Beck and Jethro Tull did not play. Joe Cocker did, John Mayall did and the headliner was Johnny Winter. It was almost 40 years ago! Zeppelin was great on Friday night, arriving by helicopter in the infield of the race track. Blind Faith was equally fantastic on Saturday. Taste, with Rory Gallagher, made their United States debut. This was a little more than a week BEFORE Woodstock and Im sure most people have never heard of it. Source.

Roger S.

I went to this 3 day festival. A bunch of great acts. B & D opened for Blind Faith and Clapton played with them too. The venue is an Indy race car track with stands going up in front and in the pit area. They had flat bed trucks set up and when one band was done they would just switch over to the next truck. Music started about noon and went til midnight. Midwest acts until about 4 or 5 then national acts. Only time I saw MC5.

The next night Zeppelin played and people complained about how loud they were. Newspapers said they could be heard 6 miles away. Ear bleeding loud, even for outdoors. Source.


Great description of one of the best times of my life. Even with rain and no music everybody gathered into the covered grandstand and had fun and shared whatever any of us had. It was really one of the only times I felt I belong to a community of like minded people and was very comfortable. I also remember the Bob Reitman (1st. FM underground radio DJs in Milw.) co-signed a note to get Johnny Winter on the stage. They tried to cover the stage with clear plastic sheeting to protect the performers. It did to a point, Joe Cocker came on and was outstanding until the water build up burst right over his head, He continued to complete his set. Blind Faith and Led Zeppelin, just blessed to be there… $15.00 in today’s money would convert to $1500.00 easy. Source.

Mike Mueller

I, too, was at the festival and it remains a vivid memory. I just wanted to correct a couple of items. First, I worked at two Milwaukee-area radio stations (WUWM and WZMF) with the DJ referred to in the review. His name was Bob Reitman. Second, while we both might believe the value of that 1969 $15 ticket was $1500, using the CPI, the value of the $15 ticket would be closer to $89 today. Source.

David Steffen

Remember the guy with the snake wrapped around his neck? LZs performance has stayed with me my entire life. Ill never forget it. 🙂 Source.

Sue Belvoir