Quick: Name a music festival that not only influenced a generation's taste in music, but also showcased a dream line-up of stellar musical acts.
The obvious answer would be Woodstock. The three-day music festival in 1969 featured rock legends such as Jimmy Hendrix, The Who, and Janis Joplin, and would undoubtedly top any list of greatest concerts/music festivals of all time.
Woodstock's fame makes it hard to remember that there were many amazing music festivals during that time, 1967's Monterey International Pop Music Festival, Newport '69, for example. One that should be more memorable, the fest known as T.A.M.I., took place in our own backyard. Never heard of it? Don't feel bad. Milo Miles of NPR's Fresh Air calls the event the "most famous never-seen music show."
On October 24, 1964, Motown, Rock, and Soul lovers alike witnessed the concert, whose name is alternately remembered as Teen-Age Music International and Teenage Awards Music International. It boasted artists like Chuck Berry, Leslie Gore, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, The Rolling Stones, and Marvin Gaye (ok, now you can feel bad for not hearing about T.A.M.I. before).
So why has T.A.M.I been forgotten? Perhaps it was the location. T.A.M.I. took place in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Once a major venue in Los Angeles, the Civic Auditorium is now a less popular and a smaller venue in comparison to L.A.'s Staples Center. It only seats 3,000 and is now used mostly for car conventions.
Nonetheless, the Civic Auditorium not only hosted a defining moment in music history, but a bright moment in civil rights history as well. The star of the show, the one who stole the show, was the hottest performer of the time, James Brown and the Flames. Brown wowed the audience, which consisted mostly of white young folks, with slick footwork and fiery vocals that would later cause music producer Rick Rubin claim to claim that his performance was the "single greatest rock and roll performance ever captured on film." At a moment when the United States was still dealing with the repercussions of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, no one, regardless of age or race, could resist a show stopping performance from James Brown that had fans screaming non-stop. Seriously, their screams of excitement never stopped throughout any single of the performances:
Organizers planned for the event to become an annual event, but, sadly, that didn't happen. If it was, perhaps the Civic Auditorium would have international artists vying for a chance to perform in it today. Instead, we are left with one of those glorious moments in music history that few ever get to witness. Santa Monica surely has a place in rock 'n roll history, whether everyone knows it or not.
Last month Shout! Factory celebrated the 45th anniversary of music festival T.A.M.I., with the release of its DVD. KCET has been sharing the experience by broadcasting the event, and now offers the DVD to supporters who donate to the station. Be sure to check out your local listings on KCET to see when you catch the next screening.
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