Forty years ago today 17 million people descended onto Ontario Motor Speedway in California to see one of the shows that has become a solid gold music legend.
The lineup from breakfast onwards was Rare Earth – Earth, Wind & Fire – The Eagles – Seals & Crofts – Black Oak Arkansas – Black Sabbath – Deep Purple – Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
ELP and Purple were co headliners and this was Purple with David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. The then new Burn album is a Purple classic but one of the interesting things about the California Jam footage is watching Hughes vocally torch Coverdale every time he step ups to the mic.
Richie Blackmore had a crazy day, trashing gear and allsorts while Keith Emerson spun through the air with his piano. It’s all on youTube and worth seeking out. Black Sabbath were there as special guests and were a bit out of shape having been sitting at home doing coke and mandies for a few months but they played a blinder, even with a clean shaven Tony Iommi.
Those were the days. Let’s hope Hyde Park in July is another one.
PS I know it wasn’t 17 million people.