Michael Lang, one of the organizers of Woodstock began his producing career in Miami, FL. The visionary is said to have opened one of the first head shops in the United States. The Miami Pop Festival was the largest music festival up to date, drawing over 100,000 people.
Taking place at Gulfstream Race Track on May 18-19, 1968, this festival is one of those events which was absolutely star-studded yet is completely shadowed by the success and similarities of the subsequent Woodstock and Monterey Pop Festivals. The Miami Pop Festival included bands such artists as Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, The Mothers of Invention, Blue Cheer, and Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Chuck Berry, and Three Dog Night.
This festival marks the Jimi Hendrix performance that is claimed by die-hard fans and virtually nobody else. Although far from his most famous performance, his appearance at the Miami Pop Festival is seen by fans as one of his best. The song “Rainy Day, Dream Away” was also written in response to the cancellation of the Sunday installment of the festival due to, you guessed it- rain.
Most of the recollections of the festival lie in the extraordinary performance of Jimi Hendrix as well as the name behind the organization of the event.
It is reported by people who attended the festival that only about 400 people were interested in Hendrix enough to watch his performance. The rain and technical difficulties which plagued the Hendrix set resulted in Jimi tossing his guitar into the audience, only to be claimed by Frank Zappa. This article can be read in Guitar Player magazine.
The Miami Pop Festival is remembered as the first orchestration of producer Michael Lang pre-Woodstock as well as a lesser known and attended performance by Jimi Hendrix during his short career. Witnesses of the Hendrix performance revere it as one of the best performances not only by Hendrix, but of any musician in history. Many icons of the Woodstock festival had its roots in the Miami Pop Festival. It could also safely be assumed that there would not have even been a Woodstock without the festival in which Michael Lang made himself known.