After Woodstock, where most attendees walked in for free, organizers of the Lewisville festival knew they needed better security.
So they hired men like James Polser, then 28 and selling Chevys at Huffines before taking over his family’s Lewisville Feed Mill in 1978. Handy on horseback, Polser and others patrolled the perimeter of the property, and saw some sights that still shock them 40 years later:
“I was out there on my horse, riding the fence line, and there was a man and a woman and a little baby, and they asked if they could put the baby on my horse and take a picture of him,” Polser recalled.
“I said that was fine. The only thing was that the woman – and she was a good-looking woman – she had her pants on and that was all.
“And nobody paid any attention, except for me and my heart attack. Gosh almighty, we saw things that would blow your mind.”
How Wavy Gravy got his name
He arrived in Lewisville as Hugh Romney, the gentle, gravel-voiced jokester who’d promised the crowd at Woodstock “breakfast in bed for 400,000.”
But after a brush with blues royalty at the Texas International Pop Festival, Romney would forever be Wavy Gravy.
Exhausted from hours spent around Lewisville Lake urging nude festivalgoers to cover up, Romney collapsed on the free stage at a lakeside campground.
“They had these conga drummers on the stage, and I said, ‘Don’t dance on the wavy gravy,’ ” he said. “Then someone announced that B.B. King was there, and he was going to play for free.
“I started to get up, and I felt this hand on my shoulder and it was B.B. King. And he said, ‘Are you Wavy Gravy?’ and I just said, ‘Yes, sir,’ and he said, ‘Wavy Gravy, I can work around you.’
“And he stood me up next to his amplifier, and Johnny Winter comes from the other side, and they played all night long.
“I was Hugh Romney at Woodstock, but I’ve been Wavy Gravy for 40 years.”
‘Lewd and loose in Lewisville’
A Dallas Morning News editorial helped whip up the fear and loathing for all those hippies coming to hear all that music.
An Aug. 30, 1969, editorial headlined “Nausea at Lewisville” told readers:
“Young people assembling to hear music is one thing. Young people assembling in unspeakable costumes, half-naked, barefooted, defying propriety and scorning morality is another.
“… We hope readers of this newspaper will realize this weekend that the great majority of youngsters in this area are at home where they ought to be – mowing yards, working at part-time jobs and preparing for useful lives.
“In the meantime, the lewd and loose at Lewisville will swing and sway. They are to be pitied.”
Lu Mitchell remembers the heat, the refreshing water hose, leaflets dropped from an airplane, the friendly crowd and enjoying the music, particularly Janis Joplin, until 5 a.m.
A singer-songwriter herself, now living in Farmers Branch, Mitchell didn’t care much for the editorial stance. “I got so upset over that that I wrote this song,” she said. It’s a song she still performs at age 85.
We were lewd and loose in Lewisville, we had us a time
Lewd and loose in Lewisville covered with dirt and grime
We were unsanitary and full of fleas
Some had beards clear down to their knees
Lewd and loose in Lewisville
The Dallas News told you so.
Led Zeppelin gets the news
Even among the stellar lineup at the Lewisville pop festival, none was hotter in the summer of ’69 than Led Zeppelin. So when the band came to perform at the Fair Park Coliseum on Aug. 4, three weeks before the festival, Angus Wynne III and his partners saw a chance for some publicity.
“We found their road manager, and we said we wanted to make sure the band recognized the festival from the stage,” Wynne said. “And he said, ‘Well, the fellows think they’re going to be on vacation then. They don’t know about it.’
“The band gets on stage, and after a couple of songs, Robert Plant says, ‘Anyone heard of the Texas International Pop Festival? We got into town today and saw the posters with our name on them. We’ve never heard of it. It’s a classic ripoff, and if you have tickets, you need to get your money back.’ ”
Furious, the producers found the road manager locked inside a limousine.
They pounded on the windows and almost tipped the car over before the manager emerged.
“He ran out there and he pulls Plant over to the side and whispers in his ear,” Wynne said. “Then Plant grabs him by the lapels and starts shaking him.
“At the end of the song, Plant goes to the microphone and says, ‘Yeah, we’re going to play [at the festival]. Our weasel road manager just told us.’ “