40 years ago: Love Valley’s would-be Woodstock

“The Love Valley Rock Festival was held July 16-18, 1970, [in] the Western-themed community of Love Valley, 15 miles north of Statesville…. This small town became a big city, swelling from roughly 100 full-time residents to perhaps 200,000 youthful pilgrims.

“Because of its size, the Love Valley Rock Festival made headlines. Beyond the initial buzz, the festival served notice that the counterculture was beginning to invade formerly resistant corners of the hippie-hating South.

“ ‘We all felt we were re-creating Woodstock,’ says Marilyn Wolf, [now a Greensboro psychotherapist], who attended with friends. ‘That was the hope.’ ”

— From “Remembering N.C.’s Woodstock” in the Greensboro News & Record. Rock  journalist Parke Puterbaugh uses the recollections of festivalgoers to capture a salient cultural moment that seems much longer ago than 40 years.

Were any other large-scale rock festivals staged in North Carolina?

53 thoughts on “40 years ago: Love Valley’s would-be Woodstock”

  1. My distant cousin and “mayor” of Love Valley, Andy Barker, still presides over the comings and goings of the town from a chair in his store. Drop by. He is full of tales and knows how to tell them!

  2. Hard to top this one (from a q-and-a with Puterbaugh):
    “The people that was sellin’ the LSD and everything, there must’ve been about 20 of ’em. And we had the Iron Cross out of Atlanta, who later became the Outlaws, the bike boys. They had about 75-80 people here. I went to the chief, whose name was Surfer, and said, ‘Look, Surfer, I want these drugs out of here. Go take every damn thing you can get your hands on and run ’em out.’ They started doin’ it.
    “Well, in a while, a bunch of these young fellows come to my house and said, ‘We want this motorcycle crowd to leave us alone or we’re gonna burn this town down.’ I said, ‘Well, just a minute, boys. Lemme see if I can talk to somebody.’ I went in and got my sawed-off shotgun. I said, ‘I’m gonna shoot every one of you (expletive),’ and man, they scattered like quail. I didn’t have any more problems outta them.”

  3. According to Pittsboro photographer Bill Stancill, there was also a big festival called Peachtree held more than once in the early ’70s, with the first taking place at the Rockingham Speedway:

    The first Peachtree was held at the speedway and drew about 100K. Alice Cooper was the headliner, but Poco, Three Dog Night, Fleetwood Mac and several others were on the bill. The James Gang, minus Joe Walsh also played.

    Another one was held in Fayetteville the next year. Santana was the headliner. Tower of Power and Foghat were also on the bill.

    1. There was the August Jam at the Charlotte Speedway in 73, i think. Black Oak Arkansas was there.

    2. A friend and I went to that outdoor festival . We got in free through a fence that was pushed down. Nobody seemed to care, others were getting in the same way. We got to the fence in front of the stage. People were crazy. Climbing on tall scaffolds in the field. There were Hugh speakers on the edge of the stage. One guy tried to climb in one and fell out. He was taken off on a stretcher . Think it had rained and some people were dirty and laying in the mud. The announcer came over the loud speaker and said, do not take the, Orange Sunshine , it’s bad. When some of the fans started tearing down the fence in front of the stage, we left. We saw ZZ and some other bands. Way back, can’t remember it all.

  4. Bigger names than at Love Valley, which didnt pay performers but lucked onto the soon-to-be-famous Allman Brothers.

    1. Hello Ed.
      I am looking to do a write-up on Love Valley for our summer edition and want to know whether we could use a few of your photos, with credit of course.
      Thank you

    2. Wow. Awesome pictures. The pics of free food and the foundation was our house. My dad owned the property when the gas furnace exploded a killed a baby in the explosion. We also owned the 200′ red barn across the road. The Allman Bros stayed in the house that was to the left of the food kitchen directly across from the barn. The young couple you took pics of in the doorway of the cabin sat on the horse trail coming from the Town down into the Valley. It was on the hill to the left of the stone steps looking back up the mountain. I grew up in Love Valley. I used to deliver papers everyday on horse back all across the Valley when I was 6yrs old. I also have a Christmas card we sent out that has a picture of the house before it blew up.

  5. Wow, Ed Buzzell!!!!!!!!!! The pics are just the bomb! I was there and your pics are invaluable in bringing back the the love and peace of that era.
    I thank you for sharing.
    As I reach my late 50s, things like this are just priceless!

    Thanks Again

  6. I was there during the festival. I sure would LOVE to see some photographs of the festival. Would you happen to know a specific website or link I could visit to vew such great memories?? Thanks so much!!!!

  7. I was there too, a great time of blossoming for me.
    Ed Buzzell’s pics are really wonderful! I KNOW I’m in some of the photos…I just can’t remember what I looked like back then!

  8. I was there too, hitchhike from Fayetteville had a great time. The bikers shoke me down for all my loose change. What a good time, buzzells pics are great.

  9. At the end of this post Lew asks, “Were any other large-scale rock festivals staged in North Carolina?” I think the largest NC rock concert was the August Jam in 1974. According to the “August Jam” Wikipedia article, “It was the largest concert ever held in the state of North Carolina and one of the largest in the U.S. at that time, with an estimated attendance in excess of 200,000.[1]” Here’s a link to a blog about it, which includes links to pictures: http://www.edmcdonald.org/2010/05/august-jam-recently-i-was-going-through.html

    I was at the August Jam. I didn’t make it to Love Valley, although several of my friends went and talked about it for months. Ed Buzzell’s Love Valley pictures are great!

  10. the Q & A with Andy is nonsense. The Bikers got along well with the rest of us. No fights to speak of and if anybody seriously thinks drugs were run out of town, that person completely delusional. Never seen so much acid. Literally everywhere. And while the good folks of Love Valley were jacking the price of Ripple from 79 cents to $3-$4 (not that I blame them but the town made a fortune off us), acid dropped to $1 and eventually 50 cents. The Bikers towards the end of the music were rolling joints out of newspaper. Crazy because the town had no infrastructure to handle an influx of 200,000 kids. I think they were expecting crowds like Galax was getting at The Old Time Fiddler’s Convention. Great time. Thanks for the pix.

  11. I was one of the “friends” that Marilyn Wolf mentioned she attended the Love Valley Rock Festival with. We all went on the spur of the moment, throwing camping gear and a ton of watermelons into the back of a 1948 Studebaker pickup truck that used more oil than gas. Two of us, growing up on farms, had plenty of our homegrown pot as well. The Allman Brothers were fantastic, but the bikers were assholes.

  12. Was there for the three days. Spend most of Saturday night working the OD tent. I came across a youtube video called “The Allman Brothers Band – Mountain Jam (Love Valley Festival). It’s 30+ minutes long including long Duane Allman solos and a jaw dropping Jai Johanson solo on drums.

    It’s authentic. It shows the surroundings and I recognized the “bowl” where many people sat in front of the stage.

  13. we were there….so young….several life times ago! we’re all now watching “other generations” that don’t realize without what we went through, they wouldn’t ‘have what they have.’
    Karen B

  14. I was down from DC to visit my Grandmother in Charlotte. An aunt from CA was in town, so she, another aunt and uncle, a cousin and I piled into my aunt and uncle’s camper and headed to “some rock festival in Love Valley.” Wow!!! Did I ever luck out! We had a blast! Great music, great people, fun times!

    When we came back after, the Charlotte Observer had a photo of a guy recording the tunes on the front page… and in the background is my two aunts, cousin, and me sitting plain as day.

    Not only did I get one of the best weekends of my life, but had proof too!

    1. that Guy is me I have over 10 hours recordings of the festival ,over half is Almans
      the video of the alman’s is my recording dubed onto the video

        1. So sorry to bother you again but before purchasing the home in the Valley this family used to come up every weekend and brought about 10 horses. We used to go on all day trail rides 20 to 30 miles at a time in a group of about 20 people. From young kids to adults in their 60s and 70s.

  15. I was a fresman in college, and I and two (2) other
    friends attended. I’ll never forget the “produce stands.”
    Just wish I could go back in time, but remember it well.

    Jim F.

  16. I went after my freshman year in college. Remember the Lighthouse people from New Mexico and sleeping in a hammock as they were very busy. Went up Wednesday before the concert and hung with the band (Allman Brothers) – it was a wonderful summer and, until I looked at the pictures, I never realized how many people were there. What a mindblast!

  17. I was 20 and AWOL from the US Navy after being selected for Radio school (they were sending Navy radio men to Nam). I remember the orange barrel sunshine LSD. This was the most powerful LSD I had ever taken. I didn’t even know who the Allman Brothers were at the time. I just remember them being pissed off with people throwing shit at the stage during their performance. The bikers were a bit out of control, but all in all I had a great time.

  18. Love this site. I remember the Love Valley Festival from 45 years ago, and I still associate it with the love of my life Jim who was on vacation from his first year at Yale. I was taking a philosophy class at Wake Forest, and a group of us decided to go., It was amazing, and I feel so blessed that I have such great memories of this particular time and place.

  19. I was there and we camp out with the bands. Lots of motorcycle gangs. Was interviewed by a sc TV station. They stayed with me and friend and filmed us. I believe the band steam was there. Been a long time. I was also at Atlanta pop fest.

  20. Me too, I was there. Long blonde hair with white mini skirt. Ed took two photos of me. Boy, that brings back some great memories. I was turning 17 just a few weeks later! Love it!

  21. Wow, we were there! Me and my now husband Tim. What a trip down memory lane all these pics were. Wish we had been in a pic! We got robbed while there, all our food and class rings, but still had a great time. I got stalked by a motorcycle dude, but luckily when he followed me to our camp, there were a lot of guys from our high school there to deter him.

  22. A friend and I hitch-hiked up from Raleigh. I don’t think we got there until some time on Saturday and the festival was over on Sunday. We got separated shortly after we arrived & I didn’t see him again until the next week back in Raleigh.

    He had all our camping gear & food when he disappeared. I spent a long, cold, miserable night alone in the crowd up on the top of that hill.

    What I remember most is we got out of a car at a parking area and there was a long, long hike over a mountain to get into the festival. That may have been someone running a back door & skimming the admissions for himself.

    I don’t think I even saw the town of Love Valley until it came time to leave on Sunday.

    I wanted to see Big Brother and the Holding company, but I must have missed them. I’d already seen the Allman Brothers a couple of times in Raleigh. This must have been just before they broke into the big time.

    The one act I do remember was Kris Kristofferson, because I’d just learned to play “Me and Bobby McGee” from a Gordon Lightfoot album. He performed some time close to midnight on Saturday.

    Others have mentioned the Peachtree Festivals, although I remember the order being Fayetteville and THEN Rockingham.

    And there was another all day show held at a defunct football stadium in Charlotte. I think the bill included ZZ Top, Savoy Brown, Wet Willie with Leon Russel as headliner – probably in 1972, because “Tight Rope” was a big hit at the time.

    None of these was “Woodstock” like, because admissions were tightly controlled & the show only lasted a single day.

  23. I and my ragtag group of musicians and followers operated the drug O.D. at Love Valley and Atlanta…My bus(the Rescue Co.) and crew had a terrific time doing our thing for all the folks rockin’ out……

  24. Thank you for the memories.
    I was at the festival in 1970. A friend and I hitchhiked from New Jersey. We got there before the crowds. There was a creek nearby to bath in.
    Who’s this great band the Allman Brothers? Never heard of them. What, two drummers? What a great new sound! Southern rock like we never heard before! The bowl! We camped on a hill that I can see in some of the pictures taken inside from the bowl. We had to tie our sleeping bags to a tree so we would not slide down.
    RIP Gregg.

  25. I went to all of the memorial stadium concerts. Zz Top was great. A policeman got shot by a drug dealer across the street at the park that was a bummer. The best show there I thought was Rod Stewart and Faces I also remember Billy Preston and Leon Russel with back to back Grand pianos what a Jam. It was good times!

  26. Old Joe Ponder who ran the leather goods and was a deputy there in the Valley was a good friend of mine. I even made the mistake of challenging him to a tug of war once. Now I was almost 6’4, 240 lbs of pretty solid muscle at the time. I had black belts in 2 martial arts and lower belts in a couple others and Joe was in his late 60’s. His teeth vs my legs and arms using a heavy leather belt. I even took off my shoes to get a better grip on the pavement. I lost a lot of skin off my feet as he drug me all over the parking lot at Mitchell Community College lol.

    He was a hell of a man and he loved the Valley.

  27. Early Saturday morning, July 18th 1970, Elizabeth Reid and her sister Kathy had come to Love Valley, NC to enjoy the concert. Elizabeth’s mother was looking for them and had the First Aid Station page, “Elizabeth Reid, come to the station,” this went on for 4 or 5 times. All the while the Allman Brothers were playing a long instrumental, then stated, “That chick must be dead, this is in memory of Elizabeth Reid.” Elizabeth and Kathy got away, never were able to thank Allman Brothers, but their mother never caught them either. Kathy and Elizabeth are doing well and live in the Charlotte, NC area. Sorry the name was misspelled, it is Reid, not Reed.


  28. oooo wow …just turned 17..hitchhiked ..from Fort Bragg…
    in van with two junkies ..what a turnoff …thy where talking about ripping all the hippies off …but when i got there
    it was great just like Woodstock, walking threw all the cars and
    talking to all the people ….was just real ,thy really believed
    that we could change the world …with peace and love ..
    just shows you what we all are really looking for..but shows there is something wrong in man..when he wants that and can’t
    get it..or do it..I found out why….that time was really the catalyst for me to find it…I did there is only one place you find real LOVE …..that is Jesus on the cross….
    I seen Allman Brothers the last time in Chapel Hill ..
    the last Jubilee Jam 1971 …Allman Brothers where the last to play midnight …..I was sooo proud of them you could tell thy had mad the big time…thy changed ..thy just finished recording live from the Fillmore East…..That’s what Dwayne said we just finished Recording this new live album….. And we are going to Play it for you tonight… a couple of months later he was Dead…. I’m an army brat right after that I went to Germany Frankfurt and I had a great four years with the downside got messed up like everybody else did back then too many drugs but like I said I came to Christ and everything changed..

  29. My entry from May 3, 2014 is still on here- don’t know why felt the need to read it again..am 77 now..seems like just a minute ago. Today is 30th wedding anniversary 5/5/20- if we had married in 1960 as planned, I’d never have been at “Love Valley Thing” .. I guess things turn out the way they’re supposed to..Jolly Lump where are you?

    Karen B (once was Karen H)

  30. I was there! 4 of us left Coconut Grove, Miami. We went early to work it. I worked the OD tent, that was a trip! Many experiences, met Cliche from VA Beach was supposed to meet up at the steps of the memorial! Headed up to Connecticut with Miss NC to another festival Powder Ridge which was shut down by state troopers! If I could turn back time!

  31. Steve W
    I was there. Me and my friend drove up from Jacksonville NC . Got stopped by the cops twice. Got there late at night pitched or tent in town. Woke up the next morning and we were in the Mayors yard. He invited us in and fixed us breakfast. Nicest man you ever want to meet. Had a great time. Bikers were assholes.

  32. Having missed Woodstock the year before, a friend and I decided Love Valley would be the next best thing! We got there from Raleigh Thursday evening and camped out in front of the stage for the duration of our stay. I remember the Allman Brothers doing a sound check and I was standing right in front of Duane. We chatted for a few minutes and later decided we’d been smart to lock in our spot in front of the stage. It was an awesome place to be that weekend. The bikers were real assholes though. My buddy and I were wearing vintage military helmets and the bikers stole them from us. We had to get Sheriff Andy Barker to rescue our skinny butts and retrieve our helmets from them. Thankfully we were so broke and burned out by Saturday evening that we left before the rains came and turned everything into a mud bowl. I’m 72 now and still remember that amazing weekend!

  33. I’m so glad to have found this thread…! OMG, Love Valley and the Allman Bros played a huge part in my formative years. My best friend, Nancy E., and her family were personal friends of the Barkers since the mid 1950s; therefore, I was introduced to the valley from a different angle: the two family’s love of horses. Nancy kept her horse in Love Valley. We were young Charlotte schoolgirls, freshly licensed, and drove up most Saturdays to ride. I guess our parents thought we were too young to attend festival, so we completely missed out. We certainly made up for that beginning summer of 1971! I somehow talked my parents into letting me move there for a summer job. rock and roll on horseback! Here’s a partial list of folks I met and loved…..any of you, please email me! Huck Finn, Tory&Jan, little chuck, big chuck,Pam; Jane b, Joe shields,blue; Looney&Susie, Richard, little tommy, psychedelic Joe; Betty and ruby (original cow girls), poovey….the list goes on!…..Noel Thomas

    1. Hi Noel. It’s Joe Champion. Wonderful to see your post. Only wonderful times together with you and Nancy remembered. Reach out sometime.

  34. I was at Love Valley in 70. I flew a Dove holding Laurel boughs. I still have that original. It was custom made and is the only one. What memories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *