Jubilee at UNC!

From 1963 to 1971, the end of the spring semester at UNC was marked by Jubilee.  The concert progressed from a relatively small affair on the lawn in front of Graham Memorial to much larger events that took place on Polk Place, Fetzer Field, Kenan Stadium, and Navy Field.

In 1963, the Four Preps, the Chad Mitchell Trio, and Iain Hamilton performed at the first Jubilee.  The Four Preps was the main concert on Friday evening and about 5,000 people attended.  The Saturday and Sunday afternoon concerts were each attended by about 2,500 people.

1963 Jubilee program
1963 Jubilee program from the Records of the Student Union
Photograph of the 1963 Jubilee
Photograph of the 1963 Jubilee from the Records of the Student Union

Since then, a variety of musicians and musical groups, and even one comedian has performed at Jubilee, including Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, The Serendipity Singers, The Sinfonians, The Platters, Johnny Cash and June Carter, The Temptations, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, B.B. King, and Joe Cocker.  The comedian was Fred Smoot.

In 1966, the first two nights of Jubilee took place in Carmichael Auditorium because of the weather and then in Polk Place on Sunday afternoon.

The Bitter End Singers performed on Friday night in front of 5,500 people.  On Saturday, David, della Rosa, and Brooks, Jay and the Americans, and Al Hirt performed for 7,200 people.  And on Sunday afternoon Charlie Byrd performed on stage in Polk Place in front of South Building.

1966 Jubilee program
1966 Jubilee program from the Records of the Student Union
1969 Program
1969 Jubilee program from the Records of the Student Union

Forty years ago on April 30 – May 2, 1971 the last Jubilee concert was held.  And by then the concert had changed a lot from its early years.  There were more performers and the crowds were much larger.  The performers included Chuck Berry, Spirit, Cowboy, Muddy Waters, the J. Geils Band, the Allman Brothers, and Tom Rush, among several others.

The attendance was 17,500 on Friday night, 23,000 for Saturday night, and 9,000 for Sunday afternoon.

Ticket from the 1971 Jubilee
Ticket from the 1971 Jubilee from the Records of the Student Union

A week after the 1971 concert was held, the Student Union Activities Group recommended that Jubilee “be discontinued and that the money be used to increase programming throughout the entire year.”  Jubilee had just grown too big and had been marred by complaints about noise, trash, and the large crowds for several years.  The 1971 concert with its huge and unruly crowd was the last straw.  Concert goers tore down fences and a security guard hired for the event was severely injured trying to stop people from flowing through the holes.

Daily Tar Heel photograph of the 1971 Jubilee
Photograph of the security guard being tackled by concert goers rushing through the holes cut in the fence. Published in the May 5, 1971 edition of the Daily Tar Heel.

Fortunately, the history of Jubilee at UNC is preserved in the University Archives.  From programs, memos between University officials, correspondence, contracts with performers, scrapbooks, fliers, posters, photographs, and pins, you can trace the evolution of Jubilee from a small affair in front of Graham Memorial Union to the large crowd at Navy Field.

Of special note is the film of the 1971 Jubilee created by Jim Bramlett, Rick Gibbs, and Charlie Huntley, as well as H. B. Hough, Bill Hatch, Rod Waldorf, Peter Chaikin, Jim Eldridge, and Tom Eshelman.  This film is part of the Records of the Student Union and a DVD is available for viewing in the reading rooms of Wilson Library.  A short clip from the beginning of the film is available here:

Materials about Jubilee are available in at least a couple of different collections in Wilson Library, and many of the documents and some photographs have been digitized. For more information and links to digitized materials, please see:

16 thoughts on “Jubilee at UNC!”

  1. You must get this content digitized. I’m 3000 miles away and would really like to do some research on the period I was an undergraduate, 1964-1969, but if it’s not available as digital images it’s not available to me.

  2. The second photo shows UNC’s folk group, The Migrants, performing at the first Jubilee. I was a member of that group and have forwarded several photos of the event to this web site. I even have a short 16 mm movie segment of our performance that day.

  3. I have been going through negatives from the UNC Photo Lab for the academic year 1962-1963 and just discovered four black-and-white negatives of two group portraits, labeled “Migrant Singers: Sandy Moffett, Betty Ferguson, Ben Newlin,” and dated 7 November 1962. (I wonder about that date though because there are still plenty of leafs on the trees!) We’ll be scanning the negatives in the coming week, as we prepared for Wilson Library’s annual Class Reunion Weekend display in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room during the afternoon of May 11th. These and approximately 100 other images from the 1962-1962 school year will be exhibited in a continuous slide show. –Stephen Fletcher, Photographic Archivist, North Carolina Collection.

  4. wow. i was at UNC from fall 66 to spring 68. I would like to see added to this the lineups by year. I remember from the 2 i went to the temptations, the association, rufus thomas and carla thomas, james brown, neil diamond, the platters (sang their comeback hit love you 1000 times in carmicheal and had to do it over 3 or 4 times the crowd wouldn’t let them move on to another song). those were the days.

  5. I’m doing some research on the 1970 Jubilee. I’m trying to find out the performance date for B.B. King. in May 1970. Does anyone know the exact day. I’m also looking for programs or flyers. Who else was on the bill for 1970 Jubilee. I can’t find anything for that year.. If anyone knows anything. please contact me at bbkingdime@yahoo.com

    Thanks, George

    1. George, thanks for your question regarding the 1970 Jubilee. According to records from the Carolina Student Union, B.B. King played at 11:00 PM on May 1, the first night of Jubilee that year. The Records of the Student Union (#40128) contain artist contracts (including King’s) and a program for the 1970 Jubilee–if you’d like scans of these, please email your request to wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.

  6. I sent an email to wilsonlibrary@unc.edu requesting a scan of the program or whatever document lists the performers for the 1970 Jubilee event that I attended. I am backing that request up with this email. Thanks for your assistance.

    Connie Bobotis, 1971 graduate

    1. Hi Connie! Thank you for your comment and interest in our holdings. The reference staff has let us know that they have sent you scans of materials from the 1970 Jubilee. We hope you have only good memories of the events!

  7. would you please send me those same documents from the 1970 jubilee weekend?

    Thanks, Monty Diamond ’68

    1. Hi, Monty! Thank you for your interest in our collections. Please email your request to wilsonlibrary@unc.edu, and our Research and Instructional Services staff can send you scans of materials related to the 1970 Jubilee.

  8. I have a question about the dates for the 1971 Jubilee. The article mentions the dates as May 1 to 3, but the ticket shows it as Apr 30, May 1 and May 2. The Jubilee was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so shouldn’t the article indicate the dates as such?

    1. Hi, Michelle! Thank you for catching that error–we’ve revised the dates.

  9. I attended the 1970 Jubilee and remember Joe Cocker with Leon Russell, and also Country Joe and the Fish. We sat in one of the fields on blankets. Great concert and time!

  10. Thanks for the info on Jubilee’s through the years. I played drums with Chuck Berry at the final Jubilee in 1971 the same year I graduated. The band backing Chuck Berry that afternoon/early evening was part of a band called “Zero Davis” which I had joined after having played with “The Low Rent District” and “Thursday Grief” in previous years all over the south and around the local triangle while attending UNC as a Psychology major.

    That performance was situated on the the field just south of the soccer field (I was on varsity soccer 3 years) and I recall quite a large and peaceful crowd in attendance. My brother, Robin Moyer, took some great photos of that gig which can be seen on my websites, http://www.musicianscamp.org and http://www.fscottmoyer.com as well as on his website, http://www.robinmoyer.com.

    Charlie Huntley has been in touch with me recently regarding the events that took place that day. I understand that much of the footage taken to document it was marred in some way and that Chuck had not given them permission to record any audio of the concert. However, this was only a few weeks after the famous Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East was recorded and they were on just after we did our set of music. I spoke with the keyboardist with Spirit, John Locke, after my performance and he had recommended I “come out to California because they needed drummers who could play” he said. I saw him a few times in LA years later but he has since passed away as so many have.

    I must make mention of my friend and guitarist with Zero Davis, Rick Dixon, who was the one who organized getting us to back up Chuck Berry. However he was excluded from the gig because Chuck didn’t want a guitar player or the funds were limited.

    Nonetheless, on that days gig were Alex and Kate Taylor, Spirit, Cowboy,Chuck Berry and The Allman Brothers. It was loads of fun playing and hanging out backstage with the ABB and I will forever have it in my memory as something to be proud to have participated in and been a part of during that time.

    I have continued with a musical careerin LA performing with many music icons & teaching drums , guitar, bass, piano and music theory (which I studied at UNC) & composing songs for film and TV as well as commercials and even getting music onto Muzak with many of my own original songs still to be recorded. Some of my recorded music over the years 1979-1999 can be heard on my website.

    If there is any live footage of the 1971 Jubilee Concert available, I would love to see it wherever it may be accessed or acquired.

    Best regards to all,

    Scott Moyer

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