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.
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.
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.
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.
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: