While not quite the Fyre Festival, Jimmy Koplik had his own mess of a concert in the summer of 1973. He was on “Chaz and AJ” this morning to discuss how the Watkins Glen Summer Jam turned out to be his own personal disaster.
The Summer Jam was to feature the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers. Tickets were ten dollars and the venue was to hold 150,000 people. The Dead were going to open up the show because, as Koplik stated, “they felt that there was a certain magic opening it up and welcoming everybody there and getting everybody moving”.
Sadly, it all went wrong Friday night when the New York State Police shut down the thruway because two hundred thousand people showed up right around the same time. From there, Koplik attests, “the gates came down because we were prepared for 150,000 people and 600,000 ended up showing up”
The show, on Saturday, was basic chaos with far too many people for the venue. Once all the people left there was another problem. “We realized we forgot to put garbage pails out. There were 600,000 people’s worth of garbage all over the field”.
His cleaning company refused to do it for original 5,000 dollars and, after a week of haggling, the New York Department of Health threatened to arrest him if he neglected the mess any longer. The 23 year old Koplik wrote a check out for $50,000 which would be $283,000 in today’s dollars.
After the mess of Summer Jam, Koplik considered going to the 1994 Woodstock but they asked him to stay home. Chaz put it best, “You know it was a good party when they say don’t come back”.
Photo: Jimmy Koplik (right) and Shelly Finkle on stage viewing the aftermath of their historic Watkins Glen Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, The Band Concert in 1973. Courtesy of Jimmy Koplik.