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Interview with Peter Conlon, Alex Cooley, and Tom Beard, April 10, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Today is April 10th, 2013, we are in the Wilson Media and Oral History gallery, uh, the Russell Library gallery, the Special Collections Building at UGA.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer introduces Conlon, Cooley, and Beard.

00:00:39 - 1970s Atlanta music scene

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Partial Transcript: I'd like to know about the state of the music scene--in Atlanta, especially--in the state of Georgia in the early '70s.

Segment Synopsis: Cooley and Conlon discuss building the Atlanta rock scene amidst local resistance to counter culture. They tell stories about Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and other big artists they brought to town. Beard mentions a major donation Johnny Cash made to the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign.

Keywords: 1970s; Atlanta, Georgia; Auburn Avenue; Billy Joel; Bob Dylan; Bruce Springsteen; Capri Ballroom; Civil rights; Cotton Club; Finocchio's; Georgian Terrace Hotel; Janis Joplin; Jimmy Carter; Johnny Cash; June Carter Cash; Leonard Cohen; Lynyrd Skynyrd; Promotion; Richard's; Rock 'n' Roll; The Agora; The Cavern; The Electric Ballroom; The Highwaymen; The Roxy; The Royal Peacock; Willie Nelson

00:14:44 - 1980s Atlanta music scene

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back in history a little bit and talk about the--how the pop festival--

Segment Synopsis: Conlon and Cooley describe the importance of the 688 Club as a venue for alternative music in the 1980s. They mention a poor turnout for an Iggy Pop performance in the 1990s.

Keywords: 1980s; 688 Club; Iggy Pop; Music Midtown; Talking Heads; The Go-Go's

00:17:32 - Atlanta Pop Festival conception

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's go a little further back in history. I think we'd all like to hear about how the Atlanta Pop Festival--how the--how this came to be.

Segment Synopsis: Cooley discusses the first Atlanta Pop Festival (1968). He explains where he got the idea for the festival and why it did not receive the same attention as Woodstock, which came later. Cooley talks about the partners he brought together to make the festival happen.

Keywords: 1960s; Allman Brothers; Atlanta International Raceway; Atlanta Pop Festival; Dave Brubeck; Fred Lagerquist; Hampton, Georgia; It's a Beautiful Day; Janis Joplin; Jimi Hendrix; Led Zeppelin; Miami, Florida; Procol Harum; Promotion; Sam and Dave; Woodstock

00:22:53 - Changes in music promotion business

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Partial Transcript: What was your capitalization? What did they have to put in?

Segment Synopsis: Cooley and Conlon discuss changes to the concert promotion business after its consolidation in the 1990s and the increasing amount of capital required to book shows. They mention a failed Olivia Newton John tour they booked.

Keywords: Consolidation; Inflation; Olivia Newton John; Robert Sillerman; SFX Entertainment; Varsity Jr.

00:25:30 - First Atlanta Pop Festival (1968) / Grateful Dead

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Partial Transcript: So, we want to make sure people can learn a little more about how this thing got started.

Segment Synopsis: Cooley talks more about funding the Atlanta Pop Festival in the late 1960s. Conlon and Cooley discuss the difficulties of working with the Grateful Dead.

Keywords: 1970s; Allman Brothers; Atlanta; Bill Graham; Concert promotion; Fox Theatre; Grateful Dead; Jerry Garcia; Macon, Georgia; Omni Coliseum; Piedmont Park; Psychedelic drugs

00:30:07 - Cooley's radio show / Second Atlanta Pop Festival (1969)

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Partial Transcript: Alex had a radio show in--the '90s? On 96 Rock?

Segment Synopsis: Cooley mentions a radio show he hosted in the 1990s in Atlanta. He talks about the second Atlanta International Pop Festival. Cooley discusses losing money on the event and the racist and anti-hippie climate in the South at the time.

Keywords: Allman Brothers; Blues; Byron, Georgia; David Harris; Eric Clapton; Grand Funk Railroad; Grand Theft Audio; It's a Beautiful Day; Jimi Hendrix; Led Zeppelin; Lester Maddox; Middle Georgia Raceway; Racism; Vinson Valley

00:39:04 - Puerto Rico International Pop Festival

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Partial Transcript: Not only there, but I also did one in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Segment Synopsis: Cooley and Conlon discuss the Mar y Sol Puerto Rico International Pop Festival and working with Billy Joel. Cooley describes intense opposition to the festival and getting smuggled out of the country.

Keywords: 1970s; Alice Cooper; Allman Brothers; Billy Joel; Clive Davis; Electric Ballroom; Joe Cocker; Mar y Sol; San Juan, Puerto Rico

00:43:07 - Promoting shows in Atlanta, local radio

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Partial Transcript: So you've got these massive shows to start your career as a musical promoter and then, now you're back in Atlanta, are you promoting shows at the stadium and thing or just focusing on the Ballroom or--

Segment Synopsis: Cooley and Conlon talk about acts they brought to various venues in Atlanta and the development of rock radio stations.

Keywords: 1970s; 96 Rock; Atlanta Municipal Auditorium; Fox Theater; Ike and Tina Turner; Jerry Blum; Johnny Winter; Lee Michaels; Neil Young; Omni Coliseum; Radio; Rick Derringer; Steppenwolf; Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes; WPLO; WQXI

00:47:58 - Elvis in the 1970s / Elvis and Jimmy Carter / Music and the Carter presidential campaigns

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, I saw Elvis there. He, he played, like, two days and he'd play two shows--he'd play two shows a day.

Segment Synopsis: Conlon tells a story about Elvis's relationship with Jimmy Carter. Beard, Conlon, and Cooley discuss their work with Carter's presidential campaigns, promoting concerts to raise funds. They describe problems they faced at a Jacksonville fundraising concert.

Keywords: 1970s; 38 Special; Allman Brothers; Atlanta, Georgia; Capricorn Records; Charlie Daniels; Dickey Betts; Elvis Presley; Gator Bowl; Hamilton Jordan; Jacksonville, Florida; Jimmy Carter; Lynyrd Skynyrd; Macon, Georgia; Marshall Tucker; Phil Walden; Ronnie Van Zant; Sidney Drashin; Toy Caldwell

01:07:17 - Music, youth, and Carter's presidential campaigns

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Partial Transcript: I guess that could have happened.

Segment Synopsis: Cooley, Conlon, and Beard talk about Carter's embrace of rock music and musicians. They discuss the relative youth of Carter's campaign staff.

Keywords: Atlanta, Georgia; Bill Clinton; Bob Dylan; Gary Morris; Hamilton Jordan; Jimmy Carter; Jody Powell; Lester Maddox; Phil Walden

01:10:40 - Perception of Southerners, Georgia politics, Carter campaign

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask you three this. Um, were--you were obviously aware of the perception, I think, of the South, and Southern culture, and perhaps Southern politics, at the, at the time.

Segment Synopsis: Conlon talks about ongoing stereotypes of Southerners. Beard and Conlon discuss how Georgia politics changed during Carter's time and refute claims that Carter exploited racism to win 1970 governor's race. Conlon describes the skills and style of Hamilton Jordan.

Keywords: Bill Hardman; CNN; Carl Sanders; Civil Rights Act; County Unit System; Hamilton Jordan; Jimmy Carter; New South; Phil Walden; Plains, Georgia; Prejudice; Robert Kennedy Jr.; Rock 'n' roll; Ted Turner; Watergate

01:17:48 - Carter's second presidential campaign (1980) / Music and politics

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Partial Transcript: What was the--his reaction to the, um, fundraising through rock concerts strategies.

Segment Synopsis: The group discusses the use of fundraising concerts during Carter's second campaign. Conlon and Cooley talk about the relationship between music and politics and war.

Keywords: Charlie Daniels; Chip Carter; Fox Theater; Jerry Weintraub; Jimmy Buffett; Jimmy Carter; John Denver; Matching funds; Phil Walden; Rolling Stone; Toots and the Maytals; Watergate; Willie Nelson

01:23:02 - Phil Walden

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Partial Transcript: So what was Phil's relationship with Jimmy Carter prior to that?

Segment Synopsis: Beard and Cooley talk about Phil Walden (co-founder of Macon-based Capricorn Records) and his relationship with Jimmy Carter. They also discuss Walden's work as a manager.

Keywords: Clarence Avant; Jerry Weintraub; Lew Wasserman; Otis Redding; Phil Walden; Sam and Dave; Segregation

01:25:15 - Race, music, and politics in the South

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's talk about, um, I guess race and politics for, for a minute.

Segment Synopsis: Cooley talks about racism in the South and the possibilities for social change through music.

Keywords: Atlanta Pop Festival; Byron, Georgia; Hippies; Jimi Hendrix; Led Zeppelin; Lester Maddox; Racism; Segregation; Social change; State Patrol

01:30:20 - Stories from concerts, musicians

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Partial Transcript: You ought to tell the, the Janis Joplin story. That was good. Now that's one for the history books.

Segment Synopsis: Cooley describes logistical complications with a U2 set. He recounts an interaction with Janis Joplin and talks about how she cultivated her image.

Keywords: Georgia Dome; Janis Joplin; Schrafft's; Trabant; U2

01:34:54 - Politics and finances of music promotion

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Partial Transcript: So I was wondering if we could shift gears a little bit and talk about, um, dealing with politics and promoting music, um--and Peter maybe you can speak to this--um, in Atlanta.

Segment Synopsis: Conlon and Cooley discuss some of the financial and political considerations that go into promoting concerts. They describe their relationships with Atlanta mayors.

Keywords: Bill Campbell; Event permits; Freaknik; Maynard Jackson; Music Midtown; Omni Coliseum

01:41:13 - Municipal support for sporting events vs. music events / Politicians reaching people through music

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Partial Transcript: Um, I'm getting a sense--well, not a sense--it's obvious we're, we're here in Athens.

Segment Synopsis: Conlon talks about the ways in which municipal governments support sporting events but resist music events. He mentions how Carter and Obama used music to reach people. Interview concludes.

Keywords: Barack Obama; Final Four; Football; Jason Aldean; Jimmy Carter; Super Bowl; UGA; University of Georgia