Friends, the other day while I was getting ready to head out for work, a friend of mine on Facebook sent me a short video from the 1983 US Festival. The reason being is that it not only featured the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, a glimpse at part of the technology fair, but the still impressive Vectrex home console by Milton Bradley. As I have shared in the past ad nauseam, in my household we just didn’t listen to music, although that would actually start to change at the end of ’83 thanks to Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video. So when Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple as well as rock concert promoter Bill Graham put on the 1982 US Festival near Devore, San Bernardino, California on Labor Day Weekend – I was totally clueless of the whole affair.
In all honesty until just the other day I was still totally clueless on the US Festival in ’82, as well as the second event held on Memorial Day Weekend of 1983. The genesis of the festival was due to Wozniak wanting to put something together that would be a call for society to cease focusing only on themselves – but try and unite together – hence the name of the festival. What better way to attempt such an endeavor than with music?
While Wozniak also made sure that the latest in technology was part of the US Festival – including the sharing of the event with the then Soviet Union. I would say that it was the music that drew the majority of the 400,000 attendees, it is not difficult to see why with the likes of The Ramones, Oingo Boingo, The B-52’s, Santana, The Cars, Pat Benatar, the Grateful Dead, and The Police to name just a few performing at the event.
It was only nine months later when the second festival was organized by Barry Fey, who had earned ‘Promoter of the Year’ by Billboard for three consecutive years beginning in ’78. Not only did attendance rise to 670,000 but the list of performers expanded and included a staggering amount of music legends. There was the likes of INXS, Men at Work, The Clash, Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, U2, Willie Nelson, Alabama, and David Bowie to point out just a few.
As with the US Festival in ’82 – once again Wozniak made sure that technology was featured at the ’83 event. Which as you will see from this short clip, had a robot, lots of computers, and of course Milton Bradley’s Vectrex. Now if I had been close enough to attend the festival back in the day, this is absolutely where I would have spent all of my time – missing the musical event to keep playing Scramble.
You might be interested to know that if you have access to Tubi – you can watch the US Festival 1983: Days 1 – 3 documentary – right this very second!