Contact Us

35 Years Ago: The CaliFFornia World Music Festival Rocks Los Angeles

Subscribe to 103.7 The Hawk on

They sure don’t make rock and roll festivals like they used to…

Indeed, the ’70s were so jam-packed with mega-concerts featuring an embarrassment of rock riches that one might count off half a dozen of these legendary happenings (the Texxas Jam, California Jams 1 and 2, the World Series of Rock, etc.) before the 1979 CaliFFornia World Music Festival even comes to mind. But you’d be hard pressed to find a more impressive lineup than the one that rocked L.A.’s Memorial Coliseum and surrounding grounds on April 7-8, 1979.

To be clear, the modern definition of “world music” had absolutely nothing to do with it. Instead, aside from the hilarious MC duties performed by the quintessential stoner comedy duo, Cheech & Chong, and parallel entertainment including everything from a battle of the bands to a rock ’n’ roll movie theater, food fair, arts & crafts and skateboarding exhibitions, the festival was entirely focused on rock.

However, the weekend got off to a disconcertingly inauspicious start when British new wave also-rans the Fabulous Poodles were roundly booed by the unimpressed classic rockers in attendance, many of whom were already disappointed by the last-minute no-show by Frank Marino and his Mahogany Rush. Luckily, fellow Canucks April Wine stepped in to help get that Saturday’s lineup headed in the right direction, with great help from follow-up acts, Head East, Southern rock mainstays the Outlaws, and rising AOR royalty like REO Speedwagon and Toto. Then, as night descended, it was time for Cheap Trick to regale the crowd with their irresistible power pop (as well as one of Rick Nielsen’s prized Les Paul guitars) along with their co-headliner, Ted Nugent.

The second day kicked off with Brownsville before veering slightly off-course once again with the Boomtown Rats’ ill-fitting Irish punk. However, their boos did nothing but delight confrontational singer Bob Geldof, who poked fun at their antagonism. Next up came April Wine, once again (now in their originally intended slot), to usher in another afternoon filled with crowd-pleasing sets by heavy funk pioneers Mother’s Finest, Eddie Money, and, again, Toto, whose smoother brand of AOR fared surprisingly well with the partisan crowd.Finally, as dusk fell, British hard rockers UFO assaulted the stage for what turned out to be one of the weekend’s standout performances, and a perfect set-up for local heroes Van Halen (then promoting their newly released sophomore album) and the somewhat chemically hobbled, but still mighty Aerosmith.

So while the 1979 CaliFFornia World Music Festival may not be as well-remembered as some of the other major festivals of its era, the legendary talent jousting for supremacy over the course of those two, sun-baked days guarantees its place in classic rock history.

Next: Top 10 Van Halen Songs

Best of 103.7 The Hawk

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for Rockaholics quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive Rockaholics contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.