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Friday, September 14, 2012 - 10:42am

Marker To Commemorate Byron Pop Festival

Updated: 2 years ago.
Sketch of the bronze Georgia Historical Society marker that will commemorate the Second Atlanta International Pop Festival in Byron, Ga. (Courtesy of Tim Thornton)

Legendary music promoter Alex Cooley will be in Byron Saturday afternoon to help unveil a historical marker on the site of his Second Atlanta International Pop Festival.

The 1970 concert is known as the “Woodstock of the South.”

The effort to commemorate it with a Georgia Historical Society marker was led by Macon realtor Tim Thornton, who owns the land and says he’s amazed how receptive the community has been.

“At the time of the festival, the locals felt almost invaded…hippy invasion, overwhelmed," Thornton recalls. "Alex says he had planned for like maybe 50 thousand max, and three or four hundred thousand show up.”

Thornton was 17 when he attended the concert, notable for being Jimi Hendrix’s last major U.S. appearance, and for catapulting local favorites The Allman Brothers to national fame.

Thornton sold popsicles to drug-fueled revelers in the July heat. As the concert dragged on into the night, he laid down next to his cart and drifted off.

“Next thing I know I hear these explosions going off and I look up," Thornton remembers. "Fireworks lighting up the sky, Hendrix playing the star-spangled banner with his teeth, and I can see that like it was yesterday.”

42 years later, Thornton finds it amusing that the festival will be commemorated with a bronze historical marker just like the ones at Civil War sites.

Corrections

Corrections: 
This article originally refered to the festival in Byron as Jimi Hendrix's "last major appearance." The line has been corrected to identify the concert his "last major U.S. appearence." Hendrix went on to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival in the U.K. in August of 1970. GPB regrets the reporter error.

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