Next to computers, Steve Wozniak’s greatest love was music. In 1982, he took some of the fortune he made as a co-founder of Apple and staged a massive money-losing music event called the US Festival. The lineup included The Ramones, B52s, Talking Heads, the Police, The Cards, Sanatana, The Kings, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac and more.
“The US Festival was financed by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple,” says Glenn Aveni, of Icon Music TV, an indie filmmaker who has produced and directed music documentaries on John Entwistle, The Clash, and Les Paul. “It was produced by Bill Graham. The 350,000 fans that were there still consider it a highlight of their concert-going lives. Yet for all its talent, and for all its influence and innovation, the US Festival is not so readily remembered, because there never was a film about it… Until now.”
A documentary has been in the works since 2012 and is almost done. The final stage–clearing and remastering all the additional music–needs some financial help, hence this Kickstarter campaign.
Here’s more from the pitch.
The innovations of the 1982 US Festival were as legendary as its performances. The venue was built from scratch in San Bernardino, on the site of a former prison farm, in a matter of a few months. It is still the largest outdoor amphitheater in America today. The US Festival invented misting stations, pioneered water cannons to cool the crowd, unveiled the debut of Diamond Vision – a huge screen actually visible during the day, and helped pioneer digital sound delay, so that fans in the back could hear sound in real time.
“The 1982 US Festival executed. They did it right, and showed it could be done right, setting the stage for future mega-shows from Live Aid to Bonnaroo and Coachella,” says Gregg Perloff of Another Planet, who was with Bill Graham Presents at the time and was interviewed for the film.
“Prior to The US Festival in 1982”, adds Aveni “No multi-day outdoor permit had been issued by any municipality since 1969 – the year of Woodstock and Altamont, both of which had serious operational difficulties and safety issues. If not for this event, who knows if and when other events would have occurred.”
Free water and shade tents were everywhere. The stage was the largest yet seen, and the sound was powered by 400,000 watts. There was a tech pavilion under 5 air-conditioned tents, stocked by Woz and his friends with the latest gadgets and some prototypes of what was yet to come. They even piped music over satellite feed into the USSR – crossing The Iron Curtain.
If you’re interested, kick in some money here.