Welcome to this NEW blog feature at The Captain's Vintage - T-SHIRT TUESDAY! Each week we'll be delving into the history behind one very special vintage t-shirt from our vast inventory. We hope you enjoy learning along with us!
We really dig Hawaiian vacation t-shirts here at The Captain's, especially Hawaii's own "Crazy Shirts" brand, but this one really stood out with it's hand-stenciled letters - "DIAMONDHEAD FESTIVAL '76". That crude lettering and our curiosity led us to do a little bit of detective work and, to discover Hawaii's answer to Woodstock, the Diamond Head Crater Festival.
The first Diamond Head Crater Festival (also known as the Sunshine Festival) was held on Jan. 1, 1970, with an attendance of about 12,000. The crowds grew to 75,000 as the event continued through much of the decade. As it grew more popular, however, it grew more commercial, and in 1979 a state-appointed citizen's task force asked the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to ban the festivals.
A couple of attendees from the Crater Festival recount their experience ...
"I don’t remember how many Crater Festivals I went to. Its a blur...somehow I recall Country Joe and the Fish but didn’t think I liked them much. Somehow the hot outdoor setting - inside Diamond Head is sorta barren - and the buzz in the air was more conducive to just hanging out and enjoying the scenery, which I did."
"My brother, his friends & me (the tag along) got there before dawn–and it was DAMNED COLD. We went to concession stand, where they were making some hot chocolate but since it wasn’t ready, we had coffee black & steaming. In the morning the rain made it cold & by noon the sun made it blistering, but we had a great time. For some strange reason, one of the headline acts was David Carradine & Barbara Seagull (Hershey). I remember a young Pauline Wilson singing with either Ox or Seawind, can’t remember. A lot of military folk, probably future Vietnam vets, guys smoking doobies & a few topless girls (My teenage jaw dropped)."
The 2-day Diamond Head Crater Festival of Life that our t-shirt came from (New Years Eve, Dec. 31,1975 to New Years Day Jan.1, 1976) was a celebration of America's bicentennial. Promoters chartered a DC8, painted it Red,White & Blue with stars, of course, and flew the entire entourage (Sly Stone missed the flight and flew over later, Stevie Wonder had to cancel at the last minute) to Hawaii in what had to be one of the most infamous drunken, drug hazed flights since Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour.
Note: Seals & Crofts abstained from such shenanigans as they were members of the Baha'i faith, good thing they weren't seated next to Cheech & Chong's entourage who lit up before the plane was aloft. All the major news stations were at the airport to shoot the arrival as local fans disbelieved that such a prestigious group of performers could be assembled for one festival.
The line-up was pretty epic:
AMERICA, BACHMAN TURNER OVERDRIVE, SEALS & CROFT, JESSE COLIN YOUNG (of the Youngbloods), COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH, CHEECH & CHONG, COBRA (feat. members of Santana, Sly's Family Stone & vocalist Georgia Elliot), SLY STONE, BILLY PRESTON, TOWER OF POWER, HERBIE HANCOCK, SHAWN PHILLIPS, THE STAMPEDERS, MELISSA MANCHESTER, WENDY WALDMAN, STEVE FERGUSON, MAKAHA SONS OF NIIHAU & OX (Seawind).
Lastly, a bit on the amazingly beautiful place the festival was held - Diamond Head. A volcanic tuff cone on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu, known to the Hawaiians as Lēʻahi, most likely from lae 'browridge, promontory' plus ʻahi 'tuna' because the shape of the ridgeline resembles the shape of a tuna's dorsal fin. Its English name was given by British sailors in the 19th century, who mistook calcite crystals on the adjacent beach for diamonds. Don't you just want to go? Or, the next best thing ... own this?
(sources: http://www.hawaiibase.com/, http://midlifecrisishawaii.com/, wikipedia.org)