Garden Thronged for Songfest In Aid of Vietnam Moratorium
by Mike Jahn
The New York Times - January 29, 1970

A capacity crowd of 21,000 was at Madison Square Garden last night to see performers ranging in style from East Harlem to Las Vegas in a benefit for the Vietnam Moratorium Committee.

The program, "Winter Carnival For Peace", offered performances by Harry Belafonte, Richie Havens, Dave Brubeck, Judy Collins, the Rascals, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Peter, Paul and Mary, the cast of Hair, Jimi Hendrix, the Voices of East Harlem, and Mother Earth. Ticket prices ranged from $1000 to $4, and the members of the audience ranged from politicians to lower East Side teenagers.

The well run show, which began at 8:30 P.M. and seemed destined to go on until well into the morning was turned by the audience into an over sized revival meeting.

It shouted approval of an array of peace-oriented songs, clapped, stamped and sang along with Peter yarrow of peter, Paul and Mary, who led the house in a sing-along version of "Day Is Done", that folk group's recent composition.

The early parts of the evening were captured most easily by the simple and folksy. Richie Havens, the Bedford-Stuyvesant-born folk singer, brought the audience to it's feet with versions of "Maggie's Farm", the Dylan song, and two of his own. The Voices of East Harlem, a 20-strong group of black teenagers that has already given a very exciting performance at the Fillmore East, sang several gospel-oriented songs. The Voices are unpolished, fresh and loaded with joy and energy.

Robin McNamara's recollections of that evening:

"I don't know if you were there that evening; what a wild night it was. Hendrix
was second to last to perform & the cast of Hair was to close the show with the
'Flesh Failures'.  I'll never forget what happened, after about 15 minutes of
mind blowing music with Hendrix & his band of gypsies (Buddy Miles & Billy
Cox) Jimi freaked out threw his guitar up in the air & ran off stage.  22,000
people at the Garden were all starting to get quite rowdy wondering what was
going on.  Finally Peter Yarrow from Peter Paul & Mary ( who was also the
emcee) didn't know what to do so he ran on stage & announced "Ladies &
gentlemen, Please welcome the cast of Hair".  We were all scattered throughout
the building listening to Hendrix who was supposed to perform for at least 40
minutes & finish, which was our cue to congregate around the stage to begin to
get ready to close the show.  When Yarrow announced us we all scrambled to get
to the stage to perform.  I was one of the first to arrive, along with the
musicians who quickly started playing the vamp to Flesh Failures.  When I
started singing the lyrics there were only 3 of us cast members on stage.
Eventually the whole cast began slowly finding their way to the stage & by the
end of the song we were all there along with 22,000 people singing 'Let the
Sunshine In'.  From what I understand Jimi died just a week or two later. Along
with Jimi & all the other performers there that evening it was a joy to be part
of such an event."

Article copyright The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

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