California Jam, 1974



California Jam, a rock festival that took place April 6, 1974, at Ontario Motor Speedway, drew 200,000 people. My Sunday column hits some of the high points. Allen Pamplin of the California Jam Fan Club on Facebook sent me multiple photos. Here are 10. The two above originally came from Alan Lancendorfer.





The above four are uncredited. The bottom four were contributed by promoter and emcee Don Branker. Rare Earth, the day’s first band, is performing in the next to last image. A roadie adjusts a microphone in the final image.





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  • Allen Pamplin

    Nice job David! Can’t believe it’s been 40 years since I was 15 years old in that crowd near the stage.

  • Randy Hanson

    Did ABC Really lose or destroy the video? I know Purple was preserved but so many good bands..Long time ago for sure!

    • Charles B. E.

      Randy Hanson:
      ~ Most (if not all) of the California Jam TV broadcast video is available on YouTube; the best quality-of-which has been up-loaded by a “poster” identified as “ontariomotorspeedway”.
      ~ If you check the Wikipedia entry for that event, it says something about how “ABC aired excepts of it ‘live’ ” -, though I personally had never heard of any “live” broadcast. WHAT I DO REMEMBER was that the old ABC’s “In Concert” series DID air a “highlights” episode from that original California Jam around late-April or early-May of `74; and then aired a “mini-series” of three other related episodes on its usual every-other-weekend schedule during that May and June. However -, much like most information concerning the ABC’s “In Concert” series -, it is difficult to find much of any references about it on-line. Finding postings for most other “In Concert” video-clips is very limited and a rather hit-or-miss affair on YouTube. Also -, much to my dismay -, I haven’t been able to find much of any such video postings elsewhere.

      • Allen Pamplin

        That’s me “ontariomotorspeedway”. I post those California Jam videos on YouTube.

        • davidallen909

          We should have guessed it was you.

  • Richard_Pietrasz

    I was there, but nowhere near the stage. Traffic was stop and go on the 210 from Pasadena, and I think we left at 2 AM and missed the first part due to traffic and lines.

    In the first several pictures, I recognize I lot of people I was acquainted with, but I can’t figure out who they were with. In retrospect, a lot of us looked and dressed alike, so I am sure there were probably hundreds of scenes to which I could react the same way.

    A lot of video can be found on youtube, although sound and picture quality leaves a lot to be desired.

    There is a lot I don’t remember, but my group got there with no sleep and the speedway infield grass made a good place to lay down one’s head. If you remember that time, you weren’t really there anyway.

  • Allen Pamplin
  • JMac

    I was wondering if you would revisit Cal Jam for it’s fortieth, David. I was a contributor ten years ago for your 30 year retrospective. That day, while not the greatest concert of my life, certainly was the greatest “rock event” of my youth. After 40 years I can still recall that day vividly.
    Allen, I also want to thank you for your efforts in preserving the memories.

    • davidallen909

      It had to be done, JMac, so I did it!

  • Allen Pamplin
  • Rauh

    What a beautiful day it was. Glad i went.

  • Dave

    Awesome recap and photos. I’ve been to Coachella 10 times, but this looks like an epic one off event to be at.

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