On a beautiful Sunday afternoon a group of hippies sat on Hampton Beach and all were “bummed out”, as we said so often in those days.
“How,” I hear you asking, “Could anyone possibly be bummed out on a Sunday at Hampton Beach? Well, instead of being grateful for a weekend full of fun, sun, music and pinball we brooded because it was the end of the weekend and we were preparing ourselves for imminent returns to the normalcy of our middle class households in the suburban neighborhoods of America. Since the idea of returning to said homes was so repugnant, we began to plan ways to prolong our weekend.
Brainstorming took on momentum (like it does in the young and should in us all) and somebody got the idea to drive into Boston. Cambridge Common had free concerts on Sundays and it was just the scene for a group of hippies like us, that summer in 1969.
Gasoline was thirty six cents per gallon. Susie had a car. We climbed in, pig piled on each other’s laps for the hour drive to Cambridge. Parking, like most of our lives, was free and we claimed a patch of grass, ready to listen to anyone who would play music for nothing. Life was good. It was ’69 and everything was groovy.
Someone lit up a doob and all thoughts of returning home burned up in that smoke as the next band began to play.
We started to move, nodding to each other at the quality of the rock music. Feet tapped, heads bobbed, people stood for a better view of the band and to dance, to dance freestyle and soon every able bodied person on that common was alive in that music, that music, so creative, so original, unlike any other sound we’d heard in rock at the time. It was a rendition of “There is a Mountain”, that old Donovan song but played by this incredibly tight band, in a way that Donovan could never have dreamed of from Scotland to County Cork. This was uniquely American sound.
The crowd was jumping in the wild free knowing that this was extraordinary, this happening, right here, right now at this place in the Universe when the stars were aligned just so and we were an integral part of it all.
The set ended, the applause subsided but our brain waves still cooked. We turned to ask each other in wonder, “Who were those guys?”
And the announcer said, “Ladies and gentlemen, those were The Allman Brothers, The Allman Brothers,” he repeated, “Watch for their first album, to be released this September.”
We were not mistaken. It was, indeed a moment like no other in time.
The Allman Brothers Band’s first releases were delayed, of course, but that jam landed on their Eat a Peach album and we were there to hear it before the masses… for free.