Over 100,000 People Attend WattStax Concert

Over 100,000 People Attended The WattStax Concert At The Los Angeles Coliseum
Jesse Jackson at WattStax with Al Bell
Jesse Jackson at WattStax with Al Bell

The famed WattStax concert took place today (August 20, 1972), in Los Angeles, California. 

The WattStax concert was meant to commemorate the Watts Riots of Los Angeles, which took place from August 11-17, in 1965.

The concept for WattStax was to become the “Black Woodstock” in order to raise money for the local community, which has been severely impacted by the riots.

Artists like Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Johnny Taylor, William Bell, The Soul Children and other artists that were on the Stax roster performed in the WattStax concert, which was held on the last day of the Watts Music Festival.

During the event, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson gave his famous “I Am Somebody” speech.

The concert was also supposed to serve as Stax’ entry into the movie business, via a partnership with David L. Woper, who produced the Wattstax ’72 concert movie.

The seven-hour concert was eventually whittled down for its debut, which took place in May of 1973, at the Cannes Film Festival.


Waxfact: In December of 1972, Senator Alan Cranston gave Stax Records a lengthy commendation praising the labels efforts, which was entered into the Congressional Record.

In total, the WattStax concert drew over 100,000 people and took in $72,363, with ticket prices set at $1 apiece.

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