The story starts in Watts — ten miles South from the Los Angeles Coliseum — seven years before festival took place.
34 people died during the Watts Riots. Thousands more injured. $40 million in damage. But injuries weren’t just physical: images of the riots travelled far and wide and gave Watts and its nearby areas a reputation some say it still hasn’t lived down.
At the time, Al Bell worked for Stax Records, the Memphis based soul label. He’d eventually become president.
“The idea came from Forrest Hamilton who ran the West Coast office for Stax. To come here and put on a small concert to help draw attention to, and to raise funds for the Watts Summer Festival,” said Bell. “To create, motivate, and instill a sense of pride in the citizens of the Watts community.” [Read more…]