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Watkins Glen was the epic brainchild of Jim Koplik and Shelly Finkel, Connecticut rock promoters who had also orchestrated Summer Jam. Inspired by an onstage impromptu jam session between the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers, they came up with the idea for Watkins Glen and commissioned Bill Graham to build the backstage compound and supply production. The three bands lined up for the show were favorites of all three organizers, and were perfect for an open-space gig. In a special and memorable turn of events, 600,000 people showed up for this show at the Watkins Glen racetrack in Upstate New York, and kids were everywhere, crowding the landscape the day before the concert. All of them expected to do a sound check before performing, but didn't plan on doing one before a live audience - but there was no way that huge crowd was going anywhere. The Band sound-checked first, doing their entire run-through in one song. The crowd rocked. The Allman Brothers were next, playing for an hour, and the crowd went nuts. The Dead, not to be outdone, finished up with an hour and a half "sound check," wrapping up what turned out to be the concert before the concert.
Joe Sia was a shooting star, a genuine, hands-down, everyone-agrees-on-this star at shooting [photographs], and his departure from this planet in 2003 at the tender age of 57 was too soon for a man of his talent. Born in the Bronx and a committed Yankees man, Joe loved music and gravitated around the Fillmore East and the flower-power youth-culture rock scene from whence he set out to capture some of the most incredible sounds of the last half-century. How could Joe capture sounds on camera film? He did it by focusing on the faces of the performers and the woozing-oozing crowd and by giving the background, whether simple or wild, the importance it deserved in defining the artist and event. Sia's entire archive consists more than a quarter of a million photographs that document almost 35 years of music genre and giants.