Rufus Thomas performs Breakdown at Wattstax Festival (1972)

The Wattstax music festival took place on August 20, 1972, at the Los Angeles Collusium on the seven year anniversary of The Watts Riots. The festival was organized by the legendary Memphis record label, Stax Records and tickets were priced at $1.00 each. Nearly the entire Stax artist/band roster performed at the festival. 100,000 people showed up for what had been dubbed by some (at least the producers) as the "Black Woodstock".

In 1973, the documentary film titled Wattstax screened at the Cannes Film Festival. It was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Documentary Film in 1974.

Something I noticed is that the film production it that it was all credited to white producers: David Wolper Productions, Larry Shaw and Mel Stuart.  Were there no black TV producers back then who could have secured those positions?  In that regard, we have come a long way 40+ years later, in that there are some serious black film, TV and music producers who have broken down the doors and changed the landscape of opportunity.

Regardless of those observations, watching this historic film footage and hearing the music from this festival is like entering some sort of funky soul heaven. Enjoy!

Rufus Thomas performs Breakdown at Wattstax Festival (1972)

Movie trailer for Wattstax

Buy the DVD of the entire festival at Wattstax.Com