Lake Amador Gold Rush Festival

Gold Rush Rock Festival of Oct. 4, 1969   Lake Amador

40,000 people attended to see:

Santana, Taj Mahal, Bo Diddley, Albert Collins, Ike and Tina + the Ikettes, Cold Blood and The Sons of Champlin and many others.

Gold Rush Concert


  1. im looking for possibly a video or some kind of memory of a concert that was played at the merced county fairgrounds in the end of the summer in 1969. my grandfather ad his local band played the opening for this concert and since he is now gone i would like to try and track this down for a relative. his band name was “utopian society” and i believe another local band played as well, ” the horizontal trip”. i would really like to come up with something from this event. i was also told abou the jam session that lasted about a half hour afterwards. if anyone has anything from this concert i would love to see it.

  2. I just scanned a dozen images i took on stage of Tina and the Ikettes a little of Ike and Taj. Shots of the crowd etc. I would share images for photo credits. I was in the Navy in Stockton at rough and ready island. I said I was with UOP newspapaper to get onstage. (little white lie).

    1. Are your photos available to view as a group? I was there too. This was my most memorable festival from that time.

    2. My husband and I were there. We were working the stage and were part of the production company that put on the concert. My husband was probably the person who allowed you on stage. Anything else you have to share (pics) would be greatly appreciated.

      1. Hi, you are the onlly one to respond to my photo’s. Tell me which one’s you have seen (number of photo’s) I can send what I think are ones you did not see. Send your regular email address so I can attach the photo’s that way.

    3. I was there at that pop festival also. Would love to see pics! Actually, my wife and I are coming out for a visit and were thinking about taking a drive there to see the area too. Thanks

      1. HI Valerie, thanks for saying that, I remember you when we were swimming. Yow! We all looked a lot sexier back then.

      2. I remember swimiming too, but gosh not who was there. Do you have pics? It is a great memory!

      3. I think I donated all the photos I have of the event, I only brought one roll of either 24 or 36 exposures, i could have shot all day long. I have not looked lately of what did send in. there was a concrete fountain and pool not part of the lake that people were getting naked and cooling down.

  3. Look for these photo’s (Tina Turner) on display at the Lake Amador Inn at the lake by this summer. Ike and Tina and the Ikettes got everyone up dancing. Taj Mahal played for the workers the night before the concert for fun. He might have slept in that jacket he was wearing on stage. (photo soon).

    I just rediscovered the lake after almost 44 years and the managements interest in photo’s and stories of the occasion. i have 24 images of the event. Some on my facebook wall now. Steve

  4. Was there but not for all of the acts. Specifically remember cathing Taj and Santana that night. Of all the era concerts I caught this one stands out for sense of syncing up and sharing experience with many thousands of fellow humans. Taj and Jesse Ed Davis chiming “Giant Step’. Santana conjuring up and filling the air with proud, massive predatory beasts on “Jingo”. A touchstone I still go back to. Thanks for reminding me.

    1. go Karen, maybe you had the wild and beautiful eyes and when I got my camera, they were all bloodshot! great concert. I posted all my photo’s on this side, did you guys see them and why not if they are gone. Loved the camera and got on stage because of it. ssr

    1. Stephen I went to that festival. Probably the best out of at least 100 concerts/festivals I attended in the day. Is there any way I can get some copies of your photos? That would truly be awesome!! I have a particular interest in any Santana group shots. My email is glen (at) tiresnstuff dot com.

      Thank you,
      Glen Perry

  5. wndrfl music i was from Grass Valley drove my moms ’65 mustang with 3 friends from NUHS. God, the most gorgeous guy from San Jose took me swimming while the music played. lots of drugs/alcohol in my life then & the next 17 years! clean n sober now 29yrs. so of course bitter sweet. peace

    1. Hi Ava, I am trying to find a copy of the Original posters. My brother had two originals, and gave one of them to the owners of Lake Amador years ago, and the one that he had varnished on a board was stolen out of his house. So, I’m trying to find a replacement for him as a surprise. Will you please let me know if you can help me with this!! Thanks, Tonia M. Palmero

  6. I created a Facebook community page called “Lake Amador Music Festival”, I would appreciate if you would join the conversation, Thanks.

  7. I was there with a borrowed sleeping bag and a harmonica, hitchhiked from Bear Valley. One dude in our area was staggering drunk and/or stoned, every time he tried to navigate the crowd he knocked tents over, slammed into trees, stepped on people; nobody was hurt and it was comic relief. After the music was over, it got cold. My sleeping bag was stolen when I went to the portapotty, so I was looking for a fire to hang out until next morning. The Hells Angels had a stinking smoking tire fire; their chieftain had a throne, the back seat torn out of a car, where he and his lady presided over the fire. It was the biggest fire and had the biggest crowds. The chief’s minions had bullwhips and whipped the fire for dramatic effect while the boss made weak jokes, for which laughing was mandatory. Then a poor masochistic biker with the colors of another lesser known biker gang stepped into the fire circle and started spouting off about how everybody should get along and nobody was better than anybody else, no matter what their colors were. He was asking for trouble and he got it. The chief Angels quickly got tired of this dude’s rap and directed his soldiers to get him offstage. So 3 or 4 Angels dragged the guy off to the side and beat, whipped, and kicked him until he crawled away, battered and bloody. That plus the stench of the fire made me head out and look for another fire. I found some true Peace and Love folks with a smaller fire. They were very welcoming, and we stayed up until dawn, smoking da herb and telling stories. Hitched home to Bear Valley, got a ride with a gay guy who was hoping that LSD would make him straight; then a ride with 3 drunks in a Cadillace convertible, top down, swerving all over the road, very jolly and interested in what my life as a longhaired hippy was like. Amador Rock Festival was better for me than Altamont.

    1. Eric thanks for this epoc tale of the concert. I was the chosen one to get on stage any way I could and get some hot photo’s of Tina and the Ikettes. I heard that TAj played for the pre concert crowd the night before it started and he was great. I got some great close ups of him as well. Great story man, thanks for this, we all need to have something in common and this was the best concert because the cops did not come in and rule law, the people took care of it themselves. the angels story I never heard but saw their ferocity at Altamont as I hitched there from Stockton and got a great spot right up front. The Stones bringing in the angels as security was a bad idea. Steve

      1. Hey Steve, I’ve seen some of your pictures–especially of Tina Turner. Is there any way to get to your other pictures besides Facebook? Would love to see them. As you can see in my comment to Eric, it was an epic day in my young life.

    2. I appreciate your comments too Eric. I could have been the drunk staggering around except I don’t remember running into any tents! I do remember people yelling at me because I stepped on them. I was 15 at the time and made the horrendous mistake of taking a tab of acid on the way there. That flipped me out so, of course, I tried to balance myself out by sitting down right in the middle of the crowd and shooting up a barbiturate. I too spent some time at the Hell’s Angels’ campfire. I remember the guy with the whip lashing out at whatever hapless soul wandered by. I can remember a jug of Vin Rose going around the circle–white with barbiturates. It wasn’t a happy day for me, but it was certainly memorable. Within a few months I became a “Jesus Freak” and my destructive spiral stopped. Been living a very happy life as a minister for the past 30 years now.

    3. I have not checked this site for awhile, Yea I took a roll of film that day with my buddies Pentax Spotmatic. I lied and go onstage, i was clean cut and stationed in Stockton at the Navy base. Not at all into anything other than weed on the weekends. I only experienced the very good in this day of music and some nude swimming and looking at all the beautiful women there that day. I think all the images i took that day are already on this site somewhere. I sent them to the owners of the bar and restaurant on the lake so he would print them out to hang inside.

    1. ‘Geez man’ how did I ever forget that the Sons were there? I didn’t know who they were at the time. I sent all the photos I took onstage with my trusty Pentax Spotmatic i borrowed. Limited film with me that day, I lied to get a back stage pass, (University of Pacific newspaper) I was actually in the Navy at the Hospital in Stockton at that time, My first real rock concert, My shipmate and I had dates that were not into the scene at all. Probably angry Repubs now. hahah. I have the best shots of Tina Turner and Taj and the Ikettes too. Steve.

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