Today: Kanrocksas Brings Chris Fritz Full Circle From Ozark Music Festival

The Pitch touched on it ever so lightly…

The year was 1974 and KanRocksas promoter Chris Fritz was about to unleash the unthinkable upon the unsuspecting city of Sedalia.  The Ozark Music Festival. A three day rock fest a la Woodstock with a lineup that included the Eagles, Aerosmith, Lynryd Skynyrd, REO, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, BTO and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (who headline the Crossroads tonight with Brewer & Shipley).

"The whole idea was we would get a maximum of 50,000 people for three days," Fritz told me for the Star a handful of years back. "And we probably sold about that many in advance and at the door."

Kinda like what had been hoped for @ tonight and Saturday’s Kanrocksas before 100 degree heat and Entercom and The Buzz declared war on the fest.

"I’m back," Fritz said this spring when Kansasrocksas was first announced. "Actually this will be bigger than the Ozark Music Festival when it’s all said and done."

Bigger in terms of the overall lineup, quality of venue, staging, production and modern accoutrements.

But definitely not bigger in terms of crowd size. No way it could be.

"Who knows how many people actually came," Fritz said of the OMF. "But the military flew over and spotted it on Saturday when it was really cooking and said there were 300,000 people."

The heat didn’t bother the freeloaders back then, since the vast majority of attendees stormed in for free.

"It was 104 degrees the whole time, and people were dropping like flies," Fritz told me. "And the place was like waist-high in garbage afterwards. All the fences were torn down, there was mud everywhere. They had to bring the prisoners from Jeff City in to clean it up afterwards so the grounds would be ready for the State Fair.

"The city ran out of food and water – they’d turn a fire hydrant on and nothing would come out. Ice was selling for $20 to $30 a bag. Hookers were going for $5 – there were hooker trailers there – the headline in the newspaper said `Sodom and Gomorrah.’ It was insane."

The extravaganza left in its wake five envelopes of news clippings in the Kansas City Star library. Five.

"No event in recent Missouri history has produced more emotion and near-hysteria in political circles," one Star editorial at the time read. "No one in his right mind in Jefferson City or elsewhere would intentionally authorize a repetition of the fair grounds disaster."

A fleet of golf carts Fritz brought in to ferry the artists were taken over by the crowd and destroyed.

"You know, we had like 40 of ’em, and all of a sudden there were none," Fritz told me. "They were using them like demolition cars – they lit them on fire."

Needless to say, Sedalia’s City Fathers were not happy.

"They wanted somebody’s hide," Fritz told me. "At 5 or 6 p.m. when the show ended, I had to leave because somebody said, `They have a lynch mob, and you’d better get out of town.’

"I was banned from the fair grounds, and the city council said I was banned from Sedalia. We were doing a motor show there 15 years later, and they go, `Chris Fritz can’t be on the property.’ And there were always people from Sedalia that would tell me, `Chris Fritz, he’s like this mythical guy, and if he ever came back to Sedalia, it’d be all over for him.’ One time in the early ’90s, I was standing there in my shorts, drinking a peanut butter shake and eating a Goober burger listening to these motorcycle guys tell me all this and going, `Uh huh, uh huh.’ I didn’t tell them who I was. It was just cooler to walk away and leave this enigma in their minds."

I asked Missouri State Fair director Mel Willard at the time of my column in 2004 if Fritz was still banned.

"If you asked the director of the fair then, he’d probably say, `Yes, he’s banned forever.’ Because he lost his job over all that," Willard told me . "But as far as I’m concerned, it’s lifted. There is no blacklist today."

All things considered, maybe it’s just as well. that Fritz’ Kanrocksas will only draw 25,000 or so participants in the staggering heat and the worst economic downturn in 30-plus years.

He likely won’t have to sneak out afterwards and chances are KCK won’t ban him. Afterall, he does run the nearby Sandstone. And with luck, Kansas Speedway head dude Pat Warren won’t lose his job over the deal.

What’s more there’s zero chance the Speedway will get overrun by ticketless party types, Fritz says.

"We had only sold 35,000 to 40,000 tickets at the Ozark Music Fest before the first day when it became free," Fritz says. "But this isn’t a fairgrounds with 14 year-old kids working security. If you don’t have a ticket, you aren’t getting in."

Let the party begin…

Oh yeah, be sure and check out David Mann’s amazing photos from the fest.

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18 Responses to Today: Kanrocksas Brings Chris Fritz Full Circle From Ozark Music Festival

  1. chuck says:

    These are teh first pictures you have ever had on here
    that actually smell bad.

  2. chuck says:

    I like the dude right next to the topless chick
    He is running up and says, “Dude, you got your junk out!!!!”

  3. chuck says:

    Ya gotta figure he borrowed that cigarette.
    Or pulled it outta his ass.

  4. chuck says:

    Ya think that chick is his girlfriend?
    She’s gotta know he’s broke.

    His net fuckin worth, is $1.29 (The golf visor.).

  5. chuck says:

    Ya think Jerry Mazer shakes his cup at that guy?
    Now THAT would make him (Mazer) the eternal optomist.

  6. chuck says:

    The guy smokin with the bandanna around his neck
    “Ok…., and, I am not lookin at your dick.”

  7. chuck says:

    That chick is sayin,
    “Oh fuck, my mom is here.”

  8. Attendee says:

    I’m good at this………..
    The guy is actually looking at the photographer and thinking, “what the fuck you doin’ takin’ our fuckin’ picture?”

  9. Cliffy says:

    I was there …
    and paid for my ticket. Jorts were cool then, in case you were wondering. I kept my clothes on … well my pants anyway.

    I remember waking up in a pop up camper on Saturday morning, looked out the window and saw a guy shooting beer into a vein and laughing about it. Crazy. Wolfman Jack arrived by helicopter on Saturday night to intro the bands. I passed out as the Eagles were starting. I remember hearing them do James Dean and that was about it. Drugs were being sold like candy. I’m glad I didn’t know about the hooker tent.

    Leo Kottke was playing as I drove off the grounds on Sunday morning. I really wanted to see him but I desparately needed to find a bathroom with running water. Had to drive 30 miles to find one. There were cars everywhere along Highway 65 north of Sedalia. Kids just abandoned their vehicles and walked the rest of the way in.

    I was way too young to care about the aftermath or political fallout but some of the old folks down there still talk about it like it happened yesterday. Crazy, crazy times.

    Cool pictures, Hearne. Enjoyed the read.

  10. chuck says:

    I was there too CLiffy
    We all rode down on our Harleys.

    🙂

  11. Cliffy says:

    Doesn’t surprise me you were there, chuck. Did you have to kick any hippy ass to keep them away from you bike?

  12. bschloz says:

    LOL 🙂
    Dude is strutting and smoking like he’s the Mayor of Sedalia and that’s his entourage, “sir remember you have a 4:15 back in town”.
    If this guy was doing it today he would so have one of those little Blue tooth jobbies..smokin and talkin biz—-would up his visible net worth to $53.

    Chuck I read that Wiki link you posted a few weeks ago what a wild event.
    I’m saying no to 350,000 but I’ll bet 100,000 in Sedalia sure felt like it.

  13. chuck says:

    Everyone was nice. 🙂
    There were actual Hells Angels there on the track.

    They were rough trade for sure, but I avoided them.

    People look at me and want to hit me, so I am glad I just saw them from a distance.

    They were tearin the shit outta their bikes.

    There were a lot more guys than chicks. It was hot, way hot.

    Sigourney Weaver musta been workin the door with a flame thrower.

    “Get away from here you bitch!!”

  14. chuck says:

    That guy really would be funny
    with a blue tooth.

    🙂

  15. chuck says:

    If there actually were cell phones back then
    he coulda called a landscaper.

  16. Jumbo says:

    We all heard of the term………
    There’s “The tunnel of love” and then there’s that tunnel at the festival that was like a sci-fi movie. Once in a lifetime………

  17. Hearne Christopher says:

    That ain’t golf

  18. Hearne says:

    What? No wisecracks about the dude bathing
    Rough way to try and come clean

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