In the summer of 1977, the Raleigh Jaycees launched the NC Beach Music Convention on a 160-acre farm near Lake Wheeler. Original crowd estimates were between 11,000 and 18,000. At one point, the Jaycees were calling it the second largest Jaycee project in the world (after the Greensboro Jaycees' GGO tournament), having drawn more than 20,000 people and clearing $45,000.
The Woodstock-era concert, featuring the Drifters, Showmen and Tams, was not without its controversies.
The concert tied up traffic on Penny Road and other nearby roads for hours, prompting complaints from residents of a nearby mobile home park.
Residents of Arrowhead Hills mobile home park, which is adjacent to the farm, said today they are considering petitioning the Wake Planning board to bar any future concerts near their homes.
George Hunter, who owns a grocery store on Penny Road where most of his neighbors shop, said today about 100 residents had complained to him about the concert. "Nobody I talked to who lives around here is happy about it," he said today. "I really don't care one way or the other."
One resident, Mrs. David Britt, said today that her husband sat in their yard until 11 p.m. Saturday to make sure festival-goers didn't trespass on their property or block their driveway.
"We're good Christians and don't go for this sort of thing," she said. "People were parking all up and down this road and it was a big mess. Most people in this neighborhood sat up half the night."
The outdoor bash, which began at noon Saturday and ran until midnight was marred by the death of David Thomas Hight, 30, former Warrenton resident who was living with a friend in North Raleigh. A sheriff's deputy said Hight had crawled under a 2-1/2-ton Coca Cola truck and apparently fell asleep. When the driver moved the truck, Hight was run over. He died of head injuries at Wake Medical Center.
Rescue unit personnel said today there were no other serious injuries. Several people were treated for heat exhaustion, minor cuts and bruises and dust inhalation. ... No one was arrested for drug abuse, according to the Wake Sheriff's Department.
"We had mostly beer and liquor drinkers ... people in the 18 to 40 age group who like to have a good time," [according to Jaycee organizer John Parrish]. --The Raleigh Times 8/29/1977
The second annual concert moved to Carter Stadium, a larger venue with better parking. Ticket prices, which had been $5.50 in advance and $7.50 at the gate, went up to $7 and $9.
Crowds that second year were not quite 10,000, but the concert was considered a success.
"The location is beautiful, and they are letting us drink here, which is surprising. It's good that they're just letting us be," said Greg Zaccari, 29, also of Wilson.
Police on the scene agreed that the crowd was easier to handle this time.
1978 N&O file photo by Jim Erickson
"They really just want to have a good time," said one highway patrolman.
But some of the music fans preferred last year's festival.
Paulette Pagan, 32, of Rocky Mount, said the lake was a nicer location and that Carter Stadium was too "formal and too confining."
Mike Sorenson, also of Rocky Mount, preferred last year's festival, too. "There just aren't enough crazy people," he said.
What wasn't in dispute was the fans' love for beach music.
"The reason we're here," said Doug Tamarack, 21, of Wilson, "is we hate disco." --The Raleigh Times 8/28/1978