by Robert Wilkinson
Today is the 38th anniversary of the First Sunday Break in Austin, TX. It was truly a remarkable event, a one-of-a-kind mythic journey involving music, money, madness, and magic. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, keep reading.
I gave you the story 3 years ago, and rather than simply link to that article again, here it is for your reading pleasure. It hits the highlights of a mythic tale of a struggle of good versus evil, along with over 100,000 people enjoying some of the best music ever made. And as many have remarked, yes, it would make for an utterly over-the-top movie! That said, here’s the story of
The First Sunday Break - May 2, 1976 in Austin Texas
It was exactly 35 years ago today that I stood in front of about 100,000 people, invoked Spirit on behalf of a collective experience, and felt what that sea of life can be. It was quite a time, and quite a story.....
This one's a brief bit of autobiography. Despite what wikipedia says and doesn't say about the show, what follows about the First Sunday Break is absolutely true. I should know, since I was the Field General that day, and had been at the heart of the event from before the beginning to burying the remains at the end.
As an aside, I and my friends had nothing to do with the disaster that was the Second Sunday Break. That one featured an epic crash as dramatic as the rise and success of the First Sunday Break. It was truly a parabolic curve in action, showing the possibilities and triumphs of spiritual teamwork stolen by the dark forces of greed, paranoia, laziness, and duplicity!
The First Sunday Break was a huge outdoor rock concert featuring Santana, Peter Frampton, America, and the amazing Dream Weaver himself, Gary Wright. How that show came to be and how the organization that produced it came to crash of its own hubris would be the stuff of a very interesting and at times unbelievable book.
It was a truly epic tale of an organization of many conflicting forces of an archetypal nature, Austin in a magical time, and the largest show of its kind up to that time (except the very first, the legendary Monterrey Pop during 1967's "Summer of Love") with no crowd fights or major injuries. Yes, that’s right. 100,000 people and neither violence nor medical emergencies of any sort.
I and a few dozen of my friends were the organism that made that show happen, and I believe there were more than a few firsts at that show. It was the first show of its size with catered vegetarian food backstage, as well as vendor booths with vegetarian/vegan food, fresh vegetable and fruit juices, reflexology, various kinds of massage, and a metaphysical book store.
We agreed there would be no police presence on site, because we decided that it would be more in line with the larger spiritual intention if all of our security personnel were trained in non-confrontational, tension diffusing techniques. I do believe that was a first!
We created co-ed security teams, and also had a fairly large dedicated undercover security team composed entirely of Martial Arts students and instructors who were expert in helping things flow while blending in. Basically, 97% of the entire security and field staff were facilitators of a good vibe rather than big boys with bad attitudes and billy clubs.
So here's to a tale I'll tell someday of local politics, hotel construction, and a team of "spiritual field hippies" battling crooks, liars, slackers, and counterfeiters, featuring magical funding, back to back covers of the Rolling Stone, sacks and sacks and more sacks of money, thousands of copies of The Great Invocation, a dancing dust devil, over a hundred melted avocado sandwiches, spiked carrot juice and major crises of how much beer to give away, set to miraculously changing weather and 100,000 people enjoying one of the most benign and spiritually uplifting rock festivals ever!
Here's to the few, the dedicated, the Mayday staff of '76! I'll be seeing some of you soon. "Onward, through the fog!"
© Copyright 2011, 2014 Robert Wilkinson
ps – thanks to a friend of the site a year ago, I was turned on to this 12 minute footage of the Sunday Break. You can see the dust devil on a few seconds of footage about 5 minutes in. While it didn’t get captured on film, one of the staff who was riding a serious spiritual high decided she wanted to dance with it, yielding a Twilight Zone scene witnessed and applauded by thousands! We still miss you, Karen. RIP dancing Capricorn.