us festival

The 1982 Music Festival Everyone Forgot

The 80's Blog Dec 26, 2021

Music festivals are a common thing around the world. There have been many famous festivals, such as Woodstock, which they stopped doing. But there is another lesser-known festival out there and it happened in 1982, and that was the much forgotten “US Festival”.

What was the US Festival?

The 1982 US Festival was actually started by Steve Wozniak, yes, the Steve Wozniak who co-founded Apple, Inc. The festival was actually a ploy to try to blend musical talent with emerging technology at the time. No one really at that time thought of music and computers going hand in hand, and Wozniak wanted to merge communities of technology and rock music.

Steve Wozniak & David Lee Roth

The festival was hosted in the San Bernardino town of Devore and it was a three-day event hosted over labor day weekend September 3rd, 1982 – September 5th, 1982. There would be a second US Festival just 9 months later over Memorial Day weekend the following year. The price of a 3-day ticket was $37.50 (about $100 today)

The festival itself saw groups like “Tom Petty,” “Police” and “Grateful Dead” amongst a large list of some of the most well known musical acts on the planet. The festival had so much talent and well-known groups that many people showed up. In fact, on the first day of the festival, it was thought almost half a million people showed up.

However despite a great showing on the first day, by the second day the crowd shrank to a mere 200,000, but even with a lower number on the second day it was still a big festival by any measurement.

Why didn’t it go on?

Like all good things, they must come to an end. This is true for many festivals including even Woodstock, and yes, this one too started by Steve Wozniak. It actually wasn’t stopped because of drug use or because of violence, there actually weren’t that many arrests compared to how many people showed up to the festival.

However despite the A-list bands that played the music festival, the US Festival actually reportedly lost somewhere in the ballpark of $10-12 million.

Simply put, Wozniak didn’t want to do another festival, on top of not having the resources necessary to do the festival, thus the US festival really died in its infancy.

The festival also wasn’t really intended to be an ongoing thing, but rather as a way to bring together communities that weren’t necessarily likely to come together otherwise.

Though it was brief, and only lasted two years (two three-day weekends), it still was something special for many people during the time period, but people now seem to be in the dark about it, and still to this day we don’t know much or anything about it at all besides the dates and the bands that played there.

The US Festival was really the music event of the 1980s that seems to have been lost in the trash bin of history.