Visual Music of
the Electric Collage

Electric Collage light show

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About the Electric Collage
Running a 1960's light show
Light shows in the new millenia
Summary


 

 

About the Electric Collage

The Electric Collage was a popular addition to 1960's style music concerts.and over a million people saw it.

Shows were produced at large venues such as Piedmont Park, Atlanta Municipal Auditorium, Georgian Terrace Ballroom (later known as the Electric Ballroom), Chastain Park Amphitheater, Daytona Beach Pier, both Atlanta Pop Festivals, the Texas Pop Festival and many small venues around the south east United States.

Many nights were spent 'painting the walls with light' at the old Atlanta Municipal Auditorium. That could be called "Fillmore South" since so many good rock concerts took place there. One show in particular with Steppenwolf stands out in many people's memories. Jimi Hendrix played there. And so did every big name that came through town.

They did the light show at the historic Piedmont Park free concert where the Allman Brothers played before they were 'discovered'. They were on a City Parks Department trailer with hastily purchased bed sheets as a screen on the back wall.

Then there was the "The Turkey Trip" one Thanksgiving at the Georgian Terrace Hotel when The Allmans were awesome with Dwane at his prime. Every band on the way to success has a moment when the music finally gels and everything works perfect. That was the Allman's that night. Also it was one of the Electric Collage's best shows. The crowd was totally involved. The synergy in the room was working at top capability.

 

The Electric Collage light show performed
with these well known bands:
10 Years After
Al Kooper
Allman Brothers Band
BB King
Blood Sweat and Tears
Canned Heat
Chicago Transit Authority
Credence Clearwater Revival
Iron Butterfly
James Cotton Blues Band
Janis Joplin with
Big Brother and the Holding Company
Jethro Tull
Jimi Hendrix
Joe Cocker
Johnny Winter
Led Zeppelin
Mountain
Procol Harum
Sam and Dave
Santana
Spirit
Steppenwolf
Vanilla Fudge


Electric Collage with the Allman Brothers
Photo of the Electric Collage with the Allman Brothers at a very small college gig
at Mercer University before the Allmans made it big.
Photo courtesy of Jim Wiggins 2007
In the 1960's color film under those light conditions was not vey good.

Steve and Frank were involved in innovative television 10 years before MTV. There was a small independent TV station in Atlanta that aired a music video format from Friday night to Saturday night non stop. The Electric Collage provided some of their visuals. The format was live with some video tape in sync with records (yes, vinyl). They had music video disc jockeys. They used a lot of "go-go girl dancing" footage. The show was called the "Now Explosion" airing on channel 36. The weekend long show was a hit and it ran for 13 weeks.

At that time many people still had black and white TV sets and TV was technically undeveloped. It was analog so special effects were costly compared to today's digital technology on every desktop computer.The visual music artists could not do much to help TV of the era. The light show effects seen on Ed Sullivan and other commercial TV media were very simple compared to the projected light show like the Electric Collage.

During that era the Electric Collage produced some of the first "music videos" (on film). 16mm film was much more cost effective and could do more special effects that video. The live shows combined band film footage with many other images and colors. Much like today's music videos except it was live.

The best concerts were in some large Atlanta venues where the size of the room was just right and the mood was perfect. But the biggest accomplishments for the Electric Collage are the three pop festivals. Here are posters of the two Atlanta International Pop Festivals. Those and the Texas Pop Festival were the times when the light show had audiences of several hundred thousand. According to attendance records over 750,000 attended the 3 festivals.

Atlanat Pop Festival
Electric Collage light show at the Atlanta Pop Festival

Steve recalls the pop festivals, "At all 3 pop festivals we used a very large rear screen hung between 2 telephone poles. The poles were at the rear corners of the stage and the bottom of the screen was about 6 feet above stage levels so it would not be blocked by equipment and people. The light show tower for the equipment was scaffolding built about four stories high behind the stage.


"In the picture the light show screen is in the upper right corner. The sound and stage light tower at the left was about as high as the scaffolding we built behind the screen for our equipment and production area. "

"The pop festivals were a lot of work and unlike a band that played a set and rested, we did every set. We did it without drugs, not even caffeine or nicotine. It was a multi day schedule with planned daytime sleep periods."

 


Atlanta Pop Festival 1969
The Pop Festival posters by Lance Bragg are for sale at Atlanta Pop Festival Posters.
Atlanta Pop Festival 1970

The Allman Brothers have recently released an album of their sets at the 2nd Atlanta Pop Festival.

Steve says, "By the second Atlanta Pop Festival we were becoming seasoned old veterans at doing light shows. I had produced the show hundreds of times. Frank and I could read each others's mind and knew how to make the screen come alive with many different visualizations. We never had an intercom during all those years. We just knew what to do next and the spontaneity filled in the rest. That kept the show creative and dynamic. The show was never produced the same way twice".

A lot of new ideas were in our heads and we were just kind of chugging along doing them a little at the time when everything changed.

After the Second Atlanta Pop Festival the era was suddenly over. There were a few more shows then the equipment was put away and has never been used since. More on that later.

What was it like running a light show?


Visit and donate to the
Center for Visual Music

to encourage and sustain the visual music arts.

60's stuff
the Now Explosion
Texas Pop Festival
Carter Tomassi's Atlanta Pop Festival Pictures
Atlant Strip Project about the 1960's Hippie Era

These musicians and their bands were around then and NOW!
Hydra
Orville Davis
Radar - Auther Offen
Hampton Grease Band
Glenn Phillips

If you are surfing little know cultural tidbits of the sixties you might enjoy
looking at the role British motorcycles played in the last century.
They were very popular during the sixties.
Brit Iron- Vintage British Motorcycles

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The name" Electric Collage" is a name used by Steve Cheatham and Frank Hughes
when used as the description of a visual music light show. First use was 1967.


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