But as they sang on ever popular TV show LAUGH IN “what’s the news across the nation”, well, Warren Burger becomes CHIEF JUSTICE of THE SUPREME COURT and two weeks later he votes with the majority in ROE v WADE, establishing a woman’s right to an abortion. In late June I read an article about the STONEWALL RIOTS, a confrontation between gay rights activists and the NYPD outside the gay bar STONEWALL INN located in Greenwich Village. Sexuality, or the way folks thought about sexuality was changing right in front of our eyes, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights.

For some strange reason in the late sixties record companies coined the phrase SUPER GROUP, as in CREAM the first and then BLIND FAITH the most notable. TIME magazine even wrote about the “supergroup” as a “potent but short-lived rock phenomenon” which was an “amalgam formed by the talented malcontents of other bands.” The article acknowledged that groups such as Cream and Blind Faith “played enormous arenas and made megabucks, and sometimes megamusic”.Harsh words but somewhat true especially in the case of BLIND FAITH, JULY 12,1969 at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.

To put BLIND FAITH in context, the week they performed at THE GARDEN, the song “IN THE YEAR 2525” by Zager and Evans was a Number 1 hit across the nation. Lord help us. So for what in today’s economic standards would be a meager $6.50 but was costly in ‘69 I ventured out to see the American debut of BLIND FAITH the “newest” SUPER GROUP featuring Eric Clapton (guitar/vocals) and Ginger Baker(drums) from the aforementioned “supergroup” CREAM, Ric Grech (bass and violin) from FAMILY and Steve Winwood(vocals, guitar,keyboards) from TRAFFIC, on a bill with FREE, and DELANEY,BONNIE and FRIENDS. All to be showcased on a revolving stage set in the middle of the cavernous arena; which in hindsight, having the stage located where it was… was not a good idea.

A few of my thoughts on the performance are a bit cloudy, musically that is, especially the BLIND FAITH portion of the show as their first lp was still days away from hitting the shops and most of their live material that night was unfamiliar to the attending audience, especially me. It was believed that their musicianship when blended together should have perked up our ears, as these members were already “musical legends”. In hindsight one could say that these guys as a band hit the road a bit too early. Add to that, the sound system used that evening was atrocious.

The English group FREE kicked off their American career with an enthusiast set to which the audience responded in kind, some even positive. Most of their tunes were unfamiliar to this crowd as would be BLIND FAITH’s set.

This night was my second shot at seeing DB and F in only a month’s time. Again the sound system hindered their funky proselytizing but from where I sat they worked and wooed the crowd to its feet.They were a band on the rise.

Blind Faith on the other hand was dead in the water from the opening tune.They appeared underrehearsed, seemingly uncomfortable with each other on stage and then there was the poor sound system to deal with. About 18,000 people awaiting to hear songs they were unfamiliar with didn’t add anything positive to the mix. It was truly a “blind faith” on our part for showing up as only one song had been released by this “super group”. Being familiar with Traffic and Cream I was anticipating a blend of both from this outfit and Blind Faith did their Cream/Traffic thing as expected until tensions in the crowd grew and the show was ended by the NYPD. Ginger Baker the drummer, left his throne, walked to the edge of the stage where he hit a security guard (NYPD) who allegedly “manhandled” a girl. Show or the musical portion of the show anyway was over, now the dramatics began as the security team attempted to get the “supergroup” through the crowd surrounding the circular stage in the center of Madison Square Garden. From what I remember the NYPD who were slighted by Mr. Baker did little to control the crowd hindering the security attempt to exit the band.

Despite all this drama and a poor sound equipment, overall, this show was a great concert experience for my young concert days. Yes, sometimes the crowd IS the show as it was tonight and yes, sometimes the undercard (Free and DB&F) is better than the head liner.

The BLIND FAITH set list is from a bootleg which has circulated for some time:

Had To Cry Today
Can’t Find My Way Home
Sleeping In The Ground
Well All Right
In The Presence Of The Lord
Sea Of Joy
Do What You Like
Means To An End

Blind Faith: Madison Square Garden, July 14, 1969 Review

Blind Faith Group Sings

New York Times, July 14th 1969

By Mike Jahn

Blind Faith, the British rock group succeeding Cream, which became very popular in the last few years, played an impressive opening Saturday at Madison Square Garden. 

Blind Faith presents Eric Clapton on guitar, Ginger Baker on drums, Steve Winwood, guitar and keyboards, and Rick Grech, bass and electric violin. 

The group packed the Garden in its first United States appearance. As usual, the Garden sound system was bad, and the breaks between songs were punctuated by indignant shouts to that effect. Considering the acoustics and the size of the house, Blind Faith did rather well.

Mr. Clapton and Mr. Baker play loosely structured, emotional music. Mr. Winwood leans toward tightly structured but soulful rock. Putting together such intensely individual artists as those three men is a risky business. Blind Faith emerges as more versatile and precise than either cream or the rival British group Traffic, but unfortunately not as exciting as either.

Mr. Winwood’s vocals were taut and effective as usual. Mr. Baker contributed an explosive, imaginative drum solo that was the emotional high point of the night.

Also on the program were Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, an exciting soul-and-gospel group from Los Angeles.