In the summer of 1969, the Mississippi River Festival (MRF) kicked off on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Over the next 12 turbulent summers, the outdoor concert series attracted more than a million fans, showcased the talents of hundreds of legendary performers, and created countless memories among the artists, fans and workers who called the MRF their summer home.
The Who, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, the Eagles, Janis Joplin and many other rock legends played the MRF. But the festival’s commitment to music diversity allowed area fans to also enjoy classical, jazz, dance, barbershop, theater and bluegrass over the course of a summer.
The Mississippi River Festival is a part of history now, but it remains a beloved piece of nostalgia for thousands of St. Louis area residents. And now, for the first time, the complete story is being told. With fan reviews, artist recounts, and a gallery of rare, vintage photos, this is the story of what happened when the stars came out.