The '60s were a tidal surge of sex, drugs and rock and roll that buried San Francisco, surged over the Sierras, and rolled like a psychedelic tsunami into Farmington. There it washed up the greatest rock 'n' roll acts of all time.
Lagoon amusement park, with its Lagoon Patio Gardens stage, hosted everyone who was anyone in the 1960s rock scene. The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Donovan, Eric Clapton, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company (whose "I'm a pterodactyl, dying for your love" is No. 1 in my ranking of strangest rock lyrics), Country Joe and the Fish, Eric Burdon and the Animals ... and the list goes on.
Tickets cost between $2.50 and $3.50 and the venue accommodated 3,000. The stage allowed for casual interactions between fans and performers that would be unthinkable today. Band members chatted and bummed cigarettes from the audience and passed room keys to interested parties.
The Beach Boys were regulars beginning in 1962. They even wrote a song called "Salt Lake City" with these lyrics:
There's a park near the city, yeah
All the kids dig the Lagoon now
It's full of all kinds of girls
And rides and we'll be flyin' there soon now
And girl for girl
They've got the cutest of the Western states
Retired Deseret News reporter Joe Bauman remembers a cute Western girl in his group being turned back at the entrance to the Ray Charles concert because she was wearing jeans it was dresses-only for women. She took off the jeans in a bathroom, buttoned up her coat and, seeming to be wearing a miniskirt, was admitted.
Jim Morrison and The Doors also infamously played Lagoon. Their May 25, 1968, act left attendees with vivid memories of The Lizard King (as Morrison styled himself).
Deseret News reporter Bryan Gray was there to record the episode. After their opening song, Morrison stared out at the audience. "What's the matter are you all dead out there?" he screamed. The polite Utah audience was stunned. "What did you come here for anyway?"
It went downhill from there.
Morrison was used to ecstatic anarchy at his concerts and this well-behaved crowd brought out the worst in him. For the rest of the show he had nothing good to say about the bored crowd, and he said a lot. Rather than be humiliated by the man they'd paid $3.50 to see, people started leaving.
But in between insults and lewd gestures, Morrison still knew how to put on a show. A very short show. After three songs in which he leaped and writhed on stage, and threw himself into a rousing rendition of "Light My Fire," Morrison then "hollered a bevy of insults at the Salt Lake audience" and led the band offstage. They were through.
Six months later the erratic Morrison was arrested in Miami for exposing himself during a concert. There is still controversy surrounding what Morrison did, or did not, do. But a planned return to Utah and a concert at the old Salt Palace was cancelled.
You can view photographs of the 1960s Lagoon rock idols at Brian C. Record's fine art photography website at brianrecord.com/2.html.
Pat Bagley is the editorial cartoonist for The Salt Lake Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.