Apr 15, 2010
By Gene Stevens
We’ve been able to secure a very cool, and very BIG, deal. Have you heard of “Amchitka” ? If you’re of a certain age – you will recall it was an island in the North Pacific where the US was going to explode several hydrogen bombs in the early 70s. At the time – it was 1970 in fact – there were loose groups of folks dedicated to the environment, to peace and of course the anti-war (VietNam) movement was very active too.
When President Nixon announced these H-Bomb tests for Amchitka, there was a real fear, and anger, rippling through the youth of the day. Amchitka was located in a very sensitive part of the Pacific rim, often called ‘The Ring Of Fire’ – prone to earthquakes and volcanoes. It was feard these tests could set off a huge earthquake and tsunamis. Thus one of the groups named itself “Don’t Make a Wave”. Since then, of course, the term “don’t make waves” has taken on a different meaning; but ‘back in the day’ – it was a good intention – to stop the testing.
The plan was to send a ship, with volunteers aboard, into the test zone and challenge the military to explode the bomb amid civilian protesters. Brave folks. Problem was – they didn’t have enough money to buy a boat. They sold pins, but stopped when all they raised was $500.
Someone thought a music concert might work better – after all ‘Woodstock’ was a big deal a year earlier. So, they called around and found support from 60s folk icon Phil Ochs, and a couple of others in the folk-rock movement just starting to gain popularity – James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.
Both Taylor and Mitchell had just released very successful debuts and their careers were hot. So, the concert was planned, and the group came up with a new name – ‘Greenpeace’. It was a good name and they had no idea of what would happen.
As it turns out, the day of the show, October 16th, was the very day Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked “The War Measures Act”, to deal with the FLQ terrorists in Quebec. Police were on high alert across the country, and individual liberties were curtailed – in Vancouver – a concert for anti-war protesters, was a potential nightmare.
But all turned out well. They bought the boat, they went into ‘harm’s way’, they made their point, the world listened, and Nixon stopped the H-Bomb tests !
The nearly 2-hour show was recorded, but the tapes were set aside, and forgotten for almost 4 decades; cleaned up and put to CD only late last year. “Amchitka – the 1970 Concert That Launched Greenpeace”, has not been available in stores, and has not been broadcast in its entirety anywhere.
That’s the other “BIG ONE” I’m referring to… please join us and listen to classic songs by Ochs, Taylor and Mitchell, from 1970 (including ‘I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore’, ‘Fire & Rain’, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ and ‘Woodstock’.) The show is THIS Saturday (April 17th) starting right after the noon news and running thru, commercial-free, till about 2:45pm.
Also included are 3 interviews I did with the CD’s producer John Timmins (of the Toronto band Cowboy Junkies), with Barbara Stowe (daughter of Greenpeace co-founder Irving Stowe) and current Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada, Bruce Cox.
This was “history in the making”, and it’ll be great radio-listening – please make it a point to tune in. Then, help this great organization, and purchase a copy of the CD for yourself – all proceeds go to Greenpeace to enable them to continue their tremendous work – now 40 years strong.
And why are we doing this THIS Saturday ? Well the 40th anniversary of Earth Day is ALSO this year – coming up NEXT week – April 22nd. Have a great day, great weekend … think GREEN. Gene