Cal Jam at Ontario Motor Speedway took place on April 6, 1974 and was a 12-hour festival of eight bands. It was recorded by ABC TV at the Speedway in Ontario, CA (50 miles east of Los Angeles). Attendance was said to be 200,000, and this was part of the On the Border tour for the Eagles. It was then aired on ABC’s “In Concert” in a 4-part series beginning May 10, 1974.
The eight bands were:
- Seals and Crofts
- Rare Earth
- Earth, Wind and Fire
- Eagles with Jackson Browne
- Black Oak Arkansas
- Black Sabbath
- Deep Purple
- Emerson, Lake and Palmer – closed the show
There is an interview below with Bernie Leadon and The Door that occurred after the Eagles got off stage from their Cal Jam performance, while Bernie was “nursing a glass of champagne trying to relax”. There are videos of the Eagles at California Jam at the end of this page.
Don Felder was not at California Jam with the Eagles, and Jackson Browne stood in for Don. Don was with his wife, since she was at the hospital having their first child.
Cal Jam II was at Ontario Motor Speedway on Mar. 18, 1978, but the Eagles did not perform that year.
Forty-year anniversary article in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
pdf version of article
Eagles at Cal Jam 74
Jackson Browne and Don Henley
Jackson Browne and Don Henley
The little guy in the trailer backstage with Bernie and later sitting on the stage strumming the toy guitar is the son of John Baruck. John was part of Irving Azoff’s management team.
Don Henley, Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, and Richard Fernandez
Glenn Frey and Don Henley
Lynn Goldsmith interviewing Jackson Browne backstage
Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey
Lynn Goldsmith interviews jammers at the show
The Eagles on stage at Cal Jam 1974
Randy Meisner, Don Henley (on drums), Glenn Frey, and Bernie Leadon
A look inside the ABC TV Control Room
Eagles Cal Jam contract
From the California Jam Fan Club Facebook page
Backstage parking pass
All-day ticket for $10.00
California Jam Posters
San Bernardino Sun (San Bernardino, CA) – Apr. 6, 1974
“But regardless of today’s sales, the California Jam is already assured of the largest one-day, paid rock concert attendance in the state’s history.”
LA Times (Los Angeles, CA – Apr. 6, 1974
“Outside the speedway, cars were crammed in parking lots, on streets, in vineyards, alongside the freeway, seeming to fill every available inch of asphalt within three miles of the speedway.”
Concert review in Ontario Daily Report (Ontario, CA) – Apr. 7, 1974
“Late Sunday afternoon, 15 hours after the concert ended, there were still an estimated 2,000 persons in the area, hunting lost autos, searching for their children or trying to hitchhike home.”
Concert review in Tulare Advance-Register (Tulare, CA) – Apr. 8, 1974
“The concert started Saturday morning and wailed on into the night, but when it finally ended hundreds of fans found they couldn’t leave. Their cars, parked illegally on the shoulder of Interstate 10 leading to the speedway, had been towed away.”
Concert review in Green Bay Press-Gazette (Green Bay, WI) – Apr. 8, 1974
“The Eagles, with guest Jackson Browne, turned in a particularly effective set, debuting some songs from the band’s excellent new ‘On the Border’ album.”
Concert review in LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – Apr. 9, 1974
“Eagles came out next and played perhaps the most aesthetically satisfying set of the day.”
Concert review in The San Diego Door (San Diego, CA) – Apr. 24-May 14, 1974
The Door was an underground newspaper that ran from January 1968 to August 1974. As a young teenager, Cameron Crowe began writing music reviews for The Door.
Cashbox – Apr. 27, 1974
“Special lighting effects, a massive fireworks show, skywriting, aerial balloonists, sky-divers trailing colored smoke bombs, and a grand finale marked by a fireworks display and the ascent of a seven-story-high hot air aerial balloon, were the added highlights which set the glittering background for these chart-topping performers.
Precedent-setting in its acoustics, the concert was performed before four 60-foot towers of sound amplifiers. As with all ‘In Concert’ programs, the four shows will be simulcast by ABC FM stations across the country as well as by other FM and some AM stations, providing the best stereophonic sound technically available.”
Concert review in El Paso Times (El Paso, TX) – May 5, 1974
“Bizarre costumes. Weird behavior. Enthusiastic audience participation. And virtually no performing delays, because of an ingenious system of rolling stages on railroad tracks, permitting one group to get ready while another’s on.”
Concert review in Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA) – May 9, 1974
Miami Herald (Miami, FL) – May 10, 1974
The Journal News (White Plains, NY) – May 19, 1974
“For the softer music of Seals and Crofts and Eagles, it is a pleasure to note that this event had a sound system with enough punch to reach the boundless territory it had to cover.”
“Emerson, Lake and Palmer, complete with equipment which makes the stage resemble an RCA warehouse, incorporate all its electronic tricks to wondrous effect – the finale being Keith Emerson suspended upside down playing a grand piano.”
Concert review in LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – May 10, 1974
San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, CA) – June 2, 1974
LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – Apr. 4, 1975
Circus Magazine – Aug. 1974
pdf version for easier reading
“The following interview with Bernie Leadon took place following the group’s noon-day set at the California Jam, held April 6 at the Ontario Motor Speedway. Bernie had just returned from what he felt was a frustrating performance in the mid-day heat. When I met him he was nursing a glass of champagne trying to relax after the tension of playing outdoors, with no prior soundcheck, before nearly 200,000 people.”
The San Diego Door (San Diego, CA) – May 14-28, 1974
California Jam Videos
California Jam full concert of the Eagles
(James Dean, Already Gone, Take It Easy, Blackberry Blossom, Midnight Flyer)
The skydivers are in the air during Blackberry Blossom.
“Take It Easy”
Randy and Glenn always look at each other during the standing-on-a-corner verse. When you look at other videos of Take It Easy, you’ll see they have this tradition.
In my opinion, this was one of the best concerts that The Eagles ever did and Jackson Browne did a very good job covering for Don Felder, whose wife was giving birth to their first child. Jackson played piano and acoustic guitar and it was very charitable for The Eagles to provide him with his own microphone both at the piano and in the front of the stage, in case he wanted to join in on backing vocals. If you watch the “Take it Easy” performance, he adlibs his own vocals with Glenn Frey and since he cowrote the song, it definitely made sense for him to do so.
The four original Eagles were there – Glenn, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner – and even the emcee says in the video for “James Dean”, “EAGLES WITH SPECIAL GUEST JACKSON BROWNE!!”
Jackson has been such a good friend to the Eagles since the beginning. He was a guest on stage with them so many times, and it was a good fit for him to collaborate with them, for sure.