Rock fans braved massive traffic jams Saturday
to hear Bruce Springsteen, Supertramp, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the
Doors and Led Zeppelin on the same Austin stage.
Some concert-goers swore they even saw Elvis
standing just off-stage at the free festival, which was broadcast live on an
Austin radio station.
"April Fools," said KLBJ-FM disc
jockey Jody Denberg. "I think it pretty much speaks for itself."
Like the phony War of the Worlds that Orson
Welles aired on Halloween Eve in 1938, the "Battle of the Bands"
that sounded too good to be true was pure fiction.
No, that wasn't really the Grateful Dead that
kicked off the concert at 10 a.m. And, no, the Dead didn't really refuse to
yield the microphone on the mythical North-by-Northwest Austin stage for the
rest of the 12-hour charade.
"We're going to close the show tonight
with the Beatles reunion," laughed Don Gilmore, KLBJ-FM music director
said before it ended.
After the 70-minute Beatles set, the jocks were
wrapping up their post-concert remarks when former Faces guitarist Ronnie Lane
took the stage and sang April Fool, the song Lane wrote about his April Fools'
The rendition was actually recorded during a
Tremors tour date in New York in 1987.
Lane, who lives in Austin, reportedly listened
to the fake concert while celebrating his birthday with friends.
Disc jockey Ed Mayberry, who masterminded much
of the "team effort," said several thousand listeners had called the
rock station by Saturday evening asking how to get to the phony festival.
Mayberry said some of the callers were from as
far away as Killeen and Fort Hood.
A carload of Killeen residents who couldn't get
through to the station on the telephone drove into Austin before contacting
the studio and learning that the concert was a well-planned hoax.
"All we could do is tell them to enjoy the
concert on their way back to Killeen," Mayberry said.
Picture-perfect spring weather across Central
Texas combined with live concert recordings for a performance held only in
Austin music fans' minds.
Throughout the concert, the disc jockeys would
broadcast live from the KLBJ-FM studio, then pretend to cut to the fake
concert site for music and interviews.
Other featured bands included Jackson Browne,
Dire Straits, U2,the Eagles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Sting, Fleetwood
Mac, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Pink Floyd.
The music came from compact discs, previously
broadcast concerts and some tapes from the discjockeys' private collections.
Gilmore said some callers refused to believe
him when he told them it was all a hoax.
"When we tell them it's being held in
April Fools' Park, they want to know where that's at. And when we tell them
it's a joke, they say, `Oh, I get it. But where's the music coming from?' Some
people are really slow," he said.
"After Jim Morrison and the Beatles get
back together and Jimi Hendrix plays, I think just about everybody will be
able to figure it out," he said Saturday afternoon.
The marathon broadcast featured Denberg
interviewing Mick Jagger and Keith Richards just before the Rolling Stones
took the stage, but the disc jockey actually spent Saturday jogging around
Town Lake and working at home.
"We started work on this about 10 days
ago, taping bits like the interview with the Stones. We had to orchestrate the
whole thing to get it to flow," he said. "Supposedly, I'm still
backstage with the Grateful Dead."
Don Lamb, manager of Waterloo Records, said the
North Lamar Boulevard store received dozens of calls about the sham festival.
"It seems like an obvious April Fools'
joke to me, but even my brother called to ask me if it was for real,"
Lamb said. "It has definitely been a good joke. It worked."
Austin police operators answered more than 60
calls concerning the ruse by midafternoon. Police Department Communications
Supervisor Kelley Cook said some callers were disappointed and others outraged
when told the show was a hoax.
"But most laughed when they realized they
were completely tricked and had actually called the police about it,"