It was the Fourth of July weekend in 1970 when civil unrest came to a head in Asbury Park.

The conflict was a result of rapidly boiling tension on literally both sides of the tracks in Asbury Park. This culminated in massive rioting that would receive national attention. The riots from the Fourth of July weekend in 1970 tore a city and the state of New Jersey in half.

Asbury Park Riot
(AP Photo/Dave Pickoff)

The damage to both the infrastructure and race relations in Asbury Park was intense and overwhelming. The long weekend that seemed to never end finally did and through the ashes of ruins and destruction there was one force that kept the thread of survival alive from pure and total devastation. It was music, music saved Asbury Park.

The movie Asbury Park, Riot, Redemption, Rock and Roll depicts those times in Asbury Park in 1968 thru 1971 when music on the Jersey Shore got its legs and catapulted several of New Jersey’s favorite sons into Rock and Roll stardom and landed them smack in the middle of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This is the story of Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt, Southside Johnny, Clarence Clemons, David Sancious, and others. It’s the story of how there was no race barrier in music, how the respect for another’s talent took a blind eye to the color of their skin.

It was also the story of the unrest, riots and tension that literally boiled over on that 4th of July weekend to a level that was never expected. It is also the story of how Asbury Park came back and how it now pays it forward to the young and upcoming musicians who finally have a place to learn about music in a place where a big part of Rock and Roll history was carved out.

This Week in Music History
Getty Images

I had the pleasure of narrating this fine film: Asbury Park, Riot, Redemption, Rock and Roll. The film aired on New Jersey PBS stations last year and is now available on Amazon Prime or Apple TV.

POP Music has awarded three scholarships to three outstanding students of the LakeHouse Academy through the Asbury Park Music Foundation in recognition of the anniversary of the civil unrest in Asbury Park.

You can help the Asbury Park Music Foundation continue the programs and scholarships to those young teens and children who appreciate the art of music at The LakeHouse Academy in Asbury Park.

It’s a powerful story with a wonderful, hopeful future. Please see the movie and help The Asbury Park Music Foundation continue its awesome work.

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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