In April 1998, Southern jam band Widespread Panic held a free, open-air record release show in downtown Athens, its home base. No one involved could have known that the predicted crowd of 20,000 would prove to be nearly five times that size. The ultimately successful show, now known as “Panic in the Streets,” went on to become a cult favorite of Panic fans and a decisive moment in Athens music history. This event still holds the record for the world’s largest record release party, but the full story of how the event came to be has not been told until now.
Widespread Panic in the Streets of Athens, Georgia places readers at the historic event, using in-depth investigation and interviews with the band, city officials and “Spread Heads” who were there. The book is part of the University of Georgia Press’ Music of the American South series. Music journalist Gordon Lamb’s narrative takes the reader from conception to aftermath and uncovers the local controversies and efforts that nearly stopped the show from happening altogether.