Okay, so we know the controversy surrounding the selection of certain musicians and vocalists to represent Jamaica at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York and the omission of others. For those who are still feeling enraged that the Skatalites weren’t selected to travel with the delegates to promote ska, what will it do to their sensibilities now to know that the Flintstones were even there, at the Singer Bowl, at the World’s Fair! That’s right, the Flintstones–Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty, Bam-Bam, Pebbles, and yes, even Dino!
So in this text, Fred ducks into the Singer Bowl to get away from guards. Sounds like an original rude boy to me, eh? Dance crasher! A girl can dream, but actually, in the story there is a track meet going on at the time. The Singer Bowl was used for concerts, such as the one where Millie Small performed during that exhibition, along with Eric “Monty” Morris and Prince Buster and others with Byron Lee & the Dragonaires as the backing band. The Singer Bowl, however, was also used for track events, such as the Olympic trials that same year. Years later it was used for the Doors concert (The Who was the opening band) where the famous riot took place, and Jimi Hendrix performed that same year as well, 1968. Led Zepplin and Janis Joplin also performed here. The venue, however, was built for the World’s Fair and located in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens. The opening ceremony of the World’s Fair was held here and Lyndon B. Johnson attended. The Singer Bowl was one of the first examples of a corporation purchasing naming rights for a stadium, which is now common practice. Singer, the sewing machine company, had a number of exhibits underneath the bleacher stadium, highlighting fashion and their company’s equipment, which also included vacuum cleaners, typewriters, and even computing devices. The stadium was an open-air arena that could seat 15,000 people. It also played host to boxing, tennis, and martial arts competitions.
The Singer Bowl no longer stands in its original form, although it is important to ska history as a launchpad for Jamaica’s music worldwide. The Singer Bowl today is the Louis Armstrong Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and it was converted to this use and remodeled in the early 1970s. It was named after Armstrong, the legendary jazz musician, who lived nearby and died in 1971.