In early 1966, West Village club owner Hilly Kristal and aspiring rock impresario Ron Delsener approached NYC Parks Commissioner Thomas Hoving with a proposal for a summer concert series at Central Park's Wollman Rink, the public skating facility built in 1949. After an agreement was made with the City, Delsener arranged for a $35,000 sponsorship by Rheingold Beer, and the series was launched in 1966, with general admission tickets priced at $1. After the first year, it was renamed the Schaefer Music Festival for its new sponsor, the F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company.
All of the following acts played the Schaefer Music Festival at Wollman Rink: the Allman Brothers Band, the Band, Dave Brubeck, the Butterfield Blues Band, the Byrds, Judy Collins, Delaney & Bonnie, Buddy Guy, Led Zeppelin, Little Richard, Hugh Masekela, Moby Grape, Laura Nyro, Lou Rawls, Ravi Shankar, Simon and Garfunkel, Sam and Dave, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Sly and the Family Stone, Bruce Springsteen, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the Who and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. The summer series continued through 1980 (tickets were just $2.50 in 1975), but in 1981, under pressure from residents of the surrounding neighborhood, Delsener relocated it to Pier 84 on the Hudson River.