Sunday, July 8, 2012

40 Year Itch : Pouring at Pocono

Danny Hutton and Michael Allsup of Three Dog Night  in the deep mud of Pocono Raceway

Forty years later what most attendees remember about the Poconos Raceway concert on July 8 and 9th of 1972 is the rain. A cold torrential rain. And the resulting giant mud pit.

UPI reported the Long Pond Pennsylvania concert was "the biggest and most peaceful rock festival since Woodstock" with more than 200,000 people braving the elements to see some of the biggest rock acts in the world. Because of the rain, the concert schedule got pushed back. Edgar Winter got on at 11PM but Emerson Lake and Palmer took the stage at 4 AM . Faces with Rod Stewart appeared at 5 AM. Three Dog Night took the stage in the bright morning sunshine. Michael Allsup writes in his online autobiography:

As I recall, weather caused slow turnover time between bands and the rain made it unsafe to perform. The concert went way into the night. In fact, we didn't go on until about 6 or 7 in the morning. There was a sea of people that "stayed the course" and spent the entire night camping there. Kind of a "Woodstock" feel to it. A huge audience. 

 Tickets cost $11. Both Black Sabbath and Badfinger cancelled.

There were drugs of course but the biggest problem was traffic. There are stories of a 75 mile back up on Interstate 80. Hundreds of drivers abandoned their cars. The bands came in by helicopter. Some fans even parachuted into the concert. One man, below,  apparently lost his clothes. But I feel most sorry for the spectators behind him.


  1. At 16, I was there for the entire concert, rain, cold, and great camaraderie and atmosphere for those that stayed through the night. If anyone has footage of the Rod Steward and the Faces set, I would be very interested in communicating with you. Email me at Thanks.

  2. I was there! One fantastic time, which I shall never forget!

  3. Including me there were two carloads of guys who went up to the Poconos totally unprepared. This was a last minute decision to go. We brought food otherwise known as peanut butter and jelly. I don't know how we did it but we ended up parking within a quarter mile from the racetrack. It rained like hell. It was cold and we had the only the shirts on our backs. I recall going into a tent to (borrow) get as much plastic tarps that someone laid out on the ground...we needed it more to try to stay dry!
    Our food got wet and we went back to our cars, then started them up to put the bread on the motor to dry it out. To this day, one guy who went with us never ate PB&J's again.
    EL&P and Faces with Rod Stewart are the only bands that I remember playing in the middle of the night. I read somewhere that there were no drugs...farthest thing from the truth. People were walking around openly selling (thumbs up (uppers), thumbs down (downers) as they were called then.
    Lines of 100 people waiting for hot dogs to eat, which were dropped in hot water for 10 seconds then sold. I didn't care, it was food.
    I found a few of our guys passed out on the ground, stumbled over them at night and carried (drug them in the mud) them back to where we were grouped together.

    I missed Woodstock as I was 14 at that time. Like I said, on a whim we went up. We had no tickets and jumped the fences.Our clothes looked like we had jumped in a mud pit, well..... we reallly kinda did.

    I would not have traded this experience for anything and glad I was there.
    Tons of stories to talk about which had come up over this past weekend who went with me. That discussion led me to search and see if there was anything on the internet about this.

    I was there, it was great, I was a teenager, and to this day I still look back and smile at how crazy cool it was to be there.

  4. Last minute also for myself and two other couples.
    remember biker's being "control staff" and seeing two concert goers fighting, one slashes the other's stomach with a knife and a huge biker stepping in, grabs the knife holder and the cut guy ran away back into the crowd. Sadly never stayed long enough to hear the bands playing. We came totally unprepared and hiked 3-5 miles from where we parked. Finally/sadly we left, as I heard it turned out not too bad a time when the music finally began.

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  6. I was there at age 24. Went up from Philly with a gorgeous, tall woman named Brandi in my '68 Firebird 400. It was raining and getting muddy. We joined the hoards, the scene looking very much like the picture in color above. The stage was way distant and we could only hear some music. But right next to us a couple was fornicating. I was still a virgin and didn't have the guts to make a move on Brandi. We smoked a little weed, but it was getting wetter and muddier so we gave up after it turned dark. Some others were leaving and it would have taken hours except state police amazingly let some of us drive up a steep embankment right onto route 80...miraculously, the Firebird made it up there. Back in Philly, Brandi "you're a fine girl" let me kiss her on the lips at her door...made it all worthwhile.

  7. My friend and I tagged along with my older brother and his friends and we had an absolute blast. I was almost 15 at the time and remember well what a true Rock Music festival was like. I remember Ramatam & Cactus, liked them so-much that I purchased each of their albums weeks later. I remember Humble Pie, J. Giles Band and Three Dog Night. Most of all though, Edgar Winter had the crowd jammin'. An extremely impressionable experience for me, with memories that include a nearby group of "heads" sharing the Lamb they were barbecuing with my buddy and I. I also remember an absolute "sea-of-people", mostly under pieces of plastic or saturated blankets, and mud-covered everything. We were stoned during most of the festival, thanks to my brother and his friends, as well as many others there who openly shared their weed among those located close-by. At the beginning of the downpour, my buddy and I took cover under the Grandstands.

  8. does anyone besides me remember emerson lowered to the stage from a helicopter wearing a sling harness which was detached by the roadies as he began to play

  9. Yep and ELP played in a dense Fog it was The Best. I remember Edgar Winter being good also but was glad I ran into some Chicks from Pittsburgh I knew that had a tent. Don't remember much else but did get to Watkins Glen the next summer for the 600,000 prople melee. Hott Hoot!

  10. So muddy and Foggy
    My first time doing Mesculine....

    1. I was 15 and hitchhiked there with friends. I remember the rain and a truck that brought little cartons of ice cream. The ice cream began to melt so people just started throwing them at each other. Favorite memory was watching the Faces in predawn with no Ian McLagan on keyboards. Years later I ran into him and asked what happened. He said that they were supposed to go on in ELPs spot but got beat out by them. He was so pissed he refused to play (he hated Keith Emerson).

  11. Marcia Langley BrooksNovember 26, 2016 at 10:39 AM

    I was 22 and went with a group of friends. Same jeans for two days soaking wet and muddy. Also long hair that was wet. We stopped at a restaurant for breakfast on the way home. The owner called us "hippies" and wouldn't serve us!

  12. 3 buddies and myself squeezed a ride in the back in a baby blue VW Beetle from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. We stopped on the highway nr Baltimore, a van offered myself and a mate a ride. So off we sped ahead leaving my mates way behind! The van driver on LSD decided to jump ahead of the line and get to the racecourse. I spent the whole afternoon/night walking around looking for my mates in their baby blue VW, impossible. Saw loads of drug taking, def opened my eyes. Finally found my friends the next day, muddied and needing to crash for awhile. Bands were excellent, esp, Cactus, 3DN and Edgar Winter.

  13. These are just the stories I was looking for! I was still to young for that stuff. Missed it by 4-5 years. Proud of all you paving the way. I love to hear more! Thanks again