Sunday, September 2, 2012

40 Year Itch : The Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival

Is this the rock fest that killed the Woodstock nation?

 The Erie Canal Soda Pop fest on Indiana's Bull Island certainly drew a huge crowd -- an estimated 200,00 hippies who came from all over the country Labor Day Weekend of 1972 to see Santana, Foghat, Canned Heat , Black Sabbath, the Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Joe Cocker and Nazareth.

 That's not who showed up though.

 Black Sabbath was a no show. So were the Allman Brothers. Nobody saw Fleetwood Mac. When Joe Cocker saw the crowd he reportedly asked for more money and left when organizers turned him down.

 The traffic was a nightmare.

So were the drugs. Somebody was selling bleach. Two people died. And it rained.

 One very entertaining blogger who claims to have been there writes:

 If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would swear that the festival was a set-up, a sort of psyops to put an end to the ideal of the Woodstock nation. If it wasn't, then it was the biggest f**k up in the history of rock festival promotions.


  1. Was there and had one of the best times in my life. Still have a paper sunvisor dropped from a helicopter as black oak took the stage. And my ticket stub. So much wtitten about all that was bad. But for nearly half million people on a small island i thought they did well. Considering no water no food just plenty of drugs booze loving and rock and roll. Would do it again in a heartbeat... A great culture movement. When is the next one?? Ill order my ticket.

    1. All was fine there we saw no violence, hate, disrespect or prejudging . We met all our fellow Americans there from North, South, East and West and all treated each other great. The trucks being looted OK, bad thing , but so were the prices. Them being burned was not intentionally but most likely careless fireworks. We were right there and I think that's what started the fires. We did end up with a lot of free food, pop, fruit, hot dogs and sandwiches so we and our neighbors ate well a while. Met a young lady named Lesa from Tampa who I wrote letters to for years and visited twice. Just friends no romance. I have lost touch, but will never forget her and I hope she is doing well. All these years later as have we all , I have traveled " So Many Roads" and it has all been good

  2. Thanks for this excellent comment and thanks for reading!

  3. I was there, It was a mixed bag, I missed Woodstock, but rode in a little orange pickup truck with two friends. Rocky and Don (RIP). I didn't get a ticket people were crashing the fence it was down so we walked over it. I remember a long truck ride back on a farmers watermelon truck. lots of drugs. bad acid, brown mescaline, I was young don't remember a lot. I'm glad I was with friends. I got an education ,some good some not so much. In the words of Ram Dass its all grist for the mill. Glad I got to experience Bull Island.It's ups and its downs,,,,,,

  4. i was there to and i would do it again it was the time of my life it was our Woodstock, Saturday night i was trying to crash next to a camp fire with several other people , Cheach And Chong was on stage i seen theyer name on the line up but never heard of them and did not know they was a comdy team, but anyway here i was trying to crash and i heard them and i thought they was the people around the camp fire and thought to my self there is sure alot of crazy people around this camp fire , but it is one of the most specal memories that i have in my life time it was great

  5. Anyone see the Gentle Giant performance at Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival 1972? And also would like to know if an archive footage of the festival still exist? Thanks

  6. Oh yeah, I was there. I was 20 and had driven from North Carolina. A guy was run over right in front of me.. The shelves in the stores around there were EMPTY and traffic was unbelievable. I was filthy dirty/muddy when I left there and it took forever to get the bathtub clean! An experience for sure.

  7. So pleased to see all these comments from people who were there. Thanks for reading!

  8. I was there.. Remember Cheech & Chong performing late at night with rain coming down.. It was an experience bathing lots of drugs and skinny dipping. It did get rowdy due to the lack of food and the vendors ripping people off some of my friends ended up with a case of hamburgers and I managed to get a bag of ice by telling someone my friend had od'd and we needed it to bring them down... wasn't true but it worked. Think I was the only person who brought a tooth brush and toothpaste people wanted to pay me money for it.....It was a blast glad I got to go and was part of that generation. Too bad things got trashed though.

  9. I was there, unintentionally so. My buddy Tom and I were hitching across the country on a lark. We'd run into a girl named Connie in Hartford, Connecticut and she joined us going South. Got picked up by a Vanload of kids from Kentucky headed to the festival. Connie and the Van owner fell in love. Everyone was riding on the hoods of cars and bumpers. One guy slipped and maybe got killed. Not sure of the outcome. Remember Black Oak Arkansas dropping the visors and putting on a whale of a show. Did not know the official name of the festival until forty years later.

  10. Was there with my newlywed wife but we got separated for three days! Had a new car with about twenty people on it riding in for miles of traffic. Saw a roadgrader driver with a case of beer on his lap and two topless girls riding with him. He had the happiest grin on his face. Found me Boones Farm Wine, some pot and crawled up under a bus for three days rain and shine. I remember all the people on the towers, Ravi Shankar and the purple mescaline. What a unique place and time. Will never forget. Peace, Drippy

  11. i was 17 as was my best friend bill,when we hitchhiked from wooster,ohio to the erie canal soda pop festival(roughly 900 mile round trip).
    we told our parents that we were going camping and to our shock and total surprise they bought it lol.....
    we had our sleeping bags....$25 each,a bag of weed and some acid to take along for the journey.....we had our thumbs ready.
    we both partied hard back in those days and loved music.....
    we got picked up by many fellow hippies and got to the festival smoother than we anticipated.....smoked quite a bit on the way and when we arrived we were quite stoned.
    the groups i remember seeing were===rory gallagher/albert king/ted nugent and the amboy dukes/canned heat/cheech+chong/foghat/flash/birtha/boonesfarm/mike quatro jam band/
    brownsville station/ravi shankar/black oak arkansas and ramatam.
    from that list rory--nugent--albert king--foghat really stand out from my memory as bringing the house down...cheech+chong were hilarious and we got to see birtha an all female group before the runaways formed.
    we had a great time....the people were friendly and it was 1 big-great party with fine music....i do remember kinda of-sorta some violence breaking out towards the end of the festival.....we were in such an altered state that mostly i remember good vibes-good people-fine music.
    i would love to see some video from this event but cant find any on YT.
    we stood often right up at the stage and saw many of these bands close up.......peace and love...

  12. Was there also stay high high high the hole time 65 now and would do it again like to see something go on for a 50 years reunion