The scheduled lineup included: Black Sabbath, Joe Cocker, Allman Brothers, John Mayall, Cheech & Chong, Canned Heat, Fleetwood Mac, Ballinjack, Amboy Dukes, Bob Seger, Bang, Ravi Shankar, Albert King, Brownsville Station, Mike Quatro, Gentle Giant, Black Oak Arkansas, The Eagles, The Chambers Brothers, Boones Farm, Slade, Nazareth, and Delbert & Glenn. However, only a few bands such as Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids, Black Oak Arkansas, Cheech and Chong, Foghat, Albert King, Brownsville Station, Canned Heat, Flash, Ravi Shankar, Rory Gallagher, Lee Michaels and Frosty, The Eagles, The Amboy Dukes, and Gentle Giant actually performed.

Erie Canal "Soda" Pop Festival

Chandler, IN 1972 became "Bull Island" as a late site move was required to make the event happen.

'Bull Island' rock fest shaky
from start to finish

from Evansville Courier

The Labor Day Soda Pop Festival, one of the world's worst misnomers, was conducted on the banks of the Wabash River over the three-day holiday in 1972.

It served as the Tri-State version of Woodstock, a similar show in upstate New York that drew thousands of heavy metal and rock music fans during the divisive days of the Vietnam War.

The Soda Pop Festival became more popularly known as "Bull Island," after its 900-acre site on the Indiana-Illinois border. The ground once had been an island in the Wabash. It had joined with land on the Indiana bank to form a peninsula, but still was in Illinois. Most of the action occurred in White County, Ill., but was close to the Indiana towns of New Harmony, Poseyville and Griffin, and the only access roads were from the Indiana side.

Soda pop was a scarcity at Bull Island, as were music performers, food, water, toilet facilities and medical supplies.

Hard drugs and marijuana appeared to be the only materials readily available.

All roads leading into Evansville and then west to Posey County began clogging on Friday with cars, vans and campers bearing out-of-state licenses, heralding a mass invasion of Bull Island. Hitchhikers toting backpacks were a common sight along area highways.

Grocery stores in New Harmony set business records that day, and the number of people on the island was estimated at 50,000 Friday night. It would grow to more than 200,000 the following three days.

Promoters Tom Duncan and Bob Alexander later said they had expected 55,000 and had no contingency plans to handle four times that many fans. They said they sold 30,000 advance tickets for $20 and $25 before recognizing they couldn't handle the numbers.

They declared the festival "free" on Sunday, borrowing a page from the Woodstock scenario.

Ravi Shankar was one of the few well-known performers to put on a show. Several scheduled bands sent in their agents to assess the situation, received their reports, packed up and departed.

Among no-shows were Rod Stewart and the Faces, Black Sabbath and the Allman Brothers. Joe Cocker's people arrived Friday, took a look at the crowd, and doubled their performance price, which was refused. They departed.

Performing groups included Cheech and Chong, Canned Heat, Black Oak Arkansas, Eagles, Amboy Dukes, Albert King, Flash, Foghat and a touring group from Scotland, Nazareth.

Besides drugs, items for sale included cigarettes, strobe candles, T-shirts, wine, cold and warm beer, and strychnine-laced LSD. The public address system advised rockers to throw away any LSD they had purchased.

Some dealers sold bleach, representing it as drugs.

.

Last minute plan changes (Pete, Harold, Steve & Walt)

Walt in cramped quarters.

The Interstate near site backs up as site entry is closed down until next morning.

Walt signs 'thumbs' up as Pete sets the camp flag.

Allen, Tim, Bill and Cathy take a break.

Steve, Walt, Harold, Karen and Pete hit town.

Pete, Allen, Karen, Cathy, Paul and Steve.

 

 

The preceeding photographs were taken by C.J. Roper.

The following photographs were taken by Ronnie Brown.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

It's not that photographer Sonny Brown had ever seen a naked woman atthe time he shot one standing near the banks of the Wabash River in the summer of 1972. It's just that he'd never seen one looking so serene in the midst of the kind of choas unfolding in front of his camera lens. Ity was Labor Day weekend of 1972, and he was standing in a sea of dope smoking, music-loving, long-haired hippies gathered on a remote patch of farmland for an event touted as the Woodstock of the Midwest.