Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival

Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival

aka, the…

Labor Day Soda Pop Festival

September 2, 3, & 4, 1972
Labor Day Weekend
Bull Island on the Wabash River, Illinois
Mills Brothers, “On the Banks of the Wabash (Far Away)”

Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival

Not 1969

While waiting for the next 1969 festival to arrive, I thought I’d mention one that has a great name. Unfortunately, it did not turn out well.

First of all…

Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival

Why the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival?

The Erie Canal runs from Albany, NY on the Hudson River to Buffalo, NY on Lake Erie. Thus the name. The Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival was on Mud Island (though not quite an island) on the Wabash River. Nowhere near the Erie Canal. The Wabash River’s head is in Ohio, runs across Indiana, and eventually forms the southern border between Indiana and Illinois before running into the Ohio River at mile 491.

Why the above explanation? Because I cannot discover why Bob Alexander and Tom Duncan, the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival organizers, called it that. Perhaps at one time the Wabash was a piece of the route that got to the famous Canal?


The month before, on July 2, Alexander and Duncan had organized the relatively successful Bosse Field Freedom Fest in Evensville.

Approximately 30,000 people came. Some of the performers were Ike and Tina Turner, Edgar Winter, Dr. John, Howlin’ Wolf. and John Lee Hooker.

Though financially a success, Evansville, Indiana Mayor Russell Lloyd was not happy and did not want a repeat.

Festival Wallkilled

48 hours before the scheduled start of the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival , Alexander and Duncan had no site. Local opposition wall-killed the Chandler Raceway, their original choice. Other local legal actions prevented most other choices.

They had already spent $700,000.

Chicago’s powerful radio station WLS began to follow, and thus promote, the story.

100s of fans started to arrive in the area more than a week before. Alexander and Duncan kept silent (other than radio interviews) thinking if they don’t announce where the event will be, locals can’t start proceedings to stop it.

Bull Island

Rumors began to mount. Bull Island. Bulldozers were seen there. Workers digging wells.

Thursday 31 August 1972: Bob Alexander met with Evansville, Indiana Mayor Russell Lloyd. He didn’t want the event, but knew as more and more fans arrived something he had to do something.

Bull Island (“island”) was along the Wabash straddling Indiana and Illinois. Lloyd was able to get Illinois to approve Bull Island as a site. The festival was on.

Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival

now the…

Labor Day Soda Pop Festival

Saturday 2 September

Thousands arrived. Interstate 64 came to a standstill. Thousands abandoned their cars. Some set up “shop” and one stretch along the festival site became known as “Alice in Wonderland Avenue.”

Late starts and restlessness. Joe Cocker never showed. Black Sabbath, with Ozzy Osbourne, refused to play unless paid more. No more was to be had.

Sunday 3 September

Tow trucks removed cars from I-64. Food ran out. Destruction by fans of trucks on site. Fires.

Ravi Shankar played first on Sunday. Canned Heat. Black Oak Arkansas.

The Faces, featuring Rod Stewart, fearing the site’s mood, refused to appear. Promoters had paid them $100,000 in advance.

By day’s end perhaps 200,000 and 250,000 people were on site. Gates that still existed were opened. It was a free concert.

Monday 4 September

Like Woodstock, but completely unlike Woodstock, fans left after the second day. Not because of weather and lack of food so much as because of a lack of music.

By Monday only 20,000 people remained. The festival lost $200,000.

Not Woodstock.

In fact, Ozy dot com refers to it as “the worst festival in history.” Everfest dot com simply asks the question.

Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

September 1, 1967

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

Beatles in Limbo

Their Candlestick Park, San Francisco concert on August 29,  1966 was the last Beatles concert. Yes they would play unannounced on the roof  of the Apple building in 1969, but in 1966 they had decided that they preferred the studio to the road.

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

Busy nonetheless

The Beatles remained busy over the next twelve months:

  • John Lennon starred in the movie How I Won The War
  • Paul McCartney wrote a soundtrack fro the movie The Family Way
  • John Lennon met Yoko Ono
  • They recorded and released the Sgt Peppers album. Their masterpiece.
  • The idea of the Magical Mystery Tour movie hatched.
  • “Penny Lane” became a #1 song
  • Paul announced that the Beatles had used acid.
  • Paul helped get Jimi Hendrix into the Monterey Pop Festival
  • The Beatles participated in the Our World worldwide show.
  • The Beatles included their names in a list of people stating that “the law against marijuana is immoral in principal and unworkable in practice.”
  • “All You Need Is Love” became a #1 song
  • they went to Bangor, UK to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
  • two days after they left for Bangor, Brian Epstein died

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

September 1, 1967

Following Epstein’s death on August 27, Paul McCartney and the others realized how huge a loss Epstein’s absence would be. On this date, Paul strongly recommended that the four pick up the pace on recording the music for and filming the movie Magical Mystery Tour.

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

Tony Barrow

Paul did this at a meeting with the other three, but beforehand he met with Tony Barrow, their press officer and the person credited with the moniker “the Fab Four.”

Barrow wrote in his John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Me book, “Paul made it clear to me that his aim was to make a feature-length film for full-scale theatrical release and he felt that a successful screen ‘tour’ would go a long way towards plugging the gaping hole left by the axing of the Fab Four’s concert trips. Indeed, if Paul had managed to produce one successful theatrically released feature film with The Beatles each year, a far bigger potential audience would have seen the group than did in the touring years, and the profit margin for the boys would have been enormous.”

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

Project accepted

According to Barrow McCartney did a good job of laying out the concept and emphasizing its importance to them as a group.

They finished filming on November 3, 1967. On November 7 they finished recording and mixing the music.

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour


Family Stone Greg Errico

Family Stone Greg Errico

Family Stone Greg Errico

born September 1, 1948
From Betty Davis  “Betty Davis” album. Produced by Greg who also played drums on the album
Family Stone Greg Errico

Greg Errico

Happy birthday Greg Errico.

Famously the drummer with Sly and the Family Stone, their first single appeared on a local label in 1967, while their debut album, A Whole New Thing, was released nationally on Epic in 1967.

And of course we recognize the band’s name from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair as the band that brought 400,000 people to their feet during their 3:30 AM set.

In 1993, Greg along with the rest of his band mates from the Family became part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Family Stone Greg Errico


Like many lifetime musicians, Greg Errico’s path has lead to many places. And everyone liked his drumming wherever he went. Joe Zawinul of Weather Report said that no one could play the “Boogie Woogie Waltz” like Errico.

The YouTube piece below may help you understand Zawinul’s high praise.

Family Stone Greg Errico

Betty Davis

He left Sly and the Family Stone in 1971, but continued to play. One place was on Betty Davis’s “Betty Davis” album in 1973. Davis was a precise person to work with. Errico, both drummer and producer on the album recalled that she came up with most of the bass lines and sang them to Larry Graham.

Family Stone Greg Errico

And more…

Errico has also played with, produced, or composed for:

  • Quicksilver
  • Grateful Dead
  • Rose Stone
  • Scotty Barnhart
  • Pittbull
  • Kidz Bop Kidz
  • Global Noize
  • Weird Al Yankovic
  • David Bowie
  • Pointer Sisters

More Family

In 2006, a new version of the Family Stone, which included original saxophonist Jerry Martini and the trumpet player the now late Cynthia Robinson. The band continues to tour.

Rolling Stone magazine lists Errico in its top 100 drummers.

Current information can be found at his Facebook page.