Shades of a Lost Festival

(Before we begin, some shameless self-promotion: every week a Popdose writer guests on the nationally syndicated radio show Overnight America with Jon Grayson. In the wee hours of this morning, that writer was me. Since you were probably sleeping, you can hear the interview here.)

A year ago, I wrote a post for the now-defunct WNEW.com about the July 1972 Concert 10 Festival, a daylong show held at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Because there’s so little on the Internet about the festival (my post comes up first on Google when you search “Concert 10 Festival”), I have received a handful of comments and messages from people who were there, or claim to have been there. Since we’ve written quite a bit about rock festivals at this blog, here’s a reboot.

By 1972, the concept of the massive, multi-day festival was dead. Similarly dead was the belief (which was never especially widespread, although it did affect the planning of some early festivals) that the Spirit of Peace and Love would overcome prosaic site problems involving traffic control and sanitation. In early 70s America, racetracks such as Pocono and the various speedways that hosted the Atlanta and Texas Pop Festivals (and Altamont, for that matter) were the likeliest facilities for accommodating the massive crowds that wanted to camp out at a concert.

But even when promoters legitimately contracted with tracks, locals often rebelled. In the days before the Concert 10 Festival, with roads already jammed and law enforcement stretched thin by flooding in the area, the Pennsylvania State Police suggested getting an injunction against it. The local DA said, essentially, “On what grounds?,” and the festival went forward. Nevertheless, many locals believed the festival could have, and should have, been stopped. Days afterward, a columnist in the Stroudsburg Pocono Record blasted county officials for failing to do so. Two years earlier, local authorities had killed a six-day festival scheduled for nearby Walpack, New Jersey, not long after a festival scheduled for a ski resort near Middlefield, Connecticut, was halted by injunction. The columnist refused to accept the county’s assertion that authorities didn’t learn about the festival in time to act, and he blamed racetrack owners for wanting a big payday to salve ongoing financial trouble. A couple of weeks after the festival, the local paper denounced as censorship a proposed county ordinance that would have granted officials the power to decide whether a festival was “good” for the area. (When one of them suggested an injunction against a Johnny Cash show scheduled for the racetrack in August, locals disagreed loudly.)

My original post describes the scene on concert day—the hellacious traffic, the open sale of drugs, the garbage left behind, and the horrified reaction of locals. That post has attracted some interesting tidbits from readers who claim to have been there. One says, “I have no idea who said drugs were for sale. It’s simply not true.” In that case, the local paper reported it. He also says, “I heard through the crowd that five babies were born.” This is almost certainly nonsense—Woodstock was twice as large and three days longer, and although there were rumors of births at that show, nobody has ever been able to prove anybody was born there. “When it rained, the Groundhogs were on stage. They played until their amps caught fire.” Perhaps. “Emerson Lake and Palmer began at about 3AM Saturday with ‘Fanfare for the Common Man.'” Doubtful: Given that ELP was in the midst of the massive world tour later documented on Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends, it’s more likely they opened with another Aaron Copland number, “Hoedown.”

My research named the following acts on the bill: Three Dog Night (who closed the show), Rod Stewart, ELP, Humble Pie, Black Sabbath, the J. Geils Band, Badfinger, and Edgar Winter, although one commenter says neither Black Sabbath nor Badfinger played, and another says he remembers Mountain there. (Newspapers were notoriously bad about listing rock festival lineups in their reporting.) There were undoubtedly other, lesser bands on the bill; the Groundhogs and Mother Night are two we know of. A number of concertgoers remember less about the music than they do about the looting of an ice-cream truck, the traffic jam before and after, and the muddy conditions.

The last mentions of the Concert 10 Festival in the local paper are at the end of July, when the traffic chaos it brought was contrasted with the smooth operation of two auto racing events that brought massive crowds to the raceway three weeks later. Never mind that an auto race is not a rock festival and a rock festival is not an auto race. The Pennsylvania 500 and Schaefer 500 races on back-to-back days proved to the locals that they could run a big event, if the hippies would get out of the way.

And with that, the Concert 10 Festival faded into history.

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21 responses

  1. I happen to have, in fairly good condition, the program for the concert 10 festival. It was my first outdoor concert and Mitch Mitchell playing with Ramatam at the time was memorable. Badfinger and Black Sabbath did cancell. No Mountain.

    1. My bad, the tickets were 11 bucks…the price of a movie today…sheesh! Those were the days!!

  2. I had just graduated high school and four of us headed to the concert. Yes the traffic was crazy. We literally parked our car in the 2nd lane of I-80 and carried and ice chest 4 miles to race track. As naive high school kids, we were totally intimidated by all the drugs sales and the crowd. When a biker guy, with what looked like a bear trap hanging from his belt, came up and asked us for some of our sandwich, we decided to leave and braved the traffic back out. Never heard any of the music.

  3. I was there. All I can honestly remember is the mud. I had a 1968 Rambler. The car was stuck where we parked. My friend Harold and I raised the trunk lid to remove whatever we could to put under the tires so we might be able to push the car out of the gunk. I was pushing from the back with the lid still open and cut my finger really badly. We had to go all the way back to behind the stage where the first aid station was. What I remember is (a) meeting all sorts of performers while back there, none of whom I can name, and (2) I got the most attention of everybody because I was the only one back there who wasn’t overdosing on drugs. Did I have fun? Who knows? I was 18. Of course it was great. My only festival, too young for Woodstock, so it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  4. I was there three dog night played at six in the morning they had to drive up because of fog black sabbath was a no show line up was faces elp humble pie j.geils bad finger cactus egar winter bull angus mother night groundhogs claire hamill ramtam I still have the program

  5. My friend Nancy ,whoi grew up with, and I were there at the consert. I was in 11 th grade. I stuck to her like glue cause I had no sence of direction. Nancy cut her foot on glass, we went bare footed! They lifted her out by helicopter and I stood in one place, in mud, bare foot, for hours waiting for her to come back. Someone came up in front of me and video taped me. I wish I knew who that was. Wish I could see pictures and videos of that time. It still was still a great experience. They show woodstock on tv..why can’t they show video on the poconos concert? I think it was better than woodstock!

    1. I was there also and yes, trying to find photos or even video of this concert is harder than finding a unicorn! :) I was 17 and went with a bunch of people and got lost after I came out of the bathroom. Amazingly enough, I bumped into three other guy friends I knew and ended up hanging with them the entire time until later being able to locate my original group. I remember a lot of rain and mud and hell, I am NOT cut out for oudoor stuff like that! I DID have a good time and can still remember ELP and Rod Stewart and Faces in the wee hours of the morning. $14.00 for this concert…wow, I sure wish I could go back to those days now! It’s almost like this concert did not exist as there is not much about it to be found. What is really funny is that years later is that my ex-husband had actually been at that concert, too…and we were both so damn happy to see that we each knew someone ELSE that had actually been there!!! LOL!!

  6. We travelled to the Pocono Raceway from Bergen County NJ….we knew there were to be several pop star headliners/bands there and the music was bound to be good. (In those days, the tickets were probably $30 for each of the 2 days…something crazy as that!) I believe we left from Jersey the day before (Friday) so to get there a little early but the traffic was already insane by early Friday evening. I remember people walking on top of the cars, on the roofs of cars,from car to car…..that’s how jammed up it was! And in those days there wasn’t much, if any, traffic management. No body around to give out a traffic violation! We got to the raceway and set up our tent which turned out to be a great idea because that one night it absolutely poured …I remember listening to Humble Pie & Emerson Lake & Palmer from inside the tent since it was teeming rain… We had a terrific time, not any problems to speak of, though I think it was because we (m best friend & I) were in good hands of our ‘platonic’ friends.. Smoked pot and maybe even ate some mushrooms but overall had a great time…..I am on this website tonight because I was watching the Eagles special and it brought back memories … PRetty tame compared to even Woodstock and things that go on today……

  7. I was there, but for some reason remember arriving the night before. We sat where we thought was the back, but it soon turned out to be the front. But I get ahead of myself. The night before, myself and three of my HS friends (I grew up 15-20 miles away) all ingested a bit of mescaline (actually snorted it) at our humble “campground.” For me, a practiced follower of the hallucinogenics, it was a blast. Listening to our portable stereo, watching my goofy friends, who had never experienced anything like this before. Two of them did a lot of dancing, while the other one could not pull his eyes from the star-laden sky.

    The day of the show, it started out well. One weird site I will forget was the local version of a motorcycle gang (Hell’s Angels, I have no idea) just ran over people sitting on the infield to get to the front. I think they had been used as “security” or some such crap. Worst thing? Idiots around us applauded them, as if they were returning war heroes or something. It made my almost puke.

    Anyway, we made it through the Groundhogs and then all came to the same conclusion:
    “This sucks.” We picked up our salvageable gear and headed for the car. We were home in no time, but the evening before was quite fun.

    I also remember one of my friends being really scared to cross the track to get to the infield. One, the cyclone fence had pretty much been trampled. Two, someone was riding back and forth on the track on a very powerful motorcycle, doing wheelies and scaring pedestrians. Lots of fun, I guess.

    Now, I also made it to Watkins Glen in ’73, a comparable setup, but much more interesting in terms of the crowd and the acts. I was living in Syracuse NY at the time (summer between junior and senior year in college). This time, it was window pane. But this time, it was The Band, The Dead and the Allman Brothers, not that ragtag lineup at Pocono. We stayed the whole time, worth it. I could not get enough of the Allmans then, still can’t.

    Finally, in the summer of ’69 a few friends and I actually purchased tickets to Woodstock, at the time we were led to believe it was an outdoor Jimi Hendrix concert. We never made it. We sold the tickets and headed to a cheap motel (Heart of the Wildwoods) on the Jersey Shore. It was the last summer I had with my ex-football pals (they were all headed to college, shades of American Graffiti). We turned on the TV in the motel, and there was Woodstock. Doh! We went to the beach instead.

  8. I was a local kid (15) and was a maintenance worker at the track that summer. I remember spending weeks picking up the garbage afterwards and can attest to finding plenty of evidence of drug use. One of my buddies found a zip-lock full of cash (several hundred $) – probably from an “absent minded” dealer! My best friend Buz bought tickets but thought it would be more fun to jump the fence with everyone else. Slit his hand open and wound up getting a free helicopter ride to the hospital, but i think he missed the show completely. The traffic and rain were terrible – I stayed home that day and everyone told me I didn’t miss much. And yes, the locals in general did not approve!

  9. I have a pretty good memory of the Pocono concert. Four of us drove in my brothers little red car,which we had to leave somewhere about five miles away. That was Friday night. We arrived at concert around 1 pm, it was sunny and great. The fence that promoters put up,was down and people just streamed in. I remember at the back of the track lots of motorcycles and gang members. We had our own drugs. I took some orange sunshine about 2pm. It started raining around 4? We were in a make shift tent with some people we met. I left there soon after and headed to the front of the stage. I was able to get right up front because of the rain. The stage was about 10 ft. High with a big chain link fence surrounding. There were people dressed in karate gi’s underneath. The music stopped for the rain and soon a chant started some people may have thrown stuff. As the rain slowed a band came on with a female guitar player(Ramatam?) she was pretty good! I remember her on her knees arched back playing Jimi Hendricks style. The rain was on and off,I remember two twin girls huddled in a whitish,blanket or sheet.I watched them for what seemed like an eternity.
    I remember some of the other bands J Giles, Humble Pie,Faces,ELP, Three Dog Night. We left while Three Dog Night played sometime 6 or 7am.

  10. I remember the concert and have been looking for information about it. I got in through a hole someone had cut in the wire fence, and ripped my leather jacket on the wire. Karma. I was just about to enter my junior year of high school. Definitely no Black Sabbath or Badfinger. I also saw Led Zeppelin at the Spectrum in Philly that summer.

    I can’t believe there were so many negative comments about traffic, rain, and garbage. It was an outdoor concert! That’s part of the experience. What did people expect? A lot of these concerts were generally poorly planned and thrown together to make some quick dollars. Promoters lied to the local authorities about impact, or bribed them, and then left a mess.

    So we’re all grown up now and see how foolish it was, but I would not have wanted to miss the experience.

    Oh, and there WERE drugs for sale – it was 1972. People denied there were drugs around back then, but to deny it now is, let’s just say misinformed.

  11. I thumbed a ride with a another kid from high school who I didn’t know that well. His friends like mine had driven down the nite before and we hoped we would meet those guys there. We left Dirty Dorchester Ma. at about 1pm Friday and at 10pm we were on the racetrack. The track is 2miles around and we went around the whole course and miraculously we bumped into (figuratively–they were wasted on Sunshine) my buddies.
    We ran into some strange dudes over the course of the nite and there was even some wasted biker dude in a coffin. I had ‘dropped’ some acid by then and was freaked out. There were drugs everywhere- mostly weed and hallucinogens. Next morning we were at the main gate with no tickets. The other guy I had thumbed with met his buddies, which was uncanny cause of the crowds, and they went off together. At about 11am the
    main gate opened to let a cop car in and one of my friends hopped on to the rear of the car, it was traveling at a slow pace and when they didn’t kick him off, me and my other friend hopped on.. By now, it was a free-for-all because they weren’t even trying to collect tickets anymore. The cop car drove to the side of the stage and we were ‘up front’—-it was really hot and we didn’t have any water etc. After the concert started, we spotted another group of about 15 dudes who were also from Dirty Dot. and we made our way over to where they were partying…. they had no shortage of refreshments and we were golden…..but then the rain started…. quickly the ground became a sea of mud……we left and hiked to a underpass where the other guys we met had 3 vans parked….. I remember that the only thing I had brought with me was a black plastic trash bag( Irish suitcase) with a change of clothes and after we were under the underpass I was able to change and party on…After the rain stopped we marched back to the concert but didn’t go that close to the stage,,,,,Humble Pie, Mod Rod and Boston band J.Geils rocked out and we had a ball but I remember I was exhausted from no sleep and long hikes. I will never forget that, because the ground was soaked and muddy, I had no choice but to sit on a full upright can of Bud,….imagine trying to plant yer ass on a can… God’s honest truth, I did and it helped a little bit…. we left before 3Dog came on and I got a ride all the way home in one of the vans and like the other comments hadn’t heard much about that concert…I would love to see a t-shirt, poster, ticket or pictures of Concert !0….Take A. Dudley 2013

  12. […] rebooted post from WNEW.com about the Concert 10 Festival at Pocono Speedway in 1972  has attracted many fascinating comments from people who were there; so has a post about the 1970 […]

  13. Can anyone remember if Edgar Winter played ‘Frankenstein ” . I say he did, a friend says no, need to settle this .

  14. Too young to attend Woodstock, Pocono10 in 1972 was to be my first and ultimately last outdoor festival … total nightmare.. Left Long Beach Island with three friends at dusk Saturday morning. Approaching the site on a two lane rural road, traffic gridlocked about 5 miles out with most abandoning their cars and walking in. We did the same and fortunately pulled off the main road and parked along a street that ran parallel to the interstate (not sure which one) … this decision was a lifesaver. After a two hour walk we settled on our sleeping bags on the raceway infield and the partying began …beer, a little Jack and great deal of marijuana …. life was good for the moment.

    We didn’t bring food and there was none to be had at the festival. I remember standing 7 deep at a concession stand watching a pile of uncooked hot dogs sitting in cold water while the attendants tried to bring the water to a boil with the smallest of burners. This was going to take a while and growling bellies outnumbered hot dogs 10 to 1 …. I went hungry.

    The music stated in early afternoon with a couple of lame bands and a female folk singer … The sound system was good but the musicians were mere specs in the far distance. During the Ground Hogs set, it began to rain …. for several hours replete with lightning bolts and claps of thunder …. The infield quickly became a quagmire and the temperature dropped precipitously. Cold, soaking wet, covered in mud, exposed, stoned, drunk, hungry and beaten we conceded defeat, picked up our saturated sleeping bags and began the long march back to the car. About halfway back the rain stopped and brilliant sunshine lit up valley … The concert restarted with who I thought was Edgar Winter but I could be wrong about that. For a split second we considered going back.

    When we arrived at our car we found the road network impassable … Abandoned cars left in the middle of every road. Our only way out was through a 30 yard mudhole between our side street and the interstate. Other resourceful attendees who were bent on leaving were pushing cars through the mud to gain access to the interstate … We paid our dues helping others and when it was our turn we were free … A great sense of relief that we were outta there.

    Once free, food was the primary objective as we hadn’t eaten in almost 24 hours. We came across a McDonald’s and I have to say that it was one of the most unforgettable meals I’ve had in my life… Two Big Macs, fries and a vanilla shake never tasted better.

    Wish I could say I had a great time with many fond memories of my one outdoor festival … But even with the passing of over 40 years the disaster that was Pocono 10 remains embedded in me. Too bad, it had potential … some of my favorite bands, Faces, Sabbath, ELP and Humble Pie played. I’ll know better next time.

  15. Tony Allen is correct about the bands. We drove up from Hackettstown NJ, which wasn’t that far away, but got caught in a massive traffic jam. We pulled the car off to the site of the road and made it to the Raceway in time for the first band. I was disappointed that Badfinger and Black Sabbath didn’t show up. But it was pretty surreal when ELP came on in the middle of the dark morning. The rain had stopped by then and I recall that it was cold and a little foggy, and certainly muddy. I also remember that Keith Emerson had on a shiny suit that reflected the floodlights. By the time Rod Stewart came on a little later, we were beat and tried to find our tent. I have an old photo of my troop on the morning after. Overall, the bands were good, but you had to get pretty close to the stage to really appreciate the show. We were able to get relatively close in the middle of the night. And, yeah, there was mud, just like at Woodstock and Watkins Glenn, but it was worth it for an 18 year old. For me, the atmosphere, the grounds and the music, was better than the Watkins Glenn concert, although it was great to see the Dead, the Band and the Allman Brothers together.

  16. Yes, I was there and still have two tickets ($11.00 each) how they made it through that rain and mud I’ll never know! The fence was flattened and we crashed the gate and never used the tickets. Rain, mud, music, Boones Farm apple wine, mescaline and reefer were prevalent in our group and the 5 mile walk back to the car on the highway was tough in rain soaked clothes. Hey, 18 years old and I missed Woodstock, I was going to this outside festival no matter what!

  17. A Tribute to Concert 10 at Pocono International Raceway in 1972.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/285275194961295

    PA and backline provided by Gold Star Equipment Rental Brothers Aluminum Bissett Nursery Thievery Corporation

    1960’s Joshua Light Show by Warren Barlowe and Better Half Deb

    Stage Managers:

    Joanne J-bird Phillips, Allan Spielman

    Acoustic Stage
    800-820 Tom Ryan
    850-910 John Simonelli
    940-1000
    1030-1050 Jo and Frank
    1120-1140
    1210-1230

    Main Stage
    820-850 Guy Tour’s Black Sabbath Tribute
    910-940 The Project
    1000-1030 Retro69
    1050-1120 Robert and friends
    1140-1210 Comfortable Rut
    1230-100 Vitamin D

    note: expect show to go to 2am!!!!! times are approximate

    Concert 10 was a rock concert at Pocono International Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania on July 8 and 9 of 1972. The event attracted an estimated 200,000 people who were met with cold inclement weather, replete with rain and mud. The general atmosphere of the concert was compared to the Woodstock Festival of 1969. Concert 10 represented a successful revival of the American summer rock festival after the repeated failure of U.S. festivals during the previous two years.[1]

    Here are the bands you can choose from

    Black Sabbath
    Badfinger
    Mother Nigh .
    Claire Hamill
    The Groundhogs
    Ramatam (with Mitch Mitchell from Hendrix Experience!!!)
    Bull Angus
    Cactus
    Edgar Winter
    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
    Faces with Rod Stewart
    Humble Pie
    The J. Geils Band
    Three Dog Night

  18. Very interesting posts, I like it. Talk about coincidence, cleaning out the garage over the weekend and I found the “Souvenir Program” from the concert. Man that was a good time. I went with a bunch of people, myself and 3 other guys on bikes (my Honda CB 500, I think it was actually pretty new at the time) and a bunch of other guy who followed in a van. What a party, I will never forget it! The rain, mud, music, partying and yes, as I have seen posted, a very intimidating motorcycle gang. We were lucky to be on bikes since we were able to get around a lot of the traffic. We camped outside the raceway the night before (Friday) and I remember being awakened early in the morning by a crowd of people going through a hole that was cut in the fence almost right in front of me. I had a ticket, but, LOL, didn’t need it after all. It is too bad that there wasn’t any documentary film made on the concert cause it felt very much like Woodstock just not as long.

  19. I was there with 3 friends from southern Connecticut. There was no way to make it off the exit ramp so we parked the car under the overpass and walked to the show. Many others did the same, the highway was like a parking lot. My mission was hampered by the fact I was on crutches due to an ACL operation the week before. Once at the site it resembled a mud slide. The music was intermittent at best. At the conclusion the materials left behind were unbelievable, thousands of soaked sleeping bags and coolers not to mention hills of garbage. All I can say is it was not an enjoyable experience but an experience no the less. Watkins Glen Summer Jam on the other was a whole different story.

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