23. The Woodstock On Wheels

In 1970 Warner Brothers had a surprise hit on their hands when they released the documentary/concert film Woodstock. Having spent less than a million dollars on it, the film would eventually gross 50 million at the box office. The question for the suits at the WB was, how do we make lightning strike twice?

Medicine Ball Caravan Poster

That’s where the Medicine Ball Caravan comes in. A tour across America in tie dye buses stuffed with hippies, bands, counterculture clown Wavy Gravy, and more drugs than a Walgreen’s warehouse. Free concerts staged with major acts like Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Hot Tuna, and Alice Cooper! Hippies in middle America freaking out those squares who just don’t get it! Add in Academy Award winning documentarian Francois Reichenbach to film it all and it’s gold right?

Of course not. Reichenbach’s French film crew ended up just as high as any hippie on the trip resulting is terrible footage, the caravan was labelled a sellout by the exact audience it was trying to cultivate, and the squares in middle America turned out to be mostly nice people.

In this episode of The Industry we explore what went wrong for this forgotten movie by talking to the people who know what went down and who were there when it happened.

Lobby card with the alternate title We Have Come For Your Daughters

Guest Links

Get Michael Oberman’s book Fast Forward, Play, and Rewind. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fast-forward-play-and-rewind-michael-oberman/1135880500

Read Rick Ouellette’s Reel and Rock blog on the Medicine Ball Caravan. https://rickouellettereelandrock.com/2013/03/03/the-strange-forgotten-saga-of-the-medicine-ball-caravan/comment-page-1

Visit Sean Howe’s website http://seanhowe.com

Visit Jackie Weisberg’s photography website. https://www.jackieweisberg.com/

Listen to the Pretend podcast. http://pretendradio.org/

Sources

Rosenbaum, Ron. Hog Farm;s Wayward Bus. Village Voice, September 10, 1970. https://www.villagevoice.com/2005/10/18/hog-farms-wayward-bus/

Ouellette, Rick. The Strange Forgotten Saga of the Medicine Ball Caravan. Reel and Rock. March 3, 2013. https://rickouellettereelandrock.com/2013/03/03/the-strange-forgotten-saga-of-the-medicine-ball-caravan/comment-page-1

Oberman, Michael. Fast Forward, Play, and Rewind. October, 2020. Backbeat Books.

Mastropolo, Frank. Revisiting Medicine Ball Caravan; The Woodstock On Wheels. Ultimate Classic Rock. August 5, 2015. https://ultimateclassicrock.com/medicine-ball-caravan/

Till, Chris. Yellow Springs in the ’60s and ’70s: Medicine Ball Caravan. A Yellow Springs Blog, November 7, 2011. http://ayellowspringsblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/yellow-springs-in-60s-and-70s-medicine.html

The Tom Forcade Story: Medicine Ball Caravan. Directed by Steven Hager. YouTube. June 24, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnKWfJaeY5U