The Quad-City Times dug up some forgotten photos from the 1978 Mississippi River Jam, which was held July 16th, 1978, on Credit Island (an island in the Mississippi River on the south west side of Davenport, Iowa within the Quad Cities area).
The bands performing were—in order—Van Halen, Journey, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, and The Doobie Brothers.
All of the text below is the Van Halen content from the Quad-City Times newspaper. The black and white photos below are by Bill McConnell/Quad-City Times.
A crowd numbering 20,000 to 25,000 persons sprawled onto Davenports Credit Island Sunday for a sun drenched afternoon of rock ‘n roll and good times.
The Van Halen band took the stage at 2 PM after numerous equipment delays. The spokesperson for Showco, a company that handled some of the sound equipment arrangements, said Van Halen and Journey had played Saturday night in Cleveland, Ohio, and much of the equipment had not arrived by truck in Davenport until 6 AM.
By 6 AM, several thousand concertgoers had already lined up outside the entrance to the island – some in vans, some sleeping cars and others who just threw their sleeping bags down on the side of the causeway.
Before beginning their set, Van Halen’s acrobatic lead singer, Dave Lee Roth, led the ranch and roll band and a backstage cheerleading session. “Okay, let’s really ham it up!” He said as they bounded on stage. And after the long wait, the crowd was enthusiastic – but Van Halen only played a little more than a half hour.
Roth said it was problems with the promoter’s equipment that shortened their time onstage. Standing outside a mobile van parked on the side of the stage, Roth said that it that was about all he could add, “My department is sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.” He laughed.
Boats bobbed Sunday afternoon on the Mississippi River off Credit Island as an estimated crowd of 20,000 to 25,000 persons jammed toward the stage where rock bands performed under a hot Quad-City sun.
Some listened from boats, others from whatever perch they could find.
David Lee Roth, lead singer for the Van Halen band, strolled, strutted and swaggered.
A crowd that promoters estimated at 20,000 to 25,000 filled a portion of the Credit Island golf course Sunday, July 16, 1978, for a six-hour rock concert. Security forces reported few problems despite the heat, large crowd and interminable delays in the music.
Jennifer McFedries, Davenport, had little trouble selling “Mississippi River Jam 1978” frisbees, which floated above the crowd during the day.
Some rock fans created their own shade to avoid the heat.
Journey played to a sea of faces at Credit Island Sunday, July 16, 1978. Although the concert was delayed frequently by technical delays, the crowd waited patiently for each of the four bands to play.