Friday, April 08, 2005

It's Only Rock 'n Roll


It’s amazing what’s published on the net. A couple of years ago I stumbled across this wonderfully nostalgic site that is dedicated to music festivals held in Britain during the golden years of the 1960s and 70s. It’s run by an affable chap by the name of Dave who seems to be currently resident DownUnder and collects paraphernalia related to these great events with meticulous and loving devotion.

The very first rock concert I attended was the 8th National Jazz and Blues festival held at Kempton Park racecourse, Sunbury, in August of 1968. The lineup was incredible and on the day I attended included Spencer Davis, Traffic, Chicken Shack, Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull (who were making their first big performance and were brilliant). Also playing in a marquee was the late, great, Duster Bennett, Savoy Brown (and I’m 95% certain although he’s not listed on the programme, a young Reg Dwight before he transmogrified into Elton John) and others who were compered by John Peel. Overall it was a brilliant event and had a profound influence on my musical taste as can be judged by the number of CDs from the above artists in my collection. A poster from the festival adorned an interior wall of my Dad’s garage for years after and it’s replicated above.

Another festival I attended in that era was at Plumpton racecourse, Sussex, on the Whitsun (remember that?) Bank Holiday weekend of 1970. Hard to believe it was 35 years ago. There was another stellar line up but the highlight of the evening came when the power was turned off when Ginger Baker’s Airforce outstayed the organisers’ welcome at the end of the evening. The defiant, unamplified drum solo that followed was quite amazing and ended with Mr. Baker being carted off stage by security staff. A caricature of a rock musician if ever there was one.

I went to other festivals in the 70s: I remember Bob Dylan at Blackbushe Airport in 1978 and Led Zeppelin at Knebworth House circa 1978. But by then the magical musical era was over and I had developed a dislike of large crowds, exposure to bad weather, an aversion to being trampled on by drugged up idiots and most of all an absolute need for decent toilets. Sad to say but I had grown up and become middle class.


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