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The Knebworth Park Festivals.
Knebworth Park Concert .
August 4th 1979.
Led Zeppelin, Todd Rundgren's Utopia, Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes,The New Commander Cody Band, Fairport Convention ,Chas and Dave.
August 8th 1979.
Led Zeppelin, New Barbarians, Todd Rundgren's Utopia , Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes,The New Commander Cody Band,Chas and Dave.
Festival Welfare Services .
Its easy to forget that behind every major (and often minor ) UK outdoor concert or festival was an unpaid and dedicated group of volunteers who gave up their time to minister to the concert goers who needed services that promoters could ( or would not ) provide, such as first aid, information, drug counselling , support and other essential activities . In addition, they also provided feedback to promoters and councils so that festival services could improve as the years progressed .We have the reports for the 1979 Knebworth festivals and reproduce them here , they provide a fascinating glimpse as to what went on behind the scenes and are a fitting tribute to all of those who helped out at these events over the decade.
August 4. 1979.
Knebworth crowd 8-4-79 Photo © Ove Stridh
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In the evening we attended the meeting for welfare group on the campsite to acquaint ourselves with the skills offered by the various groups and to arrange the rota for the information tent in the campsite and arena.
Friday night the team in the campsite was extremely busy,and the group in the arena had to open its facilities at approximately 4 a.m.when the gates into the arena had to open due to crowd pressure and the people started to rush in to obtain places close to the stage.
Early Saturday morning a Release worker introduced our two volunteer doctors to the St John Ambulance people, and advised them of our position in the arena so that they would be able to refer any obvious drug abuse related problems to us.
Unfortunately, we did not have our Release banner to fix onto the marquee in the arena, so we attempted through Festival Welfare Services to have an announcement concerning our location made over the loudspeaker - but met with very little success until a very watered down announcement about welfare services being 'in the rear of the arena' was made.
Due to what appeared to be a low Police profile, the Legal Workers in the team dealt with very few 'bust' or arrest enquiries during the festival. Also, we must assume that our presence at the festival was not widely known (as we had no banner and could not arrange an announcement), which could account for the scant number of enquire relating to Release work. Our volunteer doctors found it necessary to approach St John to offer their assistance, as they (St John) seemed to feel that they could handle all the problems that came their way without reference to us.
Unidentified band onstage Knebworth 8-4-79
© Ove Stridh
Accordingly, the main body of our work in the arena consisted of joining the other welfare groups (Stevenage CVS, British Rail and the Police) in answering general enquiries and helping lost people - the latter becoming much more frequent after the concert and through the night.
The Release team were able to leave the site at about midday on Sunday.
Knebworth. August 11 . 1979
The first thing we noticed upon arrival at the campsite on Friday afternoon was the much smaller crowd compared with the previous weekend. This held true for the entire concert, with attendance at about half that of the first concert (an estimated 80,000-100,000 for the second weekend). We were able to fix the Release banner to the main marquee in the arena (as the Release tent which had attended Deeply Vale was now present), and accordingly were able to answer more enquiries, while our Doctors were busy all over the site, including backstage, arena, campsite and administration area.
Again, the majority of the enquiries in the arena pertained to lost people and associated problems.
After the concert Release workers joined with workers from the Samaritans, Stevenage CVS and Civil Aid in checking the arena for casualties unable to move - six were located and handed to St John.
The types of injuries looked after by the team and volunteer Doctors included food poisoning, mild abuse of a wide range of drugs, with the all too common number of cases who had drunk too much and consumed barbiturates as well. One person was also treated by our Doctors for injuries to his eye caused by hot vinegar. This casualty was eventually taken to hospital by St John Ambulance.
Photo© Ken Walton 8-11-79
Again, the Release team was very busy after the concert, both in the arena and on the campsite, helping lost people and those unable to move. We were able to leave the site at midday on
RELEASE October 2, 1979,
The events in this tangled chain can be read in Freddy Bannister's book, " There Must Be A Better Way " , which chronicles his adventures in promoting the giant concerts at Knebworth from 1974-79. More info about these concerts can also be found at the Knebworth House site and at Rip Gooch's site, which contains substantial portions of text from the now defunct book Knebworth Rock Festivals, by Chryssie Lytton Cobbold.
Can we get a witness ?
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Knebworth Concerts 1974-86
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