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Updated September 2012, New pictures of the site and audience
Dec 2011 new photos of the Pye Recording crew and Miles Davis's engineer Stan Tonkel and producer Teo Macero
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Reports from the Front - the Pink Fairies and Hawkwind.
Hawkwind play for free at the IOW © Malcolm George.
Arrived! Invited beforehand to play at Canvas
City, a large inflatable dome, capacity: 3000 people, a disco light
show & food bar. Camped by dome. Large purple disco brought by Tony
& John, who also brought our equipment and, of course,
FRIDAY: Afternoon super-star jam session: Pink Fairies and Hawkwind: 3 drum kits: 2 bass guitars .3 guitars: sax & flute: Dikmik electronics controller & countless dancers!! All happening between entrances to dome.
Meeting with dome man. Wanted to charge 10/- & entice bands with money. Bands say: People hungry, need shelter, you. help - Maybe, but price stays. Pink Fairies score £20 to get home, & pull out of dome owing I to a strange vibration caressing their frontal lobes,
Hawkwind take guy in good faith he puts up entry charge without consulting band & serves "hot, filling meal "inside. Hot filling meal? Soup & hot chocolate! Meanwhile, people outside remain hungry . . .
Friend's arrive & start amazing festival bulletin which eventually led Miss Jennifer Ashworth, friend of percussionist B.R. Hunter, to the police tent to recover 'Sunshine', her pet poopsy-woopsy apple-dumpling & red-setter puppy.
IT & Family arrived & joined the party. Someone reported seeing a mobile red Avis opium den in the area.
Pink Fairy roadie, C.P. Welch, spiked & sent to Release tent.
Hated to leave. Reported nice sounds, jumping beans & beauti-ful warm understanding chicks.
.... Good Afternoon Buttons!
SATURDAY: Free concert outside Disco site. Disco continues. More live music. Everyone plays everything & each other. Crowd freaks .,, everyone freaks .... V. Prince, an old salt at the skins, shows his skill at rocking & roll-ing! The whole thing strongly resembles a horrid, unstoppable electronic monster. Almost 3 hours! Whew!! The pen shakes with reminiscence.
Then it's time to leave for London as we have to play in the Worthing Carnival Parade & have no return booking ....
THE MUSIC, ON THE WHOLE WAS DISAPPOINTING.... An endless stream of totally un-committed bands who came on, played, collected their bread & then split. Fiery Creations followed the usual festival procedure of booking 2nd-rate American artists in preference to Ist-rate British bands - who the fuck wanted to see Lighthouse & Cactus? Some of the best music came from outside the arena: jam sessions with the Pink Fairies, Hawkwind & friends produced fine music, good vibes &, most important of all, a sense of audience participation that was sadly lacking with most of the major acts.
On the main stage, the DOORS copped out.
The band was mechanical, bored & completely lifeless. Morrison
sang well but it was the same old shit. Light My Fire for the thousandth time
just didn't make it. . Maybe it was the atmosphere- interminable hassles over
press passes and general bad vibes backstage couldn't have helped- but it was
one hell of a bring down.
But The WHO got it on - & got it on good. Entwistle in skeleton suit Townshend in his usual white boiler suit, & a power & drive that virtually every other band lacked. By the time they came on, the press bar had had shut, most of the alcoholic hacks had split back to their hotels, & the press arena was full of leaping freaks. Tommy was resurrected, but there was a lot of life left in the corpse. Daltrey was magnificent; the band played superbly, & for the first time the audience responded to the music. Fucking incredible!
Things got worse on Sunday morning. Sly finished his set, & the Fiery Creations goons tried to clear the arena. The kids refused to go (surprise! surprise!) and so Rikki Farr sent Joni on to cool them out. She prattled on merrily about how beautiful everyone was, how she loved them all, & how everyone was behaving like children. "what do you want to do - start a war?-" Right on Joni! Still, she tried, & to a certain extent she succeeded. After a volley of coke cans had rained round her head, the kids did cool down - tho' they still refused to go. Eventually Fiery capitulated. They let the audience stay, after making them burn their tickets to stop people going out with a handful to let others in for free
SLY was outrageous. The band only played for half an hour, but 'Stand', 'Higher' & ' Dance to the Music' were some of the highlights of the whole weekend. They were so fucking professional & so cool - bunch of gaudily dressed, super rehearsed spadesˇ & musically they were unbeatable!! The only drag was the shortness of their set. Apparently Sly was well pissed off by the long wait backstage, & when the band was interrupted by a cat, full of righteous revolutionary fervour who jumped on-stage & began screaming at the crowd, telling them to refuse to leave the arena. Some-one slung a coke can at him. It missed, hit Sly's bassist, & the band split after saying that they'd come back that afternoon. They didn't.
Saturday. 7 pm: 60 police have made a surprise swoop on the Hell's Angels headquarters.
WHITE PANTHER STATEMENT TO FREE PRESS -
Saturday: "Fiery Creations have now got to be made aware of their responsibility for the physical support of everyone here. Up until now, all moves have simply been to protect their property (i.e.. increas-ing the security). But we don't want to organise. The situation is too vast for any small group to instigate or forestall the anger of the people. If at all possible, we have to make the bands on stage aware of it also. Performers are on that stage because, & only because, of the people. But their projection is towards a frontal elite. In other words, their audience is basically a bunch of rich honkies. There is always this paradox between the commercial way music is marketed, & its content. It is true that for a festival run on these lines, groups expect large amounts of money before they appear, but the kids must realise that all profit from the freaks is being put back into the honky comm-unity. When pressed, the White Panthers offered suggestions on how festivals should be organised in the future:
1. Companies such as Birds-Eye & Pepsi could easily be persuaded to give free food in return for the associated publicity.
2. If it is a free festival, the necessary expenses being covered by film and TV rights, then most bands would be prepared to play for less money.
There are only 2 reasons
for hving a festival:(a) as a financial gamble; (b) as entertainment for the people
.Phun City was an example of the second situation
& that is why there was a total lack of press communication about it. If you
got a good site, erected lavatories, supplied food, & told people to come
along & camp, you could have the greatest festival of all time a festival
of the people, by the people and for THE PEOPLE!!
TO THE FESTIVAL ORGANISERS
FROM THE PEOPLE ON DEVASTATION HILL:
'For three days we have listened to free music.
We would like to show our appreciation of this by helping to clear up the litter
on the hill. If plastic bags are provided we will do this on Monday FOR FREE
PS: some of us had tickets as well. We also dissociate ourselves from any wall
Kit, Hubback, V. Johnson & 10 others.
Who has got the damned right to speak for The People of Devastation Hill'? Couldn't it be that the festival moneymakers just want to save the expense of cleaning up the hill? About the 'violated fences it is not true that the people inside the arena received the'invaders' with missiles. They just helped them keep away the fascist pigs who were guarding the hole. Inside the fence nothing had been organised. The people on the inside spontaneously pushed down the fence to let the outsiders come in. Why didn't we read something about this incredible incident, The Press should have been saying all this instead of letting the money-makers carry on telling lies to half a million people on the island alone. Remember, we were told first that everybody had to leave the arena because of contracts with the Council then we had to leave because of the litter; then, after we had cleaned up the place ourselves within half an hour, we were told it would all have to be cancelled because "We don't have enough bread to pay the artists".
HANS, from Germany, on Devastation Hill.
1970 festival menu
The Underground press- NB: opinions expressed in these articles do not represent our opinions of the organisers or any other people involved in the running of the festival, it is possible that they may be innaccurate in some details or facts.
Reports from the "Straight "press
The White Panthers
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1968 Isle of Wight festival 1969 Isle of Wight festival
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