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Last update Sept 2012

The Knebworth Park Festivals.

Knebworth Fayre .

June 22nd 1985.

Deep Purple , Scorpions, Meat Loaf , UFO, Mountain, Blackfoot , Mama's Boys, Alaska.

The View From The Mud : Recollections and photos Knebworth 1985.

     we have few recollections, can you help ?

    I wasn't impressed that Purple only announced one British gig, but went anyway. It wasn't a bad line up, but I felt a mixed bag would have been more appropriate to the Knebworth tradition. The weather was horrendous and bucketed down for days beforehand, the site was a Somme re-enaction. Unlike the "old days" festival crowds (especially the metal/rock ones)had basically given up on the sitting down for the day, not that anyone could have sat down for this bash. It was one long day! Standing for the duration, wet, attempting to forget the weather by drinking 'Bow etc etc!

  The whole shebang was recorded by the Friday Rock Show and broadcast pretty much in it's entirety a short while afterwards (except the Scorps who refused, "World Wide Live" was in the pipeline and they obviously didn't want to affect sales), Anyway, the bands!


Soaked to the friggin skin the sodden crowd awaits the Purple messiahs .



   Alaska-Had Bernie Marsden on guitar, totally forgettable. Mountain-Fantastic, riffs abounding and a good solid band. I recall the crowd were apathetic at first but by the end they'd been won over, I saw them in Swansea a few years ago in front of a couple of hundred, still amazing but at home in a festival !

Mama's Boys-Good band, and seemed to be lower-mid bill fayre at a few fests around that time. They had a few memorable songs and a crowd pleasing "Mama Weer All Krazy Now" chucked in.

Blackfoot Knebworth 1985 photo courtesy Monty

    Blackfoot-Possibly stole the day for a lot of people, a welcome dose of southern rock and boogie, the weather was temp forgotten! Also a throwback to the tradition of southern bands at Knebworth, warmly received by the crowd, "Highway Song" perhaps my favourite live moment of the day.
   UFO-Did the business, only Phil Mogg (I think) was a mainstay at this point, however they churned out "Lights Out" "Only You Can Rock Me" etc to an appreciative (and getting restless) crowd. Meatloaf was terrible, a good backing band but his voice was shot to bits and he had a dodgy leg, which certainly made the mud throwing interesting ! This was during his sharp decline from '83-Reading Festival '88, he should have pulled out and saved history showing how crap he was at this point.

Rainsoaked festival services slowly soak into the mud as Knebworth house lurks damply in the background.

© Henry Cobbold Knebworth House

   The Scorpions-Probably the best set of the day, no arguments! A highly polished and professional show from the Scorps (always a superb festival band) who had just hit the big time in the States. All the "hits" got the crowd going. They also wiped the floor with Ozzy the next year at Donington. I remember thinking "Purple can't follow this", and I was right......

Glover and Blackmore © Allan David Perry

purchase this photo by clicking the link

    Deep Purple-Rain and a delay in hitting the stage (at least an hour late) meant any atmosphere the Scorps had built up was lost. The sound was nicely loud, but Blackmore was WELL off form and frankly looked as if he wanted to be elsewhere. They hit the ground running with "Highway Star" and were greeted like the returning heroes they were, in fact most of the crowd were on their side throughout, but most people will tell you in hindsight they were bloody awful. It was a cracking set list with the best of the superb "Perfect Strangers" album aired which I actually thought sounded fresher than the rest of the set and the crowd loved it, but Gillan wasn't hitting the notes and Blackmore just seemed to be in a completely different key to Lord/Glover/Gillan. I must admit "Smoke on The Water" and a seemingly heartfelt little speech by Gillan was a highlight, but otherwise a disappointment. I saw them 2 years later in the NEC and they rocked!

Looking back, I should have gone to Milton Keynes for U2/REM/Ramones that was held on the same weekend.


Yuss, I wuzz there, see a coupla pix in my site. A momentous event, went with my brother on me trusty Triumph Tiger, so no traffic problems. Meathead's songs all sounded alike, Scorpions superb, waited ages for DP to come on but it was an incredible experience to see them perform. IG seemed to be fooling around a bit (improvisation I guess), and the Perfect Street Rangers gag was a bit desperate. Ritchie's guitar sound wasn't up to Scorpions' standard, maybe it was the rain. JL & IP put in 200% though and I've always been glad I went. Still have the tour brochure (and the bike). Recently got the "Absence of Pink" Knebworth CD, saw DP again at the Royal Albert Hall, Sept. 1999. Perfect.


The punters at least got to be close to the stage in 1985, but no video screens ?

© Henry Cobbold Knebworth House

The report of the 85 show with Purple is spot on - especially the urine filled bottles. let's not forget the urine-fueled mud-wrestling and the overflowing urinals though! IIRC Tommy Vance was up there on the Friday night egging people on to come over early and join in the fun, which we promptly did, 5 guys in a Mk 1 Escort, sleeping over in the car park and getting in to the field at 6am, just to make sure we got wet all day.


I remember my parents taking me to knebworth in 1985 to go and see deep purple, I was 4 at the time so I only remember snippets, but I know the concert was bloody good despite the rain!! my dad Dave pushed an empty stall over so we could have a little shelter for the kids, I would like to say my dad is a legend and he still has his rock long hair! still worships deep purple and loves talking about the time we spent at knebworth, He is my main influence in my musical life and im very proud of him!


Kitty Brown

Anyone know who this is ? © Henry Cobbold - Knebworth House

© Allan David Perry

purchase these photos by clicking the link

Weird that you should pick up on this festival. I was There, I decided on a whim to take a break from my summer exams and went down on my own fron Coventry, where I was studying. I was already "growing out" of this sort of music but I was still a big Blackfoot fan, I was interested in bernies Marsdens band and, (sadly enough) I wanted to see the scorpions too (well, at least they were still a rock band then).

The weather was ok to begin with but for the wind, and most of the first three or four bands had their sound blown all over the place. Alaska were great, as wer Blackfoot, The Mamas boys always were very boring, Mountain were old hippies and who cares about meatloaf? I cringe at the thought now but the scorpions were excellent :-)). Funnily I cant remember UFO playing at all, I suppose I was looking for food or beer at the time. It certainly started pissing with rain and I made up my mind to just watch the first couple of songs of the Purple set (just to say I had seen them) and then go home. As it was I stayed for the whole set, they were pretty good. It was clear that they were bricking themselves about playing again and Ian kept making sad little jokes and then looking worried until someone laughed. Their sound was excllent and although i wasnt even a fan then I enjoyed the set no end.

Trying to get out of the car park at the end I couldnt get my car up the muddy slope to join the exit queue so i turned round and drove across the park to the exit itself. I then got out in about 5 mins, some were left waiting for hours ;-). I was back in Coventry just after four in the morning and just as I entered the city, my exhaust fell off! Anyone on the outskirts of Coventry who was woken by a sound like a tank battalion going past that night - that was me ;-)))

Andy Morgan

What a day, We got there just as Alaska were on, they were average to bollocks, but it was nice to see the x-snake Mr Marsden again. We were packed in so tight that I was only wet from the shoulders up ! I was standing just in front of the mixing tower all day. The Scorpions were ACE, meat Loaf "stop throwing things or i'll stop singing" was a bit of a wanker. and Deep Purple were amazing. It was worth every penny and I have never seen such a great lineup before or since. How the bands didn't get electrocuted I will never know, or perhaps Richie did and we didn't notice??!!!

Paul Richards

Does anyone else remember loads of strange guys in white jumpsuits with trees on the back wandering about??? (or was I really that Drunk!)
Not as good a festival as Donnington (1984 was mindblowing!), but any festivals better than none. Bring back the Rock Festivals!

Carl Reed

Brings Back Memories. Right at front at the start. Alaska OK, Leslie Wests guitar sound blew me away, mud pie hit wife in ear, Mama's boys - young americans with Zeppeling Influence - violin bow on a Roland Guitar Synth, Blackfoot were great, full of energy. Went for a piss during UFO apparently missing Malsteen on guitar? Not quite as near for meatloaf who I thought sang OK. He couldn't run about because of his leg being in plaster. Scorpions sound was awesome, the live album released soon after didn't do them justice. Ritchie in wellies. Superb event, only wet from shoulders up. Great site
Are the BBC recordings available?

Peter Hill

Great day except weather
Abiding memory - wife getting hit on head by bottle of piss
and having to give up prime spot just before Scorpions.
Nob of the Day (1)- Meatloaf
Nob of the Day (2) - Our coach driver - no alcohol etc etc
Have floodlights not been invented in Hertfordshire - who found their way out first time ?

Rob Milling

Best festival I've ever been in- was right at the front from UFO onwards- Scorpions were great entertainers and I remember being wowed by the Deep Purple laser show- keyboards in the air (or was it the cider!!?).
I travelled by coach from Winchester- woke up on the coach at 6am expecting to be nearly home but we were stil stuck in the mud!! We all got out and pushed- no good! Then two tractors pulled us out. Never had so much mud on me in my life, not to mention the beer and piss! still have my ticket somewhere.

Guy Lewis

Mark Thomas
I was at Knebworth, and what a day it was - I laughed out loud when Isaw your review of Meat Loaf - spot on.

Apart from him, I enjoyed all the acts. Blackfoot were great - they arean all time favourite of mine, and it was good to see them rise from the Hensley era. Mountain were a revelation (remember I was only 16!) Leslie West really took the place by the scruff of the neck & when Mr Laing brought out that HUGE cowbell - fantastic. I clearly remember him smacking his sticks off cymbals (they were black cymbals, too) into the crowd. Great showmanship.

The Scorpions were particularly good too - I had not long before seen them on the Love at first sting tour, and they were really in the groove.

Mark Thomas

Couldnt believe it! What a great site! It brought back so many memories. I got drenched & froze my nuts off but it was worth it. I went coz Blackfoot, UFO & Scorpions were playing - Purple was the bonus. I dont think ive ever seen so much mud in my life. I do remember it took an age for Purple to come on stage & Tommy Vance asking for the bottles to stop (only to see him get pelted with em!) Plus all the bonfires made from the fencing.
I still have the T-Shirts, pity they dont still fit!!!

Bryan Neighbour

What can I say. There I was, 19 years old, pissing down with rain, standng in a field to watch one of the greatest rock bands in the world! I was living in Bath at the time, and left for Knebworth at 5:30 in the morning with a few mates, while a pile of other people I knew headed off to Miton Keynes to see U2! Sunshine all the way up, it rained from the moment we parked the car!!!
We caught the back end of Alaska's set, so can't pass judgement. Mama's Boys were better the following year at Milton Keynes, Mountain were great, Blackfoot were brilliant, I was ok about UFO, though Atomic Tommy isn't a patch on Herr Schenker! Like everybody else here, I thought Meat Loaf was crap! First time I had seen him, then saw him indoors and he was still crap. The Scorpions were great, but like others have mentioned, they played an identical set at Donington the following year (where Def Leppard in general and Rick Allen in particular stole the show!). Then came Deep Purple. From the opening note of Highway Star to the close of Smoke On The Water they were superb - despite the weather! I remember the tree to the right of the stage being seriously attacked by the lasers during Perfect Strangers!!

Couple of asides - parts of the show were broadcast live on the day, then more highlights the following Saturday afternoon, with a full 8 hour broadcast a couple of months later. The sets by Mountain and Blackfoot cropped up on Alan Freeman's Saturday rock show in the late 1980s, but I don't think the Deep Purple set was ever re-broadcast. Also, on the album In The Absence Of Pink, one track (Lazy I think) was taken from a bootleg as the BBC recording was flawed!

All in all, one of the great days in my life - it ranks almost as high as watching Deep Purple in Paris two years later (DOES ANYONE HAVE A BOOTLEG OF THAT GIG???????), and this site will act a permanent reminder to those who were lucky enough to be there. Many thanks for triggering some great memories.


Seeing the web site brought it all back, even after over 16 years. I was with my mate Andy (who is now my co-director in our business) and we arrived the night before. I well remember the Friday Rock Show coverage with Ian Gillan wandering around talking to fans as we listened while pitching the tent hoping perhaps that he might pass by. The atmosphere of these festival camp sites with fires burning, all sorts of music playing and the general comaradarie takes some beating and everyone should experience this at least once. Being there we missed nothing. The reviews from the time are just typial of rock journalism, far, far away from the thoughts of the majority of the fans and I can't say that I wholly agree with any of them. Sure the sound could have been better and it certainly should have been louder but you have to take what is on offer. I cast my mind back to Zeppelin a few years earlier, the weather was superb but I did not enjoy that day at all for a combination of reasons. So I have seen worse and given that the awful weather will cloud your view, I thought that it was generally Okay. Good sense advises that you have to take appropriate clothing when out-dooring in England. If you were there and got soaked then that was you own fault for not being prepared! We were damp of course but overall it was worth it to see the best DP line up and the other bands for the whole part were watchable. Having said that I can't say that I enjoyed Blackfoot and I didn't bother to record the broadcast ( wish I had now).My over riding memory of the set is of an over amplified snare drum. Full stop. Whenever the fancy takes me and I listen to the tape of the Deep Purple set put out by the BBC I cannot help but smile and say to myself - I was in that crowd - I was there! Sod the rain it was a good day out - period! Oh and if you saw a couple of lads taking a leak after the show - sorry that could have been me - Happy days.

Tim Marshall

hi I was there in 85 too with some gentlemen of the motorcyce club persuasion. as you say rained loads cue tarpolines....
mud everywhere 'never seen so many womens bare bums in my life'...quote from wife.
great excitement before purple took the stage cue 70,001 people singing along to highway star!!!
magic to see them again after their 'holidays'
n e c was next sighting crap venue...
typical really huge field like agincourt the day after...great sound...indoor venue ..... abysmal sound!
but all in all great gig and well worth the money
still got the ticket!

hi guys and gals
I was there in 1985, mud and stuff! everywhere like a medieval battle field (as is/was donnington).
tarpaulins were order of the day, we were with some friendly hells angels from bath(?) scrumpy apleanty hee hee.
hilight meaty doing a dive on the wet stage hee hee hee and later in the proceedings purple and their umpteen thousand backing singers!
great show and new friends made!

Jim Grogan

It did happen then! I thought it was 'just a dream'.
Ian Gillan telling us that he had 'just heard the weather forecast and the suns coming out in ten minutes' at bleedin' 10:30 at night. Man did that lift the spirits!
Just as I had decided that this was my last outdoor gig, wet, cold completely pissed off, on they come. One power chord later and it was 'Fuck the weather, it don't matter anymore!'
And now, 17 years later, on the 11th Feb 2002...I'm off to Southend on sea to see the guys again.
It was heaven back then... and paradise to come on Monday.
Long may they reign!

Dave Tuting

Excellent stuff. I was living in Stevenage (is that possible) in those days and literally just had to walk across the A1 from where I worked at the time (British Aerospace) to get into Knebworth Park.

I had always remembered Meatloaf falling over - probably due to slipping on the mud - but as it never seems to have been mentioned anywhere else I was beginning to think my mind was just playing tricks on me.

Do you also remember that Janice Long introduced the early bands ? Christ knows why she was there as she never played rock on her shows at the time.

Been to many gigs and festivals since then and I'll always remember this one with great affection. I saw DP again a couple of years ago just after final qualifying for the Australian GP in Melbourne, where they were guests of Eddie Jordan. They played for about half an hour, the "gig" being announced only days before the event and of course you could only see it if you were at the GP. We saw them again a few weeks later in Brisbane for a "proper" gig - the first time I had seen them inside and although good it wasn't a patch on the impromptu set on the Albert Park golf course or of course the monumental night of cold rain at Knebworth.

Footnote : When I got back home that night my housemates told me they had opened the back door to listen and told me (correctly) all the songs that they recognised. They were about 3 and a half miles away and with most of the town of Stevenage in between but such were the acoustics of the Knebworth "bowl" that combined with the wind that night they heard it all perfectly.

Thanks for the memories ... as someone once said ... somewhere ... sometime.


thanks to Tim for the donation of these comments from his now defunct Knebworth 85 site.


Personal accounts
Recordings/set lists

 Purple at Knebworth links

( external sites )

George Starostin's Review

Brian McPherson's pages on Knebworth 85

Deep Purple Net Collection of images.

Highway Star

More info about this concert can also be found at the Knebworth House site.

Can we get a witness ?

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Knebworth Concerts 1974-85



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