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Big thank you to Robert Ellis of Repfoto for use of his great photos of Buxton 72-74, he has many more on his site, as well as many other classic photos of other rock festivals and bands - his site is a MUST visit .
The Buxton Festival.
Updated July 2014
Saturday Sept 16th 1972
Curved Air *
John Kay Band
Roy Wood and Wizzard
Cold Comfort Farm.
MC : John Peel.
* On the bill, but did not play
This appears to be the first outdoor festival at Buxton following on from several indoor events held between 69-71, but we desperately need an authoritative review and the full list of bands who played .
At last we have some photos of the site and one of the bands onstage, one can see from the photo below just how exposed this site was, totally crazy to stage a rock festival here, but this didn't stop the promoters having three goes at an outdoor festival before the weather finally got so bad in 74 that even they weren't brave enough to stage another event.
Rare sunny period at Buxton 1972 © Phil Mitchel
Enclosed is a photo taken from the crowd at Buxton 72.
I was there in 72 and 73, had a brilliant time, I think it was 72 when John Peel played all of the Jimi Hendrix live at Monterey before the bands came on, why remember that ? Well it was only available on bootleg at the time and I remember buying it not long before the festival.
The highlight for me was The John Kay Band and Steppenwolf, brilliant. I also remember Chuck Berry doing a runner after his 45 min set, he did that at Birmingham a few months before so I don't think his early bath was anything to do with the Hell's Angels, just that he is a tight git and, you pay him for a 45 min set and you get a 45 min set !
also remember Family and Uriah Heap as doing great sets.
Thanks for the website, it brings it all back (well most of it anyway)
Phil Mitchell, Stone, Staffs.
Pity the poor punter , the Buxton site circa 1972
A promoter would have to be slightly crazy to stage a festival in such a bleak spot in mid September ! © Pat Green
I was at Buxton festival in 1972 as well as the bands you have listed, I remember there being a band called Glencoe, and a couple more I cannot remember. But I do know that Curved Air were there but did not perform, because Sonia Christina the lead singer said it was too cold and too late . I remember being very cold ,wet and hungry. It was September and I spent the night under a plastic sheet wearing just a t shirt and denim jacket.
Brian Armstrong was also there with Chris !
I was at Buxton in 1972 with one of your contributors, Chris Guest!
A bus ride to Buxton changing in Sheffield, followed by a long walk from Buxton town centre because the promised shuttle bus service never materialised.
The fences being broken down and people getting in for free after I'd just paid!
John Peel's nasal scouse tones.
Curved Air - sadly missed.
Family - I missed most of their set because I fell asleep but I do remember them playing "The Weaver's Answer" my favourite Family number.
Waking up to the sound of Pink Floyd's "One of these Days" thundering round the hills on record.
Wishbone Ash - brilliant, they were the band I went to see, worth all the hassle.
Sleeping under a plastic sheet, wet and cold.
Thinking it was a crazy place to have a Rock Festival.
Receiving respect from my mates at school because I was there.
© Pat Green
I was at Buxton 72 and your list shows Slade who never played. Also don't recall the Wild Angels being on the bill. Curved Air were there but chose not to play as it had run too late.
John Peel announced it and everybody booed. We were all geared up to give Sonja Kristina some drunken lecherous leers. Wishbone Ash closed the show very early in the morning with an encore of "No Easy Road". Don't recall rain but it was very cold at night. The beer tent was selling "Party Seven" giant cans of beer with seven pints in them. The queues for them were so long you had to make an important decision - one PartySeven and face queing again or or two Party Sevens ? Unfortuntely I chose the latter and while one Party Seven wasn't enough, two was too much for a sixteen year old. Part way through the second can, I got up to dance to "Easy Livin" by Uriah Heep and fell flat on my face. Remained prostrate as the world was spinning during the rest of their set and John Kay Band and Steppenwolf but heard them all right. The John Kay Band was a vehicle to promote his recent "Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes" solo album and consisted of Steppenwolf with a different drummer and organist. They then went off for a bit and came back with Jerry Edmonton on drums and Goldie McJohn on organ and did their Steppenwolf greatest hits.
Earlier in the day, Wizzard had played a good set. Their piano player (Bill Hunt ?) looked as though he was on something (three Party Sevens ?) and after a couple of numbers pushed his electric piano offstage into the pit then climbed up onto the roof of the stage and pranced about for the whole of the set !
Also went to Bickershaw and other Buxtons.
Queuing up for chips, anything to keep warm ! © Elias Welch
Remember being very disappointed that Curved Air were too cold to play,but does anybody else remember Roy Wood and Wizard being pelted with beer cans and Wood losing it and storming off. Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash played great sets, I think Ash finished it all off about 4.00am.
I remember this one and agree with just about everything else said by earlier contributors -wind - huddled up in the cold etc. Particularly remember Curved Air's no show and John Peel's scathing remarks about them. I seem to remember (which nobody else seems to have commented on) that the 4am finish wasn't just Wishbone Ash but a bit of a jam with lots of other people from other bands coming on and off. I might be wrong!There were two other bands I don't think mentioned anywhere else. The band that opened the festival were called COLD COMFORT FARM and played a number of blues standards. They were followed by GLENCOE. Another band I don't think are mentioned called SUNSHINE (with a singer called Ethel!) and then the WILD ANGELS. Then Roy Wood - Uriah Heep - John Kay Band - Steppenwolf - Family - Wishbone Ash.
David Owen Davies.
Huh ?© Pat Green
I was there . It put me off festivals for life. I lived in the next county and went with a couple of mates. It was freezing all day and some people down the front lit a fire. Family were excellent and the rest is just a blur as I never did like Uriah Heap or some of the others. Do remember the wizzard bloke dancing on the roof as others frantically tried to get him down. Left fairly early suffering from frostbite. What was I thinking in those days ? .
First memories were arriving from Nottingham on an old bus to see the centre of Buxton surrounded by freaks. This was a great start. The buzz on the ground was that the town was crawling with undercover drug squad members, a rumour that was quickly confirmed by the shuttle bus which passed two lots of dodgily dressed "freaks" who even my grandmother could have spotted were dressed up for the day. Years later an uncle of mine working for the scientific civil service confirmed their presence and the fact that one of their buses got lost en route to the festival...thick or what!!
It was a cold and grey day with a long long walk to the queues for the toilets, too cold to relax, and worse later on. Musically things were slow, with an Amercian funk band deluging part of the site with their flyers...might have been Cold Farm Comfort or some such band. Glencoe were a muscular outfit who were well rehearsed and to the point. I remember the John Kay band coming on big time about the fact that they were no longer Steppenwolf, but having to remind a dozy uninterested crowd that, this was THE John Kay from, er Steppenwolf!
Wizzard were entertaining if only for the guy climbing the scoffolding ..I thought it was Ace Kefford, but now I dont think he was even in the band...but the sound was atrocious and diluted anything in the way of light and shade.
We presume the surroundings of the stage are blocks of hay, not bricks, a strange contraption indeed.
I too remember Peely being extemely pissed off - nay, even swearing - about Curved Air's absence. I'd love to say I remembered Uriah Heep's "July Morning", but I can't. I do however remember three more things, it got colder, it periodically got wet, but up stepped Family, and Chappo hit the stage with a passion that belied everything that had gone before. Peel was obviously glad to have them there, and I remember a magnificent feeling of controlled power -one minute Chapman spat out his lines, and the next the band would play some gorgeous melodies. The vibes sounded splendid, the crowd at the front really went for it, we all stood up and tried to keep warm, without losing sight of our little patch of space, and Weavers Answer was a memorable highlight.
Later on Wishbone Ash belied the early hours, the cold , the damp and the darkness and worked up the crowd, only to come out with the immortal lines, "You are great, you've got us all night now"; They promptly played one more number and left us to the cold and dark.
I was glad I was there, even if it was a warning of how things had changed over the last 2 years or so. The yanks were crass, the new british bands didnt really cut it , Ash did well but Family proved to be the kings of a disappointing festival, if only by virtue of Chappo apart, they played some inspiring music, and connected with the crowd.
The journey home next day , was marked by lots of mud, but a real sense of achivement that we stuck it out through the night.
The crowd,dirty ,cold, wet , but undaunted, becos they are BRITISH ( and are used to it ) © Phil Dauntsey
Bloody cold. Interminable wait between bands. Standing in a tent having a piss next to John Peel (one of the highlights of my life up to that point and possibly since). Wishbone Ash coming on at some ridiculous hour of the morning yelling “It’s Wishbone time” over a PA that barely woke us all up. Absolutely brilliant. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
This was my first ever festival, I went with a few friends, Mick and Mary Corrigan, Dave Cawley and a few unremembered others.
It was cold and wet, and I am sure it snowed at one point. I remember being near the front and being terrified by the Hells Angels who were close by. I remember them relieving people of their sleeping bags and using them as fuel on their fire, when they attempted to take ours, they had not anticipated the fury of Mary, who was a diminutive blue eyed blonde, she sent them scattering, they left us well alone for the rest of the festival.
One of the highlights for me was when Dave and I went looking for an alternative toilet, found ourselves at the back of the stage and ended up playing football with John Peel, I think Roy Wood was there, but was in awe that Peely would invite me for a game of improvised football.
I remember the party sevens (and the queues to get them), but I don't remember much of the bands except Uriah Heep who I thought were very good, and being disappointed by Steppenwolf.
Overall, I am glad I experienced the festival even though it was cold and wet, but I remember Reading 1975 better, two nurses from London and one single sleeping bag, don't remember seeing any bands except Hawkwind :)
Uriah Heep Buxton 1974
I can't really add much to what has been written so far except that the longer it went on the colder it got. Can't recall rain, but it was 30-odd years ago and the memory is failing to match the body. It's amazing how much heat plastic sheeting can retain! The highlights for me were Family and Wishbone Ash. The former for having Roger Chapman as a frontman - a truly inspiring performer. The latter for having the commitment to get on stage at some stupid time of the morning in the freezing cold and playing some inspired music. Can't remember Roy Wood! Uriah Heep were ok but Steppenwolf and the John Kay band were poor.
I went with two mates from school. Managed to hitch a lift part of the way back but had to walk the last 6 miles home as there were no buses at that time of the morning on a Sunday. Nicked milk off doorsteps to keep the energy up!! I take this opportunity to apologise to those residents of Hazel Grove who's Sunday pintas mysteriously disappeared.
We only went to this concert as we'd been to the previous year's indoor event. Which, even though was hot, noisy and cramped at least was sheltered from the elements. The only bands I can remember from that gig was Juicy Lucy, the Groundhogs and Brewers Droop, who's song "It's Not The Meat, It's The Motion" I still remember if only the title!!!
© Pat Green
I was 19 in 1972 when I took the ferry from the Isle of Wight and train from Southampton and ended up, more by luck than judgement, in Buxton being loaded onto a pickup lorry with a bunch of other festival goers. Trucked up to the festival past busloads of unfriendly looking policemen. The first night I spent having my nuts frozen off in my tent. I had succumbed to advertising hype and brought along the latest great new invention, a space blanket in which I nearly died of hypothermia. In the end I joined some Hells Angels who had built a roaring fire. Being a biker myself, and freezing to death, this seemed worth the risk. They turned out to be friendly and good naturedly razzed a copper who wandered over to get warm. Not all were in a good mood. Two policemen strolled through the campsite. "Evening officer" came a cheery call: "Bollocks" was the sour response. And thinking back, they must have been bloody freezing, too.
I woke up after a fitful hour or two with a bearded face nearly touching mine. "Good morning" he grinned "You must be the cat from the Isle of Wight". In an attempt to keep warm people had bought afghan fur coats which some hippies were flogging for five quid each. By the morning they had all disintegrated, quality control not being what it is today. In the arena, a few thousand bodies were wrapped in poly sheeting against the cold and the fitful rain. I remember the geezer in Wizard, out of his head running along the roof. He was eventually persuaded down where he proceeded to beat the bassist over the head with what looked like an iron bar. It was better entertainment than their music.
Family were great - I loved Burlesque and Roger Chapman was on form taking the piss out of any unfortunate in the crowd who caught his eye. A bunch of people had occupied the slightly higher ground immediately in front of the stage. A bloke with an afro was digging the music but unwittingly blocking the view. A well aimed, if rather churlishly intended, beer bottle informed him of his error.
Ever since Easy Rider I had been besotted with Steppenwolf. I had a big Norton and the only reason I was there was to worship at the feet of these rock god biker USA heroes. They turned out to be shite. Wishbone Ash, whom I'd never heard of, came on at some ungodly hour of the morning and, fearless of death by electrocution, played their bollocks off for two hours in the pouring rain. I've been a fan ever since, saw them last two years ago at Bisley where they nearly blew my ageing eardrums out. Magic.
The poor buggers at the back have a long wait as that bus looks pretty full already © Jim Thornton
i was at buxton festival in 1972, me and my mate johnny set off from leeds on the friday, after changing buses at sheffield the nearest it went to buxton was castleton. we went straight in one of the local pubs for a few beers, but it was getting late by then so after a hour or so we set off up the road towards buxton. a mile or so later we decided to put tents up for the night and set off early saturday morning.while we put our tents up we were asked by 3 teenage girls who were also going if we,d give them a hand to put up there tent. this we did (eventually), it was pitch black. then after a joint it was time to try and sleep.
next morning we set off thumbing lifts, the girls got one almost imediately, we didnt have such luck. we walked for about 5 mile before someone gave us a lift into buxton. after a greasy spoon we found coach to site, (does anyone remember location of site ?) it seemed a few miles away from buxton. after getting off bus it was a quite long trek to the site, weather was sunny i think to start with, but chilly, we arrived at site and felt a bit dissapointed with location and facilities, after being to bardney festival earlier that year, and the facilities they had there, this was a shithole. anyway after putting tents up we sat for hours watching groups, id gone esp for steppenwolf, and uriah heap, and they werent on till the evening, (i think), then i went for a hotdog and the guy only had sausages left, no breadcakes! shit. and to cap it all i lost my mate, he told me later he had gone for a pee and couldnt remember where we were, and as he had took his tent down to use as a pancho i couldnt look there, i think the young hippy chick he,d met had something to do with his disapearence, lol.
i wasnt let down with the bands though i was at front near stage with a girl who id met and we both really enjoyed the gig, the weather by then was really cold though, and same in the morning, after thumbing a lift to manchester we said our goodbyes then i got on train for leeds, it was the first time id been warm for hours lol. looking back though these were good times and i wouldnt change anything given the choice. and apart from the odd "wanna score mate" you didnt feel theatened at these events. not like todays festivals where your tents likely to be broke into, or some hoody gang mug you, or is it just me showing my age, lol cya.
The aftermath, the usual Sea of Filth © Jim Thornton
I was there, it was my first festival and I was 15 years old. I remember John Peel getting us all to sing Nellie the Elephant. It never rained but was really cold.
After the festival we walked down into Buxton, and spent the night in a bus shelter. It was snowing lightly and someone came round with a tea urn. I remember Steppenwolf and Wizard.... It didn't put me off festivals, but I did buy a tent for the next one :)
I was at the Buxton festival in 72 I thought Me and my Mates were going to Freeze to death the Coldest place I had ever been...as luck would have it my Dad had a few Mountain rescue blankets like the ones they give out after Marathons "silver" as I recall.
In 1971 no one had ever seen them and they folded up smaller than my mums rainmate...I was reluctant to take them at first because I didn't think they looked cool with me Kaftan ,Glad we did though...
1972 Remember it well, I was 17. Drove there in the night in my mates hillman Imp – I remember driving up a small track road. Outstanding highlights for me were Roy Woods Wizard and Wishbone Ash – considering Roy Wood was making his mark in the pop charts they were an outstanding rock band. I can’t remember much else – thanks for the memories
i recall i was just 19 and so was my m8 at the time tony boylan we had just been working at a hotel dish washing and smoking banana skins .poor we was at the time lol.and working in wales.anyway after nicking some blankets from the hotel and blagging a weeks wages in leu of notice of the crazy manager who sacked us haha,we went on our way my god september n bloody freezin to say the least ,we kipped half way in an old landrover and nearly died of frost bite ,but after what seemed days we did manage to get to buxton at night ,thing i remember is family that did it for me id heard other bands playing in the dark but couldnt distinguish what or who they where,but lead singer chapman bellowed out his vocals in the biting air of a buxton embraced in winter ,
thanks for that introduction to outdoor uk festivals it was to be the first of many such furrors in the free festival scene ,highlighting with stonehenge 1977 for me the sweat tents and the enormous amounts of knives we did played a huge part over the crap microdots we shelled out for .many memories many girls many friends thank you one and all.
dave diamond port sunlight wirral
Buxton Festival 1972 : We were there as well, four of us, me, two mates, girlfriend of one of the mates (only one of us three guys had one …..). We really went to see Wishbone Ash, they turned up around midnight, hours late. I did go to see them play in London in 2005 as well, very different. John Peel was the Buxton MC, again years later when at Glastonbury he said on television “it’s cold here, but nothing like some festival I did once way back, in Buxton ……”. And it was true, it got down to freezing around midnight. The site was an open hillside over 1,000 feet up, in the Peak District. It also was quite a hike from Buxton.
Huge amount of swearing from Peely, which of course we had never heard from him on the BBC.
Mid-September in those days was a good time for the student market, many worked in the summer but finished with a few weeks hols before going back to uni.
Bill, Nick, Tony and Amanda
Great to find this site. Someone posted a photo of the poster for Buxton 1972 on facebook and I thought I'd see if I could find some info.
1972 was my first festival. I was 17 and didn't really have far to go as I lived in Derby. I went with Rod a bloke I was going out with at the time - he drove. I seem to remember we went and bought some beer in the beer tent straight off - as you did - and then went and sat somewhere. After about half an hour he said he didn't want to stay - it wasn't what he'd been expecting. Well! I wasn't going to be whisked away from something I REALLY wanted to be at so I said I wasn't leaving. And he left (bastard!) To be fair he did give me the chance to leave but I wasn't having any of that. So I stayed on my own. I wandered among the crowd for a bit - found some people I knew from school (!) and sat with them for a while but they were a bit boring so I went to the beer tent as I knew there were bound to be people I'd know there. And there were, so I was saved! They had a tent too, which was lucky for me (I'd gone totally unprepared as I was expecting to be driven home!) as it chucked it down for what seems like the the entire day. What with the excitement of my first festival situation and being abandoned there and then meeting up with people I only half knew these are my abiding memories of the place. I can't remember anything specific about the music. The tent was way towards the back of the site so the stage looked really, really small. But the whole atmosphere of the place was fantastic. Everybody there to enjoy the music and the beer and, well, you remember what being 17 is like! Note: Didn't stay with Rod for very long after that!
I too was at this festival. Can't remember how I got there as I was living in North Wales at the time, but I do remember meeting up with a number of friends (Charlie Waite, Charles Bowker, Mark Knowell and several others). I can remember that the site was quite a way out of town on the moors and that it was bloody cold. Fortunately, I was wearing my father's Merchant Navy bridge coat so did not feel the cold as much as some.
I had gone as I was a big fan of Wishbone Ash and they didn't disappoint. Other highlights included Steppenwolf (I really enjoyed their version of Sookie Sookie), Family (Chappo was on great form and must have smashed at least half a dozen tambourines on the mikestand), and Uriah Heap, who up to that point I had not been a great fan but they won me over that night. John Peel freaked us all out in the early hours of the morning as the mists swirled over the moors by playing the theme tune to Dr Who (then not available on record).
Neither do I remember how I got back to the town but do remember being woken up by a siren or foghorn early the following morning in the main square of the town. I had spent what was left of the night sleeping on a bench.
Having been a veteran of the big outdoor festivals (I was at the Isle of Wight in 1970 to see Jimi Hendrix and got well and truly soaked at Bickershaw though I was rewarded by an outstanding performance by the Grateful Dead), this was one of the last ones I went to. I moved to London in October 1972 to study my degree and was able to watch my heroes (Wishbone Ash, Pink Floyd, Santana, Rory Gallagher etc) in the comfort of an indoor venue (The Finsbury Park Rainbow, The Hammersmith Odeon or the Earl's Court Arena). I managed to get a backstage pass for Reading festival in the summer of 1989, but that was my last experience of the great British outdoor festivals as I moved out to Spain in November 1989 and never felt the urge to go back.
All the best,
Known Recordings of Buxton 1972.Family 05/72 (66:05) aud recording -goodGood News, Bad News, Part Of The Load, Burlesque Spanish Tide , Holding The Compass , Top Of The Hill , The Weaver's Answer .
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