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updated Novemeber 2014- new timeline
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For information on today's festivals see eFestivals.co.uk
Documents courtesy Stuart Fell.
We at the Archive would like to extend our sincere thanks for all the hard work Stuart has put into researching the background of this festival, and thus we would like to dedicate these pages to him .
Thanks Stuart, we could not have done this without you !
Fife Aid 2
David Bellamy's Festival For The Future
23rd-24th July 1988
Craigtoun Country park
Marillion , Go West, Rick Wakeman, Sugarcubes , Van Morrison, Steve Hackett ,Jack Bruce, Runrig, Phil Mazanera, John Martyn, Davy Spillane , Michelle Shocked, Rose Royce, Captain Sensible, Champion Jack Dupree, Osibisa, Michael Chapman and many more .......
Runrig drew a fair crowd in fair weather....
Somehow the wheels got caught in the corn at this one . Following a successful festival held on the same site in 1986 , David Bellamy's organisation decided to go ahead with a more ambitious two day festival in 1988. The site was fairly close to Edinburgh , so transport should not have been a difficulty for most attendees. Although a reasonable lineup of acts was put together it could have had much greater appeal. Not all the the artists on the bill attended and others made last minute appearances , which would have really affected the turnout , eg. : Van Morrison headlined on Sunday, but his presence was not advertised due to his request not to be advertised , thus loosing the draw card factor of the big star . Also according to our sources, the organisers had the opportunity to present far more prestigious acts such as David Bowie and Simple Minds ( both capable of filling up a stadium sized venue in their own right in 1988 ) .
One of the main organisers, Phil Wallace, was kind enough to give us his version of what unfolded in the weeks before the festival took place.....
Following the success of their 1986 famine relief concert, the core team of Fife Aid Trust had been considering promoting a follow-up event to highlight the inextricable link between environmental degradation and the consequent catastrophic effects on the peoples of Ethiopia and Sudan.
Following a meeting with David Bellamy, who agreed to become the trust’s patron, plans were initially put together over the Christmas period of 1987 for a one-day festival at Craigtoun Country Park, St. Andrews, which had provided such a splendid setting for the previous events. The event was designed to have a broad appeal centered upon the notion of a ‘green village’, featuring a diverse spectrum of environmental interest groups and alternative technology companies.
To draw in public participation, the original plan envisaged three stages, one for the major artists, another for indie and local acts and a third performance area dedicated to performance arts, family and children’s entertainments.
By the spring of 1988, the project was doing well with many acts either confirmed or expressing interest. The venue date of July 23 had been secured and arrangements for much of the crucial infrastructure and equipment provision put in place.
Fate intervened when the Fife Aid office was contacted by London television company, Heart & Soul with links to the Findhorn Foundation, acting as the UK coordinator for an initiative to be called ‘Live Earth’, under development with Turner Broadcasting in the USA. The proposal was made to incorporate the Fife concert within a global environmental telethon.
Streams of faxes began roll in from both London and America, promising the secured participation of some of the world premier rock musicians, including Bob Dylan, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones among a whole string of many others. Following a meeting in London between representatives of Fife Aid, Heart & Soul TV and American producer Hal Uplingler, who had produced the American Live Aid, the Fife Aid Trust, though by no means unanimously, voted to accept the invitation to participate.
As a consequence of the increase in acts wishing to perform and general heightening of the concert’s profile, the decision was taken to extend the event by a further day and initiate modification to the stage structures to accommodate live broadcast. A fourth stage area was conceived and a field adjacent field to the site procured to meet additional parking and camping facilities. With these and other changes, the budget for the festival was, of necessity, extended which, as things would turn out, proved ruinous financially.
Whilst plans for the British Fife Aid concert continued apace, with publicity produced and tickets on sale, it emerged that the American concerts had been built on the kind of bluff the Bob Geldof had employed during the lead up to Live Aid, in an attempt to persuade major acts to participate, a deception which, even in the hands of Ted Turner and Hal Uplinger, became unsustainable and had began to unravel. With one week to go, Heart and Soul TV finally came clean that, due to the Americans’ inability to get their shows together, neither the Live Earth broadcast, nor even any other concerts would now take place.
Documents :courtesy Stuart Fell
After the initial shock, the Fife Aid team took the news philosophically and, despite being now dangerously financially overstretched, and facing ruin, set about doing everything in their power to ensure that the Craigtoun Park event would take place.
The artists scheduled to appear were quickly consulted
and informed of the changed reality, and to their great credit, almost all
agreed to continue, with the notable exceptions of Go West and Rose Royce.
In addition to the remaining acts listed on the event’s publicity
posters, Van Morrison had agreed to play on condition that there would be
no pre-show publicity and his appearance be as a surprise guest. With the
collapse of the broadcast, the organisers hastily put together a small film
crew to record the event privately.
Thus it was that, on the weekend of July 23/24, 1988, the assembled cast
appeared to find that fate had a further blow to deal in the shape of unusually
bad weather, even for Scotland, which considerably deflated attendance figures.
Despite the travails and poor weather most attending the gig had a good
time, with some splendid performances on offer.
Mercifully, it was dry for Marillion’s headline performance on the Saturday, which turned out to be historic, being their last gig with Fish as lead singer, whilst on the Sunday, the sun briefly shone for Van Morrison’s class act, which greatly cheered up the public.
For the organisers, however, it was a different matter. As the crowd dispersed, they were facing a considerable deficit of some 170,000 pounds. As if they had not already suffered enough misfortune, the weather rapidly again deteriorated overnight, with gale force winds destroying the roof of the main stage.
In the aftermath of the concert the press, in typically unsympathetic fashion and somewhat unfairly, castigated the organisers, often printing inaccurate accounts of the event, which has led to misunderstandings that still persist to this day. Certainly, Fife Aid made mistakes of their own, but in many respects were the real victim of other forces, both human and natural.
Despite the lack of financial success, the event did at least impressively succeed in one of its core aims, that of raising environmental awareness. The some two hundred ecological organisations and businesses represented in the Green Village reported healthy interest and increased membership and sales.
Phil Wallace 2013
Thus the event was deprived of one of its biggest fund raising avenues, as the TV would have featured a telethon where viewers could pledge donations to the cause. Unfortunately, not even regional TV broadcast any of the acts, which might have brought in some revenue or drawn more punters along to the Sunday. Acts like Bowie and Simple Minds also might have made an appearance, but were put off by the withdrawal of the TV coverage. This was a double whammy , as the inclusion of one, or both of these acts, even with only a few days notice, if accompanied by an all out publicity blitz on local radio and TV - would have brought in many more punters on the day, whatever the weather conditions.
But it was not to be .....
Because dear reader, unfortunately the weather gods did not smile on this worthy event. In fact , no doubt annoyed by the omission of some of their favorite acts from the bill, they pissed on the heads of the long suffering crowd for large portions of both days .When they weren't busy pouring large quantities of cloud based aqua vitae onto the site , stage and attendees, they came to an arrangement whereupon no sooner did the rain disperse, than dreadful sea mists swept in silently onto the site , preventing most of the assembled festival goers from seeing the stage and artistes. The sun shone on Sunday for some of the acts, but a godawful storm hit the site after Van Morrison had finished his set and the stage was wrecked , adding to the costs incurred by the luckless organisers....
At the end of the day,after all this ordure had been suffered by all and sundry , the Fife Aid organisation was left out of pocket to the tune of 170,000 pounds, not chicken feed in 1988, or even now.
It just goes to show that , as far as festivals go,( if they are outdoors), that you can have all the good intentions in the world , you can take precautions, think you've covered all the possible issues that could occur to divert you from your goals, but if the elements won't come to the party, you are, ultimately- fucked .
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley........
Courtesy Stuart Fell
Unpleasant weather .....
This autographed poster has Captain Sensible's signature at the top left, Jack Bruce and Dick Heckstall Smith followed by Fish underneath.
Also on this one are Robbie the Pict and Jessie Ray. .....
This second poster contains autographs of members of Osibisa followed by Tam White.
Next to Him is John Martyn and then Van Morrison. On the right hand side is David Bellamy at the top and at the bottom right is janice Long!!!
Courtesy Stuart Fell
If you have photos, recollections, set lists, newspaper reports or tapes of this event then Contact us if you can help.