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Formatted at 1080 X 768 minimum - Updated June 2011

This site is dedicated to the memory of Roger Hutchinson, who inspired me to delve deep into the magic of the free festival and who passed away Sept 3rd 2010.

R.I.P. Roger .....

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For information on today's festivals see eFestivals.co.uk


 

Harlow Free Concerts

1973-1988
Spurriers Park- Harlow.

 

Fairport Convention at Harlow 1974 © Stephen Bragger

            In the mid 70s Harlow Town Council, ( dominated by Labour with the exception of four Liberals) decided to use the town's park for the purpose of holding free rock concerts.The council funded the exercise , which was one of a few controversial initiatives they espoused such as providing free television licenses for their constituents !
Apparently other events (for which we do not yet have dates ) included 10cc, Mungo Jerry and The Bay City Rollers.
    The main instigator of the free concerts was councilor Chris Crackett, the events appear to have run consistently from 1973 to 1981 with other seasons occurring right up to 1991

Concerts were held in the late 70s featuring local bands and also in the 1980s , we now have , thanks mainly to the wonderful folks mentioned below , in addition to the generosity of the Harlow Museum and the Harlow Gazette, enough details to flesh out most of these events .

Any more details would be appreciated .Any info to add ?-well don't just sit there , Contact us

Thanks to Steve Goldsmith , David Devine of Harlwo Council and Steve Baker for much of this information.



 

1973

The Groundhogs

Exact date of this concert is unknown and whether there was a support band or not is also uncertain . This could indeed be the Groundhogs show with Strife held in May 1974, can anyone confirm ?

 

Nice set of photos on Flickr from this gig. Click on the link below to see more.

Image copyright Micky Mazda

 

 


May 26th 1973

Hackensack , Atomic Rooster .

Our intrepid correspondent Stephen Goldsmith writes

The Atomic Rooster and Brinsley Schwartz dates were the first ever concerts I attended. I was 12 at the time so my father went with me. The thing is I have no idea why we went.

At that particular time of my life I was more interested in what Slade were up to than the progressive rock ramblings of Atomic Rooster and pub rock blues meanderings of Brinsley Schwartz and Chicken Shack. And my father’s musical tastes didn’t venture much beyond traditional rock ‘n’ roll and trad jazz.

I think it possibly had to something to with the fact they were free and my father’s eye for getting something for nothing.
Given that I was 12 at the time and it was 38 years ago - besides Vince Cranes’ very long hair and a potbellied guitarist in Chicken Shack (or was it Brinsley Schwartz)
I remember little about the dates. However, by all accounts, approximately 6500 attended the Brinsley Schwartz / Chicken Shack concert.

The Harlow Gazette (the local newspaper of the day) had this to say about the Atomic Rooster concert

“Pop fans of all ages - including toddlers and senior citizens - crowed the park to hear three hours of progressive rock groups Atomic Rooster and Hackensack. The old festival spirit lived again as young people - mostly squatting on the grass in front of the stage - clapped along with the music or got up and danced [ on the grass may have been nearer the truth]
Harlow Gazette 31 May 1973

 


16th June 1973 .

Chicken Shack, Brinsley Schwarz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right : Chicken Shack © Harlow Gazette/Harlow Museum


30th June 1973 .

Pink Fairies, Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come .

The Pink Fairies gig was especially memorable, as after a few bars of the second number, Russel Hunter, the drummer collapsed and lay motionless on the stage. Duncan Sanderson, the guitarist walked over and kicked his inert form a couple of times, then returned to the microphone and announced: "Sorry, 'is motor's bust!", and with that they left the stage, leaving the roadies to clear up the mess...

Arthur Brown's set there was also quite fun. No-one at the front would sit down, so no-one at the back could see. Arthur was exhorting people to sit down, in his own inimitable way, and got quite excited. He jumped off the stage, microphone clasped firmly in hand, and took half the PA with him!

Gareth Williams

Nice set of photos on Flickr from this gig


August 1973 .

Mungo Jerry, Budgie ,Judas Priest,Stackridge, Trilogy.

( this show was held at Harlow Tech not the park, thousands turned up and the hall could only fit 400. )


September 22nd 1973 .

Grave New World ,Hawkwind.

( these were possibly separate shows, one band per weekend)


1973
May 26 Atomic Rooster, Hackensack
June 16 Brinsley Schwartz , Chicken Shack
June 30 Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, Pink Faries
July 14 Mungo Jerry, Fang (*Suzy Quatro )
July 28 Babe Ruth, Wellington
August 11 Budgie or (Hawkwind as verified by the Harlow Gazette 12 July 1974)
(*Suzy Quatro replaced by Mungo Jerry)
The Atomic Rooster and Brinsley Schwartz dates were the first ever concerts I attended. I was 12 at the time so my father went with me. The thing is I have no idea why we went.
At that particular time of my life I was more interested in what Slade were up to than the progressive rock ramblings of Atomic Rooster and pub rock blues meanderings of Brinsley Schwartz and Chicken Shack. And my father’s musical tastes didn’t venture much beyond traditional rock ‘n’ roll and trad jazz.
I think it possibly had to something to with the fact they were free and my father’s eye for getting something for nothing.
Given that I was 12 at the time and it was 38 years ago - besides Vince Cranes’ very long hair and a potbellied guitarist in Chicken Shack (or was it Brinsley Schwartz)
I remember little about the dates. However, by all accounts, approximately 6500 attended the Brinsley Schwartz / Chicken Shack concert.
The Harlow Gazette (the local newspaper of the day) had this to say about the Atomic Rooster concert

“Pop fans of all ages - including toddlers and senior citizens - crowed the park to hear three hours of progressive rock groups Atomic Rooster and Hackensack. The old festival spirit lived again as young people - mostly squatting on the grass on the grass in front of the stage - clapped along with the music or got up and danced [ on the grass may have been nearer the truth]
Harlow Gazette 31 May 1973
I t would appear that the Harlow Town Park entertainments team of the day , and the good people of Harlow really had not got their heads around progressive rock. As the local press review for the Brinsley Schwartz concert testifies:-
“There were pop fans of all ages in the park - from tiny tots to senior citizens and all seemed to be enjoying the three hours of music from these two groups. Commented Mr. Kilburn “I can’t get over how marvelous the young people in Harlow are - there was very little litter - and absolutely no trouble they really are peaceful “
“Adding to the comments the entertainments officer Mr. Alan Southgate said it was a complete success. The first concert was probably a bit way out for the youngsters but I think they understood this one much better.
Harlow Gazette 22 June 1973
I am not sure whether I saw Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come and the Pink Fairies, but eyewitness accounts report that the crowd was 10,000 strong and that Russell Hunter did indeed pass out - with sunstroke about half an hour into the Pink Fairies set. This meant that the crowd had to be content with listening to the DJ for an hour and a half until Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come came on
I am guessing that Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come were everyone’s cup of tea, Pat Roberts a scribe for The Harlow Guardian (the local newspaper of the day) described the Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come set as thus:-
“Their music was as weird as their dress. Sometimes it was powerful and throbbing - and other times the guitars and organ wined and screeched. Most of the stage show was impossible to understand - it stumbled its way around, a mammoth hypodermic needle and a space ship.
The next free concert on July 14 will feature the more easily understood Mungo Jerry and Australian band Fang “
Pat Roberts the Harlow Guardian 6 July 1973
Given the above description I guess I didn’t attend, I think I would have remembered a mammoth hypodermic needle and a space ship.
I did not go and see Mungo Jerry or Babe Ruth as I was away on the annual family holiday. However, The Harlow Gazette offers the following account of the Babe Ruth concert
“Topping the bill though is at Harlow’s fifth pop concert on Saturday was Babe Ruth a new progress rock grouping which attracted a crowd of about 5000 youngsters. Their supporting g group was a five piece band from Leicester, Wellington, which recently the semi-finals of the annual Melody Maker contest.
The Harlow Gazette 3 August 1973

I am not sure who appeared on the August 11. I guess the local council or may be the Harlow Guardian could not make their mid up, in the review of the Arthur Brown concert the Harlow Guardian had Budgie down to appear. By the time they got to the Babe Ruth review it was Hawkwind. A Harlow Guardian article a year later tells me it was Hawkwind
Harlow Guardian has Mungo Jerry appearing at Harlow Town Park not the Harlow Tech as indicated on your current web page
Unable to find any press reviews for the Mungo Jerry , Budgie or Hawkwind concerts.

 



Free Festivals List

Any info to add- well don't just sit there ! Contact us

Free festivals and small fayres held in the United Kingdom between 1967-90.

1967-69.

 1970-79  
1980-92

 

  • Windsor Peoples Free Festival 1972-74
 
 Free festival related articles
Pay Festivals- Benefits for Travellers aid.
 

Main list of Free festivals 1970-1985

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe-surreal pranksters of the Traveller community .

Acidia Lightshow Lightshow for Windsor festival and Stonehenge in the 1970s.

Traveller Daves Website - Chock full of of free festival photos !

Many, many thanks go to Roger Hutchinson , Big Steve , Roger Duncan, Celia, Will , Chazz, Jeza ,Chris Hewitt ,The Fabulous Time Tortoise , Peter Piwowarski - ( 70s music site/photos ) Martin S, Steve Austin ,Traveller Dave, Herb, Tim Brighton, Vin Miles, Haze Evans , Noddy Guevara, Chris Brown, Janet Thompson, David Stooke, Gary Gibbons , Nigel Ayers, Rich Deakin ,Glenda Pescardo,Justin Warman,Brian F, Steve Bayfield, Kev Ellis, Paul Seaton and many other minor contributors for their help in providing the archival material related to these free festivals which has at enabled us to construct the site .

Any info to add ?-well don't just sit there , Contact us


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