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Friends article 2. October 2nd 1970.
Danny the red was at the Isle of Wight just to hear the music and Jean-Jacques Label was at the head of a band of French and Algerian anarchists demanding a Free Festival .The presence of these two figures from the May 68 revolution at the pop festival suggests the political significance that these events have acquired and foreshadows political action by the French underground who are expected to emerge from the sewers this month in planned guerilla activities in Paris.
But the activities at the Isle of Wight seemed far from planned. The anarchists have caused havoc in France this summer disrupting playboy festivals and trashing bourgeoisie Holiday resorts. but their activities at IOW failed to win the support of the people, and their determination to pull down the fences gave way to an alternative occupation of Devastation Hill where their objective of a Free Festival was achieved in a Iimited fashion.
The anarchists arrived on the Isle of Wight a few days before the festival and joined the inhabitants of Desolation Row who had arrived about a month earlier, moving there directly from Phun City. They were also joined by anarchists from the Dutch Orange Free State movement, and German student radicals.
The White Panthers/UK we the first to publicly announce they intended to pull down the walls that had been created on Ashton Down to make the festival enclosure. A week before the festival they assessed the preparations that Fiery were making for the festival and freaked at the sight of the double 9 foot fence high galvanized iron fences that had been erected. "The walls will come down" , they claimed.
However, it was the French and German anarchists who got it on first, and on Tuesday 25th Fiery had to strengthen the guards around the fences and bring in their vicious Alsatians to protect their property. They were able to keep their walls intact through Wednesday, but by Wednesday night which they tried to charge a pound for the first of the additional concerts not included in the original 3 pound ticket, anarchist agitation was strong enough for them to accede and allow the concert to bc heard for free.
However, on Friday, when the main pre advertised concert began, Fiery
closed the gates and admitted only those with tickets. At this point the anarchists
did not manage to establish solidarity with the ticket holders and failed to
win mass support for their plan to rip off the festival. On Saturday Jean-Jacques
Label, anarchist proponent of free theatre happenings , who since May
68 has withdrawn from underground counterculture activities in favour of political
action ,took to the stage and tried to rally the people into seizing control
of their festival and making it free. He reiterated his earlier voiced view
of pop festivals as psychedelic concentration camps and pointed out that this
was emphasized at the Isle of Wight by the walls and guard dogs and made the
festival more Dachau than Disneyland. However the people dId not take to Label's
speech and began chanting " off, off
,off "which delighted compare Ricki
Farr, who grabbed back the microphone and proceeded to attack
the anarchists for "destroying" his festival.
In one of the many stoned alliances of the festival the White Panthers teamed with the Young Liberal's and the Hells Angels and made many physical assaults on fences around the arena. The White Panthers continually issued statements of their position through "Freek Press "and made demands as if they spoke for all the squatters of Devastation Hill. " We want I2,0O0 tickets and free food for 10 000 people "Mick Farren demanded in Freek Press on Saturday. "the dialogue between Fiery Creations and the White Panthers and other radical groups is totally unworkable as their aims and ethics bear no relationship to each other... There can be no dialogue until the basic problem of evaluation of capital against humanity has been resolved" :Mick Farren summing up in Freek press ( Sunday )
On Sunday night there was a meeting of Angels, Panthers, Young Liberals and others to plot a planned attack on the fences. They decided " although an assault on the fence would only be a symbolic gesture it should be carried out right away " At 10pm on Sunday , Angels and French anarchists attacked a 50 yard section of the south perimeter and after a brief battle in which London Angel president Buttons was injured, both sets of fences were breached in a number of places . Guards armed with iron bars and dogs were moved up to protect maintenance crews repairing the fences but kids inside the enclosure helped them , resentful of the invasion of their meagre ground and threw coke cans .By the end of the festival these holes remained in the fences , long abandoned by security. Dr Robin Farquharson, who had claimed to be minister of propaganda for the White Panthers ,was chased by dogs on Thursday night and taken away bv police when he assaulted a guard. He was back at the festival on Monday morning , clean shaven and giving away free food.
The issue of the Fences was one linked with another issue, the occupation of Devastation Hill . The anarchists moved onto the hill and set up their tents in what was the vantage point for watching the festival. Despite these perfect viewing conditions, Fiery had not been able to acquire the land for the festival and on Wednesday August 26 made a vain attempt to fence it off to keep out the squatters. This last- minute actlon was typical of their lack of foresight in planning the super hype festival.
During Wednesday night, as the first groups began appearing on stage, Fiery tried to shift the squatters by shining the film flood lights into their eyes. But this proved completely ineffective as did threats that the Alsatians would be let loose on the hill, This was a hollow threat since the dog handlers were completely inexperienced locals brought in as security by Fiery a few weeks before the Festival and would not have been able to restore control after such an action. Throughout there were complaints about their ineptitude and several times the dogs actually bit their own handlers. Police spokesmen disapproved of the dogs and the crudity of Fiery's arrangements.
By Thursday night Fiery were completely freaked out by the thousands who had taken up positions of the hill , like some mediaeval army camped before a battle. PR man Peter Harrigan, issued a statement on behalf of Fiery claiming they had signed an agreement with the owners of the land, the National trust and the local golf club, agreeing to keep people off the land and if this agreement wasn't kept the festival would be stopped.
However Fiery failed completely in any attempt to remove the anarchists, Ron Foulk, one of the directors of directors of Fiery actually went onto the hill himself in a desperate attempt to appeal to the squatters, which of course , failed.
On Friday morning two maniacal Arabs hurled themselves at the fence and broke through the outer wall . When they broke through the second wall they found themselves right in the middle of the security enclosure and were grabbed by guards with dogs who confronted them with Ron Foulk who attempted a dialogue and asked them to tell the others to stop their attacks.
But come Friday night the main battle was lost. The security men were not prepared to go onto the hill in a direct confrontation and the stage electricians boycotted the idea of continuing to persecute the squatters with lights. By Saturday night there must have been 10,000 people watching from the hill ,warmed by blazing fires which flared in the darkness as Jim Morrison sang " Light My Fire "
Devastation Hill became
the "good vibes " area of the festival and even
members of the straight press were attracted out
of their privileged enclosure to sit among the anarchists and the greens of
the golf course provided the softest ground for tents anywhere in the festival.
Fieryís concentration camp security was designed to exclude the Angels from their traditional role as security at festivals. Police stopped Angels long before they got near the Isle of Wight and forced them to abandon their bikes. Howevcr they arrived by bus and took up position on the flat beside the Jesus tent under their swastika flag.
At 7pm. on Saturday 60 police surrounded the Angels' camp and in a one to one confrontation ordered them to play it cool. One of the Catering staff had complained that an Angel went into the womens loos. So the Angels agreed not to use the womans' loo and the police asked them to remove their swastika. Angels leader "Buttons"would only agree if the police also requested everyone else in the festival to remove their flags. The police retracted their demand and left the Angels alone for the rest of the festival.
Isle of Wight 1970 festival menu
updated March 2019
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
updated March 2019
The White Panthers
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1968 Isle of Wight festival 1969 Isle of Wight festival
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