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August 30th and 31st 1969.
Marsha Hunt and White Trash.
I am most grateful to have recieved this fantastic report on the festival from Ged Peck , guitarist in Marsha Hunts band , White Trash , which provides an illuminating insight into the reality of what was going on behind the scenes at the festival. It also provides an amusing insight into the attitude of some of the working musos who had seen so much hype over the years that they were not particularly impressed by the peace and love jargon espoused by the big stars and by many in the audience.
was the Saturday of the IOW 1969. All I can recall about the bands that
day, was that we were on before The Who, and were largely forced to use
their equipment. Secondly, perhaps my 'experiences' are not what you require,
as I, and the other band members, were not largely enamoured by the day.
I think it was the first gig we did with Marsha. All three of us
had considerable previous experience - Nick Simper
with Deep Purple, myself and Pete Phillips
with countless backing bands such a Bob and Earl,
and most recently Billy Fury. How we got
the job with Marsha I really cannot recall.
began rehearsals in pub in City Road, London. However (and this is relevant
to the picture), I was rushed to hospital three days before the Festival
with severe kidney pains and was only released the day before we set sail.
Hence, the rather ill-looking guitarist in the photo! The only two numbers
I can remember rehearing, and playing, were 'Walk
on Guilded Splinters', and 'Sympathy for
the Devil', although our IOW spot was for twenty minutes.
Marsh Hunt -with whip and Ged Peck- guitar.
Having got off the boat, we spent the Saturday stuffed into a Citroen passing groups of people in various states of disrepair, all rather happy, of course, but looking well out of it so to speak. Nick and Pete were very dismissive of all this, and all three of us tended to demonstrate our rather jaundiced sense of humour which had been honed through years of work in backing bands. At one point, something Pete said so upset Marsha that she nearly attacked him. She, on the other hand, played to the gallery (quite ingenuously in our view), and gradually got totally fed up with our manner. She had, as we discovered later, an incredible temper to the point of smashing bottles and threatening band members with it.
Mind you, life was usually like that.
Moreover, whereas we had been brought up with what we considered were 'real' people like ourselves who had gone through the mill, she preferred to associate with all the sorts of characters who we had no time for at all. 'Poseurs' as they were generally known. It was this that probably made us worse as the months of working with her went by. We were certainly hard-bitten cynics.
The actual performance was, as usual, pretty chaotic. I'd previously played very big venues such as the Empire Pool, and you could never hear anything but yourself. However, my first impression when I walked out on stage was, by contrast of what had gone before, quite astonishing. You looked out onto a sea of people as far as the eye could see.
I'd had a bit of an argument about what equipment I should use, and was not too happy about using Pete Townsend's amps. The only person I'd ever swopped equipment with successfully was Ritchie Blackmore, whom I knew well, and that was small scale stuff - guitars and 30/50 watt amps. To the horror of Marsha (and a few others I might add) I insisted upon using a simple Vox 30 watt turning backwards with a microphone pushed in the back. (You can see it on the right of the photo). It used to belong to the guitarist in The Big Three from Liverpool and was quite an amazing amp. Even Ritchie wanted to borrow it on occasions.
The acoustics were so bad that I couldn't even hear our drummer, so goodness knows what the audience were listening to. We appeared to go down well, although I suspect that this was because many of them were so stoned that they didn't know any different.
Who followed us and I remember watching them from the wings, but Marsha was
back into her 'friendly' persona, milking the admiration with anyone who cared
to listen to her etc. Nick , Pete and myself had had enough. IOW was an experience
in that we had played at it, but musically it could hardly be described as fun.
Listening to yourself top volume to the exclusion of everyone else at is not
particularly pleasant. "Are you staying to hear Bob
tomorrow?" were her words which I recall well. (Whether she'd actually
met the guy before, I don't know, but it struck us as funny that it was suddenly
'Bob' as opposed to 'Dylan'). I have to say that this is exactly the opposite
of what we were like, and in the event, we turned her down flat and got the
earliest boat home. Anyway, none of us liked Dylan, and for myself, I still
So that is
my memory of the IOW 1969. Not, perhaps, the usual view, but entirely honest.
As an afterthought, Nick and I went on to play in Warhorse, and I understand that he is still playing gigs today (I met up with him last year after a near thirty-year gap). Pete, I hear, is somewhere in the Outer Hebrides, whilst I moved to classical guitar playing although at present am a college and university lecturer (who still plays classical and a bit of jazz).
I read with interest the piece on Marsha Hunt. It bought back many fond memories as I was her road manager and driving the Citroen (a 1964 DS19 affectionately named Beatrice) that was referred to. I believe however that Marsha's band at the time were called "Pleasure". White Trash certainly did play with Marsha but were a band in their own right.
With reference to the article from Ged Peck. I would like to clarify a few points. White Trash were a five piece band from Glasgow who were in collaboration with Marsha but they did not play the IOW festival with her. Marsha used a pick up band of three members of which Ged was part. The only reason they were billed as White Trash is that the promotional work had already been printed when Marsh and White Trash split company.
You can view many great photos of the acts at IOW 69 here at Robert Ellis's photo site
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