The Archive: a history of Uk rock festivals .
Big thanks to our sponsor Neil !
For information on today's festivals see eFestivals.co.uk
Best viewed at 1280x 1024 min resolution. Updated March 2011.
Medicine Ball Caravan.
August 31st 1970.
Charlton Park, Bishopsbourne, Kent
Pink Floyd, Stoneground, The Faces, Mott The Hoople, Edgar Broughton, Formerly Fat Harry , Caravan, Silver Meter , Daddy Longlegs, General Waste-more-land, The Hog Farm.
DJ Jeff Dexter.
|Another largely forgotten event , overshadowed by the gi-normous Isle Of Wight Festival which took place on the same weekend . The festival was a hastily organized affair ,being the last concert of the Medicine Ball Caravan tour ,a strange affair which hosted a veritable horde of counter culture aficionados drawn from the ranks of the pranksters and the Hog Farm collectives. Ostensibly created to display the strengths of the counterculture- unity, peacefulness and alternative lifestyles, the tour was actually being paid for by Warner Brothers , who intended to make a profitable movie from the end product. These internal contradictions drew criticism from a number of the more extreme counterculture activists ( many coming from the same head space that the activists who sabotaged the Isle of Wight festival fences ) and their objections to the commercial aspects of the tour feature in the movie that eventually was released in 1971.|
|This was the background behind this particular festival, which was given minimal publicity at the time and despite featuring Pink Floyd and the Faces , only drew a crowd of some 1500. According to our sources , some 20 odd buses , filled to the gills with tie died coloured teepees, were brought over for the festival, which provided free food for all, as in the grand old Hog Farm tradition .The festival also boasted a stellar sound system for the time , provided by Alembic studios, who made equipment for the Grateful Dead (who were supposed to be the original house band for the tour, but who pulled out for unknown reasons ) . Their place was taken by Stoneground, a ten piece band from the Bay Area, who featured amongst their numbers bass player Pete Sears ( who went on to play for Jefferson Airplane ) . Sears was playing at this festival (see below ) and Sal Valentino and John Blakeley definitely performed as well at the Canterbury gig .|
On the US leg of the tour , the Caravan had featured (in addition to Stoneground ) Alice Cooper, BB King and Doug Kershaw, but by the time the show rolled into the UK Stoneground were the only band left who had played the earlier concerts. To obtain Pink Floyd for the last show was a major coup and it is strange that they did not appear in the final film - which was edited twice, the original version by French director François Reichenbach and Gerard Patris. This cut was rejected by Warners , who brought in the young Martin Scorcese to make a more commercial version of the movie.
is possible the UK bands did not give permission for their footage to
be used. which would be regrettable , as those who were present attest
to this being an excellent concert -great performances, great sound
and a cool light show .The Floyd played Atom Heart Mother during their
set and commented that this had been the best festival they had played
all year so far .
BB , The peace sign is the other way round maaaaan......
The Movie is available on the net, but we doubt it contains footage from this concert as all reviews fail to mention any of the UK bands.
The View from the mud
1970 or 1971 I and a group of friends traveled some distance to a free
festival near Canterbury, which was being filmed (the reason it happened).
I am pretty sure the Pink Floyd performed Atom Heart Mother and the
Soft Machine amongst others might also have played.
Right: General Wastemoreland at Canterbury 1970.
Thanks to Vernon Fitch of the Pink Floyd Archives for background info on this concert .
The meadow.© Rosie McGee
was on the Caravan across America for about three weeks, with a flight to
England I thought of as the prize at the other end. After a couple of days
in London, we went on to Canterbury for the final concert and the end of
When we arrived early that day at the Canterbury concert site, a beautiful country estate known as Charlton Park, we saw a lovely, sloping green that could hold about 1,500 people, surrounded by classic English oaks and other massive old trees. After the weeks of driving through the hot, dusty American desert and eating badly if at all, we couldn’t believe how lush, inviting and civilized this all looked. By late afternoon, there was a completed stage, sleeping tents and a large hospitality tent with a wonderful meal served to us by the Hog Farm.
For my money, the concert that evening, along with B.B. King in Placitas, was the musical highlight of the entire Caravan, a perfect concert featuring Pink Floyd, the Faces with Rod Stewart, Mott the Hoople, some local bands and of course, Stoneground, who had just acquired Pete Sears as a new bass player.
It’s a crying shame the footage and soundtrack never saw the light of day. It was a privilege to be among that relatively small audience listening to those great bands through the quadraphonic sound system that had been cobbled together by the American Alembic crew and the English crew working at the site. A great memory !
Rosie is a long time Bay Area photographer who was a member of the extended Grateful Dead family for many years . She is now writing her memoirs and has a lovely site that is well worth a visit.
I was delighted to find your site about the Medicine ball concert in Canterbury. Living locally we all went along mainly because Canterbury band Caravan were due to play. I believe Pink Floyd have said its one of the best gigs they ever played. I remember being at the front of a small crowd watching Floyd do a brilliant version of Careful with that Axe. All this was being filmed and I think it was one of the Warner Brothers sons was pacing up and down saying ‘fantastic...fantastic’ The big surprise was The Faces. They stumbled on stage dressed in their purple velvet suits. I think Rod Stewarts suit was white velvet. Within ten minutes they tore the place apart with a truly brilliant set.
few other things I remember was the stage backdrop which was made to look
like flames and that the audience were treated like film extras and we were
paid with bags of grass. If only someone could find the original footage.
remember this happening well, we were living in Canterbury,at the time making
music in our garden off Canterbury High Street, when some people came in
and invited us to the estate where this was happening, I believe it was
called Bishopstone, a beautiful part of Kentish countryside. We got there
and camped there for the few days leading up to the festival.
There were tepis and some of the most amazing characters I have ever met the atmosphere was charged with a very special air the Hog farmers especially Wavy Gravy were inspirational, he was dressed in a white boiler suit with a brace on his front teeth of the colours of the rainbow.
One of those days we all piled into a lorry and drove to Whitstable for the day, they did not believe what had hit them the counter culture like aliens from out of space it was hilarious.
The festival was stunning, Pink Floyd were arson and then some.
Stoneground stayed behind and played some local gigs one which I saw at Bridge country club, they were very good too!
Happy memories John Vickers
been wondering if any evidence of this very weird festival ever existed.
I remember finding out about the festival on John Peels radio show. My mate
and I plus various other colleagues, one, a very beautiful college friend
of mine rocked on down in an ancient Peugeot 301 to just outside Canterbury,
near a very small hamlet. Things I vaguely remember (can anyone verify).
Approaching the sight sign saying “no hard drugs or weapons on sight”.
Wavey gravey also in attendance. One quote “we will soon be flying
food for you guys!” Al Stewart performed. Small pub not far from sight
Richard Chamberlain, Doctor Kildare, seen outside. Heavy duty filming going
on, the director seemed to linger on my very beautiful college friend.
Now feeling very old!
gig in England was in Charleton Park, outside of Canterbury, and featured
Rod Steward and the Small Faces, Stoneground (who formed on the Caravan),
Shawn Phillips, Mott the Hoople, and Pink Floyd with whom we combined our
pretty incredible PA system with theirs for a true quadraphonic experience.
The only problem was that there was a grounding difference between the 110
volts coming from the generator to our gear and the 240 volts for the Brit
gear. You didn’t want to touch the metal of the PA tower scaffolding
and any grounded part of the PA itself…
For an audience of fewer than 800 souls, it was a great gig…
And for Martin Scorcese, it was a mess of a film to try to put together out of unlabeled cans of film. The French film crew had discovered acid on that trip, and they were so blasted for much of the adventure that they sometimes forgot to put film in their cameras, they put film in the wrong cans, they forgot to sync to the 16 track machine, and they usually didn’t label much…
For us, it was all in a day’s work. Being the Dead’s technical crew, we were quite used to life on the road being a constant Acid Test…
done guys on your website as I have at last I have found some info on the
festival. I was beginning to think after all these years that I had just
I was only 16 at the time & was taken there under the influence of my first intro to alcohol & grass ! I was grounded by my parents for weeks afterwards !!
I have spoken over the years to people about it to see if anyone knew anything at all as no one ever seems to have heard of it, & thought I was making it up as Pink Floyd would never have played such a small festival. A lot of my friends had gone to the Isle of Wight & were convinced I was telling a fantasy tale as I hadnt gone with them.
I have lost track of the guys that I went along with. as I moved out the Kent area shortly afterwards.
I can just remember that I couldnt believe that I was so close to Pink Floyd who performed as it got dark - incredibly atmospheric .
Rod Stewart was also brilliant & from what I remember had the audience ( is that all there was there 1,000 people ? ) up leaping about.
What a shame there is no footage of it ? would love to hear from anyone that was there!
all the best,
guys, thanks for putting up the site about the Medicine Ball Caravan Canterbury
Festival in England…1970. You are correct in stating that I joined
Stoneground after they crossed the Atlantic to England. I played the Canterbury
Festival with Stoneground as well as Silver Metre. We recorded a Stoneground
album in London, unfortunately it was never released in spite of being very
representative of the bands live sound. We later recorded Stonegrounds first
official US release in Los Angeles. Pink Floyd sounded great at the Canterbury
I’d love to get a copy of the poster if possible.
knew Tom Dunphy very well…quite a character to say the least. It’s
possible that the footage was shot by a French director who filmed the “Medicine
Ball Caravan” trip across the US. I had just arrived back in England
when Tom Donahue asked me to join ”Stoneground” who had just
come over from the states. We went to Paris to view the rushes of the film
and play a couple of shows in France. I don’t remember seeing footage
of the Canterbury show, but I bet somebody has it.
Yes, finally I have found info on the festival I went to on my 16th birthday just a few miles down the road from where I lived at the time and in fact still do again. Like one of the previous posters I too have lost contact with the people I went with, and have been very frustrated trying to convince my husband that it had taken place at all!
remember going to the Mermaid ,the nearest pub to the park and there being
a lot of american bikers present, the first time I saw a Harley. Also the
free food tents on site and the glorious summer weather.
Looking at the line up, I also believe that Deep Purple played but I cannot be sure, anyone else remember?
Well just like most others that witnessed this amazing spectacle....It all seems like a dream right now!
On the evening of the festival at Brabourne, myself and a group of friends were at Tofts club in Folkestone to see american country blues band Daddy Longlegs.
Around halfway through the bands set they told the audience about a festival taking place near Canterbury at which they had been playing earlier in the day and which was being fimed by Warner Brothers. This was probably about nine o clock and Brabourne was an hour away by [the last] bus but we just had to get there, we were only sixteen but we were out watching music whenever and wherever we could and this was just too good a chance to miss. We shot up to the buss station and extremely breathlessly got on a bus to Cheriton so that we could grab a sleeping bag and talk our parents into lending us ten bob! Having got our gear together, we all met at the bus stop for Canterbury.
Arriving at Bridge - the nearest village to Brabourne, we set off on our jaunt along the completely pitch black lane. Having travelled a mile or so, we came to a country church at which point and as if by bloody magic we heard the first strains of The Floyd's Careful With That Axe Eugine - now....imagine that if you can...hair on end stuff!!. This was the best ten bob that I had ever invested in my early music jaunts!! Or.... was it the five shillings that got me into the Bath Festival of Blues....Oh - come on lets get back to the story!! Well just as we heard the music, we noticed the beam from a search light in the sky beyond the outline of the trees in the distance. Of course we now got a bit of a leg on and were almost running down the darkened lane until someone decided to go off road and head directly for the source of the light. Fighting our way through the undergrowth, the music became louder and louder untill we literally broke through some bushes and there in front of our eyes was a small raised stage with a Panavision camera man travelling along the width of the stage filming...The Floyd.
Jesus, we couldnt believe it - there were only a couple of hundred people gathered in front of the stage.......it was just awesome!!! It is really a shame that the Canterbury footage has not seen the light of day. It must still be sitting around on a shelf somewhere, I doubt if it’s been dumped. It probably needs somebody with the time and persistence to track it down! Actually, a cameraman came right into the crowd to film a guy [ Colin Trainer ] that was with us and that looked a dead ringer for Marty Feldman and had a great style of freaking out.
really dont remember how or when we got home but I will never forget hearing
Careful With That Axe Eugene down that old dark lane or breaking through
those bushes. It was truly amazing.
was another 16 year old who found a phone box and persuaded our parents
to let my 14 year old sister, my best friend and I stay the night. We sat
on the grass next to Richard Chamberlain and Paul Gambaccini (who was the
UK correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine). We had never seen people smoking
dope or playing frisbee. I remember Wavy Gravy told us that it took 50 years
for a cigarette filter to bio-degrade. Fell asleep listening to Pink Floyd
and the spell that was woven had changed us for ever.
Please feel free to Contact us and contribute towards building pages about each festival . We try to reply to all messages, but sometimes it takes a while .Usually we wait until we have enough new material to warrant a page upgrade , so posts may take quite a while to emerge on the page .