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The Weeley Festival.
Clacton On Sea . Essex.
August 27th-29th 1971.
Weeley Recollections - Part 2
We've had so many lengthy personal responses for this festival we have now had to add yet another page making a grand total of three -but no worries - keep them coming, we will put them on the net !
If you attended the festival it would be great to hear your recollections, memoirs , whatever you want to call them , before they completely fade away- Contact us - and we will add them to the site.
We hitched from a town called
watton in norfolk and arrived about midnight, traffic fairly heavy.
My memories of Weeley were pretty
sketchy even after I just left but I can remember Marc Bolan getting heckled,
Rod Stewart, Barclay James Harvest and Hackensack . I was then living in a small
village outside Southampton with my guy Jeff. We got a lift up from 2 guys that
Jeff knew slightly, but didn't hang around with them. We build a little hut
on the side of the car for the two of us out of branches, black plastic bin
bags and straw. It was pretty cosy and I've still got the photos to prove it!
I can't remember seeing any fighting-I'd remember the bad vibes. I've still
got my ticket a bit defaced now as it's got some telephone no's and addresses
from days gone by, that I scribbled on the back! How do some of you have such
brilliant memories? Jeff if your out there anywhere it would be great to hear
Jean from Lancashire
A water queue at Weeley © B Crawford
Stumbled on your great site,and it brought back memories, (surprisingly accurate by all the accounts of your contributers). I'm Leo from Tir Na Nog,and myself and Sonny were onstage inviting the entire 20,000 home for tea while the Hell's Angels were getting bashed just behind us. Look me up on leookelly.com. We're still doing gigs together mostly in Ireland, and playing with our own bands.
Sonny's on condell.net.
Love to hear from y'all.
I was 16 at the time and can't believe that my parents allowed me to go in the first place. I lived in South London and went by myself. I was quite small for my age and was unprepared to pay the full fare for a train ticket from London. However, it was the only way that I was going to be allowed to travel and so I paid up. One thing that I have learned over the years is that good preparation is vital. However, the cost of the fare left me almost penniless and my entire backpack contained a sleeping bag and a packet of biscuits which were gone by time I got there.
I did not survive the full festival and returned on Sunday cold and hungry.
I spent almost all the time shivering in my sleeping bag and only ventured out
for a wee and for a roll and some Tomato Soup as this was all that I could afford.
However, there are a couple of musical moments that will stick forever. The first was the totally surreal atmosphere of being close to dropping off and looking up at the stars while King Crimson played "Devil's Triangle". The second was Mott The Hoople launching into "Ohio".
funny thing is that although we look back and say that the organisation was
bad, I was at Ozzfest 2002 last weekend and it was worse!!
On the Wally
front: this was an IOW invention, without a doubt. It was a running
joke carried round the festivals - I remember people at Lincoln referring
back to the IOW. And it was certainly started by a hapless soul looking
for his mate Wally. The crowd enjoyed disorienting him by yelling "Wally!"
or "Over here!" Probably the Friday, possibly the Saturday.
Just found your site. I and a
few friends were at the festival after spending the night in St James park London
in plastic bags - no wonder the police moved us on ..any way we get to the festival
by train get our tent up only to see it go up in smoke as some daft sod lit
a fire in the camp ( the field was full of dry hay ) so we stayed the whole
time in the field eating nothing but bread & cheese with occasional swaps
for something more exotic......
Main things I remember are getting smacked in the chest by a Hells angel en route to the toilet for no apparent reason apart from the fact that I was where he wanted to be ?? The sound system was fair apart from the faces who wanted to use their own which was pure crap . I thought BJH were really good as I lay looking at the stars with Mockingbird soaring over me ..Great !
Didn't Rory Gallagher (the main reason we came to the festival) do a solo acoustic slot for a group that never turned up ? , he was , as usual par excellence ...the never ending cry of Wally will live with me always .
Above ; Knackered fans at White Hart pub Weeley .
© Garry Bodenham
The journey home was crazy , we got to the local station me plus 10-20000 people trying to get onto a train back into London , I got pushed against the train door- so I cried out my ribs were broken (token lie) and was carried onto the train by my mates and given a whole seat to lie down on .
back in London we caught
the bus back up to Liverpool and the old dears on the coach fed us with
cakes etc ...the first words out of my mum's mouth was 'get in the bath'
what a comedown to a great adventure !
great site brought back
loads of memories !
Here are my recollections from
Weeley. 1971! Amazing!! I was 16 in 1971 and came to Weeley with my mate Colin. I was quite an organised kid and had brought a tent and cooker (which nearly proved my downfall... read on). Looking back without the aid of the Poster, the standout acts for me were Al Stewart, who came on and said'Unfortunately I have only been allowed enough time for one song, but it is quite a long one....' and then proceeded to slay us with Love Chronicles..... pure magic, and Barclay James Harvest who went down a storm and ran out of songs so that they had to do Mockingbird for the second time for their encore! I also remember Marc Bolan coming on and saying 'Hi.... you may have seen me on Top of the Pops!' He was abused horribly for that, but won us over with afantastic set. Poor Marc .... god bless him, one of the true superstars!
I retired to my tent (I seem to remember it being a 24 hour festival, and Colin definitely stayed up late) and next morning decided to warm up some milk on my paraffin stove ... INSIDE the tent.Dur! Needless to say, I spilt some paraffin and nearly met a firey end, as the stove was between me and the door. I was panicking to get out, but good old Col dragged me through the door and someone hosed the tent down, and only my fringe and eyebrows were damaged! Phew! I remember heading for home on the Sunday, or was it Monday, dying for a decent toilet (I just COULDN'T use the pits!) and seeing the massive crowd at the station, we decided to head up-track and clambered into the train before it reached the station. I think they must have put longer trains on for the event... those were the days! I had a fantastic time, didn't see any nastiness between the Hells Angels, but I do remember a few fires here and there (apart from my own one!).
Thanks for the web site!
The Faces appeared on the Sunday evening just before T Rex and they were magnificent! Rod was in his classic pink satin suit outfit and they stole the show. I went to every UK show I could get to after that performance for the next 2 years!
I distinctly remember T Rex being heavily booed and some cans thrown at them. I am told an original 5p programme is in the £100.00 bracket now!
Other hits of the festival were surprisingly Mungo Jerry who played in the afternoon and Lindsfarne.There were rumours Joe Cocker would appear but he did not show.
I can recall great sets by Quo(at the early days of their boogie might) Juicy Lucy,Mott (with Ian Hunter playing the Iron Cross shaped guitar )Barclay James Harvest (early Sat morning) and King Crimson in a very early morning slot. Head,Hands and Feet were also very good.
There was also the festival ever present Edgar Broughton Band on friday evening who I loathed but still found myself chanting along to Out Demons Out! A dreadful set by Principal Edwards Magic Theatre and a great set by Hackensack (whatever happened to them?).
My first and best ever
festival and yes Mum the Spam sandwiches lasted the weekend!
Left : Shellshocked Hells Angels who had just been turned over by local heavies who were running the concession stalls.
In 1971 had just turned 18 in August and just finished a two year college course. Had missed Isle of Wight festival as too young and too busy even though in Southampton at the time. Was not going to miss Weeley. Went on own with just a sleeping bag and backpack. Was there at start and remember the Angels coming in after everyone else and making for the stage with everyone parting to let through. Fear or respect? Also vividily remember fires as almost lost my stuff to one.
The picture you have on your website of the Angel being grappled by the Pieman has me standing behind and to the immediate right of the pieman. Thought Barclay James Harvest was the best band although I must have slept through Status Quo as I don't remember seeing them. Also thought Rod Stewart never made it and I wasn't on anything either. Remember Arthur Brown being second to last band, coming on drunk and being thrown off unable to perform. Arthur Brown having a weird costume made of boxes? Brilliant festival although not widely remembered. I enjoyed it anyway.
Great website keep up the good work.Steve Rolfe
Just discovered your site - excellent!
As an innocent 17 year old beer-head at the time, I've got fairly vivid memories of the festival. I think I've got the programme and Melody Maker's report (Faces on the front cover with headline"Faces wow Weeley") - I'll dig 'em out and scan a few photos.
guitar bands were my cup of tea - Groundhogs, Pink Fairies (awesome), Rory
Gallagher (who woke me from deep slumber with his opening riff from "Laundromat")
and suprisingly, Fairfield Parlour. During their set a news crew were filming
from the stage when a fight broke out near the front. A guy in an orange
t- shirt (we saw him walking back later looking somewhat ruffled) actually
flew through the air as in some wild west bar fight.
Unfortunately my grandmother saw this on the news, and spent the rest of the weekend thinking I was at at some extended mass brawl. It was the only violence I saw, and I was amazed to hear of the broken heads and sledgehammers later.
The DJ kept playing tracks
from the Woodstock album, complete with stage announcements - very confusing
hearing of a imminent storm when basking in searing August sun. And what brown
I always thought Wally began his fame at Weeley, but there is some question of him being at the IOW festival. Anyway, it kept us amused at the time.
Barclay James Harvest were very atmospheric in the warm gathering dusk with "Mocking Bird" - they also played it at the end of the set. Well - shame to waste the 30 piece orchestra!
Above ; waking up on Monday morning
photo © Garry Bodenham
Hi, Myself (aged 15) and
two mates Reg (15) and Geoff (16) travelled to the festival from Cannock in
Geoff and I hitch-hiked down on the previous Monday and spent the week camping at Kirby Cross nearby, and hanging out at the seaside resorts of Clacton,Frinton and Walton, where Geoff managed to buy himself a half of
bitter and a small bottle of cider for me, in some of the pubs. A farmer gave us permission to pitch our tent in the corner of his field next to the railway station and told us to see 'old Jack Wilby' the signal box man when we wanted some water. Jack looked after us all week making us cups of tea and letting us sit in the signal box, where he gave us digestivebiscuits and proudly showed us the framed photo's of his beloved Ipswich Town F.C.that adorned his walls. (Their goalkeeper Paul Cooper was a couple of years above me at school)
We had to duck down if the approaching engine driver was likely to be a nark, "case oi gets the sack" A lot of the local population that we spoke to were quite excited and proud that all these big name pop acts were coming to their neck of the woods.
Above ; camp site with Fiat 500s .
click to see larger version. photo © Garry Bodenham
into London on the Friday to meet Reg at Euston and travelled in together
on a 'Freak Special' (as it was known) train. Arrived on site early Friday
evening to find all the fences were trashed and everyone was walking in
free! We were well cheesed off as we had all bought advance tickets. I never
saw any violence all weekend, or any nudity (much to our chagrin!)
As the bands played around the clock I missed lots of acts due to falling asleep. My main memory is T.Rex initially getting booed and The Faces (our personal fave band) playing their usual storming boozy set. Mungo Jerry playing their chart hits and Lindesfarne and The Groundhogs.
The toilets were pretty
horrendous just a slit trench with a couple of scaffolding poles to squat over
and a bit of Hessian material around it to shield your arse from passers by,
needless to say we used the woods after
I think it rained a bit during the night I'm not sure, but the site wasn't a mud bath or anything like that. It was here where I first heard the Wally (from Weeley?) call which became popular afterwards.
I've still got the official (folded newspaper) festival programme also half of a ticket.
I think this was really the very last of the 'Shambolic/amateur type festivals' as the Great Western Festival held in '72 at Bardney near Lincoln was very strictly run with massive fences and extra security etc, likewise the following Reading festivals that we went to.
I hope this will be of interest to someone....Happy days indeed !
Col Bennett. 2002
I was 14 and desperate to find out what a hippy festival was like..had met a few psychedelic characters and been reading Oz and I.T. that summer and had been curious about acid since watching the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour when I was 10..just a natural born hippy I guess.
|4 of us - two boys, two girls got there around sunset on the Friday. I had told the others I was 16. The boys had acid - blue chrystal - and shared it with the girls and I soon experienced - with a vengeance - the experience I had been so curious about. Very Alice in Wonderland to the 'nth degree...zap, pow another universe to explore - heaven and hell made manifest. I was so young and innocent - a good Catholic girl - but I saw in the experience - freaky tho' it was at times the seeds of a new consciousness that was positive for the world. I still remember seeing the colours as 'Riders on the Storm' blasted through the sound systems. I remember Marc Bolan being booed.||
Above ; the crowd
click to see larger version and more close ups .
photo © Garry Bodenham
I remember many intense
experiences through that night and as the sun came up I felt disorientated and
a bit scared. I saw a Hell's Angel crying over his bike which had been smashed
up I just left the festival site on my own and hitched home - the fearlessness
and the resilience of youth!! - and went home to bed for 2 days. My mother kept
coming in and asking me if I was sure I had to the Catholic youth hostel to
help out as I had told her these were my plans for the weekend!!
Weeley was the gateway for me towards a different way of living. From there went to first Barsham Fair in Suffolk - MAGICAL - as were later Barshams and Albion..Stonehenge free and others. Lived in an ambulance with my partner then a bus til '84. In recent years I have been to Uni got 2 degrees and now have a 'proper job' ha ha to which I am very committed. In recent years tho 'since 91 have by chance become happily involved with Dance/Party Culture in Norfolk/Suffolk. The seeds of an emerging anarchic awareness of the sanctity of autonomous (i.e. not 'controlled by capitalist interests') celebration of life and love towards the evolution of humankind began in the '60s and 70's and is
STILL OUT THERE. It is part of our great English tradition of dissent and free thinking and if dies through apathy and indifference the spirit of Albion dies too. Dance culture and E were till about 96-97 the descendent consciouness of festivals in the '60s and 70's. The trouble is that anything visionary with purity of intent quickly gets corrupted and rotten. Hard drugs creep in and various crazies sucking it all dry 'til nothing is left but a parody of the magic which once flourished.
Above ; the crowd awakens , dawn on Monday
click to see larger version
photo © Garry Bodenham
Wally myths... I heard that Wally was a guy giving out free acid at one
of the early festivals hence the cry 'Wheres Wally' at regular intervals...Also
wondered if he was the same Wally Hope who started Stonehenge free in
'73 and whose ashes were scattered there in '78,'79? Anyway been great
to visit this site if anyone wants to mail me they are welcome as I have
sure I there are several kindred spirits out. My mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the time I was living on Britwell council estate, Slough, Berkshire and attended the Warrenfield Comprehensive School (or Warrenfield State Pen as we used to call it)and as a 15 year old council brat to say that Weeley was a culture shock is an understatement!!!
The first thing that comes to mind upon disembarking from the train at Weeley station was the rows of chopper motorbikes lined up outside the station, I had never seen anything like this before, it took my breath away. Walking across a field towards the festival site was another revelation, there appeared to be people living in holes in the ground!!!. As I crossed this field I seem to remember the P.A. was playing the Fish Cheer by Country Joe McDonald which was carrying in the breeze across the weirdest field in the country.
Upon entering the festival site proper I was completely unprepared for the sight that greeted me, it was huge with very,very strange people wandering around, the stage seemed massive. I don't remember actually setting up a camp of any kind (although my friends and I must have done, in the beginning at least).
Edgar Broughton completely blew me away (first trip and I loved it). I often wonder what happened to the chap that seemed to spend the entire set laid out on the floor foaming at the mouth. Status Quo also made a big impact, in fact the Dog of Two Head album was purchased on the strength of their performance at Weeley and was the first "serious" album that I bought (I still have it).
Above ; the crowd applaud an act
click to see larger version and more close ups .
photo © Garry Bodenham
thing that I remember is a guy with long blond hair dressed very much in
the manner of Robin Hood, doing a very freaky dance through the crowd. He
stopped once in a while to shoot an imaginary bow and arrow into the distance
and waited for the arrow to explode, this was done as mime sequence, people
also scored acid of of him, which he kept in a pouch at his side.
I also remember the violence, particularly the bloke that had Wessex written on the back of his leathers. Built like a brick shithouse and carrying a sledgehammer, he followed an Alsatian into a wooded area, what became of the dog I don't know.
Angels were being carted
off in black Marias,hotdog stands upturned and fires lit, I don't remember seeing
bikes being trashed. Just before the Quo set an Angel announced that the festival
had been taken over by them and that if everybody did as they were told then
it would be alright.
Another memory has just occurred to me and why it should is beyond me, one of the guys from Tir Na Nog announced that his string had broken, why this stays with me I don't know but I guess it adds (however inconsequentially) to the overall picture. I also remember Stuart McKay mashing the remnants of his water melon into the floor whilst my tongue had swollen up from lack of fluid (I've never forgiven him for that). And John Norris who seemed to turn up once in a while looking as if he had managed to shower and sleep in the
best hotel in area, he was always sparkly clean.
One final recollection is the question asked to the crowed by one of the MC's and that is "Why does a brown cow eat green grass and only give white milk?" I' m still waiting for the answer.
Thank you for letting me bore you, all the best
P.S. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
courtesy John Sellick
I grew up on the island of Cyprus, where no rock groups ever came to play. I was an avid Melody Maker-Disc-NME reader at the time, reading about all these great bands but unable to see them. In 1971 I was 15 when my parents sent me to Cambridge to take a four-week course in English, which I was already fluent in. I used this opportunity to get off the island and hopefully be able to see some live music. Little did I know I was about to attend a major rock festival! August Bank Holiday was approaching, and my friend Aris asked me if I'd like to go with him to a 3-day open air rock festival. As if I had to think twice! So off we went with the clothes we were wearing, with no sleeping bags and little food. Although there was trouble with the Hells Angels, I wasn't near that and heard about it afterwards. I do remember the 'Wally' chants, which by Monday morning had become very amusing. And yes: the 'toilets' were a long trough at the back of and outside the campground, and they were foul, disgusting and smelly as mentioned too by others! I have no recollection of what I ate and how I ate there, but obviously I'm still alive to tell the story!
pic courtesy Piers W
We got there and were amazed at the thousands of people already gathered. We claimed a spot in the middle of the field. We bought those cylindrical brown paper bags to get into and sleep in, and were thrilled to be there. All this was on Friday afternoon. I remember hearing Thin Lizzy’s 'The Rocker' on the PA, and possibly Stravinsky’s 'Firebird Suite' before the first band came on around midnight on Friday night. I believe John Peel’s show was broadcast that day, but I could be wrong. Hackensack opened the festival with a rocking set, very good and just the right band at the right time. They were followed by the Edgar Broughton Band, who played a storming set which climaxed with the whole crowd chanting out loud 'Out, Demons Out'! It was magical and very pagan. After that I fell asleep.
Saturday morning I remember walking up close to the stage to see Gnidrolog, who were very good and who played a rocking set. They were heavier than I expected, which for me was a good thing. Juicy Lucy were fantastic too, plugging 'Lie Back And Enjoy It'. Later that afternoon I remember rousing sets from the Pink Fairies (plugging 'Never Never Land') and Status Quo(plugging 'Dog Of Two Head'). Tir Na Nog were pleasant too.
Sunday morning started with a bang for me. I had just woken up and once again made my way through the crowd to the front of the stage to witness Mott The Hoople. They were supposed to have gone on sometime during the night, but delays occurred (for them and other bands too). The crowd was still sleeping, but they played such a raucous set that by the time they finished people were standing up cheering and applauding. I remember a storming 'Walking With A Mountain' and 'Thunderbuck Ram'. At the end of their set, Ian Hunter attacked his keyboard and pushed it over, and Overend Watts (the drummer) demolished his drum set on stage! It was wild! Soon thereafter, The Groundhogs took to the stage, and performed a blistering set comprised mostly of 'Split' and 'Thank Christ For The Bomb'. I was in Rock Heaven!! One of my heroes stood literally a few feet away from me wailing away on his strat- Tony McPhee was superb! And to see Clive Brooks on drums was such a treat too, being an Egg fan as well.
Sunday afternoon saw Lindisfarne perform a good set of folk-rock songs, the highlight being a rousing version of 'Fog On The Tyne' which was or just had been in the charts; it got people to get up and move. Al Stewart's set was pleasant as expected. The Grease Band played a surprisingly solid set of rock music too. Quintessence were ok and very jam-oriented, but didn't make a huge impression on me. Heads, Hands And Feet were competent county rock, with Albert Lee playing some excellent guitar. One of the highlights was surprisingly Mungo Jerry, who asked the crowd to bang on anything they could to make noise. The sound of coke cans and bottles all banging together in unison was wild and got some of the crowd to get up and start dancing. The sun had just come out, and created the perfect setting for them.
Now we're getting to some more of the big names of the Festival. Rod Stewart and the Faces started their performance at dusk, and were magnificent! They were on their way at the time to becoming major superstars with the release of 'Every Picture Tells A Story'. Rod was resplendent in a hot pink satin suit and no shirt I remember, totally flamboyant clothing fit for a star like him. They rocked the crowd good! 'All Over Now', 'Country Comfort', 'Maggie May', 'Every Picture Tells A Story', 'Losing You'-great, classic songs all performed with maximum gusto and flair. Good ol' Rodney!
The Electric Elf onstage at Weeley
photo courtesy Repfoto © to see more click on the link
|And they were followed anti-climactically by T.Rex. Now, I was not and am not a fan of Marc Bolan, but I have to tell you the guy blew me away with some Hendrixian soloing of the highest caliber! You may have read that the crowd was booing him-can you imagine in 1971 a flamboyant little man wearing women's pumps on stage?!! But the music was surprisingly good and much heavier than the top 40 versions of 'Ride A White Swan', 'Get It On' and 'Hot Love'. I can’t tell you how shocked I was at his heavy and slightly distorted guitar playing-I had no idea T.Rex could rock like that! He eventually won some of the crowd over. Again, I had walked up to the edge of the stage for his show, so I was right there in front of Mark when he performed.|
The rest of the night is
a blur. I do remember waking up in the middle of the night on Sunday I believe
(Saturday night from what others say) to whooshing sounds (VCS3) coming from
the stage. I opened my eyes, saw King Crimson on stage and went right back to
sleep with the music blaring away! I could kill myself today for having missed
one of the greatest bands the world has ever known. 'In The Court Of The Crimson
King' was the first album I ever bought at the age of 14; I knew every note
of it by then, and had wanted so much to see them But you have to remember that
the music never stopped for almost two and a half days; one could only stay
awake for so long before falling asleep. I was offered dope but kindly refused(too
naïve at the time). I was amazed to see people smoking ganja next to me
and all around, amazed by how long those joints were (I swear they were at least
a foot long some of them!). Aris had scored some acid, but I was terrified to
take it and flatly refused to get high in any sort of way. I'm glad in retrospect,
as I probably would have not had the recollections I do today of that fantastic
event that I will treasure forever in my mind and in my heart.
I vaguely remember some of the other bands that performed. Barclay James Harvest played a pleasant set with Orchestra, but I've never been a fan so don't remember much of their show. I vaguely remember hearing and/or seeing Rory Gallagher, Gringo, Caravan and Stone The Crows. What a shame, as I love the Crows and Caravan! I definitely missed Van der Graaf Generator’s set and Stray. I believe Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come never went on stage either, which was a shame as I was in love with 'Galactic Zoo Dossier'.All in all, it was one of *the* highlights of my life on this planet, an event I will treasure until the end of time.
Nick Jacovides (now 47, living in Boston, MA, USA). NJacovides@aol.com
remember this festival very well. As I lived in Brentwood Essex this was a luxury. A fest right in our own backyard. I was 17 and had been to
numerous festivals,so my mates and I decided to go early in the week. The weather was good and we were surprised at the number of people already on site. We set up camp in the cut corn field. Little realising that in days to come this was to be disastrous. Camp fires were all too frequent and coming back from the arena would see tents and cars burnt out. We spent over a week at the festival and were fortunate to only have one close shave with the fires. This still resulted in one Don Brown getting his foot burnt.
The music was ok. Vaguely remember The Faces while I was sitting on the back fence. But the music to me was second place in what was happening outside, sort of background music. The night camps with people you'd never met before sharing porridge from a great big pot. Talking of pot, sharing joints and other substances. So many stoned people, with rolling eyes trudging across this corn field. Remember trying to get in the local pub across the road and gave up 'cos it was so packed.
Yep t'was happy days indeed!!
© Keith Liggins
Gee, I was 14!
I saw the full page ad for the festival in the NME. I stared at the long list of performers for days. I had to go! We were so poor at the time that I had free school meals. In order to raise the money for the ticket I sold my free school meal tokens for half their value. I even bought tokens from other free meal kids and then sold them for a small profit. Eventually I had enough money, so I cut out the application form from the ad and sent it off. Getting the ticket through the post was one of the most exciting days of my life. This would be my entry to three days of rock music and heaven.
On the week of the actual concert
my mother and sister quizzed me on how much money I had. I had very little,
so my sister arranged that I should meet her at lunchtime on Friday at the factory
where she worked so she could give me some from her pay packet.
Friday morning arrived. I was alone at home and heard on Radio One that the crowd for the Weeley Festival was building up - so I couldn't wait. I set off immediately. I had no change of clothes, no tent or sleeping bag, and just enough money for the train fare to the site (but not for the return journey).
On getting to the site I spent
what little money I had left on buying a copy of Oz magazine. I was now completely
broke. I entered the site and sat down at the spot I would occupy for the next
three days. Just me, my Oz magazine, my yellow cord suit and my flashy cravat.
I felt great.
On that first day some people
walked through the crowd tossing out free acid (at least that's what people
thought - I don't know, I never got any). Hackensack were the first band on.
Because no other band had yet turned up they kept going. They would stop. Exhausted.
There would be a little conference, then the singer would announce, in a voice
growing more weary with each added song, that there was still no other band
to replace them. They played until they had no more songs left to play. I have
a memory of them starting when it was still light, but finishing when it was
Quite early on a bloke sat down next to me. I was a little put out at him taking some of my space, but he was a really cool guy and we became friends for the duration of the festival. Whenever he went for food he always shared some with me. I survived on his handouts and the food from the free kitchen (muesli made with water in the morning, bread and jam during the rest of the day and a plastic cup filled with brown rice and vegetables in the evening). Eventually his money ran out, and he too had to resort to the free food kitchen. We met a couple of girls and during Lindisfarne's set we lifted them up on our shoulders and danced around. When my friend let down his girl he asked for a reward, so she kissed him. I did the same thing and experienced my first French kiss. I was shocked and excited.
At some point I saw some Hell's
Angels walking through the crowd, just stepping on people. One guy objected.
He got very badly beaten. No one else objected. The Pink Fairies were not billed
to be on, but had been playing for free outside the festival so the organisers
let them have a go on the stage. They put down a wild set. Two drummers.
T Rex were met with boos and tin cans at first. Even though I liked T Rex, I joined in with the mood of the crowd and tossed a tin can which I swear hit Bolan on the knee. Eventually Marc Bolan came to the mic and yelled, "There are some people at the back booing. Well, you can tell them from me to fuck off!"
He got some cheers, and some more boos for that. The crowd became more appreciative after he'd done his cross legged pixie stuff. The booing stopped and he got warm applause at the end of the set.
Rod Stewart stole the show with Maggie May which he introduced as a song about an aging Glaswegian prostitute.
I remember all the Wally
chanting: "Give me a W..."
I remember announcements from the stage: "Don't drop the purple acid - it's bad!" An announcement which it seemed traditional to give at every festival - if it was a joke, it seemed in poor taste if you'd just taken some !
I slept inside the music arena, but had to go outside for the toilets and the free food. On leaving you were given a ticket which you had to hand back to get back in. As the festival progressed they seemed to run short of tickets so they started to give people tickets torn in half, then torn into quarters, then just little bits from the corners.
I remember Mungo Jerry's set, and I think I can remember others, but it's mostly a blur. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to hear either King Crimson or Van Der Graff Generator.
On the Monday morning my
festival friend woke me to say that girls had split, and that he was splitting
too. I left with him, but lost my new friend at the crowded station. I
managed to get on the train without a ticket, then hitched back home from
London. I remember a huge line of hitch hikers on the M1 - something like
1/4 of a mile.
The Angels' bikes get their comeuppance at the hands of the heavies .....
I got home around tea time to find my mother and sister watching news of the festival on the TV. I sat down with them and watched details of this event I had actually attended being beamed to every home in the UK. I felt like a hero! I felt like a man.
As far as the bands go, Quintessence were pretty powerful but what sticks in my mind really was how good the Grease Band (Joe Cocker's sometime backing band) were; I seem to remember they came on toward the fag-end of the festival and played for ages.
Marc Bolan? What can I say. It's already been said. The Faces had gone down well and he was getting petulant. He was definitely not flavour of the month and after he smarmed: "Hello! I'm Marc Bolan, You may have seen me on Top of the Pops" the reaction of the crowd was immediate - loud booing and hissing; it was downhill all the way after that for his act. I recall our contingent joined in with the spirit of the thing and we lobbed half a dozen cans at him (we were pretty close to the stage). Mine only JUST missed him! We calmed down when he did some decent stuff. I seem to remember "Deborah" (you look like a Zeb-o-rah") being carried off quite professionally. He eventually left in a huff... I felt a bit sorry for his bongo man (Mickey Finn was it? Or his predecessor Steve Took?) who seemed a good trouper.
Best thing about Weeley was the adventure getting there. The festival was in lieu of the now-cancelled Isle of Wight Festival and loads of people made their way there at short notice. Our van - bringing up part of the Southampton contingent - packed up on the way, and we had to hitch-hike. By the time we arrived it'd become a free festival, which cheered us up no end. I recall we all started lighting rubbish fires in an attempt to stay warm.. and generally to keep up the anarchic spirit of the whole thing.
Getting home was even more
chaotic. Loads of special trains had been laid on by British Rail. No one had
any money... but we all got on anyway. At Liverpool St Station a veritable army
of ticket inspectors were waiting for us.. but we all jumped over the barriers
to cheers and shouts of "Wally" (of course) with the inspectors trying
but failing to catch many. Anarchy seemed to reign. It was great! Only one of
us got nabbed. Was it Jane? Me and Reino had to make our way back to my van
and try and get it going. What a weekend! Where are you now, Reino?
A friend and myself travelled to "the fest"stopping not far away from the site a few days prior to the festival,we had travelled from Staffordshire. I also recall the stories of an "Angel" death but never heard of any corroboration of the story, however,the ensuing mayhem,bikerwise, caused the loss of tent, by fire,and our meagre possessions,the tent not being one of them, a schoolmates I recall. I witnessed only an iota of the mayhem, people running around etc..as I remember the security was by" Joy Caterers"or perhaps I am getting mixed up with "fests" at Reading or Bardney in Lincs....and of course "WALLY" WAS AT ALL OF THEM!!!
It was fun visiting the website. My best memory of the festival is Mocking Bird by Barclay James Harvest wafting across the crowd on a warm summer night. The screens either side of the stage displayed the usual psychedelic images while an orchestra played. The crowds were appreciative and listened quietly. I lived in Clacton at the time and on other nights with my bedroom window open I could just about hear the music (about eight miles away). I was 24. My aunt and uncle came with me on the Sunday and enjoyed the atmosphere. They were in their late 60s. My 2 year old son also enjoyed it. I used to draw cartoons for the local paper at the time and my offering for that week was very enjoyable to draw.
Weeley was a long drive from home in the midlands and I recall a crazy "Keystone Cops" driving experience around a service station forcourt in the early hours of the morning on our way there. I remember the stunning performance by Crimson with 21st Century Schizoid Man, a very lively Rory Gallagher and Rod in his pink suit. Oh and being pulled by the fuzz for a car inspection on the way home - something about bald tyres. Slicks give more grip don't they ?!
At last I found some information
of the Weeley festival on the web, so I can share my memories with others.
In June July 1971 I hitch hiked back from the Middle East. On the road I met a fine English girl named Michele from Liverpool with whom I fell in love. When we had to split up in Brussels she mentioned the Weeley festival as a possible meeting point. And so it happened. My friend Erik and I hitch hiked to Belgium to take the ferry. There we met other backpackers who were refused to enter England because of a lack of money. With hardly any money in our backs and only a sleeping back we looked like tramps. But the night ferry was successful; we arrived in Weeley on Friday and bought a ticket. From bales of straw we built ourselves a sort of shelter as we had no tent.
was good, there were no fighting , as far as I can recall. Campfires and
the dry weather caused dangerous situations. We witnessed how an apparently
innocent fire grew within seconds and burned down several tents. There
was little water available, besides that, most people were too stoned
to come into action at all. From that moment we decided not to sleep in
our straw shelter anymore and we moved to the festival area on Saturday.
Right : One of the Straw shelters, not a good idea !
Erik and I were laying on
the ground listening to various groups. Messages were delivered through the
p.a system: "Phil, your brother is looking for you, please contact etc."
And then the organization announced to stop with these messages unless they
were urgent. After a while all of a sudden my name was called through the p.a.
system: "Jan is wanted by Michele because she is pregnant. Meet her at
the left side of the stage". People around me busted out in laughter and
I could not believe my ears. (Does anybody remember this?) Erik assured me it
was me: "So go man".
It took quite some time to walk to the stage; I arrived there when Mungo Jerry was on stage. Michele and I got in contact; she said making up a "pregnancy story "was probably an effective way to get through to me. And this worked out.
We went to our spot in the field and enjoyed that afternoon and night from a bit of romance and music, specifically King Crimson and Colosseum.
Jan van den Hoek (age 51)
I chanced across your site, I was at the Weeley Festival and Marc Bolan did indeed announce that if the audience didnt stop shouting abuse he would leave the stage, and he did....but then he returned and sat on a large cushion and, playing solo acoustic guitar he played a few songs and gradually won the audience over, I was not a huge fan of his but I have never forgotten the courage (and the talent) that he showed that day.
A different age when anything seemed possible, I am still involved in music and play in a band called "tab"
Best wishes and thanks for the memory!
pic courtesy Piers W
Hi All, Stewart Elliott
Goldring of Gnidrolog. Thanks for the memories - I can hardly remember that
much so I must have been there! [ if you see what i mean.] Still playing
after all these years - so is Colin. Gnidrolog reformed in 2000 to make
a new album called Gnosis which has had some nice reviews.
Gnidrolog have a website at www.gnidrolog.com
All the best to everyone who was there.
Stewart Elliott Goldring
My Name is Peter Walsh. I attended the Weeley Festival in 1971 with a pal of mine (Mark). At the time I was a big Groundhogs and Rory Gallagher fan (still am actually!!). However, enjoyed all the acts and thought Colosseum on the first night were fantastic. Memories are of Hells Angels' scrapping and Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople) swearing like mad! Groundhogs played a fab set (most of Split) and Rory Gallagher did a great rendition of Sinner Boy.
Also seem to remember a great set by Jon Hiseman's Tempest??
I have recently set up www.vinylswitch.com a website dedicated to people who want to swap vinyl...its great fun!
Barclay James harvest did play at Weeley with Orchestra, my best memory of their set was Mocking Bird it was so damned good, I tracked it down and brought it. it was an amazing weekend, I saw Quo on friday 31st October just gone, my first time since weeley, still rocking!!!
© Keith Liggins
Bill Greenwell is definitely
right - the Wally saga started at the IoW festival the year before.
I was at both, and there must have been a fair number who were, so it's
no surprise that the 'WALLY' chant started up again at Weeley. At
the IoW in '70, my fiancee and I were sitting next to a crowd from Yeovil
- sometime during (I think) the second day, in a break between bands, one
of them said to his mates "Is that Wally over there?", pointing
at someone picking their way through the crowd about 50 yards away.
They agreed it was, and started shouting at him "Wally! Wally! Over
here mate", etc. Within a minute, we, and others around, joined
in, all shouting "Wally - over here". Soon, hundreds of
people were shouting, and before the next band played, the chorus was taken
up by thousands around the arena. The irony is that our neighbours
never got to talk to Wally, because there were so many people shouting out
his name from every direction, he (if he even realised it was him they were
shouting for) never looked in their direction. So, as I said, with
so many people from '70 IoW going to '71 Weeley, it's no surprise that the
"Wally" shouts started again during the more boring moments.
Returning to Weeley '71, (first of all, I have to say what a great website this is!) I'm now an old codger of 55, so it's understandable that my memory of it and who played what is growing rather dim. My fiancee and I drove up from Southampton with two friends from work, a boy and a girl. The boy fancied the girl, but the feeling wasn't reciprocated - the boy thought it would be a great opportunity to 'move things along' - it didn't work out like that, though!
We decided that because it was the height of summer, we wouldn't need a tent, so once we planted ourselves and our sleeping bags in the arena, that was it - we weren't budging until it was over. And that was a good plan, 'cos we kept a good spot for the entire event, only leaving in ones or twos for food and toilets. Enough's been said about the toilets already, but that weekend had a few 'firsts' for me, including seeing a girl take a dump! Another 'first' was the first night, when two of our neighbours decided to make love in their sleeping bag - let me just say she was a very uninhibited (and noisy) girl!
But what of the bands? I remember thinking at the time what an array of British talent had been assembled for us, but I believe there were doubts about the presence of T Rex, Rod Stewart and Status Quo, who had all 'gone commercial'. Quo soon sorted that one out with a stonking set, and I recall, as many others do, Marc Bolan getting upset, but then coming back and winning the crowd over. The Faces and Rod were efficient, but not, as I recall, outstanding.
With a little memory jogging from your other contributors, I also recall the Groundhogs doing Split (an album I still listen to regularly), and Barclay James Harvest with their orchestra. The crowd was getting very restless at the delay before BJH, but that was all forgiven once they started their set. Others I vaguely recall were Edgar Broughton, who got the crowd chanting 'Out Demons Out!' and Coliseum, of whom I was a great fan - old two-horns Dick Heckstall-Smith really blew us away!
I also remember a fire or two, but these were dealt with swiftly, and the roar of many motor bikes, when the Angels left in a rush. Other than that, all I can say is 'I was there', but without too much recall of detail.
Thanks again for stirring up the memories!
I remember the
weeley festival as a 16 year old ..it was great, I had forgotten about the
toilets but it all came flooding back when I read other people recollections.After
a couple of days my mate refused to go!. I had a friend called
wally who never went to the festival but it gave him great cred cos everyone
(apart from me ) thought it was all about him. I remember the crap P.A. and
they kept switching between 2 different sytems both bad. At one point a
girl called jenny (what ever happened to her?) climbed into a speaker whilst
it was off for a better view, a bit unfortunate for her as it got switched
on again whilst she was still inside!. I remember John
peel helping out in the Release tent (what happened to them?) and I got
a badge that I wore for months at all the local gigs just to look cool.
What really stuck in my mind was watching the angels roll in ..all riding
down the white line in the middle of the road.. (coool) and then seeing
them beat up along with their bikes against a backdrop of smoke and
wailing fire engines. Yes I remember the peace and love and somebody nicking
my sleeping bag whilst I looked the other way for 10 microseconds..
never did get it back (what happened to that? - it was a green one).
Albatross (yes it's a sea bird?) Dave
© Keith Liggins
I was hauled off to Weeley by a contact in Release, the drug charity, to check out any potential problems with electrics for them. At the time I was working as the electrician for the Empire Ballroom in London, but was also a volunteer worker for Release. No problems with the single light bulb in the Release tent - but I got press-ganged into being temporary stage manager by someone who I bumped into backstage (I had met them once but cannot remember the name!).
The stage had been setup
with a fork lift stage left and a ramp stage right. Two sets of wheeled
band stands - one for setup and one for performance. Simple system - band
playing, next band ready and third band by forklift. At end of band set
the crew (under my orders) pull back band stands, strip cables etc and slide
equipment down ramp to waiting vans - next band is rolled into place and
starts playing within minutes if they want. Great system..... until the
early hours when Edgar Broughton Band finish .
KERCHANGGGGGH ....applause - right lads get that kit away ....down the slope .. Edgar Broughton turns round when trying to do an encore to find no equipment on stage ...whoops. Took bloody ages to push the stuff up the ramp (very slippery).
I left shortly after and hitched back to London to open up the Empire for its Saturday lunchtime "ballroom tea dance" what a contrast!
Jim Pickford Perry
I was 18 years old when I went to Weeley. Three of us went down on the train and then met up with about 10 others of our gang of heads from Sheffield when we got there. I remember one of the lads dropping acid on the journey and then being very impressed by all the signs in St Pancras station saying "Way Out ".
When I got to the site I realised that all my money,return train ticket and festival ticket had been nicked, so I had to borrow to get in and ate nothing for 3 days apart from a mouthful of pizza. However, as I was tripping the whole time, I didn’t really miss the food. We had our flag like everybody else and I remember spending the Saturday afternoon trying to persuade one of our chicks to get into my Crash Bag. I had bought this on the way down – it was a giant brown paper bag with a very flimsy lining of polystyrene foam which broke into ten million pieces when we got inside it, with accompanying rustling noises every time we moved. This was while Mungo Jerry were on. I believe they were singing songs which seemed to be the kind of thing you might hear rugby players bellowing after 20 pints and an away win, i.e. a bit suggestive,nudge nudge,wink wink,say no more. It was so embarassing what with the rustling every time I tried to get going that we gave up and she went off down the front with another girl in order to see Rod The Mod prancing about later on in his pink suit. *
pic courtesy Piers W
I recall a fire breaking out somewhere in the field in the hot sun and being totally freaked by it. I caught the vibe of panic and was overwhelmed by the desire to get out of the crowd, so I escaped into the field at the back but then realised that I was tripping, 250 miles from home and all my friends were in the middle of a crowd of 100,000 people who all looked the same. So then I had to go through some more paranoia before stumbling across them hours later and by now totally down. Then King Crimson came on and scared the living daylights out of me. I remember shivering with fear most of the night in that bastard paper bag. I recall Quintessence doing their Indian spiritual stuff but it didn’t lift me. I also recall poor T-Rex coming on to chants of "Bolan is a queer, Bolan is a queer, ee-aye-addio Bolan is a queer" from down the front which I think was probably quite good-natured and ironic but he didn’t take it too well. In the whole weekend I only went to that awful slit trench once, looked in and thought that I could probably hang on to it a bit longer.
On what I suppose was Sunday,our group split up to go home – some (the girls) hitching, but one look at the queue made us realise that this was hopeless so I scraped enough money together from mates to get the train to London and then a coach from Victoria back up to Yorkshire. I got separated from my friend in the tube system of course (he fell asleep and just woke up as I had got off – I will never forget his look of terror as he glided out of the station into the yawning black tunnel). I wondered around in the maze of tunnels hearing cries of "Wally,Wally" every now and then and by some miracle met my mate again at the top of the escalator about an hour later. I will never forget my joy in the M1 service station toilets.
Lastly to make the weekend
complete, we got thrown off the bus 2 miles from home having not had quite
enough for the fare and limped into our home village in disconsolate silence.
His weekend had been much more successful – on the Saturday afternoon
he "got off " with a chick nearby and he lost his virginity under
his Afghan coat and the gaze of 100,000 onlookers. I think the onlookers
probably got most out of it. This was my 3rd festival, having done Lincoln
earlier on in the Summer (Byrds,James Taylor), beautiful, and one in Krumlin
near Huddersfield the year before,when snow (in July) had turned the festival
into a disaster area. The next year (1972), we all went to Bickershaw which
was quite a lot more fun but it took me a long time to get over Weeley (about
* I was amazed that I had remembered that little detail correctly after all this time when I saw one of the pix on this site.
Updated October 2012
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