Many thanks go to Jane for all the time spent recollecting her fabulous memories from all three festivals which she attended. Read on if you want to know if her side beat Hawkwind in the mother of all hippie football matches ... as well as lots of other cool incidents from Windsor 1972 to 1974 .
First a point re the 'Windsor Half Free' article and the tree which was burned - I have a love of trees which only an acidhead who's spent many happy hours talkin to them can understand, but this was, in fact, a deadtree and an accident - someone (obviously a person of very little brain andtoo much dope) decided it'd be a good idea to light their fire under this big tree - the tree caught fire and the very fact that it went up like a rocket proves that the tree was in fact dead - no healthy, living tree would have burned that fast ........
There were only about 250 people at that first Windsor, no facilities at all, but we didn't care. I was 17. Hawkwind played. I dunno how many other bands turned up or who they may have been, but the sounds, when working,were fine. we didn't mind all the interruptions - this was, after all thefirst time anyone had taken the trouble to organise anything like this - we just really appreciated it. At one point I sat for two hours transfixed bythe sight of an old (must have been all of 30) freak patiently digging away at the insides of a carrot, eventually turning it into probably the best chillum I've ever had the pleasure to smoke. A group called the White Panthers got hold of a tin bath and managed to produce huge quantities of the tastiest muesli ever made (no, honestly, it really was extremely edible- I don't like muesli) and gave it away, freely, to everyone. Everybody was happy and everyone helped each other, for no personal gain and for no other reason than they wanted to. At one point a guy came along and spent the whole afternoon building a shelter (more like a house) against the tree next to our campsite. When he'd finished he came over to our fire and told us he'd made it for us because we had no tents. He just wanted to make us happy, such was the power of the free festival.
The second Windsor festival was just a little larger (about 1500 or so I'd say). People spilled out from the woods and were camping in the fields on either side. We had a brilliant spot, right in the middle, opposite the stage, but far enough away so's we didn't get trodden on in the night. Hawkwind were playing. The sun shone. At one point an ice-cream van drove onto the site - obviously a local entrepreneur who thought he'd make a killing selling ices at exorbitant prices .....wrong! When the Hawks generator finally gave up after god knows how many hours of solid full blast rocking punishment, spaceships grinding to a halt in the middle of a particularly excellent track, a guy came on stage and announced that the band couldn't continue cause they'd run out of petrol for the generator, but didn't we think it was time to do something about the guy trying to rip everyone off for ices. Say no more....... at the sight of probably 150 or so very pissed off freaks coming towards him, the bloke abandoned his van and did a runner (only returning for his van - very sheepishly - at the end of the festival). Success!! Not only did we teach him a lesson in hip values (don't rip people off), but the contents of the van were distributed amongst the people and the petrol was liberated for the generator and Hawkwind. In the morning we had coffee made with melted ice cream cause we'd run out of milk - different............
The next day as the sun shone down and as the temperature rose into the 80's Steff, Jacki, Andy, Barry and Simo, along with a few others decided it'd be a great idea to walk to Virginia Water and have a swim in the lake. Being of a particularly lazy disposition at the time, I told them I couldn't be arsed with trekking all that way (about 2 or 3 miles), so Jeff and I stayed behind. We decided it would be more civilised to stroll the half-mile or so into Windsor town and have a clean up in the public bogs. Much better idea - we got cleaned up, begged some veggies for a stew and had a pleasant pint in the only pub serving hippies, before, feeling pleasantly refreshed, we meandered back to the site. We had an extremely relaxing and very pleasant evening, listening to sounds, smoking spliffs, and eating stew.
They got busted. Apparently they didn't even get to the lake for a swim
before the squad swooped and whisked them away to the local nick for a thorough
search - bearing in mind this was Thames Valley police, not our local dummies,
I don't think the guys had a very pleasant time. No-one was carrying but that
didn't stop them photographing and fingerprinting everyone in the party. Perhaps,
in some deep, dark, dusty place, down in the bowels of Windsor police station
there lies a tatty file, full of pictures of grubby, long haired, peace loving
folk - never mind I'm sure it made the pigs feel very clever at the time.
The DS didn't look very clever later in the week either ....... everyone was relaxing, minding their own business, getting stoned between bands when all of a sudden there came a loud call - in a broad Yorkshire accent - "Eee I'm being busted!" , at which about fifty people closed in around the two offending officers and the guy was able to crawl out and make his escape from the bemused DS - "Power to the people!"
The third Windsor
festival was the biggest and the last. Our usual crowd were there - Me, Jacki,
Barry, Simo, Andy, Jeff, Steff, along with a few others. On the first night
Andy and I were sent off on an acid finding expedition. We came across this
really cool looking black dude who was flogging "purple haze". After a little
discussion we decided it would be best if we just bought two and tried it out,
rather than pissing everyone off by wasting their money on crap - very logical
and considerate, we thought. Turned out to be probably the best acid either
of us had ever had.
The problem? Well, personally I blame Hawkwind (but then I am biased -I happen to believe Hawkwind are to blame for many weird and wondrous happenings), due to the fact that, just after we dropped the acid, Hawkwind came on stage. Well, if you ever saw the Hawks in the seventies, you'll realise that we really had no option but to stay exactly where we were, in prime position, right at the front of the stage SSS.. and enjoy. By the time the band reached the climax of their first set - lights pulsating and flashing, sirens howling, guitars and synthesiser screeching out the sounds of a thousand spaceships taking off for Utopia (could that have been the name of the tune, I wonder??!) - Andy and I were already there - Utopia that is - we were totally smashed off our faces and unable to do much apart from stumble off in different directions, eyes (and brains) falling out, with the vague idea of finding the others, finding the cool black dude and getting lots more purple acid. I came to sitting cross-legged in front of a camp fire, eating a sausage which had been given to me by the complete stranger who's girlfriend, seeing the size of my pupils and the vacant grin, had decided I needed a little looking after (thank you, whoever you were). ate my sausage, even though it seemed to have the texture of a rubber johnny (well, I do have manners you know - always eat what you're given etc.), thanked them and, I hope politely, refused their insistent offers to stay by their fire, choosing instead to stumble off in what I could now see (we'd been gone all night - the sun was just starting to rise) was the right direction for our camp. I remember Barry in particular being extremely pissed off - he couldn't believe we'd had such fantastic gear and not bought more. We vainly tried to explain -it wasn1t really our fault - it was Hawkwind's - we'd had the best possible intention (well, you always do don't you) and we never expected to be so totally out of our heads. There really wasn't a lot we could say or do -they definitely were not happy with us -we'd just have to live with it. Andy and I shrugged our shoulders, grinned at each other and went off to crash. The really cool black dude was never seen again.
I think it was probably later that same day when a bunch of guys turned up and started kicking a football around just near our camp. Well, guys being guys, a challenge was made and the 'Football Match of the Year' commenced. At first we had no idea who the opposition were, but we were overjoyed when we beat Hawkwind 5-1 ..... ok the Hawks were quite obviously seeing a hell of a lot more balls than us (I have vague recollections of Lemmy standing, staring into the sky and shouting "head which bloody ball, I can see dozens of balls"), but our having a one-legged goalkeeper did, I feel, even the odds somewhat .......
Unfortunately, due to being completely smashed at all 3 Windsor festivals, my memory as to exactly which one it was where the Pink Fairies joined the Hawks on stage and played one hell of a belting set, is a little fuzzy - it was definately the 2nd or 3rd - probably the 3rd .........
Andy was the only one of us who stayed till the very end of the final Windsor and was witness to the disgusting performance by Thames Valley police when, in the early hours of the morning, backed by heavy duty plant (machinery not dope), they descended on the site.
They gave the people (the majority of whom were fast asleep at the time) just 10 minutes (Andy insists they were given 10 minutes and not 2 hours as has been reported) to gather their belongings and get out of the area.
Andy's tent was just one of many they bulldozed into oblivion. With children screaming in terror, women crying and no-one being allowed to retrieve their belongings (" So what if your car keys were in the tent, tough shit, move or we'll impound it and arrest you, you long haired bastard"), it must have been somewhat reminiscent of the treatment of the Indians by white America.
That was the end of the Great Windsor Park Free Festival.
There has been mention of a lack of good bands, but I remember hearing excellent sounds at each and every one of the fests - ok there were problems with generators packing up or petrol running out, but we didn't care - the bands, like the drugs, were just a part of it all. The Windsor experience was just that - an experience. People working together as one for the benefit of all - and you don't get that at the overpriced rip-offs masquerading as festivals these days (there are one or two exceptions to this which include the yearly Rock & Blues put on by Derbyshire Outlaws -the nearest thing I have come to the Windsor experience since Watchfield 1975 - highly recommend it).
I for one am eternally grateful to Bill Dwyer for all the time and effort he put into making Windsor happen. I was proud to 'do my bit' by making sure the flyers and posters he sent me for the 2nd & 3rd fests were distributed all over Yorkshire - I just wish my mother hadn't thrown out the ones I'd saved and treasured for so many years .......aaaaaaaaaagh!
If you can contribute any memories, documents , photos or details of bands and recordings from Windsor, please
Free Festival links.
- More about the aftermath of Windsor at the Watchfield Festival site.
- Free festivals of the 1970s - index of all known free festivals and links to all major sites ,photos ,links , etc
- Jezaland. -a fantastic archive of photos from various festivals of the 70s , go see !
- Alan Lodge photographer - One Eye on the Road.
- Dice George's - Stonehenge site .
- Hard Core Carvers- festival archive and info on contemporary festivals in the UK
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