Updated June 2021, new recollections and images .
Memoirs of attendees.
© D Myatt
Graham Edgar remembers
My memories of Knebworth 75 are of sun , Newcastle Brown , joints & some great music .
We were dropped off at Hitchen , as the owners of the van were going elsewhere
for the night , & we proceeded to find a comfortable cornfield in which
to sleep under the stars . (left )
Then the music started , the drinking started , the smoking started & one of the best days of my life was spent under a clear blue sky - broken only by a Spitfire flypast .
Photos © Graham Edgar
|Roy Harper sang of darker things , Steve Miller sang of lighter things , Mr Zoot Horn Rollo played that long , lingering note and held it just as Beefheart instructed . Linda Lewis was bubbly & Mr Chapman did his best to hold it all together . The only thing I remember eating all day was an orange , and having seen the state of the toilets it was probably as well , but somehow we acquired Newcastle Brown , illicit substances & lager , sufficient to keep the body functioning .
Then in the early evening on came The Floyd .
start was fairly slow , or so it seemed at the time , with technical problems
& poor sound .Once Shine On got into its stride & Roy Harper contributed
to Have A Cigar , it was beginning to build into something special . As
darkness fell , the lights & animated show on the large circular screen
began to be effective .
Fireworks , the lights , the film show & the funny little rocket which
came from the back of the site along what seemed like a washing line ,all
added to the experience, as the idea of pyrotechnics & such were pretty
much in their infancy.
After staggering to the campsite we had absolutely no energy left to erect the tent , so we just used it as a duvet & slept blissfully until being awoken by car horns & people throwing up. - Time to go home .
With the passing of time the memories have become maybe a bit more favourable than things really were & if I heard the recordings now I would probably be hugely disappointed , so I'll rely on my hazy recollection of what was , to me , a classic day .
Graham Edgar , Hudersfield , West Yorkshire
My journal says
The comments about disenchantment ring true, even though I was obviously not at my best. The music I had loved on the radio growing up on the West Coast in the '60s--British Invasion, folk rock, the Northwest Sound [R&B influenced rock from Seattle & Portland: Louie Louie for example], garage, psychedelic--seemed a long way from the calculated weirdness of Beefheart (though I came to like him later); & the return to expedient blues for Miller (I still far prefer his earliest albums) seemed a cop out. Bands no longer seemed to want to take the time & care to create something both original & beautiful. Beefheart was original but harsh & quirky, seemingly for its own sake, & Miller seemed to go for formula & riffs. I never got into Roy Harper so I can say nothing about him. I do know that I never saw any of them again, & never saw Floyd. (Though I have seen thousands of live shows since.)
Well now I'm an ethnomusicologist with a Ph.D., a book on rockabilly already
published, & another on the way called West Coast Rock: From the Folk Revival
to Psychedelic Rock. I teach university courses on rock & roll & its
sources, & the history of pop music.
The aftermath .
photo © Martin Starnes
Memories from Knebworth Festival 1975
little story begins in May 1973 when me and a friend hitchiked to our nearest
town Ostersund (in the middle of Sweden) to buy records. As usual at that time
I was looking for records with Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath etc
who were my favourites. We were in our favourite record shop when my friend
suddenly handed me a record and said: "You should listen to this one, I
heard it last weekend at my cousins home and it';s something special"
I looked at the record and thought: "Nice sleeve". I listened to it, bought it and that was it! From that moment I was a total Pink Floyd fan. The record? Yes it was "The dark side of the moon", the best album ever in all categories.
Soon I had bought all the Floyd records and I got my walls covered with posters and pictures of Pink Floyd.
I read everything I could get my hands on that included a single word about them. I looked at the posters where you could see them on stage with all that mystic smoke and dreamed about how fantastic their concerts would be. So in the spring of 1975 at the age of 17 I read in New Musical Express that Pink Floyd should preview a new album at an outdoor gig in England. I can't remember how but we managed to get tickets for the Knebworth festival by post. When I held that ticket in my hand I thought "Wow, am I really going to see the Floyd? Is this really true??"
Right: Part of Pink Floyds apparatus for the plane that flew over the audience lurks right as the crowd wait for an act to start.
we bought interrail tickets and began our trip from the middle (but if you ask
someone from Stockholm they would call it the north) of Sweden. We travelled
through Norway, Denmark, Germany and Holland on our way to England and Stevenage.
In those days there were no freestyle players so we carried a cassette player
that was pretty heavy, at least a couple of kilos. I think we heard "The
Dark Side" a hundred of times on that trip.We (me and my friends Anders
and Hans) came to Stevenage the day before the concert and it was amazing. The
town was already filled with fans and you could hear Floyd music everywhere
and shoppingwindows were filled with Pink Floyd records, posters and so on.
People were drinking beer and enjoying themselves and some of them took a bath
in a fountain.
photo © Martin Starnes
We spent the night just outside one of the big tents. It was a magic evening and night with a campsite full of Pink Floyd fans. I was in heaven! I drank beer and walked around the tents talking to other fans and listened to all the music that was played everywhere. Very early in the morning they opened the gates (as I remember it) and we went in and got a fairly good spot in the field. It was right in front of the stage as far from it as the big tree nearest to the stage. As we were a bit tired we jumped right into our sleeping bags and fell asleep. I suddenly woke up very abruptly because I heard loud music and I immeditly sat up, thinking "Oh my god they have begun". But it was hours before the first act and I will never forget what song I heard from the PA, it was Jethro Tulls "Aqualung".
I don't remember many details from the other acts from one of the Monthy Python-guys
getting the audience to shout "get off" and off he went. I also think
I remember that Captain Beefheart was throwing records out into the audience.
Other details I remember are:
© Martin Starnes
a couple of Spitfires flew over the arena and I have to admit that it wasnt
until at least a month later that I realised they were part of the show, when
I read the reviews in MM. And in that very moment Pink Floyd were on stage!!!
I don't remember much from the first part of the set (Raving & Drooling, You Gotta Be Crazy and Shine On You Crazy Diamond) except from that it was some struggle with the sound and that Roger Waters seemed a bit angry.
Then the "Dark Side.." part came and I was totally stunned. This was my by big dream coming true, to see Pink Floyd playing "The dark side of the moon" live with all the films and effects. Wow, I can still feel how I felt right then! The qudraphonic sound, the clocks in the "Time" film, the waves in "The great gig in the sky", the fantastic guitar solo on "Money" etc etc. It was so good!!
When they came to "Eclipse" I nearly went desperate because I was thinkin "Oh no its nearly over now".
And I surely never will forget when they came back on stage for an encore and Roger said "This is called Echoes". This piece is one of my all time favourites and it was just magic to sit there in the dark and watch this fantastic band perform it live. How many times hadnt I been laying on my bed at home listening to to "Echoes" and now it was for real! It still sendsshivers down my spine when I think about it.
Thank you Dave, Roger, Nick and Rick!!!
Afterwards we stumbled and struggled in the dark until we found a place in the forrest where we could put out our sleepingbags and spend the night. I think it was near a road though. This was one of the highlights in my life I can assure you.
In 1979 I went back to Knebworth mostly because that I wanted to see The New Barbarians but unfortunately they had cancelled their gig that weekend. Although Led Zeppelin were pretty good so I was satisfied with the trip despite the Barbarians failure.
Jamtland in the middle of Sweden.
It was a spur of the moment thing. I turned up at a friends house and some one asked "Do you fancy going to Knebworth?". Why not I thought. We set off from Plymouth with a minibus full of people generally getting spliffed up all the way. Must have been about 3 in the morning we rolled into this motorway service station, and all being pretty dismayed at the prices began what might be termed a consumer takeover. The first person in the queue would take something out of one of the slots, take a bite or a swig and pass it to the person behind till by the end of the line it was finished and the evidence was then concealed. Took 'em 10 minutes, which was as long as it took for the front people to get to the paydesk with a coffee for them to suss us then the shite hit the fan with threats of the law etc etc.
Made Knebworth dead early in the morning and found out a place to sit with a decent view in the bowl area centre field. Kipped a bit then had a shuggle around. By the time I woke up the place had FILLED. And we set off to look for someone to get seriously loaded up off of.Don't remember much of Linda Lewis on stage but here electric voice wafted over us as we boogied about saying hello to whoever, filching, wenching, smoking n scrounging. Then Roy Harper came on stage and played a pretty good set - both acoustic and electric. Whenever Roy was on you KNEW it was going to be a serious dopehead's day.
Python were..........Monty Python and sounded very much NOT part of what
was going on. By this time it was starting to kick in and when the Captain
hit the stage I was ready for it. By the time of Dali's Car I was
in the evening Pink Floyd came on and played a very long and masterfully engineered
set. You know the kinda thing they did back then well - massive theatre, great
sound etc etc. Started off with Echoes and stuff from the album with the geezer
diving in the water as a presentation of the new stuff. then after a short break
it was main event time and the whole of darkside of the moon. Errrrrrrrrr Dave?
can we have the Captain back onstage after.
Back in the bus and a long and exhausting trip back to darkest Devon taking it in turns to stay awake and keep the driver in between the verge and the white lines.
Great to see pics of concert. My main memories of the day are arriving at ticket booth about 9am and wanting to pay by cheque for two tickets. At that time the only person who could authorise accepting cheque payment was concert promoter Freddie Bannister himself. I was lead into his caravan where he was eating a fried egg sandwich and he duly accepted my cheque. My girlfriend and I then bagged a spot nearish the stage where we stayed for the rest of the day which ended with Pink Floyds fireworks landing in the by then tightly packed crowd. The urinal was a tent with dustbins in the arena. By midday these were filled and overflowing down the hillside away from the tent. The music was great though and we got away on a motorbike and missed the lengthy traffic jams.
By 1975 I was a regular festival goer, but I had also acquired a partner and fathered two children. The line up at Knebworth was, however, too good to miss - so we took the little ones with us, plus a decent supply of dope which we intended to sell at the site in order to finance the trip. As it turned out we ended up smoking most of it and passing around free joints. Most of the concert is a blur - too much dope and a poor sound system. I remember Steve Miller being very fat and boring. His set seemed to consist of one boogie blues number after another. Because of the kids we had to leave during the Pink Floyd set. I remember the Spitfires roaring overhead, and walking away with the sound of Pink Floyd gradually diminishing in the distance.
I was at the festival in 1975, arriving by car the night before with my brother and two friends. I slept under the car that night and we got set up very near the front the next morning. One moment there were only a few hundred people and the next you looked back and all you could see was heads stretching to the horizon. There were clouds of hash smoke and dealers openly plying their trade under flags advertising their wares.
Hijinks in the town . © Martin Starnes
Linda Lewis was pretty inaudible and the crowd sparse and I seem to remember her not exactly going down too well. I had forgotten that Roy Harper was even there although I was a big fan at the time. Steve Miller was absolutely fantastic as was Cpt. Beefheart. Pink Floyd were also amazing and I had no idea that there were technical problems, It all seemed pretty good. I remember the flypast which was scary and also a model plane that travelled from a tower down a wire above the crowd and crashed into the back of the stage. This may have been the start of the fire work display.
© Martin Starnes
main memory was the state of the diabolical toilet facilities. There was a huge
metal drum about a meter tall that had holes cut in the top all around the perimeter
and metal walls dividing the 'cubicles' like cake slices. This soon became completely
full and overflowed.
After the gig I went alone to London and tried to use the toilet in the station at Stevenage but there was a cone of shit rising two feet out of each bowl and more spread about the floor and walls. The train into London was a 'special' and reminiscent of cattle cars to the Nazi death camps.
Ah me. those were the days.
Knebworth 1975. When Pink Floyd played and there was a flying pig (or was it a plane? My senses were dulled at the time). Otherwise, hated it. Horrible, commercial, yuk. Don't remember any of the other bands and was stopped twice by the police.
The Floyd Knebworth in 1975 was a land mark for me. I'd had a gap year job in a record warehouse-distributor that was a real eye opener after my sheltered up-bringing. On the Thursday night I spent all my savings on a second hand Ducati 250 motorcycle. Friday was spent sorting out insurance and helmet before riding home from Acton to Battersea in the rush hour, never having ridden a bike before. Saturday morning I rode up to Knebworth and that night I slept next to my new wheels. The Floyd set was impressive. They played the 2nd half of Meddle, the whole of Dark Side of the Moon and the whole of Wish You Were Here in 3 sets. The highlight was the joke airplane. There was a long wire strung the length of the field down to the stage with the model airplane attached. At some crucial stage the plane flew down the wire and hit the stage with a cherry bomb. Except that the actual effect was pathetic! Another abiding memory was the 5 way speaker system with 3 big stacks out in the field. Gilmore's guitar swirling round in full surround sound was mind boggling.
© Chris Rigby
DIARY: Knebworth July
reason ... to see Pink Floyd live on their tour of that year. Six of us hired a van from Leeds. Cousin Phil drove. We are all experienced fesitval goers.
Glastonbuz, Buxton and Reading to name but a few. But never had we come across such traffic congestion before. We had all agreed not to drink until Phil parked the van. But the traffic queue started arguments within our ranks. This tested all our friendships before we even pitched our tents.
Croz, Gaz and a beautiful girl from uni that Phil had brought along, Lil,started drinking in the van in the queue.I resisted the temptation, so did our reserve driver, Mac.
On arrival we found a space which was near the woodland area.
We all dropped acid.
Apart from the driver Phil, and his new found love of his life, Lil,the rest of us went into the woods looking for firewood for the night.This was the night before the concert.We had an enormous amount of booze onboard and joints, which we slowly drank and filtered through the embers of a beautiful evening.Just to be among this throng of people all tuned into one thing,made life worthwhile. It was very late when we retired.
DAY ONE: (actually the
I didnt realise how far away we actually were from the site.No wonder we could get firewood and camp so easily.One guy, totally off his head asked us all for money, otherwise he was going to commit suicide. We all stood silent until I just told him to fuck off and get a life. He was tripping the light fantastic.
Linda Lewis came on and went, we had all seen her before at Leeds Uni, good, but not for this occasion. Lil commented on her hair.
We all had drinks with us and dropped our second acid and shared a few joints.Steve Miller's "Space Cowboy" was very well recieved. Very clear and tight musos, good set for the day. But very cheesy! Roy Harper was his usual grinding self, while he will always have his followers, usually uni students who sit quietly in their dorms and listen, this set was not for now, nor for an open-air concert. I know Gaz would hate me for saying this.
By now Phil and Lil were an item, so Gaz and Croz went walkabout during the Harper set, while Steve (Mac) and I viewed the crowd the atmosphere and the people around us, as we often did at gigs like this.
Dear John Peel, with his music so great, entertained us as per usual, while the overcast skies kept a rather cool perseption of the day's outcome.
Then the Captain arrived on stage, very late may I add. Beefheart knows how to play a crowd. We were about 500 yards from the stage, all of us had gathered to listen to the Beefheart and we were not disappointed. About 100 yards in front of us a poor guy stood up and started screaming during the set. His friends were obviously trying to calm him down, but to no avail.The captain took this onboard, and thru the mic started to howl and whale notes which just sent this guy off into lala land. But then, three guys in white coats came and took him away, which Beefheart played upon even more. Mac thought it a stage set up, as nothing could be so finely choreographed. But we told him otherwise.
Night gradually faded
day to dusk. Our reason, our mission, was fast approaching. By now Phil and
Lil were coming and going arm in arm like two lost souls without the splendid
knowledge of the entire days entertainment. Love can be blind, but this love
lasts as long as the weekend me thinks. (in the van) Mac and I were now a unit,
while Croz and Gaz wandered merrily between people, being the social butterflies
as they always were and will be.
Floyd came on at last. "Dark Side of the Moon" in its entire self, unproclaimed beauty.
Spitfires flew overhead
as the guy on the big screen went down the runway in his bed, timing was out,
but who gives a fuck when you see something totally extraordiary happen in life
(for real), one should admire the genius rather than ridicule it. The crowd
went wild, the big gig in the sky was here at last, at Knebworth in July 1975.
I cannot fault the concert, we all realised shit was not happening when it should of, but hey, this is life as it happens, this is what makes concerts entertaining. We can all buy records or Cds, but that is why live music is best, as it's a unique beauty.
It was a huge concert, we were shouting for more well after 30 minutes of the band leaving the stage. We filed out of the stadium without Croz and Gaz, which was a bit worrying, but they eventually turned up about 3am at our camp site, much to the joy of us all !
© Martin Starnes
I Started trawling the web when I was discussing concerts I had attended. I recalled the '75 Knebworth concert which I attended specifically to see Captain Beefheart. I remember the Floyd set and that it was prceeded by a fly-over by A Spitfire and a Hurricane which diagonally crossed simultaneously over the audience this was immediatley followed by the roar of engines from Concorde which passed low from the rear of the field over the stage and beyond. However, I can't find any mention of this anywhere and am beginning to wonder if I imagined it.
Do you know of anyone else who recollects this?
I'm sure I could go and find a geeky Concorde flight schedule web-site which should have all the test and schedule flights of Concorde but I'll only take that step as a last resort.
BTW, Beefheart was on stonking good form and Big-Eyed-Beans hung in the air for an eternity.
Lincoln.I got up really early to go to a friend's house about 3 miles away to get a lift by his friends. On the way, the morning was early-cold and there was a mist hovering above a lake. We all met up and good-natured banter got us down the A1. We had the radio on when we arrived and drove through the crowd in the car park. The festival-goers were the usual culprits of long-hair, afghan coats and colourful head-bands etc. rather like us. (My mother showed me how to fray my flairs the night before-apprenticed hippy I was!)
We entered the throng and immediately started looking for some dope (can you remember people calling it "shit"?) Anyway, we couldn't find any though there was a guy right at the front on the left,as you looked at the stage, selling pills from a huge bag. His sales pitch was interesting, in that he couldn't stand up without falling over. Eventually we came across a guy selling acid, not what we wanted, but it seemed better than being straight at the time so we bought some. -Big mistake!
I'd had acid before, and always vowed "Never again," but hey!
were watching Roy Harper when it started to take hold. My mate Neal turned to
me and said "I wish we hadn't taken that."
"Here we go!" I remember saying, but I was very unnerved by his regret.
Roy Harper now sounded like he was going through an amazing phaser pedal, and the trees started doubling up. The crowd started heaving like a big coloured sea and I started losing it!
My friends got us out of the crowd as Monty Python and Captain Beefheart were trying to make sense of things and we went to the fringes of the crowd where someone I knew from Lincoln came up to me and said "HaveyouseenStubbyHaveyouseenStubbyHaveyouseenStubbyHaveyouseenStubby?" I just looked at him I suppose and he went away.
I went for a pee in the toilet and broke the door off when I tried to open it. My mates had settled into the trip at this time and somehow calmed me down (I think it was that way round anyway!)
We started making our way back into the crowd and got a good place right in the middle near the desk. Steve Miller came on as we found our place and everything was cool. He sounded amazing, but I was not in my most objective state of mind at the time!
was a bit of a delay before Pink Floyd came on and by this time the trip was
running down, well past its peak. Thank Gawd!
I remember Floyd's first half being what turned out to be "Wish you were Here." and the visual things largely eminating from a sort of mirror-ball which opened up above the stage. The sound -100,000 watts of quadrophonic sound- was amazing. When Dark Side of the Moon started the "heh heh heh" laugh came from one of the rear speakers and everyone looked around over their shoulder.
The video which accompanied Dark Side, I remember being a little more subtle than the one they used later, but with the same imagery; hospital wards, close-ups of open eyes, the moon etc (very Bunuel!)
They finished Dark Side and there was a huge pause before their encore; "Echoes" and when that finished, the crowd were still shouting for more. Hell of a gig!
started walking out of the festival site when 2 girls I knew ran up to me saying
that they had heard that the cops were "searching everybody" (Sure
they are...........n't) and they had therefore swallowed about a quarter ounce
of dope each so the cops wouldn't get them. They were a bit stoned. I ended
up sleeping with one of them -but not having full sex as we weren't married
-well that, and she wouldn't let me! Sue Sue, I wonder where she is now..?
We just crashed out on the grass and woke up a bit cold. We walked to the train station and made our way home. Magical!
Love to all.
© Martin Starnes
Early in the morning, three callow youths dressed in cheesecloth and denim set off on the train from Welwyn Garden City bound for distant Stevenage. I was the youngest, having only just turned 16 and so far as I can remember, my only experience of a large-scale musical happening had been the previous Christmas eve at Hammy Odeon ( Elton John et al ). There were shuttle busses laid on from Stevenage station to Knebworth. Far as I remember, they turned round close to the A1 junction so there was still a 3km walk alongside all the other nutters to the festival site.
In truth, we were only there for the Floyd and being young and stupid didn't
really appreciate the support acts. Or the Monty Python interludes for that
matter. The toilets were an eye-opener for us young chaps, used to downstairs
loos and crocheted bog roll covers. We settled close to the tree line with the
crane / tower behind us and to the left. Of course, we hadn't thought to bring
anything to sit on so our bums lost their feeling pretty quickly. Things perked
up when a guy, who'd climbed one of the oak trees dropped the quarter bottle
of vodka he was carrying. I sat and watched as it fell a good 25 feet and landed
on its side on the top of the head of a poor guy who was sitting cross-legged
minding his own business in some substance-induced stupor. The bottle exploded
and the guy slumped face first into his mates lap. A pretty funny sight for
bored teenagers. It kept us amused for an hour or so.
When the Spitfires arrived, it was the most heart-stopping moment I've ever had. The tension had built up so slowly, we were wound up as tight as clock springs and when we heard the roar of those glorious Merlin engines we bayed like a pack of dogs at the first scent of blood. Funny how your memory plays tricks. I could have sworn that "One of these days" was played after the planes came through. It would have been the ideal song as the Spits "Womba-womba-ed" over the horizon. We stood and gawped. We sang. We grinned insanely at eachother. We were THERE and it was HAPPENING! We loved it.
But there's a price to be paid and we had no idea. We set off back to Stevenage station when it became obvious that no more encores would be forthcoming. I think the most well-organised element of the whole event was those shuttle busses. I don't remember waiting a second for ours but when we got to the station, all HELL was breaking loose. The only way to enter Stevenage station is via a closed bridge over the car park. It must have taken 20 minutes to get up the stairs onto the bridge. The sight that met us was complete pandemonium. It looked like Picasso's Guernica. The 5 metre wide, 50 metre long bridge was absolutely packed with people. Girls were screaming and fainting, guys were lifted up to kick at the suspended ceiling and shatter-proof windows, trying to get some fresh air. The shuttle busses pumped more and more people into the station. It felt like the whole building was about to burst.
2 or 3 hours, wedged in by waves of new arrivals, we managed to get to the platform
entrance where a single lady wearing BR uniform was trying not to have a nervous
breakdown and regretfully informed us that the last train had departed. Another
2 hours pushing against the flow dodging weaving and patiently waiting for people
to keel over, we eventually left the station and set off to walk the 9 miles
or so back home along the A1.
As we neared Welwyn we decided to go swimming at Lea Valley pool. It was a nice day after all. I guess we must have stopped by at home to pick up our trunks. I dived in and only when I surfaced did I realise that I'd fallen asleep underwater. My first 36 hour day was drawing to an end. And 36 years later, all it takes is the sound of a Spitfire to bring it all flooding back.
© Chris Rigby
clearly remember the Monty Python sketches as being among the most powerful moments of the festival. Graham Chapman did appear between sets in military uniform and sent a chill down our spines.
I remember the atmosphere inside the main festival ground feeling a bit sinister. We were surrounded by steel-panel walls with overbearing security at all the gates and walking the perimeter. There were several campfires burning, so the ground was covered in a fine smoke haze. Graham Chapman strode onto the stage in officer’s uniform slapping his hand with a riding crop and brought us to our senses saying something along the lines of; “Now we’ve got all you hippies right where we want you. You are surrounded and there is no escape, etc etc”
Boy it worked for me, it took several seconds before it sank in it was humour. I really thought we were in deep shit. Or perhaps I was just naturally paranoid, it was a weird time.
Graham sensed the ambiguity of the moment and certainly caused a stir in the
That skit, the Pink Floyd pyrotechnics and Steve Miller were my highlights, plus the couple of days afterward when a couple of us stayed to clean up. Found lots of interesting stuff left in the grass!
© D Myatt
I was 17 and we drove from near Liverpool with my mate my brother and 2 of his mates, it was a long way in an clapped out Vauxhall VX490, our kid hadn’t even passed his test.
had a spitfire fly over during their set and a rocket set up at the back of
the crowd which was slowly guided by a cable toward a large screen on the stage
in tune to on the run which ended with an explosion on the screen as the rocket
Roy Harper joined the Floyd to guest on have a cigar also.
We camped out for 2 nights and had a ball in the campsite, loads of fires and guitars, I discovered Roy Buchanan on the Friday night through an 8 track by a camp fire.
hasten to add we had no tickets and had to settle for climbing in over the perimeter
Very long journey back and we missed the traffic jam.
The following year was even better.
I was 19 in the summer of 1975, and had just completed my first year of studying English at University College of North Wales, Bangor. This was to be my rebel summer: at the end of term, reluctant to head home to Mid-Wales, I’d accepted an invitation from some non-student friends to stay in their squat. Two of them, Tony and Gordon, said that they were going to Knebworth. Pink Floyd were playing, so I was definitely going too. It was my first festival.
Early on the Friday, we set off hitch-hiking. A white van stopped for us, and 2 youngish men with long hair said we could ride along in the back. Not only that, but they were also going to Knebworth, or maybe Tony or Gordon persuaded them to come too. I don’t remember anything much about the ride, but we arrived safely while it was still light. We didn’t have a tent, or much money. Someone had set up a massive tarpaulin in the woods near the venue, and we bedded down there in our sleeping bags with a load of strangers, sharing whatever food and drink we had between us. I remember getting lost in the woods when looking for a private spot to go to the loo, and calling out through the darkness until someone recognisable called back.
On the Saturday, we headed off quite early to secure a good spot for the day. The sun was glowing, while a flood of people surged onto the site. The day itself is blurry for the most part, though, when I reflect back on the acts. I remember Linda Lewis as a tiny white figure on stage, and feeling totally absorbed in the atmosphere and the music of the Steve Miller Band, Roy Harper and Trigger and Captain Beefheart, while excitedly anticipating the arrival of Pink Floyd on stage.
Pink Floyd were headlining, of course, and their set began in the early evening. As the band appeared, the Red Arrows swooped out of the sky, trailing coloured smoke across the top of the stage, and then the music started - ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ - to me at the time, and even now, one of the best albums ever made. The performance was perfect, from the first chords of ‘Speak to Me’, and the haunting solo of ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’, to the final ‘Eclipse’. At the end, the crowd was deafening in its appreciation, but it was not the end.
There were 4 enormous speakers at the far corners of the field. From the speakers came the loud and intimidating sound of a heart beat – bom-bom, bom-bom, bom-bom – slow, relentless, insistent. It went on like that for what seemed like an age before the music began with isolated ‘pings’ leading to the beautiful ‘Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air….’ The encore was ‘Echoes’ from the album Meddle, starting so gently, then building to the spine-chilling and dramatic section where the instruments make the noises of gales and banshees. Evening began to turn into night, and the sky was tinged with beautiful pinks and greys and the music and colours blended into a marvellous dusk. It was a truly magical experience.
After the gig, we spent that night under the tarpaulin. With no guaranteed lift back, and having no luck the next day attempting to hitch-hike, we spent the next night sleeping head to toe in a ditch near Wolverton, and bought train tickets with the last of my cash the next day to return to North Wales. A few days later, my parents came to fetch me from the squat, and my ‘rebelliousness’ was over. But Knebworth 1975 is something that will remain with me for ever.
© D Myatt
Hi. I was 17 years old. I lived local to Knebworth park about 10 miles or so. Myself and three pals walked from my house at some mad time on the Friday night. And walked back again on the Sunday or Monday morning.
Dark side then Echo's abosolutly breath taking and was really the start of my festival voyage.
RIP Burt Wells. We had great times at the right time.
I was invited to go by the Manager of the Hotel where I lived in 1975 in Birmingham
Nabbie, his wife, Jan one of the waitresses and I jumped in my blue escort van at 6.00am and we drove from Moseley to Knebworth. I know my brother who lives in Stevenage was going and thought we might meet up!
I went primarily for the Roy Harper set , Steve Millar and of course the Floyd. Nabbie a Floyd fanatic speculated on a live performance of the Dark Side of the Moon!!
The day progressed with severe amounts of beer and some thing to smoke, we quite a lot of smoke and plenty of beer.
Harper was brilliant and as it was the 70’s blagged my way back stage and chatted for 5 minutes. Beefheart was brilliant, Linda Lewis was a bit disappointing, Steve Millar was as good as I remembered him earlier that year.
However the topic of conversation was the Towers in the spectator area. The speculation was going on all day
The Pink Floyd were sensational. Without doubt the best gig I have ever been to. The aeroplane stunt was incredible.
It took 4 hours to find the van and 2 more hours to get out, which by this time I was sober and straight
Newport Pagnell services for breakfast and back in Brum by 11
Best music day of my life
© D Myatt
Although only 14 years old at the time I was there! Beefheart was good as I remember, though he had that "scratchy" almost Fall-like sound that he always preferred, and which everyone else was processing the hell out of their equipment's sound, maybe that's why people didn't like the set. But as I remember there was no booing or indication of disapproval, in fact everyone seemed to be listening attentively. I was also at the Stones in 1976.
Can we get a witness ?
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Knebworth Concerts 1974-86
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