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Deeply Vale Free Festival .1978-1979.

The History .

July 20-27th 1978.

The Vale in 1978 © Craig Mitchell

    Although the poster reflects a hard core hippie attitude , by 1978 the festival was becoming far more cosmopolitan in its mix of music and in the people who were attending the festival . The influx of punk bands -such as the Ruts and The Fall, attracted a new audience with different perspectives and experiences. However, the atmosphere was peaceful and tolerant and the freaks and punks got on pretty well overall.

   The free festival of the late 70s presented a very different face to that of just a few years before . Tipi people, hard cord punks and freaks mixed freely and despite the major differences in attitude and lifestyle, they generally got on well enough. Although " new wave" music or style was not accepted by all hippies , there were sufficient numbers of freaks who did gradually warm to the music - especially to those bands who took their music past the basic three chord punk thrash , as did both the Fall and The Ruts .

    The Ruts in particular were influenced pretty heavily by dub music ,which would have appealed to the stoner element in the crowd who were always partial to bands that could mash it up dubwise. However, not all the new Wave bands were of such high calibre. Wilful Damage ,( left ) illustrated one of the main problems of the free festival, under prepared novice bands who play because they want the exposure.

    Drummer Phil O'Dell of the Damage recollects ' We'd only been been together for three weeks . I couldn't even play, we used the same guitar riff for every song with different words '. One guy in the audience did not approve, he threw Damage singer Wayne off stage . Undaunted. Wayne returned and finished the set.

Running order of artists who played during the 1978 festival .

Click on the image to see a larger version .

  Steve Hillage was the headlining act in 1978 , and his presence probably explains the crowd attendance of around 20,000 . Hillage flew in from Finland and was paid expenses to cover the flight, a fact that was to cause dissension amongst the organisers in 1979.

  The 1978 festival featured the highest quality bands in the history of the festival . Durutti Column, Here and Now, Nik Turner and the Fall were amongst the bands who played. Chris Hewitt had this to say regarding booking the bands

'Nik Turner rang me up and so did Here and Now.That started a friendship with Nik and Grant Showbiz- the Here and Now soundman, later producer for The Fall and Billy Bragg '


Teepees nestle in the Vale- 1978 © Craig Mitchell

   The 1978 line up included over 50 acts including Misty in Roots , The Ruts, The Out, Here and Now , Nik Turner with Sphynx and Steve Hillage . The timetable itself makes interesting reading . Anthony Wilson compered the new wave afternoon which included near the foot of the bill , a little known Manchester Whitefield band called The Fall, appearing at their first festival, who were followed on stage by Durutti Column , who had just tied up with Factory records , As well as Anthony Wilson, his fellow Granada TV presenter Trevor Heyett compered and performed at the folk afternoon .

The Hull Contingent © Janet Thompson

© Janet Thompson

However the festival organisers uncompromising stance on contentious issues was beginning to create a faction of enemies within the local heirarchy ,as Chris Hewitt remarks, it wasn't all peace and love as far as the authorities were concerned

Chris Hewitt

authorities did not like deeply vale- especially when we did things like escorted drug squad officers off the site and declared a no go area to drug squad. uniformed police were ok. but the councils were out to stop us too after the success of the steve hillage year, with its rock against racism and legalise dope messages -we were too left field for them . 20000 people under the influence of my microphones and no authority figure or harvey goldsmith there. thats why thatcher made sure in the end only harvey goldsmiths could organise large scale crowd gatherings



           The campsite 1979. photo© mark kupsz.

    In 1979 , the last year of the festival, there was a change of management , with Chris, Dave Andy and Eddie deciding to let others be the prime movers . This was due to some disagreements over the direction the festival was to take, both in philosophy and of a practical nature. In 78 there had been some problems with people overstaying their welcome after the festival, Also, as the event became more popular,the usual issues of cleaning up the site, just how free a festival could be in terms of drug use and other illegal issues became a major issue which was not easily resolved .

    Unfortunately , the change of management was not successful on all fronts. There were big problems in clearing up after the festival, when vital equipment was not returned to the hirers , as well as basic hygiene issues not being addressed . This souring of goodwill, combined with the change in ownership of the land, was enough to ensure that the Valley was not made available for a free festival again and the venue was changed to the far less salubrious Pickup Bank.

  There was also another difference in opinion regarding whether name bands expenses should be paid for by the festival .Chris Hewitt , Dave Edwards , Andy Burgoyne, Eddie Kledjys , Henry Kledjys and " the camp of hippies with an attitude of lets think of the long term consequences of what we are doing " were supporters of this strategy .  

Chris Hewitt ; regarding the payment issue in 1978
"I rang Steve Hillage's manager Steve Lewis and we negotiated . I gave him £500 for Steve ,Miquette and David Id their sound man ,as well as the rest of the band ,to fly back from Finland [ where the band were appearing at the Festival of the Midnight Sun ] and appear at Deeply Vale. This was the best night ever "

Here and Now Deeply Vale 1979.

©mark kupsz.

To view larger versions of Here and Now pix click on images

Extracts from a diary made at the festival by a guy called Leo , note that he mentions that he was offered Heroin....... a sad development , later on he mentions that he meets someone who has had his first fix, a sign of dark things to come, especially within the punk community. The death of Malcolm Owen of the Ruts from a heroin overdose in 1980 is a sombre reflection of how swiftly musicians could decend from the heights when H reared its nasty acned little head and got its teeth into you.

photo © Gary Heaford

    In retrospect this made made better sense in terms of the quality of event rather than quantity of bands who would play for free . In 1979, there were fewer top quality bands , so the event took a downturn in musical quality . Perhaps coincidentally there was a downturn in community spirit , with fences being ripped up to be burnt and a rape on the site. This caused a major fallout between Chris Hewitt on one side and John Clarke and Jim O'Neill on the other. Now, in hindsight , John Clarke, the main mover behind the 1979 and the Pickup Bank event, has come to the conclusion that Chris Hewitt and co were right . He now works closely with Chris to keep the archive and memories alive . John now maintains a firm anti heroin stance -another bone of contention between the sides in 1979.

    It was the same old story that dogged the alternative society throughout its existence,and which was to cause problems at Stonehenge in the 1980s- differences in philosophy about just what was acceptable behaviour. Some wanted the freedom to do anything , no rules no matter what the affect was on others . This attitude too often proved to be self defeating - as it ignored the fact that there were authorities out there who were only too happy to have an excuse to clamp down on free festivals - and the anarchists and hard liners provided them with one .

   Unfortunately, this attitude often overwhelmed the other main tenet of the hippie creed, which was the far more reasonable "do anything , but think of the consequences of your acts and if it hurts someone else, then don't do it," philosophy which the majority tended to adhere to . However, in a contest of which made a better news item it was always going to be the more extreme acts that got into the spotlight ,so ultimately , the irresponsible fringe minority stuffed things up for the majority and that's one reason we don't have so many free festivals anymore.

    For all that, Deeply Vale was one of the most successful of the free festivals of the 70s, it had the best organisation and featured some of the best bands to appear at a free festival in the late 1970s. Let Grant Showbiz, who played at Deeply Vale and later became producer of The Fall, Billy Bragg and the final Smiths album,have the final word "


Deeply Vale was created out of nothing by disaffected and discarded people with no influence. The organisation was brilliant from people who had been thrown away, thrown out of school, told they were shit and could never do anything. Deeply Vale was one of the first punk festivals. You had punk kids with no tents or festival experience collapsing when they could no longer move. On the other hand, there were festival veterans with long hair and their kids and bloody flowers everywhere and this whole thing when punk met hippie turned into crustie ".

The festival was moved in 1980 under rather contentious circumstances to Pickup Bank. and you can follow its history at that site by clicking on the link .

photo© Gary Heaford

Here and Now Deeply Vale 1979.

© mark kupsz.

Festival Welfare service reports on the 79 festival reflect some of the concerns felt by the organisers of the earlier events .

This site contains a goodly part of the Deeply Vale Archive , graciously provided by Chris Hewitt , but we are always interested in contributions from attendees. I

Any info to add ?-well don't just sit there , Contact us

For more Deeply Vale content visit -

OZIT records Chris Hewitt's record label- one of the original organisers of the festival , features recordings of festival artists, home of Tractor and the Deeply Vale Archive .

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History-78-79 Press Aqua photos 1978 Here and Now Photos 1978 Sphynx photos 1978

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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