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"Could that many people gather together today with only minimal communal organisation and such a relatively small amount of trouble but so much pleasure? The question is irrelevant. They would never allow us."

Stonehenge Free Festivals chronology.

The Stones at the 1983 free festival © Colin Kenworthy

June 1983.

Bands :Hawkwind, Here And Now, Poison Girls, Impossible Dream, Ekome, The Mob,Carol Grimes , Urban Shakedown ,Orchestre Jazzira , The Enid , Doctor and the Medics, Majestic ,Buster Bloodvessel, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Roy Harper, Urban Warrior, Ted Chippington, Flux of Pink Indians, the Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe ,The Wystic Mankers,The Mighty UM,Field Marshall Slug, Benjamin Zephaniah ,Chumbawumba, Passion Killers, Disturbance from Fear.

Part 6-1984-85

Stonehenge Free Festival 1983 photogalleries

Gallery Three Gallery Four Gallery Five Gallery Six

The Enid at Stonehenge 1983 © Colin Kenworthy

  1983 had an audience of around 30,000 during the week , peaking at 70,000 during the solstice weekend . The festival grew exponentially during 83 and 84 , with far more casual visitors, so the hard core of old school hippies and travellers became more of a minority, thus some aspects of festival ettiquette declined as it was almost impossible to instruct so many newcomers on how they were expected to behave . As more people who were not there for a spiritual purpose attended, so were more dealers attracted to the festival , some of whom were selling opiates . The heavy drugs were contrary to the original ethos of the festival , which for many was a spiritual exercise in which the ingestion of hallucinogens was an essential part of the pilgrimage to the Stones .Opiates dulled the senses, whereas hallucinogens heightened awareness,plus of course they were far less dangerous in terms of overdose and the spreading of diseases and infections . The growth of the hard drug culture, between 82- 84 although always confined to a minority of festival goers - led to increasing police interest and gave the authorities a stronger excuse to shut the festival down .

    One must of course take all of this into perspective. During the years 81- 83 there were only 15 hospitalisations for drug overdoses - 3 in 1981 , 6 in 1982 and 6 in 1983. This was out of a total estimated attendance of 100,000 people. Overall , not an epidemic of drug abuse .Obviously the heavy drug presence DID increase over the years , but this was a more a reflection of changes in society and the composition of the crowd than it was of the structure of the free festival itself . From the observations of many of the attendees , it depended on where you were at any point in time and the choices you made as to who you hung around with as to what sort of experience you would have at Stonehenge.

     Hard drugs make good headlines as well and one could expect tabloid media stories to focus on the negative elements of the scene rather than the positive. But yet again, we have seen photos of signs advertising smack for sale at the festival, so it wasn't that underground. We have tried to be as objective as possible and to get a true account of the festival during the 80s we would urge you all to read the FWS reports on the festival by following the links below , where you can read the statistics and find out how the festival was organised .

Tony of the Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe gets in some juggling practice - Henge 1983 © Janet Thomson


       By 83 ,according to one source (which has yet to be confirmed by eyewitness reports ) , some of the stage crews threatened not to erect the stages unless hard drug dealers activities were curbed. Some patrons acted and expelled some of the dealers- thus pacifying the crews so the festival could go ahead. The PA had by now expanded to 12000 watts , which was a fair old size in anyone's book .

" We hired/borrowed the pa lights generators stage base/top etc and bucketed the audience to keep the genny running...DJ/MC/Roadie/Stage manager " Big Steve

In order to prevent the decimation of the living local trees the National Trust provided free wood for the festival goers to use for their fires. Convoy News advised

"Love the countryside, close and fasten all gates , avoid crops and keep to the paths across farmland. Take litter with you , especially plastic and glass , keep dogs under contriol, don't frighten animals and protect wildlife. Label your children with their names and where they belong.Try to stop ripoffs, get to know your neighbours . Be nice to each other ."

Pyramid Stage 1983 -click image to see larger pix


The ubiquitous TUMT tent and busses at Stonehenge free festival 1983. From a painting by © David Stooke

' Stonehenge free festival is already in full swing and will continue throughout the rest of the month, though the main music stage is only operating for the period June 17th -22nd, with the principal contributors concentrated in the last of those three days - that's when some of the Glastonbury artists will be coming over to swell the list of artistes. They'll be joining up with the likes of The Impossible Dreamers, Carol Grimes, Here and Now, Poison Girls, Urban Shakedown and Orchestre Jazzira.'

Other artists on the bill included

Hawkwind, The Enid , Doctor and the Medics, Buster Bloodvessel, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Roy Harper, Urban Warrior, Ted Chippington, Flux of Pink Indians, the Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe ,Majestic, Benjamin Zephaniah ,Chumbawumba, Passion Killers, Disturbance from Fear,The Impossible Dreamers, Carol Grimes, Here and Now, Poison Girls, Urban Shakedown, Orchestra Jazira, Doctor and the Medics, Buster Bloodvessel, Urban Warrior, Satans Mates , Passion Killers, Arizona smoke review, GT Moore and the Outsiders, Tony McPhee, Barrucadas, Top Secret, Skiffle band, To the Finland Station, Big amongst Sheep, Rory McCloud, Solstice, Omega Tribe, A Scanner Darkly ,The Mob, Action Packed, Nomadics, Ashanti Roy, Imperial Eye, Brent Black Music Co-Op, Webby J, Wounded Soldier, Inner Sense, Rolling Thunder Review, Brigandage, House of Hearts, The Legendary Pink Dots, Kase, Popular History of Signs, The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Chalky white and the sham rastas and The Ekome dance troupe.
Thanks to Big Steve for the info.

By now the barriers as to what sort of music would feature at the festival had melted somewhat and a wide range of bands played throughout to a far more mixed audience than at the start of the decade.

Ceremony atTthe Stones at the 1983 free festival © Colin Kenworthy


A Visitation ?

Another really strange anecdote for me was at the end of 83. Hawkwind had played Silvermachine exactly at the solstice sunrise and right on cue a F16 sped across the horizon leaving a trail right through the middle of the big red ball emerging over the horizon like rings round Saturn.
Not that it was that unusual for the RAF to buzz the site occasionally flying precariously close to the top of the pyramid at ridiculous speeds
( this regularly used to happen when I lived in East Anglia , they were not supposed to go below 300 feet but you could see the pilots faces quite clearly when they strafed the village, rather frightening .Despite all complaints the RAF said they NEVER went lower than they were allowed to , which was bullshit -ed )

Pass the chillum george boooooooom shanker.....
At the end , we were taking down the pyramid with Here& Now +c rew and NikTurner after 6 days and nights of fabulous feasting , the weather was out of sight -glorious sunshine and blue skies. We got down to the last piece and top of the pyramid to dismantle when a storm appeared from nowhere. As I quickly undid the last few nuts and bolts and threw the few remaining scaffold poles on to a flat bed truck lightning and thunder rolled all around me, I was left looking down at the huge circle of flattened daisies that sid Rawles and I had dowsed at the beginning to locate the stage.

Turning, I headed for a teepee to seek shelter when suddenly I noticed a figure laying on the ground between me and the teepee. As I got closer he lifted his arm. "We enjoyed the festival this year" he said pointing with a finger toward the burial mounds.
"Thanks" I said. Looking at his face I was shocked to see that where his left eye should have been there was a black hole.
Nervously I hurried towards the teepee 25 feet in front of me to take a warm cup of tea from Nik who was inside
"Do you know what I have just seen"I said, turning round, "look."

But nothing . The figure had vanished.

"What" said Nik. A huge lightning bolt crashed into the centre of the stones. I shrugged my shoulders, lost in my thoughts, sipping on the piping hot brew. Was he one of the princes of stones somehow hologramed across centuries to thank me for our celebration ? . This was cosmic energy and way beyond the manifestations of divine synchronicity and discharges of weather magic.

God only knows.
big steve.


Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe busses at Stonehenge free festival 1983 © Janet Thompson

Big Steve talks about the 'one eyed' guy who told him they'd "enjoyed the festival", and then vanished. Eerily, something very similar and strange happened to me on the dawn when Hawkwind were playing. Here goes, and this is the first time I've ever committed this to writing.

As the sun rose over the heelstone, and Hawkwind were grinding their way into the daylight, I looked around me at the folk who were stood and sat all around within the huge circle in the centre of Stonehenge. The usual array of stoners, hippes, bikers, witches and druids were my companions that morning.

But one group caught my attention. They were seven or eight young men, about my age (I was 22 at the time), and they looked very happy and excited. They werre about 15 feet away from me. They all had long and well-washed hair, (neatly trimmed,) and were clan shaven. Their clothes were soft leather jerkins over leather trousers and moccasin style knee length boots, some were in brown, some in grey, and almost all their clothes were identical. The clothes were stitched with strips of leather too, but done with twists and knots that made them look superb.

right: Inside the TUMT marquee- Henge 1983 © Janet Thompson

Some carried long staves, slender and decorated with plaited leather sections. The wood was polished - not varnished. Some of the guys sat on the smaller stones, which others lounged about beside them, they stood idly chatting, laughing and grinning at each other, almost as if they had got into a major cup final - for free. They pointed things out on the campsite to each other, nodding approval at the tents and banners. They were clearly elated, and really very pleased with what they saw.

I watched them for about ten minutes, marvelling at the similarity of their clothes and the wind blowing their long hair about. I imagined they were some kind of back-to-nature bikers, probably with a keen interest in advanced leathercraft...

Then I looked away for a few moments to look at the druids, and when I looked back, the group of guys had vanished. Completely. But the space where they had stood and sat, was empty - though we were all hard packed together within the stones. Other people moved to stand or sit where they had been. A few people were looking puzzled, but in that atmosphere (after a long night of psychadelic excess) I guess they just thought they were gettting some kind of flashback or something.

I personally wasn't wrecked or stoned, and was even reasonably sober.

I've never mentioned this since to anyone except my wife. But Big Steves account of meeting the 'one eyed man' brought the whole scene into focus again for me. Twenty five years on, I can still clearly see those guys in my minds' eye, and still feel their great sense of elation and deep love for the festival. I wrote reports of that years' festival for several music magazines that I was contributing to at that time, and while I was tempted to mention the incident with those guys, common sense dictated that my editors would probably scrap that section as being just too way out...

I wonder if anyone else remembers them appearing/dissapearing that cool morning? Were/are they the Guardians of the Stones? Travellers from another age or dimension? I have no idea - just a lot of conjectures and theories. But one thing is for sure - they were absolutely loving the event!

Tim O

The Wystic Mankers play the TUMT tent Stonehenge 1983 © Janet Thompson

( image restored by Reverend Barker )

uh oh, theres a Maroose on the loose !

Phil ' the maroose ' AKA "Phil The Beer " was a long time free festy traveller. His van was destroyed by the police in 1985 during the infamous Beanfield incident.


Backstage 1983.

Click to see a bigger image

The Enid yet again at Stonehenge 1983 © Colin Kenworthy

Lorraine and Mary looning around before leaving the 83 festival- Maybelle the bus lurks behind the front Bedford © Janet Thompson

Here and Now play 1983 Stonehenge Free Festival © Colin Kenworthy

Recordings and Setlists


June 22nd 1983

  • Utopia
  • The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear In Smoke)
  • Motorway City
  • Ejection
  • Shot Down The Night
  • Master Of The Universe
  • Spirit Of The Age

    Bass, Vocals - Huw Lloyd Langton
    Drums - Bob Harding
    Keyboards - Dead Fred Reeves
    Other [Mime] - Tony Crerar
    Saxophone [Sax], Vocals - Nik Turner
    Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizer [Synth] - Dave Brock

  • Limited edition vinyl release


Full Setlist


1.Coded Languages 7:05
2. Magnu 4:22
3. Dust Of Time 3:48
4. Waiting For Tomorrow 6:30
5. Ghost Dance 5:43
6. Angels Of Death 6:52
7. Utopia 4:40
8. Psychedelic Warlords 10:40
9. Motorway City 7:50



A less blurry Here and Now - RIP Sooz © Colin Kenworthy

Here and Now

June 1983 Stonehenge Festival, Tape, 85 mins, AUD, VG

  • Intro
  • Opium For The People
  • Heart Of The City
  • Mega Number
  • Round And Round
  • Salvador
  • Ways To Be Free
  • Fantasy Shift
  • Rooms Within Rooms
  • Jacques Cousteau
  • Secrets
  • Instrumental
  • Floating Anarchy

© Colin Kenworthy


One of the great things about the festival was that bands would just arrive and then set up and play © D Vass

The Wystic Mankers play the TUMT tent Stonehenge 1983 © Janet Thompson

( image restored by Reverend Barker )


Long shot of site in 1983 © Colin Kenworthy


© Colin Kenworthy


© Colin Kenworthy


Hansard Transcript Stonehenge 1983

Stonehenge Free Festival 1983 photogalleries

Gallery Three Gallery Four Gallery Five Gallery Six

Henge Documents

Henge History :1972-1984


Peace Convoy:1982-85

Free festivals in the UK 1960-1992

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Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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