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The 3rd Isle of Wight Festival.26th to 30 August 1970

     The Film.
"Message to Love "

   Its unfortunate that we had to wait over twenty years before the various films of the festival managed to see the light of day. Terminal cash problems for Fiery  led to the 175 hours of film being shelved until Castle Communications and the BBC got together and enabled director Murray Lerner to finally edit the footage into a watchable product.  Its nice to have it around at last, although whether the final product actually does the festival justice or not is a moot point . My personal feeling when I first viewed it was largely one of disappointment. It didn't seem to relate to my memory of the festival , which were in the main , ones of good vibes and fun. I don't disagree with the 'warts and all approach '   that Learner deliberately took , as to simply present the festival as a peace and love fest would be to distort what actually went down, but I found watching "Message to Love" was not a particularly uplifting experience, and given the fact that for most of the time the music was playing I did feel uplifted, it doesn't really do the festival justice, in my eyes at least. 


  What is disappointing about the film is firstly, its brevity. I'd have expected at least a three to four hour film , with good chunks of performances by the best artists. We get lots of snippets of sets, interspersed with interviews which are OK, but which seem to have missed out many of the key figures involved in the struggle of profit Vs philosophy , such as the White Panthers, Hells Angels, Release, the French Anarchists and the Freek Press people. Without these voices the representation of this struggle is rather hollow, as we get viewpoints from the major figures on the company side and only the minor figures from the Freeks. The fact that there is not even the faintest snippet of Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies mammoth alternative festival at Canvas City is deplorable as this was a major part of the counterculture activities at the festival. Still its possible that Learner did not have footage , so we must give him the benefit of the doubt.
  However, a version of the film is now available at least . It is a good film in the main and it appears that more of the major artists performances are gradually seeing the light of day .That can only be to the good. Parts or whole sets by Free , The Doors , The Who and Hendrix are in circulation and hopefully more may emerge eventually . The film itself is an invaluable resource for those who are interested in preserving the past and, nit picking aside, it is the only major film ever made of a UK Rock Festival apart from Glastonbury 71 , which is rather hard to find , but in my mind, a much better film as far as conveying the spirit of a rock  festival is concerned. 

A wish list of sets that should be released , either as CD's or DVD.
FAMILY : So far there has been no release of a complete concert by this band, the world needs to see Roger Chapman in full flight !
JONI MITCHELL: She was magic. Made great music that day , under a lot of pressure. She charmed an audience who were a bit hostile .
LEONARD COHEN : I'm no great fan, but he did mesmerize a large portion of the crowd, this was a memorable set.
TINY TIM : No great shakes musically, but great fun.
PROCUL HARUM: One of the classic English bands of the day but mainly because they didn't play A Whiter Shade of Pale

    The Film .

Friends article from Oct 2nd  1970.

    Weeks before the festival the film appeared to be the end that that Fiery were aiming at. Eight film crews worked on the Island under the supervision of heavy American director Murray Lerner. A suspiciously unknown Woodside Broadcasting was nominated at the production company and non union crews ,including members of Tatooists International shot a general documentary of the preparations in secret but the union blocked their activity. Fiery's headquarters, an old island mansion , was turned into a film studio, with all light fittings replaced by quartz iodine floods and rooms carefully soundproofed. Visitors were grabbed for interviews and the old television "complete documentation" technique was applied. Problems with lighting hindered much of the night filming and there were continuous backstage hassles over film contracts and recording rights . The Doors refused to be filmed and held up the concert for hours as they demanded all cameras removed from stage and the filming lights turned off.( and yet they were filmed, but with all that horrid red light it looked crap ). The best front stage area was taken up with a camera crane and tracks were laid to facilitate level movement of cameras. Most of the security arrangements around the stage seemed designed to protect the filming and the carbon arcs used to illuminate the last hour of The Who's performance belonged more on a Hollywood set than a psychedelic light show. 

Message to Love reviews and interviews with Murrey Lerner.
Pye Recording Crew
Stanley Tonkel & Teo Macero
Setlists and audio Recordings

Isle of Wight 1970 festival menu

updated March 2019

The Underground press- NB: opinions expressed in these articles do not represent our opinions of the organisers or any other people involved in the running of the festival, it is possible that they may be innaccurate in some details or facts.


International Times.

Reports from the "Straight "press

updated March 2019

External links

The White Panthers

Other IOW festivals.
  • 1968 Isle of Wight festival
  • 1969 Isle of Wight festival
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