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     The view from the Dust. 

IOW Veterans memories.

Part 2

Part 1

Exhibit J © Richard Dow

Excellent site - nothing else like it exists. Revives many memories and just shows how my own memories are a mere snapshot of what actually happened.

Arrived at the site Mid afternoon on the Wednesday. Relatively few people were there. It seemed a lot at the time, but in the day and a half that followed many many more came. A group of four of us had hitched to London from Yorkshire, met up at Trafalgar Square and spent the night there, then on to Portsmouth, whence a ferry to the Island. I was 16, my first ever pop festival and first time hitching lifts around the country. So a lift to Portsmouth in a Rolls Royce wasn't a bad result really. I thought maybe this was the norm for hitching, but it hasn't happened since.

Bought tickets and went into the arena for the first couple of evening sessions, prior to the concert proper. The view of the stage was poor - we were behind and to the left of the sound podium in the middle of the arena (at least I think thats what it was). The sound was rubbish - the light wind kept blowing the sound away and it kept fading in and out. On the Friday the crowds were coming in, the hill to the south was becoming populated and an afternoon recky up there revealed the real reason. This was where all of the sound was going. Brilliant, it was crystal clear from up there. We sold the tickets to someone in the queue at face value. The recipients were grateful that they didn't have to queue for them.

Packed up the tents and moved to the place where the sound was good - near the top of the hill, just down the slope a bit - about midway down the length of the arena below us. We spent the rest of the weekend there and sleeping was punctuated by reversing the gravitational effects of the slope. Not that we got much sleep. Much of the music was a background to the other activities - sleeping, cooking, walking around, talking, lounging around. Many of the acts were on well into the early hours. I remember waking up a couple of times to Jimi Hendrix, but cant say that I watched him. I never liked his music anyway !!

The days were hot and sticky. The nights cold. We went for an afternoon visit to see if it would be possible to go 'skinny dipping' one evening. Would it be quiet enough, could we get away with it? We really needed a wash ! The sight we found made our rather naive plans rather pointless. So we stripped off and joined in with the rest and spent the afternoons there. Discovered that it is not actually possible to get washed in salt water. We had come prepared with soap. A little way along the beach was a trickle of fresh water falling down from the top of the cliff above. A small group had congregated and were rinsing off the days and the sea water. Someone must have taken a photo which ended up on the cover of the 'Friends' magazine. My sister had seen the original, but I never had until I found it on your website. Thats me on the left, looking down. My sister is on the right. I dont know what you think she is doing, but if you look closely, that's soap in her hand.

The memory fades, but other snippets include.
-being pounced on by a group of junkies who had spotted us extracting a bag of tablets from our rucksack. These had been in packets, but were now loose. The faces on our visitors was priceless when we answered their request by pointing out the vitamins, headache tablets and dextrose.
- visiting an overturned and discarded burger stall and salvaging some dried onions to pad out our meagre rations.
- Missing Jon Sebastian when it became necessary to take a walk into the village of Freshwater, and returning to the instantly recogniseable riff from Allright now.
- avoiding the public loos at all costs !

John H

© Derek Halsall

My friend Mark and I arrived at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 on Wednesday morning. Pennyless students that we were, we noticed that the site was overlooked from the south by the high East Afton Down. We thought why pay loads of bread to enter the arena, when one could watch and listen to the festival in luxury and comfort from the Down, so we pitched camp at the foot of the down. As far as we could make out, the geography of the festival site area was that Desolation Row was the hedgerow and farm track which led from the main road to the Down, just east of the festival site. The Down was called by the hippies "Devastation Hill". Here it was that we met up with all our old hippy friends from home. Everyone was hell-bent on making it a free festival, so we joined forces with a load of French Anarchists and Mick Farren's White Panthers and other nutters of the time. Our fave bands at that time were:- MC5, Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, Family, Edgar Broughton, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and, of course, The Who and Jimi Hendrix.

That evening Ricki Farr & Co. decided to try and move everyone off the hill by employing their joke-figure security guards and dogs, along with a large contingent of IOW fuzz at the top of the hill. We joined a large group of French Anarchists and in the darkness, charged the line of guards and police on the steep hillside, which is a full 200 feet high! In the glare of the powerful searchlights ranged on us from the stage area below, the police regrouped and advanced down the hill. I looked at the rows of police and guards, then at the thousands upon thousands of Freeks rushing up the hill to attack them, and I knew the police were beaten. A quart cider bottle described a graceful arc in the sky, only to land gently on a policeman's head. He fell down, stunned. To the rallying cries of the Great Tribes of Freekdom, the police and guards along with their dogs broke ranks, turned tail and RAN AWAY! At that moment I knew that Ricki Farr & Co. was never going to able to move anyone off the hill.

A few other things of interest I remember was Kris Kristofferson retreating under a hail of beer and coke cans and being booed off stage after singing "Blame it on the Stones". I rather liked him, and thought he did a great set considering the circumstances. I also remember waking up in the 3 foot deep long grass at the foot of the hill to see two Policemen looking down on me. I burst out laughing and so did they. Luckily they did not search us. Yogi Joe, who interrupted Joni Mitchell's set to declare Desolation Row the real Festival was one of our people. Three weeks later Jimi had checked out and we all fell back into the real world.

Things were never the same again!

Frank Matson

I was at the 1970 festival.
I left Derby on the Monday before the festival with 5 pounds and a tin of baked beans.
I found people I knew who were camped on the hill outside the enclosed area. After the fences came down we moved onto an area known as Death Row.
The police herded us off the island about 3 days after the festival ended but was far too stoned to remember many details by then.
A wonderful time (I think)

Nigel G Wheeler

Early August 1970, my 18th birthday came on the 31/08/70, two of my friends and I, a few Francs in our pocket, a slipping bags, a rucksack with minimum things in it, we decided to live our tiny French village of 200 human souls & 300 cows to go on an escape hitch-hiking to England, none of us could speak a word of English then.

When we arrived in London, where we did establish residence in St. James Park, we did hear of a music festival with big rock bands to appear on the Isle Of Wight, so there we go making our way to Portsmouth, then across to the Ryde, IOW

When we arrived at Afton Down, it was about a week before the big event, we did establish residence in Desolation Row, we started to be very short on money (we never expected to do all this, plans was to stay in London a week or two and back to France) We did manage to get a job helping on site, we then got free food, free entrance tickets for the 5 days a bit of money and a lots of fun.

What do I remember next? Day after day people arriving like a Tsunami, Bands playing all afternoon and all night long, the beautiful sunny weather, the mess around the toilets, (pee and hearth mixing to a smelly mud) People taking the fence down, falling a sleep halfway through Jimi’s gig and woken up by Richie Havens‘s energy, he was great singing "here comes the sun" at sun rise on the Monday morning. I also remember meeting 100s of peaceful people from all over Europe and the USA, and lots of joints & chillums.

As we got some money helping out, we thought that maybe we could make a bit more by helping clearing the mess or dismantling things, which was all agreed with organisers but then find out that there was no money and would not be paid for, we gave up the idea and left the island on the Friday after the rush.

It all ended, I wanted this to go on forever, what a great event that was, my best birthday present, I could not believe what was happening to me and my friends it was so unexpected, I thought I’ll never be the same again.

Unknown band

Today as I write this, I tell my son who is the same age as I was then "If someone asked you what greatest thing your father ever did?" You can answer "He was at the 1970 I.O.W Festival and fell asleep on the Jimi Hendrix’s last gig"
Thank you for your site, it did bring back many memories to me

Bertrand, Dan, si vous vous reconnaisser sur cette photo, écrivez moi:

Thank you

Fun site!
my mum and dad took me to the 1970 festival when I was 9 we lived onthe isle of wight at the time, so it was just up the road for us really two main recollections: seeing about 300 hells angels riding through Newport when I was out shopping (definitely a big wow factor for a 9-y-o); helping my dad tear down corrugated iron sheets from the security perimeter to construct a makeshift shelter from where we watched bands, concluding with Hendrix [when I heard there would be
no '71 festival I phoned the local Tory MP Mark Woodnutt and swore at him; he lost to a liberal at the next election so I suppose that's natural justice]
you should see the place now! green and empty, save for the barn owls quartering the fields at dusk


brian edge

Hi guys
just discovered your amazing site about the most amazing formative experience of my teenage years - the 1970 IOW.
I dunno if you are still updating it, but here's my six pennorth...........

Thanks for the memories guys. All these years I've thought I was the only 15 year old there, the only one who slept through Hendrix, the only one who remembered Cohen's magical set, and the only one who thought Richie Havens on the cold wet last morning was one of the best performances of all time.

We lived in Lymington, just a short ferry hop away, so just had to join the throng of amazing people passing through. The day before we tie-dyed an old curtain and painted “Lymington” in large silver letters. This was the rallying point that an amazing 13 people found in that crowd.

yet another unidentified band

We'd bought our tickets in the local record store - £3 for the whole weekend! What was the fuss about?. Then again I didn't really know there was any fuss at the time, not till “Message to Love's horribly distorted view was aired 20 years later.

We too tried the hill one night, but the tendency of sleeping bags to let you slither down the hill was so infuriating we retired to the tent, thus missing the Doors.

Magic performances by Free, Mungo Jerry, Ten Years After, Family, The travesty of allowing Arrival on that stage, compounded by an appalling cover of a Leonard Cohen song.

As we slowly realised that we'd all slept exhaustedly through Hendrix it slowly emerged that one of our party had been awake. He tried to deflect our disdain by ensuring us that Jimi had been crap. We didn't believe or forgive him. 23 years later I found the video in Blockbuster. Perhaps ~I'll let him off!

Everyone went back to sleep as I moved forward alone for the magical Leonard Cohen. This was what I'd come for. Thanks to Abi for reminding me of everyone holding a light aloft, how could I have forgotten that?

Searching for Number 6 Players coupons ? © Richard Dow

On the last morning we were photographed by the press, searching for scraps of food among the debris in the cold damp early morning gloom. After all these years I must at last confess. Our quest was for the coupons that were in Embassy and Players No.6 cigarette packets, of which we collected hundreds. Common practice was to use these as the "roach" or filter in a joint. The dope content of the coupons we cashed in later must have been amazing!

Others have documented how the cold of early morning got to us. The lasting precious memory is of Richie Havens, sweating profusely as he beat out "Freedom" as first light struggled through the damp morning gloom. Best set of the whole gig!
Dave Bettis

© Derek Halsall

Hi there
I have one tiny bit to "contribute," and a question to ask.
In a couple of listings, notably Wikipedia, Kathy Smith (Isle of Wight 1970, I think) is confused with the Cathy Smith, also a singer, who abetted Mr. Belushi's translation to the spirit plane. I've been on a minor campaign to correct this misnomer.
Kathleen Smith was at the Isle of Wight on Richie Havens's coattails. She was on his label, Stormy Forest, and Mark Roth, Havens's producer, was her producer and manager (unfortunately for her --- he completely depth-charged her career).

Now, think anywhere in the universe there exists audio or video of her set? Know anywhere where undergrounders swap such tapes?


Dennis D'Asaro

I was seventeen and it was quite an eye opener. I had gone with a friend Julian. We drove to his parents in canterbury then we attempted to hitch. Took two days, two sore feet and too many cars proclaiming they were `full`.
In my naivity I thought the Isle of Wight was the size of Caldey Island and that arrival on the shores was arrival at the festival. I could'nt believe two hours on a bus to get to the site!!!.

Hot hot weather, we didn't bother putting up the tent.
I remember John Sebastian asking the crowd for lyrics in which he immediately included in his song.
We lay in our sleeping bags at night listening to ELP in the distance...magical.

It was a time of hope and although I didn't quite understand what was going down it seemed right, and even then I felt that this was something that was gonna be remembered.
The French protest for `free festival` was happening where we were but no one took much notice....Hey thats what happens at these things isnt it?.
`Free` were great, on the back of their hit `alright now`.

I remember being very thirsty because of the heat and continually having to drink. Leonard Cohen was a big favourite of mine and I saw him again last year in Glastonbury. He was sublime.

The festival left me with so many memories and feelings which seem to get stronger as I get older, and often when I feel like a good nostalgic session ,I watch the Woodstock and IOW 70 DVDs. Although I have them both the IOW is a bit more special because I was there.
Thanks to everyone who made that weekend happen and the people who put this website together.
Peace Brothers and Sisters.

Tony Hickey

© Richard Dow

What a lovely site this is,and amazing to find that its not only for me that this festival holds such a special place in peoples' hearts as one of their most cherished life experiences. Like most others who have already shared their memories, I was very young,14 years old and my mum and dad agreed to let me go as music was so important to me and anyway,I was going with an older friend.We arrived on Wednesday and pitched our tent.I remember walking around and exploring the site.

The first couple of days we watched the bands from inside the main arena but it was so packed and really hot weather {but really cold at night !]that we did spend some time on the hill, it was a good view from there and the sound was much better. For all these years I have been so annoyed about the misconception that everyone on the hill hadn't paid,lots of people had but it was nicer there! One night we went in some kind of big tent where they had a light show being projected on the walls,the coloured oil blobs !! and Pink Floyd was being played.

I did have a camera with me which I somehow lost, so I don't have any photos to share,but I do still have lots of stuff like a pink carrier bag with the festival logo on it,also I had a little notebook with me and every day I wrote a little review of the bands I'd seen. On Saturday night was my top band,The Doors and there's a single line review in my book that simply says ''The Doors...amazing'' !! I have been to festivals over the years and am not stuck in the past musically but nothing has ever come close to those few days in far-off 1970.I hope to go back to freshwater this year for the 40th anniversary,anyone else going ?

Sharon in London SW19.

Just found your site - it's great to read the recollections 40 years on - are you still collecting memories? Not that I have many, but as someone else said you have few female contributors. I was just 18 and pretty naive and I went with another girl I hardly knew. What I remember is waiting for hours for Jimi Hendrix to come on, what seemed like miles from the stage, and getting stoned on someone else's grass to pass the time away. Walking for what felt like hours up over Afton down to try and find somewhere to crap rather than use the cruddy toilets - and failing. Surviving on coca cola and hot dogs and little of that. Hardly sleeping because it was too hot in the tent and there were too many fascinating things going on. Being in the enormous egg tent and realising some people were sleeping, amongst other things, in there. A brilliant light show playing and Pink Floyd's Saucer Full of Secrets. The return journey hallucinating from days of lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of liquid. Getting back to my parents' place and sleeping for 18 hours solid. I wish I could remember more of it, but I know it was an amazing experience.

Isle of Wight 1970
I was just coming up 19 when my school mate John and me drove down to Lymington on the Thursday afternoon and parked up my clapped out old mini in a field and got the ferry over to Yarmouth.

On arrival we hitched a lift on a local flat bed truck going up to the festival site and the first thing to hit us on arriving was the amount of people trying to get in, and the size of the fenced off arena. The weather was wonderfully hot, and we thought how are we going to last 4 days in this concentration camp. We had previously purchased, by post, two weekend tickets costing £5 each, over the telephone, from a agency in Bagshot. It did not take long to deduce that the "hill" (East Afton Down) could be a better option than the camp.

So we headed up the hill and pitched our tent just around about the same spot where most of the classic pictures from the hill were taken. We got out the primus and were straight into the beans and beer. Sleeping under the stars, mixed up with the smell of hot dogs and wacky backy will last forever.

The music was just spot on all over the weekend - the Doors, Ten Years After and Free especially stand out. The Who were at their spectacular best and for me just seeing Jimi was just amazing. He was to die just a few weeks later on my 19th birthday 18th September 1970, what a present that was.

I recall all the hostilities about a free festival, and can still picture the fence coming down. I also remember another wall coming down a few years later. All that nonsense about people not having tickets, we all had tickets up there, especially at the beginning. I think Rikki Farr did a good job – ok he whinged a lot but his indelible voice is now just a part of memories as is the music and ambiance.

It was good fun up there on the hill. No trouble with the toilets, just used the golf course, but one had to watch out for romantic couples. I remember Compton beach on Saturday afternoon, and to this day have never seen such beautiful women. Oh… give me that time machine.

Next door to us on the hill there were a group of Geordie lads that spent the whole weekend drinking and constructed a six foot high pyramid of empty beer cans, and stuck a flag on top - that’s how we knew where our tent was. If you are reading this then good luck to yer - whey ey man.
A fantastic weekend and to top it all sat next to Pete Townshead on the return ferry.

Just paid a visit to the Island, 40 years on, and looked up the site area. The view from the hill is just the same. If you shut your eyes you can still hear the music.
God bless the Isle of Wight festival and all that are to follow.

Ian Miles

© Richard Dow

Memories of a 'free' festival... the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.. with my perspective and feelings at the time...and now.
I was 18 and still at school in Derbyshire when I went to the 1970 IoW festival with three friends.

We travelled down in pairs, reasoning that it was less likely that anyone would pick up four lads at the same time. All I had on me was £10, a rucksack, sleeping bag, minimal change of clothes, a waterproof cagoule, some dried food, water, a mug, cooking pot, and an original 'Primus' stove. The other pair were carrying the tent!

The hitching was very slow, and we felt as if we had walked most of it.
We got a lift on the back of an open lorry. The driver explained that he wasn't allowed to have passengers in the cab, but we were welcome to get on the back, and it turned out to be a great way to see the country side.

We were picked up by a really weird guy whose 'estate' car was already full of hitching people, and he crammed yet more in the back hatch! We were very grateful for the ride, but even more grateful to have got out alive - he was a seriously deranged driver!
We got a long run with a woman driver who was delivering a new car to a dealer - I wonder if the customer had any idea that two 'hippies' had been in the back of their new car!

We got a lift from a family travelling in a white van. Their children were travelling in the back, sitting on a sofa that had been screwed to the floor!
We also got a lift from a young woman who had seen us hitching when she went shopping in the morning, and felt sorry for us still being on the same road when she returned some time later.

It didn't cross my mind to feel threatened or at risk by attempting to hitch over 250 miles each way, nor, I suspect, did the drivers who picked us up. I don't hitch-hike today, so can't say if that still the case, but interestingly, it is many years since I picked up a hitch hiker, and I can't say that I even seen any in the past few years. Maybe the world of hitch hiking really has changed.

By the time we got closer to Lymington there were so many others going in the same direction that we decided to catch a bus for about the last hour to the ferry. I remember how good that felt.

Desolation Hill
I think we arrived on Thursday afternoon, but can't be certain - it might have been Wednesday.
We had intended to buy tickets for the weekend, but when we realised that the best views were from the 'Hill' we decided to pitch our tent there for free instead. The organisers were clearly unprepared, and were still trying to erect fences to keep the hill clear. That night the security guards with dogs came along and tried to move people off. They weren't too friendly, and were trampling tents. We moved our tent further along the hill nearer to the 'proper' camp site. By the next day however, thousands more had turned up, and the hill was getting pretty full of tents. After a couple of failed attempts to clear the hill, and the organisers gave up. When we wanted to listen to the music, we simply took our sleeping bags to the hill and watched from there. We reasoned that it was crazy to pay money to sit about a half a mile back from the stage, fenced in, with very few facilities, no on-site toilets, and then be evicted from the arena at the end of each day, when we could have a better location for free.
Reports at the time were that 'Desolation Hill' was full of anarchists were incorrect. We weren't anarchists - we were just four lads wanting a good time, and couldn't see any logic in paying good money to get less than we already had. The stage spot lights shining in our direction didn't faze us at all.
Piss poor organisation was the real problem!

The balloon goes up during Tiny Tim's set ! © Richard Dow

I remember the warmth of the atmosphere at the site:
Never before (or since) has a complete stranger approached me and asked if I was hungry, and would I like some soup.
I walked down 'Desolation Row' and met with some of those who had built very impressive shelters there.
We left all of our possessions in our tent, and nothing had ever been disturbed when we returned later.
I saw the Hells Angels, but they seemed isolated and somewhat overwhelmed by the large numbers of hippies.
We discovered a local greengrocers, and the girl working there was very helpful in picking out fruit that was ripe and ready to eat. The prices were less than those back home, and all the local shop traders we met were friendly.

The same couldn't be said for some of those who traded on the site though. Some guy used to come around in the morning selling sliced bread. Each day his prices went up, and the last loaf we bought was mouldy.

A hot dog trader had a similar approach, increasing his rip-off prices each day. On the last day we saw that his stand had been smashed up, and bits were strewn around. I had no sympathy for him, nor the bread seller who had reportedly met the same fate. I'm pretty sure that was Karma.
I decided to recycle the aluminium hot plate cover from the wrecked hot dog stand, and it ended up as a case and heat sink for an amplifier I was building back home!

We saw fences being broken down, the security guards with their batons and their dogs, the mess of the inadequate toilets, but much of what we experienced was peaceful and friendly.

It felt safer walking around the site with 500,000 people there than in my home town of 20,000 people.
At no time did I feel threatened or at risk.

Much of the music memories are hazy.
I was very aware of the conflicts between artists and management that caused the massive disruption to the planned schedules.
I remember seeing Jethro Tull, Black Widow, Tiny Tim, Family, Free and The Who, but there were loads more that are just lost in alcohol sodden old age!
I desperately wanted to see Melanie, but her original slot was moved.The next night, I fell asleep during the Who and woke up during Sly and the Family Stone's set, just before dawn. Thinking I must have missed her again, I packed up and headed back to my tent.Reading this site has made me realise that I so nearly saw her - turns out she was up next....

The reality of the music for me was a case of 'less is more'. There was so much music that it tended to become a blur - coupled with the problem of not knowing exactly when acts were going to perform, it was frustrating not being able to choose the artists we wanted to see.

The Beach

Respite from the music came from going to the very sunny beach, and skinny dipping in the sea! Much was made of this by the press, but the reality was that by that time we were all getting a bit ripe, and bathing in the sea was one of the easiest ways to wash. We didn't see it as any big deal at the time. And the chaos of the Festival site seemed a long way behind us!

Something is happening here, but we don't know what it is, do we Mr Jones ? © Richard Dow

Tuesday, the weather broke and rain started for the first time for over a week as we made our way home. The hitching took two days, and I got back with just over £2 left in my pocket - my biggest single expense had been a pair of 50 shilling (£2.50) Polaroid sunglasses - which I've still got!
My parents had kept the cuttings from the national newspapers reporting on the festival, and were very interested to hear my experiences. It didn't seem to me that the press were at the same event, as they had captured mostly bad things. At eighteen years old it taught me that the press need to find bad news and high-drama to sell their stories - good news has little mileage.

The DVD of the event that was released in the 2000's wasn't the festival that I attended - it was too focused on the high-drama.

Nothing has really changed over the years since then, other than high-drama has now become developed to a fine art for the pedlars of 'news', and people now seem to happily accept the spoon-fed sound bites.

Great shame - I had hoped for so much more from the human race.......
Later that year, at university, I wrote a piece about this IoW being the last great festival, and it being the end of an era.
It was - but I'm still proud to say,
'I was there'!

Jim Reed

Donovan © D Gray


Summer of 1970 Isle of Wight Festival

When the Beatles landed in New York City in February 1964, I was an immediate fan at the ago of 13. Six years later, I was on my first European holiday. Since that day, my dream was to go to London and see the Beatles.

My trip began as any ordinary tourist visiting all the famous landmarks in London and throughout the continent. In addition, I had never heard of the Isle of Wight. In history books , it was the summer residence and final home of Queen Victoria of England.

So begins the true narrative, While doing laundry in a London- laundromat, a customer spoke about the upcoming end of summer Isle of Wight Music Festival. I recall his words. All I needed to do was go down to the festival and say " Miles Davis sent you."

So the next thing you know, I'm on a ferry departing from the south coast of England in the city of Bournemouth. To reach the Isle of Wight, you needed to cross The English Channel, which is an arm of the Atlantic between south England and northern France, connected by the North Sea by the Strait of Dover.

While crossing the English Channel, I could not help but remember the 1950's I love Lucy program where Lucy and her neighbor Fred sailed on the Staten Island Ferry, and were overwhelmed in body and mind with nausea and dizziness. Consequently, the overnight voyage was occupied with my own sea-sickness from the rocking and swaying motion of the vessel.

The next morning, I was glad to arrive at the lush green landscapes and country blue skies of England. Like many thousands of people who came to the festival, I bought boxes of food and drinks to bring into the festival grounds. In addition, the entrance fee was very reasonable for an American in 1970 for three days of music.

It was a cool crisp sunny day. The festival was on the side of a man-made lake. There were thousands of young hippies, and I was all the way in the rear. Therefore, I remembered what the man in the laundromat told me. I began to move up close. Let me tell you walking over a sea of humanity of approximately 600,000 people was overwhelming. When I reached the press section, I said, "Hi Miles Davies invited me." To my surprise, I was let right into the press enclosure.

In the enclosure, there were neatly arranged wooden lounge chairs all over. They appeared to be arranged in rows. The stage was high above the ground. Lots of activity was taking place in the front and the back of the stage. Here I was about to be in the presence of rock royalty.

The extraordinary access invoked a serendipitous tale. I was excited and began to explore the surroundings and environment backstage. All these gypsy caravans were encamped directly behind the stage. I spotted Jim Hendrix sitting on the steps of the caravan.

However, the most memorable noteworthy incident was speaking to the legendry Jim Morrison. The whole thing was the most surreal experience. Jim Morrison was standing next to me. I approached him with unflinching resolve. I had no idea he was so approachable. Jim Morrison was dashing, dressed in black leather with white ruffled shirt on a cool night with long curly hair looking like a 17th century painting or one of the Three Musketeers from a Dumas novel.

Here is how our dialogue went:
Me: "I heard George Harrison is here."
Jim: Yeah "He is in the mountains." He replied in a calm sexy voice.

There was none of the onstage ludicrous screaming. He was just a regular bloke. Months later, I was saddened to hear about the premature death of both Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.

In retrospect, the remainder of the concert was a blast. My favorite rock stars were performing such as Chicago, Melanie, The Doors, The Who, MILES DAVIS, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Donovan, Moody Blues, Richie Haven and countless other rock groups.

The festival was the highlight of my European holiday. All I cold think of was that music has the power to unite the world.

Annette Perpinan

I was one of the nearly a miilion festival goers.

I travelled down from Birmingham, and ended up destitute so earned some money to help me get off the Island by collecting some rubbish. Release also kindly helped me out with some money to get off the Island with.

I can remember some of the line -up, Tiny Tim, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Free, Jimi Hendrix.

I was just 17 and started my first job not far from where I live in Birmingham.

I was watching from the Hill and when the Festival was declared free, like a lot of other fans converged into the arena.

I remember being robbed soon after I arrived there. I had my belongings with me (or rather my mother's and may be just left them on the Hill while going for a little walk. Perhaps I asked some one to look after them for me. Have so far not seen any photos of me at all at the Festival.

(A small girl with straight mousey brown hair, wearing pale green corduroy trousers and a pale yellow crocheted top and from what I can remember a 3/4 length summer coat. )
I arrived Saturday afternoon and left Sunday afternoon.

I returned home by hitch-hiking most of the way. This would have been totally unheard of nowadays.

Angela Heather

Free onstage on Sunday © D Gray


What a fantastic site with interesting recollections
I travelled down to the festival with a friend and some others in a van. Coming from a small hamlet called Derwydd in South West Wales
to a huge event like the IOW was mindblowing.

I remember travelling through the New Forest enroute to the island. The next memory was getting on the ferry with my best friend
Reeve and hearing some locals shouting "look at those hippies". I can't remember much about our arrival except my friend and I
chatting to a couple of friendly coppers possibly on site but they were in great spirits and the vibes were good, I think this was
Thursday night but can't be sure.

The festival is such a blur. I think I remember waking up now and then listening to some loud music possibly by "The Who", but it's so
frustrating not being able to piece things together, it might have been all the dope wafting through the site. My last recollection of the
festival to date is seeing Richie Havens strumming "Freedom" on the final morning, whether it was Tuesday I can't be sure. There
weren't many around but his guitar strumming rendition was mindblowing, am really sure I saw him.

The Journey home was a complete blank.Last thing I remember is arriving back at our small bungalow "CartreF". The festival was an
experience of a lifetime and I was glad to have been there. I don't suppose we will ever experience anything like that again.

Philip J Davies (now living in Harlech, North West Wales)

A few years back you included my memories of attending the 1970 Phun City festival on your site. I've now finally got round to writing up my memories of going to the IOW that same year. Here they are if you think they might be of interest........

Now retired and in my 60s, with the time on my hands to write about it, I thought I would add my memories of the 1970 IOW festival to this excellent site, for the construction and maintenance of which, many thanks. I went with a group of friends. We went, if I remember correctly for three days. How we got there I can't precisely remember now, but I'm pretty sure it was by train from nearby Fareham. I certainly seem to recall arriving at Portsmouth Harbour railway station from which the Isle of Wight ferry departed. I had been at the 69 festival too and was keen to repeat the experience. Earlier that summer I had been to the Bath Festival with some of the same friends in a transit van, which had became our temporary home and base, driven by a guy called Nige and just before going to the IOW I had been at the Phun City Festival near Worthing with my mate Paul R. I have already written about that strange experience and it has been included in the appropriate memories section elsewhere on this wonderful site.

Anyway, myself and my friends, Greg F. And girlfriend Diane, Stevie P., Dicky F., Peter M., Dave C. and girlfriend.....and perhaps others, on arrival, set up a little circle of tents 'wagon train' style near the infamous bean field which soon became, unfortunately, an impromptu lavatory. We had a campfire in the centre of the ring, and all in all, were much more comfortable than many other of the attendees surrounding us. I remember Hawkwind setting up nearby and playing an impromptu set for free which set the mood for the long weekend perfectly. Can't remember which day this was, but to be honest, I had very little sleep over the time we were there and all the days and nights seemed to merge one into another. I do remember however, being much happier, and more appreciative of the music away from the crowd on the hill than I was in the arena. In fact, in the end we spent most of our time on the hill in spite of the 'waste' of the ticket price, the money for which I'd earned by picking strawberries earlier in the year.

In addition to the music, one of the great pleasures of the event was simply wandering about, looking at things and people to the strains of 'Amazing Grace' and I seem to remember 'Lay lady Lay', but perhaps that was the year before ?

Strange things were happening on the hill, largely linked to the fact that there were a great many trippers wandering about, including at least one of our party, Stevie P. Who was in such an elevated state of consciousness that he believed that he could walk through camp fires unscathed ! Two of us acted as his guides and protectors though as I remember he did actually walk through a couple of fires to no harmful effect. Weird ! I do remember something of the troubles at the fence though I was not really aware of why or what was happening at the time. At one stage during the late evening, I remember a panic starting when it was rumoured that some of the goons' guard dogs had been set loose. Where I was, this caused a general flight down the hill. In the darkness I fell into some kind of pit with tangled barbed wire in it.....but emerged little the worse.....young bodies heal quickly. As always at those big early festivals, I seemed to be constantly hungry, never having brought enough to eat with me and having no money to buy the stuff that was for sale.

Overall, the memory remains of the most marvellous few days spent in the sunshine or sitting around small fires with good friends, all of us still unencumbered by the responsibilities of serious time consuming jobs and family commitments, the music wafting in and out of our consciousness. It is difficult to remember specific acts in detail now but there was nothing that I heard that I thought truly bad. Like others who have written here, I was a bit disappointed by Hendrix though still glad to have heard him. After it was all over I remember queuing for the bus to the ferry and donating what scraps of food and drink remained to those who were staying on. The IOW festival of 1970 was the last that I attended and I am grateful, yes that is the appropriate word, to have shared in what seems to me now to have been a quasi-magical event.

Don Stubbs

That Summer I went to see the film 'Woodstock' in the cinema with my girlfriend Marilyn. It was such a great film I told her on the way out we were definitely going to the Isle of Wight particularly as Hendrix was on the bill.  We bought the tickets and a few weeks later arrived on the Saturday afternoon and as we only had tickets for the Sunday we set up on Desolation Hill. I can recall hearing Tiny Tim and I think Kris Kristoffeson also played that afternoon although he was booed and pelted with beer cans.

What I really remember is at night drifting in and out of sleep listening to ELP, the Who, the Doors and Melanie. Can't recall who else was on. The next morning there was some trouble with people in the stadium refusing to leave so groups could do their sound checks. Promoter Ricky Farr made an emotional speech, calling them 'Bastards' but in the end he had to swallow and the crowd stayed put. We made our way down and there was a wonderful afternoon with Free, the Moody Blues and in particular Jethro Tull who were brilliant.

I remember the toilets which were disgusting and I couldn't use them, spending most of the day busting until it got dark when I was finally able to relieve myself at the back of the stadium.

I began to get a bit worried as time went by as I was waiting to see Hendrix and I had to be back at my father's pub in Sussex the next day by midday and needed to hitchhike from my girlfiends flat in Horsham to my village, which was not served by bus or train. Hendrix finally came on around midnight and the beginning of his set was a big letdown. The sound was terrible and he raced through his songs at 100 mph. I had seen him up close at the Starlight Ballroom in Crawley 3 years earlier when just blew me away and I was so disappointed. Finally he slowed down and played 'Red House' and everything changed. The solo was brilliant and the sound improved. I left my girlfriend where we were sitting about a 150 yards back and made my way through the crowd to get a better view. After 'Foxy Lady' he went into 'Message to Love' a much heavier version than on the Band of Gypsies LP and then went in to a song I hadn't heard before 'Hey Baby'. A number of hits followed and he ended up with a new song 'In from the Storm'.

Once he finished I had to get back quickly to Marilyn as we had to leave pronto and catch the bus back to the port to catch the ferry and then a train to Horsham. Just made it back, albeit a bit smelly, in time to help my parents open up.


Despite the primitive circumstances, sleeping in the open air on Desolation Hill, peeing behind bushes and the little bit of aggravation with some French students trying to pull down the fence I recall that weekend with great affection and was so pleased to be there, particularly as it turned out to be Hendrix last public performance in Britain. Over the years I collected songs from the set on various LP's as they were released, official and bootleg and was particularly delighted when I went to buy a replacement copy of the 'Hendrix 70' CD which had some of the set, to find that Experience Hendrix had released the full set as 'Blue Wild Angel'. After all these years I still remain a committed Hendrix fan and despite the flawed set :Hey Baby'and 'In from the Storm' remain my 2 favourite Hendrix tracks. The recorded sound doesn't quite do justice to the better tracks from the set as compared to the live performance as the sound on the day wafted through the sky and had a magical quality, something which also applied to other acts who performed well. That day was a beautiful Summer's one and for me, one of the most memorable of my life.

I've got a few pics taken on the day on my old Kodak Brownie. When I get back the week after next I'll see if I can find a couple for your website.

A big 'Hello !' to all fellow IOW70 attendees and Hendrix fans


MIchael MacNamara's account of the festival complete with exclusive photographs.


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

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