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The Weeley Festival.
Clacton On Sea . Essex.
August 27th-29th 1971.

Weeley Recollections-pt 1.

Weeley Recollections - Part 1
Weeley Recollections - Part 2
Weeley Recollections - Part 3

If you attended the festival it would be great to hear your recollections, memoirs , whatever you want to call them before they completely fade away Contact us and we will add them to the site.

     I was at weeley festival,17 at the time, I arrived just after the trouble with the angels, they were being taken off the site in police vans, me and six mates made our way straight to the front, not a good idea trying to wade through 20,000 people, we made it to about 20 foot from the stage where we tried to sit in a space about 3 foot square, from what I can remember of the music was the Groundhogs (brilliant),mott the hoople (good),barclay james harvest (too long to set up), king crimson (21st century schizoid brilliant), quintessance (good) , julie felix (terrible) were barclay james harvest there (if they were they were terrible) , three of us left before rod stewart trex etc, we didn't fancy it.
There was a really good panoramic picture of the crowd in one of the sunday papers, would be nice to find it.
Are there any more sites relevant to the festival on the net?
If I remember any more about the music I will let you know.
Regards, Rich.


From: "Brian Nugent"

Good to find a site and information about the festival - I've been looking for this for ages. I was there of course, and remember well all of the fights, food, fires and toilets. I also remember several other things: * the music was 24hours - I still have the programme produced by the Colchester Express with the running order and times. And Barclay James Harvest were definitely on - at about 7 or 8 am - with orchestra, and were great - Rich was asking about this.

* what about Wally from Weeley ?

The real Wally was sitting just in front of me and his friends were trying to get him back after a visit somewhere. They started shouting his name and pretty soon everyone joined in. Is this where "Wally" was born? It certainly stuck throughout the festival and was still being chanted in London on the trains back.

* and weren't all the records stolen from the festival DJ and the only one he had to play was 'Wally from Weeley' which was pressed somehow during the festival?

* Wasn't there also some row between Rod Stewart (and co) and Marc Bolan as to who was headlining?

Or was that just rumours? Memories are coming back as I type and there may be more - I'm sure I have that Sunday paper cutting somewhere. All the best

Brian Nugent

This is for Brian Nugent, I was at the Isle of Wight festival in the late 60s, my friends were looking for me and called my name, Wally and soon after, everybody was shouting Wally, where's Wally.
I never did meet up with my friends there, but had a great time.{I think} So the guy sitting in front of you was not THE true Wally, I am.
Good luck
Wally Caton.

I received this message from John Watson who can clarify some of the reports and give the Angels perspective on things.

Hi There,

Just thought I would drop you a line to say thanks a lot for the Weeley festival pieces. It seems like the world has forgotten a really good festival. I was in the Angels back then and it's strange seeing some of the pictures and especially the accounts of what happened. For the record no Angel died and we weren't beaten up by the caterers. Sure there was a lot of bloodshed at times on both sides, but the main problem was that the caterers would jump a couple of our guys and then disappear into the crowd, whereas we had colours on so were easily recognised and therefore made good targets. The picture of the jeep made me laugh because it was one of the guys ( Bob ) from my crew Hells Angels Nomad ( I was the President, I went under the nickname Johnny Nomad ) that liberated it from the caterers. When we were marched into court the police produced large amounts of photos and one of them was a great shot of Bob standing on the Jeep. He got put inside for eighteen months , when the judge asked him if he had anything to say before he passed sentence Bob replied " Could I have a copy of the photo!!". I have been looking for a picture that was in the News Of The World, I think it was that paper. I have been to the newspaper library but no luck, found loads of other pictures but not this particular one. It was a double page spread in the middle titled 'Flight Of The Angels'. I would love to get hold of this picture -there were three of us walking away from the camera, I was the one in the middle. Well once again thanks for the pictures and write ups , they sure stirred up some memories for me. I still get the odd person come up to me and say " I haven't seen you since Weeley!!". I hope you don't mind I have posted the Weeley Flyer on my website/forum

I remember the flare up between T Rex and The Faces, Marc Bolan wanted to headline the festival, but The Faces were the big thing at that moment, from what I can remember The Faces went on first, got the crowd buzzing, they came on and did a few encores, but when T Rex came on the crowd still wanted the Faces and booed Bolan who then started shouting abuse to the crowd- which resulted in a load of bottles and cans being hurled on to the stage. He ended up leaving the stage in tears. Thanks for your amazing site and the trouble you have taken, it sure brought back some vivid memories.

All the best,

John Watson/ used to be known as Johnny Nomad.

Above ; The Faces onstage at Weeley.

click to see larger versions and closeups .

photo © Garry Bodenham

    I've just discovered your site. I first remember the Stones at Hyde park. I was only 17 and enjoyed most of it - though by the time the Stones came on, I was so tired, I fell asleep and went home before they finished. Reading your stuff about the Weeley festival was of more interest and brought back a flood of memories - I remember laughing about Wally - I don't think I ate the entire time. What a brilliant weekend it was. Specific experiences are a bit vague though, probably due to the constant supply of mind altering substances. My final memories were of trying to thumb a lift along the dual carriage way back to London: I think I must have walked most of the way. However it was all worth it.

Derek Timlett

I was so pleased to be put on to this website and recall all the Weeley memories.
I was the lead guitarist of Gringo at the time and remember the band was scared enough about doing a gig that was so massive.
The fear turned to paranoia , probably enhanced by what we'd been smoking, when the Hells Angels appeared.
It became so ridiculous that at the point we were due to go on stage , the self appointed security guard, a massive guy with club and full Angel attire , refused to let us on stage and we had to point out our roadie and prove that we knew him in order to get on.
The sound was pretty bad on stage , but I think we played OK. In those days there were few fold-back monitors , which meant that you could n't really hear what the rest of the band was playing!
I remember we had a song in the repertoire called "Murder In the Nursery" (!!) which seemed to reflect the activity at the back of the enclosure , where the Angels were setting a car alight.
I had a beaten up Morris Traveller at the time and as we left the gig an Angel scraped the side of the car with his bike. He was very apologetic and offered his name and address if I needed to get it fixed. Quite in contrast to the activities witnessed the rest of the day.
All The Best
Henry Marsh

I know there was a guy called S B from Wolverhampton who managed to do stereo recordings of the Festival. Of these, I have sets by King Crimson and van der graaf Generator.
I've been trying to find him again ever since !!!!!!!!!!!!
glad to come across your site !
Ian Laycock

On your web site covering rock festivals of the 60's and 70's, there is a line under Barclay James Harvest suggesting they never appeared at Weeley. They did ! And they were accompanied by a 45 piece orchestra and were 'Brilliant' - I bought their album immediatley I returned home.
On my cover of Once Again, I stuck a photo cut from a music paper showing the stage with the orcehstra on stage and BJH in the front where the technicians etc. should be becuase the stage wasn't big enough for the whole lot. The photo was part of an advert for Marshall Amplification.
They came on stage just as dusk was falling and the effect was mesmerising.
I have a few odds and sods from Weeley, Bickershaw, Lincoln Folk Festival (James Taylor, Byrds etc.) and Lincoln rock festival (Joe Cocker, Faces, Stone the Crows etc) if you want to know more.
Jack Ledger

I was at the Weeley festival ,18 at the time. I remember Hackensack who were good. Status Quo were also good. This was way before they became a middle of the road band. Stone The Crows I vaguely remember. Barclay James Harvest Mocking Bird is all I remember from their set. Al Stewart moaned about his set being curtailed to make way for Colosseum who were not bad.By the time King Crimson came on stage the acid I had taken along with three friends had taken effect. The combination of Crimson and the acid did not put me in a feel good mood to say the least.

Above ; Groundhogs onstage at Weeley.

click to see larger versions and closeups .

The rest of the festival I spent in a bit of a haze although I recall the Ground Hogs, the Grease Band and the Faces who sounded really rough as did T Rex .Stray who at that time used to use fireworks as part of their stage act managed to awaken my friends and I from a deep sleep.I do recall the Hells Angels getting a severe beating , after much provocation they got their comupance. I do recall at the time that one of the Angels was an ex police man as was reported in the press that covered the festival .I do regret not holding on to the programe or ticket or the newspapers that covered the festival. I wonder if there is a way of getting hold of newspaper archives that covered the event.


photo © Garry Bodenham

Took my young 14 year old brother along for company. Got off the train and having got my tickets I fought my way past the ticket touts. Got to the entrance and found that there were still tickets available. So back to the train station and when the next train pulled in shouted very loudly that tickets were still available and no need to pay over the odds to a tout. Received one or two glares, so good deed done for the day I hastened back to the site. In we went and staked our claim on a small patch of ground. Highlight of the weekend was definitely The Faces. What a fantastic band. But let's not forget the others...
Stone The Crows, full of potential. Maggie Bell's voice was amazing (a sort of Scottish Janis Joplin) and Les Harvey was one hell of a guitarist (a great loss).
Barclay James Harvest (either they were there or I have a very fertile imagination). I'm sure they played with an orchestra and were also fantastic.
Mungo Jerry, hated them before & after, but they seemd the right band at the right time. Tir-Na-Nog, 2 sweet & gentle guys who invited the whole audience back home for tea.
T Rex, ooh! what can one say? They were definitely in everybody's bad books. How dare our little elfin Marc become a pop-star! They were given a bit of a hard time, which only stopped (reduced) when Marc & Steve played some of the old stuff accoustically.

Finally, I turn to the legend of Wally. Brian Nugent's recollections are true. Let me explain. My mate Paul (remember him from IOW '70?) was also at Weeley with a few others. One of them, whose real name I cannot remember, was always referred to as Wally. That is how I was first introduced to him at Paul's house. Anyway, Wally went off for food/drink/toilet/drugs/whatever and was gone a long time. So Paul set off to find him, calling out "WALLY?" From such a small acorn did such a legend begin. If you need proof, just track down my old mate Paul Grantham who lived in the Uxbridge/West Drayton area at the time and ask him. By the way, if you do find him, let me know as I lost contact ages and ages ago (27 years?) and would really love to say "Hi" and find out whether life has been kind to him.
    Keith Webley

yes I was there too (aged 19). I came along in a huge furniture van with about 12 others from Brum. We got in for free, having promised to perform some street theatre, but most of us got too stoned or were off tripping to do it.
We arrived in time to hear Edgar Broughton, and set up camp fairly close to the Sally Army stall (for which we were all grateful to for hot soup and blankets).
I remember bits of it. The Hell's Angels sometimes decided to be awkward about letting people in and keeping them waiting. The catering was generally crap, and the latrine trenches were full of crap.
I remember some guy near the stage stripping off and later wanking off to the beat of the Groundhogs (I think).
Stone the Crows - all I remember was them being introduced and then thanked for their set (I was tripping at the time).
Barclay James Harvest - "Mockingbird" was brilliant .
T. Rex - hated until they did some old stuff.
Colisseum, Tir na Nog, Rory Gallagher were all good.
We went home happy, hippy and trippy although there were some paranoic fears about hell's angels and hammers at times. A couple of mates though ended up permanently spaced out after having a full weekend smashed on acid.
    Alan Anderton

I've just discovered your rock festivals web site(s) and the memories came flooding (well trickling back actually, due to the copious amounts of cannabis smoked at the time). Well done.
You might be interested to know that I have some recordings I made at Weeley.
They are on quarter inch tape and the quality is not great. To my recollection I have Barclay James Harvest(with full orchestra), the beginning of the T. Rex set, Groundhogs, Faces, Mott the Hoople and some others.

As I say the recordings are poor quality and i haven't heard them for years but\ they may be the only recordings of the event.
Roland McLellan

Mike Sweet sent these extensive memories
    I was there,with friend John and our two girlfriends whose names are long forgotten.I would have been 18 or so.We set off from Nottingham with back packs and sleeping bags-the idea to `do`Weeley then carry on for some days camping(rough) in Clacton/Yarmouth etc.
    Eventually arrived at London train station,cannot remember which one,and got on board the most crowded commuter type train I have ever seen in my life ,disembarking at Weeley station?and walking up and over the bridge to the festival site.We were amongst some of the early arrivals(Friday) so tickets(pre-purchased) were required. So having arrived we set about finding somewhere to sit/lay,the site rapidly filling around us. I remember the weather was good,as we all ended up with sunburnt noses and foreheads,you just could not get out of the sun.
     I recall initially we had room to lay on our sleeping bags,with room to move, but probably during day one I made the mistake of standing up and that was it ,some guy bagged the small space behind me,no more room for sleeping, but hey we weren`t here for sleep.
    The toilets ,oh man the toilets ,just a slit trench with scaffolding at suitable height for squatting.Day one was not too bad,but by day three the edge of the trench was wet and slippery(Not to mention the smell!)I remember some poor guy fell in,up to his chest in three days of excrement ,his shouts for help fell on many deaf ears ,it must have been the music. Honestly didn`t see any trouble with Angels,buy maybe thats just in the forget section of my brain? The music,the spectacle,the atmosphere,was what we came for,and got it in bucketloads. Was it really only £1.50!!

   To me the music was all good ,only some was better than the other. Main revelation must have been Rory Gallagher.After the festival we all went to the local `Army & Navy `stores and bought checked lumberjack shirts!.
Marc Bolan was viewed as underground gone commercial,no less a traitor.BJH after the long set up time were awesome ,maybe the time of night helped. I seem to recall King Crimson coming on very early in the morning,bad timing.
But to me the real gem of a find was Maggie Bell of Stone the Crows.Just how many Woodbines to you have to smoke to get a voice like that? A Scottish lassie with more balls than most men.

Above ; Stone the Crows onstage at Weeley.

click to see larger versions and closeups .


photo © Garry Bodenham

    I can recall during one set-I cannot remember who, only that it was afternoon, that a Dutch guy sat next to me suddenly lept up and started whirling what must have been a five foot piece of tree around and around in a sort of manic dervish dance, God that man was dangerous.
Tir-na-nog (I did know what it meant) were just so nice.
    But no matter who was headlining,I think we all had our own headliners ,it just depended `where you were at`,the stars of the show without doubt was Rod and the Faces.Not quite yet Top of the Pops material! ,but they got the audience involved and we all felt a part of a whole.
I think I could go rambling on for hours,but maybe its only interesting to me.

Scott Duncan sent this cautionary tale about the dangers of dropping acid for the first time ever at a frigging huge festival .

Mike Sweet

The site pic courtesy Piers W

Hi G,
Came across your site when I was doing some research on the web for a newspaper on the Party in the Park festival being held in Leeds soon.
    Anyway, the Weeley thing was my first experience of a big rock festival. I'm jotting down these thoughts as they occur to me and hope they may be of interest to you. Can't say that I have too many memories of the actual festival as far as the music is concerned. A young, naive, never-been-kissed schoolboy, I was finding my way as a "weekend hippy" when my long-haired mate Dave, a veteran of the Isle of Wight bash -who'd already been busted and kicked out of school, suggested we hitchhike to the Weeley Rock Festival near Clacton to see, more than anyone else, Rory Gallagher. We were big fans of Rory and used to follow him around the country. So we did. We set out together from Reading but got split up en route. I remember sleeping overnight in a park by a river in Chelmsford with two lads who were heading in the opposite direction, hitchhiking their way to Rome.

    Got to the Weeley site a few days before the festival was due to start. Tracked down Dave and also made pals with a public-school-type guy who had a posh voice and an Afghan coat (all I can remember about him). The three of us hung out together during the festival. Anyway, the organisers had already erected some large marquees and they allowed the handful of stray hippies who had already straggled on to the site to sleep in them in return for doing construction work around the site, like digging the trenches for the bogs (which were truly horrendous), or laying power cables to-and-from various locations on-site.

    However, as the first day approached, they asked those of us who weren't working to leave, so we ended up building some rudimentary shelters in the woods next to the site. Nowadays they'd be called "benders". Some freaks had brought along proper tents but Dave and I hadn't. So Dave, Plummy-voiced Afghan and I built a tent out of twigs, branches and leaves, shaped like a giant wooden igloo. A lot of other heads and the like had shown up by now and had also built little communities in the woods.
    Everyone had seen the Woodstock film and it was de rigueur to skin up, toke up and have a Santanaesque drum party as darkness fell with people banging drums and bashing empty drinks cans together and chanting something like "Oh holy oh oh!" which sounded like what they were singing on "Soul Sacrifice" on the film but none of us knew for sure. Our immediate neighbours in our neck of the woods were a young married couple from Matlock in Derbyshire and a bunch of German freaks, who kept bumming cigarettes off us and borrowing our cooking pots and we had to always make sure we got the pots back coz the Krauts weren't too bothered about ownership rights. There was also a French guy we picked up somewhere along the way. So our merry bunch of hippy pals numbered me, Dave, the Derby couple, the plum-voiced Afghan dude and this French working class hippy who barely spoke any English. The local rag sent round a couple of reporters to do a story on the hippies in the woods and I seem to remember them taking a couple of snaps of our makeshift twig tent. Also remember going down to the village pub quite often, the White Hart, if memory serves, where we played darts with the Krauts and got pissed a lot.

Hells Angels flee the wrath of the piemen

    Anyway, as for the actual festival, personally speaking, it was all downhill from day one. We blagged a position about half-way back in the crowd among a bunch of Geordie lads in bobble hats who spent most of the time drinking Newcastle Brown, smoking dope and dropping acid. On the first night Dave and I also smoked a load of dope and just before King Crimson came on I dropped my first ever - and last ever - tab of acid. Big mistake. Total paranoia set in and, after about eight hours of the utmost panic, where I incoherently jabbered non-stop to some poor dude in front of me, who to his credit stuck with me and eased me down from the fear and loathing, I eventually fell asleep. Came round about five or six in the morning and felt totally pissed off and depressed with everything. Wandered round the site hating everyone and everything and when some hippy dealer furtively whispered, "Acid?" in my ear I nearly panned him. This may have been the onset of my disillusion with all things "hip". Anyway, can't actually recall seeing any of the other bands on the bill, except do remember Marc Bolan being sarcastic to the crowd who were booing him for having "sold out". "I'm Marc Bolan. You may have seen me on Top of the Pops," I remember thinking was a pretty good line from the elfin-one to a mob who were baying for his blood. And Francis Rossi of Status Quo playing a green Fender Telecaster. And "Pop", an old tramp who'd been hanging around with the hippies prior to the start of the festival, getting up on stage and interminably playing his accordion - badly - on the opening night and it being almost impossible to get the old fucker to get off stage. And one of the DJs/announcers playing Stravinski's "Rite of Spring" over the PA and the philistine hippies in the crowd - i.e. almost all of them - booing it off.

    Anyway, the bummer acid trip had left me totally depressed, so caught the first train I could back home. Remember the carriages being packed - standing room only - and those who had seats quite openly rolling joints at the tables in front of them. Guess for one brief moment freedom and the spirit of anarchy was roaming the land. Got home to good old mum's and fell asleep for upwards of two days. Also, had been wearing the same clothes for best part of two weeks - all of which fell apart in the wash and had to be trashed. Which was sad cos I really liked the brown shirt I'd bought from M&S to complete my "weekend hippy" look. Although, reflecting on this now, with my short school rules haircut, in a brown shirt, maybe I looked more like a fascist! Ah, happy days!
All the best,
Scott Duncan

Well, yes, a lot has faded, but I was there!
Hitched from Birmingham, and planted myself in the middle of the vast crowd for a couple of days.
Lots of bands of course, but the stand-out for me were Barclay James Harvest . . . very sophisticated, and have been an avid follower ever since.
Lots of other very accomplished bands, and even though I live in the States now, I'm still a big Brit-rock fan and for good reason.
John Baker,
Boise, Idaho

James Samuel

We hitched from a town called watton in norfolk and arrived about midnight, traffic fairly heavy.
After pitching our tent we went for a wander and when we got back found the tent in ruins, hells angels we think.
Remember watching the Pink Fairies early in the morning followed by Status Quo I believe.
Didnt go a lot on Rod or Mark but BJH were brilliant. Wanted to see King Crimson but went to sleep, got woken up by Schizoid Man.
Not a lot else I can remember apart from the awful loos.
james samuel
ps still rocking

My memories of Weeley were pretty sketchy even after I just left but I can remember Marc Bolan getting heckled, Rod Stewart, Barclay James Harvest and Hackensack . I was then living in a small village outside Southampton with my guy Jeff. We got a lift up from 2 guys that Jeff knew slightly, but didn't hang around with them. We build a little hut on the side of the car for the two of us out of branches, black plasticbin bags and straw. It was pretty cosy and I've still got the photos to prove it! I can't remember seeing any fighting-I'd remember the bad vibes. I've still got my ticket a bit defaced now as it's got some telephone no's and addresses from days gone by, that I scribbled on the back! How do some of you have such brilliant memories? Jeff if your out there anywhere it would be great to hear from you!
Jean from Lancashire

Hello There,
Stumbled on your great site,and it brought back memories, (surprisingly accurate by all the accounts of your contributers). I'm Leo from Tir Na Nog,and myself and Sonny were onstage inviting the entire 20,000 home for tea while the Hell's Angels were getting bashed just behind us. Look me up on We're still doing gigs together mostly in Ireland, and playing with our own bands.
Sonny's on

Love to hear from y'all.

Leo O'Kelly.

Weeley Recollections - Part 1
Weeley Recollections - Part 2
Weeley Recollections - Part 3

Updated Jan 2021

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Thanks to Celia Bouquet , Keven Herridge ,Rich Deakin , Garry Bodenham , Redrich, Bill Greenwell ,John Sellick, Kieran McCann, Lin Bensley ,Brian Nugent, Steve Cook , Bill Greenwell and Phil Jones for the donation of articles and pix that have enabled the construction of this site.

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