This week, I visited the Victoria and Albert museum to see the exhibition of the 1960’s entitled ” You say you want a revolution, records and rebels.” Apart from it being a very enjoyable nostalgic trip for me…trip in the journey sense that is….actually what was missing was the smell of dope, as I inhaled on a recent trip to Amsterdam, trip in the journey sense again! Where was I ? Oh yes, the exhibition. I would urge you to go but unfortunately it finishes today!
Well I enjoyed it, as I said. As I write this, I am listening to some of the sounds of that era. 1966-1970… Back then, I was 16-20, what an age! We felt hopeful and change was all around us. The skirts were short, the hair was long- both sexes and the music was fantastic, fab even! Yes the dope was good too and, unlike Mr Clinton, I inhaled deeply! The feeling was that things were never going to be the same again. We would be different, so different from our parents. We would not struggle to pay for a house for 25 years. We would not be slaves to the bosses. We would just ‘do our THING!’ and that would be individual but with friends.
The first music festival I attended was a very different experience. I had been to concerts in theatres to see a variety of groups. Amazingly seing top bands performing in one night at one venue but festivals felt different. The first was held in Olympia, I think and went on all night, December 22 -23 1966, I think maybe it was 1967. I could Google it? Anyway it was spectacularly different. With a fairground and circus and film shows and great music. Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath being memorable. John Peel showed us his appendix operation scars (sounds gruesome and it was) but it was great!
The next one was held at Woburn in June 1968. I remember it well as one Saturday morning I had to sit my final French literature A level exam. I left the exam room, literally stripping off my tie as I headed for the school toilet and changed into my sailors trousers bought from Lord Kitchener’s Valet in Portabello market, and my paisley shirt, combed out my parting and put on my cuban heels. My friend was waiting with the “passion wagon” outside the school gates….and we were off! The week end was great, fab even! The bands of course, Tyranosaurus Rex with Marc Bolan before he became T Rex, Donovan, and Hendrix, the last act on Saturday night. We sat around a large camp fire with about 40 or 50 others and smoked a communal joint or two or three as we listened to the dying sound of feedback from his guitar on the stage. It seemed to go on for hours after the close….
The next 1969 Isle of Wight in Wooton. Bob Dylan and the Band as headliners….
But it had to end! For me the end came at the next Isle of Wight festival in 1970. I was already at college and had obtained a job at the festival. I was a shop superviser. Which meant I had to gurad the till and cash up every so often and bag the money. I also helped serve as the crowds kept coming… I don’t remember much about the music although The Doors and Family were particularly good as was Joni Mitchell. What I most recall was the attack on the barriers around the field by French anarchists, I think. Our shop was attacked and torched. I remember being pretty scared as I ran for the back stage area with the takings. It was all pretty cahotic, check out the DVD of the festival and you will see how things developed. It felt frightening as half a million people began to change…fear and fighting. I guess it wasn’t that bad but it felt bad….I sat back stage and listened to Hendrix start his set. I managed to get into the press area to see his set. It was not his best and sadly almost his last ever. He died a week later.
The sixties ended there for me!
….and yes I did struggle to pay a mortgage and worked my guts out to do it….