Buxton Festival 1974

The Buxton Festival 1974
Line-up: The Faces, Humble Pie, Mott The Hoople, Horslips , Chapman/Whitney StreetWalkers, Trapeze , Chopper, Badger, Strider, Lindisfarne, Man. My friend John and I have spent the week swapping memories of The Faces to help me write my blog. One memory that we share is of the 1974 Buxton Festival which we both attended. I’m not sure if it is a pleasant memory or not; and those of you who attended any of the outdoor Buxton events will know why I say that. Terry Battersby puts in well on the UK Festivals site: “I managed Buxton in 72/73/74.They should have been campaign medals issued”. I managed 73 and 74 and know what he means; I hold my medal with pride; the Buxton festivals were a real endurance test. Buxton is a town high up in the peak district and the festival was sited up on a moor. You couldn’t imagine a worse place to hold a pop festival. All of the three outdoor festivals (there were some indoor events which preceded them) suffered from poor weather, lots of wind and rain, and after 1974 the organisers abandoned the idea of holding any further festivals. I’ll write separately about the 1973 festival in a day or so, it was a strange event at which the Hells Angels took over and ran the event (which was pretty scary). Anyway, back to 1974. I drove down to Buxton with my friend Gilly, who also came to the 1973 event with me. We arrived on Friday afternoon, finding the place cold and windswept. Not being the most prepared festival-goers at the time, we didn’t have a tent and planned on sleeping in the car (not easy in an MG Midget), or in sleeping bags on the ground. When we arrived on the moor we saw lots of people building makeshift huts from planks of wood. I asked them where they found the wood, and they pointed me to a storehouse in the next field. So off I went to retrieve some wood for us to build our own shelter. I was leaving the store with some planks under my arm with a few other guys, when we were stopped by a policeman, who asked us where we were taking the wood. He quickly bundled us all into the back of a police jeep and took us off to a temporary police cabin which they had set up for the weekend. Once in their they searched us, took statements, and made us wait a few hours, telling us that we would probably be charged with theft for taking the wood. When they eventually did let us go we had to walk back to the site, where I found my mate Gilly lying asleep by the car. The bands had started by that point, and we went into the arena and caught as much of the show as we could. I remember seeing Man and Mott the Hoople that night. Mott started with Golden Age of Rock n Roll and were just great. I slept in the car and Gilly slept in a sleeping bag underneath the car. We were both frozen; it was truly awful. Highlights of the next day were Humble Pie (Stevie Marriott was awesome in those days and a big festival favourite), and Roger Chapman and the Streetwalkers. Anyone who was there will remember the magic moment in that dull rainy day when the sun came out during My Friend the Sun, as Roger sang “He’s there in the distance” to a great cheer from the crowd. The Faces were OK, but it wasn’t the best time I saw them; by this point they had added a horn section to the band. I remember keeping warm in the Release tent and chatting to Caroline Coon. My friend John was also there with a group of mates, although I don’t recall us running into each other. His memories: “My own recollections were that the weather was terrible,wet and cold,the facilities non existent and I slept in my dad’s car with three other mates. The Friday bands were good Mott , Man and Lindisarne. On Saturday there was the famous “My Friend the Sun moment” which I do recall and Humble pie were great.The Faces came on late and I remember the stage being pelted with bottles – reports on the Web said this is because they refused to play an encore…..those were the days!!!”  Postcript: several weeks after the festival I received a letter summoning me to attend my local police station where I was issued with a formal caution for “stealing” the wood; and that was the last I heard of it. I did run into a couple of the lads who were in the jeep with me at Reading and Knebworth over the years and we always said hello. I wonder where they are now. Thanks to John for the ad showing the line-up for the festival. Note The New York Dolls were listed to play at one point (although they don’t appear in the listing above), but didn’t make it for some reason.

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mal Scott on January 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Can remember mud,mud,and more mud.Chapman was brilliant as was Marriott.Not a well run festival site,the whole area was a bad choice for a gig.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Howard Sayles on February 3, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Two days of love, peace and frost bite. I was put in a funk as soon as we arrived when John Peel (?) announced The New York Dolls were a no show. I remember Mott playing a brilliant set late at night while the rain whipped across the site (while we sat under a huge piece of plastic). Humble Pie were also great. The Faces were the usual ramshackle brilliance. Who was the unknown group who destroyed their instruments at the end of their set? The only food you could buy were crepes!!!! Less said about the toilets the better. I loved it all.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Neil Thompson on February 16, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    It’s a shame this is the only mention that Welsh rockers Man get a mention – they headlined Newcastle city hall 4 times – 73/74/75/76 and were incredible every time – and every gig had a different band line-up (and a different sound)

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on February 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      Hi Yes I have yet to cover Man. I saw them at the City Hall several times, and your are right they were always great. My favourites were the early days.. Spunk Rock was my favourite… and when John Chippolina (probably spelt that wrong) was with them for one tour. I will get to Man when I cover M…which may be some time; just about to start letter H tomorrow 🙂 Peter

      Reply

  4. Posted by Terry Battersby on March 1, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Hi vintagerock, thanks for the name check! A great post about Buxton ’74, love the police story. We’ve been to a few of the same gigs; Dylan at Earls Court ’78, St. James Park ’84, Stones at Don Valley as well as the Buxtons. I’m looking forward to reading forward to reading more of your blog.

    Note to Howard Sayles: The band that destroyed their instruments were called Strider, I saw them again supporting The Sensational Alex Harvey Band at Sheffield City Hall. I’ve got an album of theirs somewhere.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Karen on August 2, 2013 at 7:56 am

    For me the best band there was Horslips. Never heard or seen them before or since but I bought some of their LPs and still enjoy their special brand of folk rock.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Jon Matthews on November 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    I turned up, aged 15, with my mate Roman and his round army supply tent, which we pitched on the slope above the stage. It wasn’t big enough to stretch out in but at least kept us dry that night. And I can vouch for the ‘My Friend The Sun’ moment. Thanks for reminding me.

    We went for the Faces, who were a shambles. I remember standing there, cold and damp, staring up at the stage, at the side of which stood Rod’s beautiful blonde girlfriend of the moment (Dee Harrington?) in a backless white gown. She must have been freezing. I looked up at Rod and thought, “I want to be you”.

    Reply

  7. Posted by phil smith on January 31, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I was 15, great experience. I remember Ariel Benders split his keks flash twat, lol. Some top bands tho!!1

    Reply

  8. Posted by Martin Ball (El Martino) on December 31, 2014 at 1:30 am

    I worked on the site all that weekend in ’74, ferrying supplies (mostly booze) around in a small van and working on the backstage bar underneath the stage. The weather was truly awful, like a grimly cold wet weekend in November and up on the high moor outside Buxton that is proper grim!. I had the job of sweeping rainwater off the stage around 7.30am one morning and looking out at the comatose crowd was like looking at a third-world refugee station with people wrapped like cocoons in plastic sheeting just lying in heaps. Howcome no-one died is a miracle. I was on the side of the stage for the Faces set, close enough to be able to poke Ian Mclagen in the earhole had I wanted to. Very hairy moments after the group had left the stage and refused to play an encore. Bottles and anything else throwable rained down on the stage and impossible to see the missiles coming with the stage lights still full in your face.Desperate Faces roadcrew trying to rescue guitars etc whilst dodging the incoming. Happy days I guess and never to be forgotten but not an experience I’d wish to repeat….

    Reply

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