Buxton Festival 1973

Buxton Festival 1973 Line-up: Chuck Berry; Canned Heat; Nazareth; Edgar Broughton Band; Sensational Alex Harvey Band; Medicine Head; Brewers Droop
Billed to play, but didn’t: Groundhogs; Roy Wood and Wizard
This was a pretty crazy event. The weather was miserable, but what really sticks in my mind is the Hells Angels who took control of the entire day and had us all in fear. I hitched there with my mate Gilly and arrived around lunchtime. This was a one day event with a pretty strong line-up. I was a big fan of the Groundhogs at the time, and went along largely to see Tony McPhee and the guys; sadly they didn’t play. When we arrived we found the festival which was right up on a cold moor, and the weather wasn’t great with wind and rain, and lots of mud throughout the day. A large group of Hells Angels had taken their place at the front of the crowd, bikes and all. They were all very drunk and stoned and got worse as the day went on. Every so often they would rev their bikes up and ride them through the crowd. How no-one was hurt, I don’t know. When they ran out of money for beer they came through the crowd asking for 10p from each of us. Almost everyone gave them something; we were all frightened not to. As the day went on they started to go up on stage and take control. John Peel was DJ for the event but at some point half way through the day a Hells Angel took over the mike and John left. A couple of the bands, Roy Wood and Groundhogs, arrived and saw what was going on, and left without playing. I was particularly disappointed that the Groundhogs didn’t play. Gilly and I had made a flag saying Groundhogs, which we were planning to wave during the set (that seems so sad now, but yes we really did do it). We threw the flag away in disgust when they didn’t play. All of the bands who did play were great. buxtonEdgar Broughton always gave value for money at such outdoor events, and that day was no exception. The Poppy was a favourite of mine at the time, and I remember him playing that song, in the white judo suit that he tended to wear at the time. Medicine Head were good: One and One is One was out then. Alex Harvey and his band started with the Osmonds’ Crazy Horses, which seemed a bizarre song choice for a rock band, but worked well. I also remember a great version of Del Shannon’s Runaway being another surprise that day. Alex jumped into the crowd at one point and faced up to a Hells Angel who was trying to beat up another guy, and stopped the violence. Alex had no fear; I had deep respect for the guy. Zal was crazy as ever and looked evil in his clown suit. Canned Heat gave us some great boogie, with Bob the Bear pumping away on his mouth harp. Nazareth were also excellent with Dan singing with a Hells Angel alongside him. By the time Chuck Berry took to the stage it was full of Angels, all dancing round him and trying to copy his duck walk. Chuck joked with them, and just got on with his set, he didn’t seem at all phased by what was going on. Chuck’s set was short, and he left to no encore and a hail of cans from the crowd. Brewer’s Droop came straight on and calmed the crowd down. We left in the early hours, as we didn’t fancy spending the night in the field with the Angels. We tried to walk to the main road, which was a long way. We got so far down a country road and were so tired that we lay down and slept on the steps of a house. When we awoke we were soaked and found ourselves lying in a puddle. We somehow managed to hitch home, getting back around Sunday evening. An experience never to repeated (thankfully). Having said that; reflecting on the event; I’m pleased I went. We saw some great bands and heard some amazing music that day. The ones that stick in my mind most are Edgar Broughton, and Alex Harvey, then Chuck Berry and Canned Heat. Great memories. 39 years is a long time ago.
Many thanks to Ian Johnson for sending me his photo of the event, which is of band Chopper, who I recall playing in 1974, and Ian is sure also played in 1973. What do others remember?


13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bert cooney on October 29, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    hi gilly you got a good memory, i was there with my girlfriend [ still together] i recall someone on stage saying chuck berry wanting 10 grand to come back on again. at the time i had not heard of S.A.H.B but for myself i thought WOW, amazing . Also canned heat really rocked. I think Edgar broughton did a set with his new band .


  2. Posted by Dave Evans on August 23, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I was there too, and left gutted that the Groundhogs did not perform. Great memories though 42 years ago.

    Dave Evans



    • Posted by vintagerock on August 23, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Dave You and me both. The Groundhogs, and McPhee in particular, were my heroes at the time.
      Incidentally, I have just been reading that Ken Pustlenik has formed his own new version of the Groundhogs. They have a gig lined up in Bath next month. Cheers Peter


  3. Posted by Ian Johnson. on February 16, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    It was a great day out. I have a photograph of the band named Chopper. Cheers for the website.


    • Posted by vintagerock on February 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Many thanks Ian Did Chopper open the day? Or was that the 1974 event? Peter


      • Posted by Ian Johnson. on February 16, 2016 at 7:19 pm

        It was 1973. Chopper, as I recall, did open the day. I did go to the 1974 event. How can I forward my photograph?

        Ian Johnson.

  4. I remember that on that Buxton was part of Berry’s 1973 UK tour. I had read about very short sets of five songs, and so was expecting Berry to only do five numbers and leave. But with the Hells Angels there, he clearly changed his mind. He did his usual five songs, and then said “We’ve done our warm up and now we’re ready to do the set”, which got a cheer, and he played a bit longer.

    Though it was a one day festival, some of us camped out for the night before and the night after on the festival site. In the morning the organisers asked for some help in clearing up the site, so we hung around for an hour and did a bit. A local news crew photographed us and did an interview. I sometimes wonder if that got into the local papers.


  5. Posted by patryck albert on June 9, 2017 at 7:47 am

    i was at Buxton Festival on the road from Le Havre to Scotland. Local TV interviewed some of us thus me ( a frog guy wear wood-coat) ….. a guy sez i ‘s on Local news TV …..who get the archive , pleez …… reward !


  6. Posted by Alan Hesketh on July 23, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    I remember it well, the weather was horrendous, it was high on a windswept moor above Buxton, The Hells Angels weren’t too bad really, they were just larking about throwing a bit of mud around, and there was certainly plenty of that.

    Chuck Berry was booed by some fans as his set was such a short one, but you could hardly blame him in the conditions.

    Nazareth were awesome I seem to recall, and were quite big at that time with “Broken down Angel”.

    happy days.



  7. Posted by patryck albert on August 8, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Buxton rock festival 1973 , i was hitch-hickin’ from Le Havre city slang – France to Scotland , & saw BUXTON festival 73 on the road north ……… young teen-ager of 18 years old thus saw this rock festival event …… saw Canned Heatr & Chuck Berry ( my faves ) among others …… WARNIN’ …….just a question : As a teen-ager Frog guy , >>>> i was interviewed by local TV while 2 or 3 minutes before the D-Day ….festival ….. beware : …..i ‘ll be very pround to see this spot 47 years later …… is anybody ‘d help me ? …thx ….sincerely , Patryck .


  8. I was there but left early as the rain started. Alex Harvey was amazing. Never heard of him before as I think they had just started the year before. He sang Framed whilst stuffing his mouth with pieces of towel and swinging high from the stage scaffolding. You couldn’t make it up ! Also Midnight Moses fantastic……and I still have the programme.


  9. Posted by Andy Clements on March 31, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    I went as a 16 year old in the wet one in 73. Spent the night sleeping in the church in town.


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