Mott the Hoople Buxton July 1974
I’ve relived the nightmare that was Buxton 74 in an earlier post on my blog. Terry Battersby puts in well on the UK Festivals site: “I managed Buxton in 72/73/74.They should have been campaign medals issued”. Well 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 the Buxton festivals suffered from poor weather, lots of wind and rain, and after 1974 the organisers abandoned the idea of holding any further festivals. Buxton 74 was a very wet and cold two-day event and Mott headlined the first (Friday) night, topping a bill that featured Man, Horslips and Lindisfarne. Compere was Bob Harris. Mott played an excellent set, and were one of the highlights of the weekend, along with Humble Pie and Rod and The Faces. The line-up of Mott the Hoople at the time was Ian Hunter (vocals, guitar, piano), Pete “Overend” Watts (bass), Dale “Buffin” Griffin (drums), Morgan Fisher (keyboards), and Ariel Bender (guitar).
Mott had just played a legendary week-long residency at the Uris theatre on Broadway, and the Buxton set definitely had shades of a Broadway performance. The set was similar to that which they’d played on Broadway, but I can’t be sure that it was exactly the same. I’ve reproduced the setlist from the Uris theatre below anyway, for reference purposes. I’m certain that they started the show with the first verse of Don McLean’s “American Pie” which was a big surprise to me. Hunter was in his element; he had grown into the ultimate showman, a cross between a rock star and a ringmaster, and he was on top form that night. He was playing a grand piano with a massive candelabra on top (maybe I imagined that; but please don’t tell me I’m wrong and spoil this great memory :)) and when he got to the line “the day the music died”, he declared: “Or did it? Ladies and gentlemen, The Golden Age Of Rock’n’Roll”…Then it was straight into “The Golden Age of Rock n Roll” and we were off at high speed into a great Mott performance. Hunter became a cross between Little Richard and Jerry Lee, and we forgot how cold and damp we were. Other memories: “All the way from Memphis became “All the way from Buxton” and during “Marionette” lots of marionettes appeared on stage. This was a great set, and managed to liven up all our spirits after such a cold, wet day. Although we didn’t know it at the time, Hunter had already decided to call it a day and leave the band. As my mate and I walked back to my car, where we tried to get some sleep (with little success I fear) we were unaware that we had just witnessed Mott’s last performance on the UK mainland for 35 years (they played a gig on the Isle of Man the next night). It was a fitting performance to end things on.
From the Buxton 74 programme: “Mott’s Rock’n’Roll journey is almost over [did they know something we didn’t ? 🙂 ]. They’re home now….top of the bill on the Rock’n’Roll Circus. Right where they’ve always meant to be. They’ve fought hard and sometimes they’ve had to fight dirty. Don’t talk to them about ‘compromise’ because Mott don’t know what it means. Ask then instead about the hard times, the rough times…..when nothing’s been easy, and only optimism, nerve and aggression have pulled them through…..They’ve proved it now….that they can take more than enough to finish a lesser band, and come through it all to take their place at the top of Rock’n’Roll’s ladder with their heads held high”.
Setlist from the Uris show, on Broadway, New York in May 1974: American Pie; The Golden Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll; Sucker; Roll Away the Stone; Sweet Jane; Rest in Peace; All the Way from Memphis; Born Late ’58; One of the Boys; Hymn for the Dudes; Marionette; Drivin’ Sister; Crash Street Kids; Violence; All the Young Dudes; Walkin’ with a Mountain
Thanks to John (who is also a Buxton 74 campaign medal holder) for the photo of his poster showing the line-up for the weekend.
Archive for the ‘Buxton Festival’ Category
Mott the Hoople Buxton July 1974; or how I survived the mud and watched Mott reveal a Golden Age of Rock’n’Roll
Mott the Hoople Buxton July 1974
Humble Pie July 6th 1974 Buxton Festival
I’ve already blogged about this festival in a separate post some time ago. The Buxton festival came only a couple of months after Humble Pie’s appearance at Charlton, and they were one of the main reasons that both John and I went to this festival. The festival itself was in an awful location, and it was cold and wet, but Humble Pie played a great set and livened up the proceedings as much as it was possible to do, given the grim environment. The setlist is likely to have been similar to Charlton. A DVD, taken from 8mm film, is available on Amazon and includes footage of Charlton and Buxton; now that might be worth getting, although I suspect it does not feature any sound. I said yesterday that I would write a little abut the Blackberries, who were Carlena Williams, Venetta Fields, and Billie Barnum. The Blackberries were top notch session soul/gospel singers and it was Steve Marriott’s idea to get them into the band for recording and live concerts. In Steve’s own words: “Working with the Blackberries was great. I thought it was the best period of the band. I was almost a bit overwhelmed by them at times, because they were so good. I really dug it, because I was always into black music”. Although today it may seem a relatively obvious move for a band whose roots lay in blues and soul, it was actually pretty groundbreaking for the time, and not something that management and the rest of the band necessarily fully agreed with, at least at first. Jerry Shirley said “A&M and the Management Company thought it was the wrong thing to do, from the beginning” and in the words of Greg Ridley “I was a bit dubious at the time. I liked the music with a hard edge to it, and I was thinking ‘what are the girls gonna do. Are they gonna add or subtract from the band?’ But when they came in they were great. Great singers and a great laugh”. Steve had in his mind moving from a more traditional rock format to something resembling a soul revue, and you could see that in those great Humble Pie shows on 1974. I recall their Buxton set as being strong, and for some reason I seem to recall the Blackberries coming even more to the fore than they did at Charlton a couple of months earlier. It certainly changed the format of the show, and succeeded in blending rock with soul to a much great degree. I saw the Johnny Otis show, which featured Shuggie Otis, and a massive band and singers at Reading in 1972, and I guess this was something like the kind of show that Steve was aiming to create, although much closer to the sort of soul revue that Otis Redding or Ike and Tina Turner will have fronted in the 60s. As I said above, it was very different and refreshing for its time, and didn’t go down well with everyone, some people preferring a much more standard rock format. I found the following setlist for Buxton 74, which seems a little short, but could be correct as the songs were often quite long, including significant jamming: Watcha Gonna Do About It, 30 Days in the Hole; C’Mon Everybody; Thunderbox; Let Me Be Your Lovemaker; I Don’t Need No Doctor
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. Edgar 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?
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.