Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977
Reading 1977 was notable for a couple of reasons. First, the line-up finally (and sadly in my view) lost all traces of the festival’s jazz and blues roots. Instead we had lots of classic rock, with a (small) smattering of punk and new wave. Although 1977 was the year of punk, it was another year before the new music finally started to make its mark at Reading. And second, the main feature of the 1977 festival was MUD. Lots of it. Possibly the worst I have ever seen at a festival. It had been raining heavily for weeks before, which resulted in most of the site becoming a quagmire with rivers of mud, and a large mud lake right in front of the stage. Wellies were at a premium and were being sold for incredible prices in the town.
Friday’s line-up: Staa Marx; S.A.L.T; Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat; Kingfish; 5 Hand Reel; Lone Star; Uriah Heep; Eddie and the Hot Rods; Golden Earring.
A strange mix of bands on the first day. Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat (ex Bowie’s Spiders from Mars) closed their set with Suffragette City. A highlight for me was Uriah Heep; now with John Lawton on vocals. Heep were always one of my favourite bands, and still are; I was a little sad to see them third on the line-up; they would have headlined a few years earlier. Lone Star were also good; showing lots of promise at the time, and Eddie and the Hot Rods went down well with the crowd. Golden Earring closed the day with a strong performance (Radar Love!).
Saturday’s line-up: Gloria Mundi; Krazy Kat; No Dice; George Hatcher Band; Ultravox!; Little River Band; John Miles; Aerosmith; Graham Parker and the Rumour; Thin Lizzy.
I remember being impressed by Ultravox!; this was the early version with John Foxx on vocals. Aerosmith seemed a big band to feature third on the bill, drew a large crowd, and were excellent. “Dream On” from those days remains a favourite song of mine. But the stars of the day were Graham Parker (the whole crowd sang along to (Hey Lord) Don’t Ask Me Questions) and of course, headliners Thin Lizzy. Lizzy were massive at the time and played a classic set including: Jailbreak; Dancing in the Moonlight; Still in Love With You; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Don’t Believe a Word; Emerald and closing with The Rocker as encore. A good way to spend a Saturday night.
Sunday’s line-up: Widowmaker; The Motors; Tiger: The Enid; Blue; Racing Cars; Wayne County and the Electric Chairs; Hawkwind; Doobie Brothers; Frankie Miller; Alex Harvey.
The Enid were a big Reading favourite and Robert Godfrey got the tired crowd going with versions of classics like The Dambusters March. The Motors and Widowmaker got the day off to a good start. Steve Ellis had left Widowmaker by this point and had been replaced by John Butler, and they still featured that crazy showman Ariel Bender. Tiger featured the excellent guitarist Big Jim Sullivan (I used to love watching him play on the Tom Jones show in the ’60s), and Blue had some neat songs (try listening to “Little Jody”) and deserved bigger success. They were fronted my ex-Marmalade Hughie Nicholson. Racing Cars went down well with the crowd; this was the year that they had a massive hit with “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” Wayne County was greeted by a hail of cans from a tired and twitchy crowd who didn’t take well to his punk songs, including the classic “If you don’t want to F**k me, F**k Off! Hawkwind were OK, as were the Doobies and Frankie Miller, but we were all there to see Alex Harvey. SAHB played the usual set and Alex told his quirky stories: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Gang Bang; Last of the Teenage Idols; Giddy-Up-A-Ding-Dong; St. Anthony; Framed; Dance to the Music. Alex hadn’t been well and this was their first gig for a few months. It was good to see them, but it wasn’t one of their best performances, and sadly it was the last time the band would play together. The end of an era.
By Sunday many people had given up and left because of the atrocious conditions. Poor John Peel tried to keep the crowd amused, partly be starting the famous “John Peel’s a C***” chant which continued into the next few years.
One final note. I had been to see The Sex Pistols play at Scarborough Penthouse club the night before the festival, and I was still buzzing with the memories of that gig. It had opened my eyes to the raw energy of punk, and that, coupled with the mud and awful conditions at Reading, meant I didn’t enjoy the weekend as much as usual. And just to make the experience complete, the alternator on my car packed in on the way back up the M1, and the car finally ground to a halt somewhere near Nottingham. After a wait of an hour or so, a kind AA man towed us back to Barnard Castle, where we waited (a few hours) for another AA relay van to pick us up and take us home. We arrived back after midnight on Monday, tired, hungry and very muddy, soggy and scruffy….the joys of festival going. Happy Days 🙂
Archive for the ‘Doobie Brothers’ Category
Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977
The Allman Brothers, The Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison, The Mahavishnu Orhcestra, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Tim Buckley.
Knebworth Park 1974 The Bucolic Frolic
This was the first of the great 1970s one day festivals to be held at Knebworth Park. I went along with my mates John and Gillie, catching a bus to Stevenage and them making our way to the site on the Saturday morning. We arrived just in time for Tim Buckley, who came on early in the day just as the crowds were entering the site. I remember his deep booming voice echoing around the field, but little else about his set. Next up was the Sensational Alex Harvey band, who were already a favourite of ours, and a great festival crowd pleaser. We made our way to the front to get a good view of Alex, Zal and the others who started with Faith Healer, which was still quite a new song at the time. Alex was an amazing front man, had no fear at all and was also a bit of a philosopher: “Don’t pish in the water. Don’t buy any bullets , don’t make any bullets and don’t shoot any bullets”. You couldn’t get more of a contrast than Alex Harvey followed by John McLaughlin and his Mahavishnu Orhcestra, but such a rich mix of music was quite commonplace at 70s events. John was dressed entirely in white and he and his band took us through a wonderful blend of jazz, rock and classical music which swept through the field. The Mahavishnu Orhcestra was a big band, featuring Jean Luc Ponty, who had recently made his name playing with Frank Zappa. Van Morrison was just amazing, and at his peak, in the early 70s, and his set at Knebworth was great. His band on the day was a three piece, which was very small for Van, and a contrast to the Caledonia Soul Orchestra who I saw him with a few weeks later. I was never a big fan of the Doobie Brothers, they were a bit too funky for me, however John recalls them as the highlight of the day. They went down ok with the crowd, but by then everyone was waiting for the headliners. Jessica and Ramblin’ Man were real favourites that summer, played at all the festivals, and The Allman Brothers Band had a reputation for being THE Jamming band, renowned for playing long sets and mega versions of their songs, particularly Whipping Post. They didn’t let the crowd down. Gillie, John and I spent some time wandering around the site that day, and Jessica was constantly playing in the background. The Allmans came on late and played until well after midnight. Greg Alllman said at some point during the set “We are going to play every damn song we know” after continued shouts for Whipping Post. We slept the night on the site and got the bus back home the next morning, running into some of John’s school friends on the bus. Allman Brothers setlist: Wasted Words; Done Somebody Wrong; One Way Out; Stormy Monday; Midnight Rider; Blue Sky; In Memory of Elizabeth Reed; Statesboro Blues; Come and Go Blues; Ramblin’ Man. Encore: Trouble No More; Jessica; You Don’t Love Me / Les Brers In A Minor. Second Encore: Whipping Post. Thanks to John for the scan of the flyer. John comments that is was overall a very exciting day, with a diverse, even eclectic, line up which happened a lot a the time and gave everyone a chance to appreciate lots of different styles of music.