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 ‘Eddie and the Hot Rods’ Category
Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977
The Reading Festival 27 – 29 August 1976
It was August Bank Holiday 1976 and I was back at Reading for the annual festival. By now a group of us went every year, usually traveling down in the back of a hired transit van. The line-up for this festival wasn’t as strong as previous years, and included a mix of reggae, classic rock, underground and heavy metal bands. Punk was on the horizon, but yet to break through. The other memories I have are of rain (some, but not lots in 1976, as I recall), mud, lots of drunkenness (by us, and every one else as I remember), and lots (and I mean lots) of can fights, which seemed fun at the time, but were probably actually pretty dangerous. If you got a half-full can of Watney’s Red Barrel on the back of your head, you really knew about it, and several people must have come home from the festival with pretty nasty cuts and scars. The festival was moving from a friendly, hippy vibe to a drunken, laddish, almost aggro vibe. This also matched the way the line-up and the music would develop, as it moved more to heavy metal in the late ’70s. The main attraction for us this year was Rory, who was the man, and a hero to us all.
Friday’s line-up consisted of Stallion (don’t recall who they were), Roy St John (American pub rock), U Roy (reggae), Supercharge (a Liverpool band fronted by singer and sax player Albie Donnelly, who had quite a bit of success in the mid-70s and played a lot up and down the country; I remember seeing them several times), Mighty Diamonds (reggae), Mallard (Cpt Beefheart’s original Magic Band, and pretty good too) and headliners the hippy, trippy and quite weird Gong. I remember watching Mallard and Gong, who were both pretty good.
Saturday had Nick Pickett (a folk singer, who I’d seen supporting Curved Air a few years earlier), Eddie & The Hot Rods (classed as pub rock as much as punk at this stage), Moon, Pat Travers (ace guitarist), Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum, Sadista Sisters, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Van Der Graaf Generator, Phil Manzanera and the 801 band, Camel and Rory Gallagher. Stand outs for me were Van Der Graaf who played an amazing extended version of Killer (John Peel: “Bloody marvellous, Van der Graaf Generator. Come on let’s here it for them”), Manfred Mann, and Phil Manzanera and the 801 band, which was seen as a pretty big deal at the time as Phil had assembled a stella line-up of himself (guitar), ex-Roxy compatriot Brian Eno (keyboards, synthesizers, vocals), Bill MacCormick (bass, vocals), Simon Phillips (drums), Francis Monkman (ex-Curved Air, piano and clavinet) and Lloyd Watson (ace slide-guitar, vocals). The 801 band released one album, and a live lp which was recorded at one of three gigs that they played, at the Festival Hall. They played a great version of the Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows. But Rory was the highlight of the weekend. We were all massive fans, and made our way to the front of the crowd for his set, which was just amazing. A recording of Rory’s set that night exist which shows that he played: Take What I Want; Bought and Sold; Everybody Wants To Know; Drinkin’ Muddy Water; Tattoo’d Lady; Calling Card; Secret Agent; Pistol Slapper Blues; Too Much Alcohol; Souped-Up Ford and Bullfrog Blues. The Rory Gallagher band was Rory (guitar, vocals), Lou Martin (keyboards), the great Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Rod de’Ath (drums).
Sunday featured: Howard Bragen; Aft; The Enid (who got the crowd singing along with Land Of Hope And Glory and became a festival favourite), A Band Called ‘O’; Back Door (very jazzy); Sassafras; Brand X (featured Phil Collins on drums); AC/DC (one of their early UK appearances, and just blew everyone away; Angus and Bon Scott on top form); Sutherland Bros & Quiver; Ted Nugent (had some arguments with the crowd who were throwing cans at him); Black Oak Arkansas (Jim Dandy to the Rescue 🙂 ) and Osibisa (who were billed as special mystery guests, which seemed a bit of a let down, but got the crowd going and went down well).
Another fun time had by all 🙂
Note; for the first time there was an official glossy programme, as well as the newspaper programme, produced by the local Evening Post. Both are pictured here.
Eddie and the Hot Rods Newcastle City Hall 1979
Support from The Members and ?Magazine?
This is my last blog post on Eddie and the Hot Rods, and covers the last time (I think) I saw the band. As well as the three City Hall shows I have blogged on, I am pretty sure that I saw them at Newcastle Poly once. I also saw them low down on the bill at the Reading Festival in 1976, and much higher on the bill in 1977. For their 1979 they visited the City Hall with support from the Members. The ticket also lists Magazine. I saw Magazine several times, and was a fan of the band, but have no recollection at all of them playing at this gig; something tells me that they weren’t on the bill on the night (does anyone remember whether they played this gig?). The Members were a great live act, featuring the charismatic (and funny) Nicky Tesco on vocals, and the song Sound of the Suburbs, which was a favourite of mine at the time. The Members were another band who I saw play a great set at the Reading Festival. They blended punk and reggae very successfully and were good fun. The Hot Rods were peaking, at this point and were coming close to the end of their initial career. Bassist Paul Gray gives his version of the beginning of the end for the band: “In the spring of 1979 we set off on yet another long UK tour supported by The Members. They were actually getting more airplay than us for their single “Offshore Banking Business”. Where we were starting to sound tired and, dare I say it, jaded, they were fresh and enthusiastic. Looking back on it now we were knackered, we’d been worked to the bone, and there was no fooling the punters. We were drinking loads..” “Not long after, at The Lyceum, scene of so many Hotrods triumphs in the past, Graeme finally lost the plot. Well, someone had to. Halfway thru’ the show he handed his guitar to the puzzled photographers in the pit at the front and started crawling about the stage on all fours, up on the drum riser and tried to bite Steve’s ankles. We limped on for a few more gigs without him but I had lost heart. The fun had gone, we had no dosh and I had no faith in the manager or the direction EMI wanted us to go.”
Eddie and the Hot Rods Newcastle City Hall 1978
Support from Radio Stars Squeeze
By 1978 The Hot Rods had enjoyed chart success with Do Anything You Wanna Do, and had released their second album Life on the Line. They returned to the City Hall with another strong supporting line-up of Radio Stars and Squeeze. Radio Stars had supported the Hot Rods at the City Hall the year before, so we were already acquainted with the mad antics of Andy Ellison, and their great song Dirty Pictures. Squeeze were new to the scene and were the first band on the bill at this concert. Squeeze had just released their first album and single: Take Me I’m Yours and there was a buzz about them, but this was before the massive hits Up THe Junction and Cool For Cats, which followed in 1979. This was the original line up of Squeeze, featuring Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook, and Jools Holland. I remember making a point of getting to the gig early to see Squeeze and Radio Stars. Eddie and The Hot Rods were great as usual, super high energy rock n roll. Another fun night. The more I think back to these gigs, the more I realise how much fun we had, and how great the late 70s were. There were gigs going on most nights of the week, and some great new bands to see, all hungry for success and playing vital rock n roll. Eddie and the Hot Rods are another band who have reformed recently and are still out their playing clubs up and down the country. They are supporting Status Quo on some of the dates of their QuoFestive Christmas tour, unfortunately this doesn’t include my own local gig. I must make a point of going to see them next time I get the chance.
Eddie and the Hot Rods Newcastle City Hall 1977
Support from Radio Stars
I looked forward to this gig with great excitement. I’d read a lot about Eddie and the Hot Rods in the music papers of the time, who compared them to The Sex Pistols and other punk bands of that era. In reality, and on reflection, they were closer to the Feelgoods and R&B than punk, but at the time I went along to any gig that closely resembled punk rock. The City Hall was packed to see The Hot Rods, and everyone was looking forward to a night of high energy punk rock n roll. Support act Radio Stars warmed the crowd up with their catchy pop/punk, frontman Andy Ellison going totally crazy, climbing up the speakers, jumping from the balcony and being every bit the mad punk star. I remember the song Dirty Pictures, which was good fun, and thought Radio Stars should have been more successful than they were.
The Hot Rods live in 77 was pure energy. Singer Barrie Masters would run backwards and forwards across the stage at super speed, flanked by the guitarists who were throwing out Chuck Berry riffs at 1,000mph. The music was superfast R&B, blending pop, punk and garage; the Hot Rods were definitely a live force to be reckoned with in those days. Their set in those early days drew heavily from the first album Teenage Depression, and also included some well chosen covers, all played at breakneck speed: The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright”, Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” Bob Seger’s “Get Out of Denver,” ? Mark’s “96 Tears,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”. A good fun night guaranteed. And the Hot Rods were just that, good fun. No deep politics, no snarling or pretentiousness, just good clean, very very fast rock n roll. We all rolled out of the City Hall that night wringing with sweat, worn out and totally satisfied!