The Reading Rock Festival 25 – 27th August 1978
This was the year punk finally arrived. The festival was now officially known as the Reading Rock Festival, having dropped “jazz” from the title and the line-up, and weekend tickets cost all of £8.95. Our old friend John Peel was compere, as always, and a van load of us descended on the riverside site, having driven part of the way down on Thursday, gone for a drink in Wetherby and slept on Wetherby racecourse (the crazy things you do when you are young 🙂 ) Highlights of the weekend for me were Penetration (I was a big fan at the time), Sham 69, The Jam, Status Quo (most of our group were heavily into them) and Patti Smith.
Friday line-up: Dennis O’Brien; The Automatics; New Hearts (who would become mods and change their name to Secret Affair); Radio Stars; Penetration; Sham 69; The Pirates; Ultravox; The Jam.
Memories: Radio Stars were always good for a laugh; “Dirty Pictures” (turn me on) was a favourite at the time; it was great to see local north east punk heroes playing up on the massive Reading stage Penetration, although they suffered from murky sound throughout their set; The Pirates rocked the place with no-nonsense rock’n’roll, “Shaking All Over” and ace guitarist the late Mick Green (a big influence on Wilko); and the John Foxx version of Ultravox! played a quite moody atmospheric electronic set. The main event was Sham 69, who were excellent with Jimmy Pursey his usual cockney “boy on the streets” self, and those anthems “What have we got?”, “Borstal Breakout” and “If the Kids are United”. The Sham Army had come across to Reading in force, all braces, No 2 cuts, and Doc Martins, and ready to take on those hippies. We were right at the front, although we soon moved to the side of the crowd when the fights started. A bunch of skins climbed on to the stage, and Pursey tried to call order, pleading with the crowd to stop fighting to no avail. He was in tears, watching bedlam and violence all around him, and not being able to do anything to stop it. But that was the nature of a Sham gig at the time. Jimmy even brought Steve Hillage on stage to show that it was ok to mix with hippies, but that just annoyed the skins more. A nasty, frightening experience, which marred an excellent performance by Sham. The Jam were great, Weller the edgy young mod, getting himself into a strop at the poor sound quality, and trashing his gear. Punk really had arrived at Reading.
The Jam set included: Mr Clean ; Away From the Numbers; Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane; Tonight at Noon; David Watts; Down in the Tube Station at Midnight; “A” Bomb in Wardour Street; News of the World
Saturday line-up: Speedometors; The Business; Jenny Darren; Next; Gruppo Sportivo; Nutz; Greg Kihn Band; Lindisfarne; Spirit; The Motors; Status Quo.
Saturday was a little more straightforward rock. Lindisfarne had recently reunited and hit the charts with “Run For Home”. The Motors were OK (Airport!). Spirit were excellent, with great Hendrix-style guitar from Randy California. Status Quo played a solid respectable set, nothing earth shattering. I know quite a few people were disappointed with them that night, but I thought they were OK. “Dirty Water’ was to become a crowd singalong favourite.
Status Quo setlist: Caroline; Roll Over Lay Down; Backwater; Rockers Rollin; Is There A Better Way; You Don’t Own Me; Hold You Back; Rockin All Over The World; Dirty Water; 4500 Times; Big Fat Mama; Don’t Waste My Time; Roadhouse Blues; Rain; Down Down; Bye Bye Johnny.
Sunday line-up: After The Fire; Chelsea; Pacific Eardrum; Bethnal; Squeeze; John Otway; The Albion Band; Paul Inder; Ian Gillan Band; Tom Robinson Band; Foreigner; Patti Smith Group.
Memories: Paul Inder is Lemmy’s son and was 11 years old (!) at the time; what a great thing to do when you are 11 🙂 ; Bethnal were a good band, who had a manic violin player; Squeeze were fun; Otway was as crazy as ever (Really Free); Tom Robinson led a mass singalong of “Glad to be Gay”; and Foreigner went down well with the crowd. But the day belonged to Patti Smith who was amazing. I was a big fan and left my mates to push my way right to the front of the crowd for Patti’s set. She had the whole crowd with her as she tore into “Gloria”, “Because the Night” and great covers of the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star)” and the Who’s “My Generation”. Stunning. I saw her again at Newcastle City Hall two days later and she was equally as electric.
Patti Smith setlist: Rock n Roll Nigger; Privilege (Set Me Free); Redondo Beach; Free Money; Ghost Dance; It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World; So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star); Ask the Angels; 25th Floor; Because the Night; Gloria, You Light Up My Life; My Generation; Godspeed
Archive for the ‘John Peel’ Category
The Reading Rock Festival 25 – 27th August 1978
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 🙂
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.
The Reading Festival 1972
I first went to the Reading Festival in 1972 (is it really over 41 years ago 🙂 ?), and continued to go every year until 1980. I missed 1981 as it clashed with a local “Rock on the Tyne” Festival, and have never returned, although I did think of doing so on several occasions. I’m aiming to reflect on one year each week for the next few weeks, starting today with my first Reading experience.
I’d already been to the Lincoln Festival in May 1972 so I felt, as a 15 year old, I was already a hardened festival goer. I didn’t know anyone who wanted to go to Reading, so decided to go along myself. My parents weren’t keen on my idea of hitching so I agreed to go by train. The festival took place over the weekend of August 11th to 13th, 1972 starting on Friday afternoon. For some reason I decided to get the train down to London early on the Thursday night, arriving around midnight. Having nowhere to spend the night I took a tube to Piccadilly Circus and found an all-night cinema. It was showing Elvis films all night; I paid my money and sat close to the front. The cinema was quite empty, the audience was a few couples, some Elvis fans and several people alone like me, and just looking for somewhere to spend the night. I don’t recall which films were shown, I think there were six, and I’m pretty sure one was “Kid Galahad” (which, by the way, is a good movie), and I think another may have been “Fun in Acapulco” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” (not so good). I emerged, very tired, from the cinema in the early hours of the morning, and went across London to get the train to Reading. I didn’t have a ticket for the festival, so when I arrived I joined the queue and bought a weekend ticket. In those days it was all about seeing the bands, so I stayed in the queue to get a good spot in front of the stage. All I had taken was a sleeping bag; no tent; no change of clothes (I told you that I thought myself a hardened festival goer).
The Friday line-up was: Good Habit, Nazareth, Cottonwood, Steamhammer, Jackson Heights, Genesis, Mungo Jerry, Curved Air. The music started at 4pm and there were two stages set alongside each other to make for quick changeovers. I positioned myself close to the front somewhere between the two stages so I had a good view of both. There was a press enclosure right down front, and an area where the Hells Angels would encamp, so you couldn’t get that close to the stage. I got talking to a guy next to me; he was also alone, still at school and a similar age. We stuck together throughout the weekend, keeping each others place in the crowd, and sleeping there on a night in our sleeping bags. This seems crazy now, but hey I was young and just so excited about seeing the bands. You could sleep in the main enclosure in those days; you had to leave in the early morning so that they could clear up and get ready for the next day. Some clearing happened during the night; this didn’t make for a good night sleep as there was a danger that someone stood on you (this happened to me several times). The organisers stopped letting people sleep in the main enclosure a few years later; a punter was run over by a vehicle that was driving around collecting litter….The bands I recall on Friday were: Good Habit (saw them a few times, they used to were monks habits on stage), Nazareth (this was before “Broken Down Angel”; they played a great version of “Morning Dew”); Genesis (Simply amazing. I was a big fan at the time and have written separately about their set which included The Knife, Twilight Alehouse, Watcher Of The Skies, The Musical box, and The Return Of The Giant Hogweed. Classic); Mungo Jerry (got the crowd rocking), and Curved Air (also amazing; It happened today, Backstreet Luv, Sonja Kristina).
The Saturday line-up was: Jonathan Kelly, Solid Gold Cadillac, Man, Linda Lewis, Focus, Edgar Broughton, Jericho, If, Johnny Otis Show, Electric Light Orchestra, The Faces. I watched all of the bands, and also took some time to have a look around the stalls in the arena. I didn’t see any need to venture into town (that would come in later years) and spent the entire weekend within the confines of the festival. The weather was quite warm, sunny with a little drizzle now and then but nothing major, and certainly nothing compared to the rain I experienced at the Lincoln festival earlier in the year. Highlights I can dimly recall now are: Jonathan Kelly (Ballad of Cursed Anna simply wonderful), Solid Gold Cadillac (very jazzy), Man (very long guitar solos; Spunk Rock; great!), Linda Lewis (she looked so tiny on that stage and admitted to being scared), Focus (went down well with the crowd and were one of the successes of the weekend), Edgar Broughton (amazing, I was already a fan. Edgar very unspoken as always. Out Demons Out!!), If (jazzy, great guitarist), Johnny Otis Show (just blogged on them), Electric Light Orchestra (this was a very early performance and one of their first since Roy Wood’s departure. Wasn’t sure what to expect; they were good), The Faces (Rod and the guys on great form, lots of footballs kicked into the crowd, Twisting the Night Away and I’m Losing You were big live favourites of mine at the time).
The Sunday line-up was: Sutherland Brothers, Gillian McPherson, String Driven Thing, Matching Mole, Stackridge, Vinegar Joe, Status Quo, Stray, Roy Wood’s Wizzard, Mahatma Kane Jeeves, Ten Years After, Quintessence. John Peel and Jerry Floyd were comperes for the weekend. Jerry was the regular DJ at the Marquee Club, who organised the festival at the time. I spend much of the weekend chatting about music to the guy that I met on the first day and we struck up quite a friendship. I made a few friend at festivals in those days and would see some people every year but I never ran into this guy again. Wonder where he is now. Highlights of the day were: Matching Mole (featuring Robert Wyatt), Stackridge (“Slark” was a favourite of mine at the time), Vinegar Joe (Elkie just stunning), Status Quo (this was one of the shows that helped them break back. Peel was a big champion of theirs at the time; I think he introduced them as the “Finest rock’n’roll band in the world”, or something like that. They were playing amazing boogie at the time, with Francis giving it some cheeky banter. Someones Learning was a favourite), Stray (excellent, Del in mirror suit), Roy Wood’s Wizzard (pretty good, very retro rock’n’roll. Ballpark Incident had just been released), and Ten Years After (Alvin’s guitar playing was stunning, I’d just seen “Woodstock” and was a big fan). I left as Quintessence’s took to the stage as did many others (TYA were official headliners) to catch the last train to London. The tubes had stopped so I walked across London. I’d missed the midnight train so I spent the night in Kings Cross station.
Monday morning: I was stiff, tired, and scruffy. I got the first train home and went straight to bed 🙂
Wow! that took longer than I thought it would! The scans come from the newspaper style programme which was produced by the Reading Evening Post. The poster (it looks like a cartoon of Leo Lyons from TYA to me?) is from the middle of the programme. Oh and I forgot to mention the “Wally!” chants, which seemed to go on all night.
The Grangemouth Pop Festival
Line up: Beck Bogert Appice; Status Quo; Steeleye Span; Lindisfarne; The Everley Brothers; Beggars Opera; Average White Band; Sunshine; Billy Connolly; The Chris McClure Section; MC: John Peel. All for £1.50!
I’m going to see Billy Connolly at Newcastle City Hall on Thursday night. I’m looking forward to the gig, and it made me think about the couple of times I’ve seen Billy Connolly in the past. The first time I saw him was at The Grangemouth Pop Festival in Scotland in 1972 (see ticket right). At the time he was unknown outside Scotland and, as he delighted in telling us, he was scared shitless about this gig, as it was his biggest to date. The festival was organised by Great Western Festivals, who had also run the excellent Lincoln Festival which I attended earlier in 1972, and was billed as Scotland’s first pop festival. My friend Nicky and I went by train to the gig. Grangemouth is north west of Edinburgh. The festival took place on Saturday 23 September 1972 and was part of the Grangemouth centenary celebrations. It was held in a sports stadium, which was in an industrial area, next to a gasworks, which spewed smoke over us at various times during the day. It wasn’t that well attended as I recall, with quite a heavy atmosphere, drunkenness, and some fights as the day went on. The promised line up was good, however a few of the bands who were billed did not play; a not uncommon occurrence in those days. Billy Connolly (see left from the programme of the festival) delivered a set pretty early during the day which was a mix of comedy and folk songs, and was one of the hits of the day for me. He’d just had a success at the Edinburgh festival and was just starting to make a name for himself.Other highlights of the day were Beggars Opera who were also local heroes with great swirling Hammond organ, The Everley Brothers who sang all those timeless hits, and Steeleye Span, who were still playing quite traditionally-based elecric folk at that time, before the days of All Around My Hat. Status Quo were at the top of their game in the early 70s, and were great favourites of Peel, who was DJ/MC for the day. Marsh Hunt was to seen wandering around the crowd. The extract to the right, which is taken from the newspaper programme (also see below) shows the line up and timings. Chris Mclure, who was another local hero, also played. Unfortunately, neither Uriah Heep or The Electric Light Orchestra played. Beck, Bogert and Appice were the main reason we went along, and Beck was a revelation. His guitar playing eclipses Clapton in my view, and I was in awe of him that night. I remember him playing Superstition and am pretty sure that he used a mouth-tube, which was the first time I’d seen suc a strange contraption, and was a few years before Peter Frampton used one on Show Me The Way. I can’t remember much of the set, but I’m pretty sure it contained Morning Dew, a new song called Black Cat Moan, Going Down, and an epic version of Keep Me Hanging On, which Bogert and Appice will have brought with them from Vanilla Fudge. After the gig we got the train back to Edinburgh, where we spent the night trying, and failing, to sleep on some pretty hard and uncomfortable benches, until it was time for the first train back to Newcastle on the Sunday morning.