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.
Archive for the ‘Nazareth’ Category
The Reading Festival 1972
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?
Looking back through my ticket stubs, I realise how much I liked Nazareth in the 70s and into the 80s. They released a series of great records throughout that period; their albums from Razamanaz onward are all strong. I recall buying Razamanaz and then hunting out their earlier lps Nazareth and Exercises. Their hit singles: Broken Down Angel, Bad Bad Boy, and covers such as This Flight Tonight, My White Bicycle and Love Hurts are all classics of the time. And their live shows were always fun. Dan McCafferty growling his way through the set, Manny Charlton playing great guitar, particularly his slide guitar on Vigilante Man (much missed from the set today), Pete Agnew bouncing about smiling away on his bass, and Darrel Sweet thumping away at the back. By the late 70s Nazareth had been joined by Zal Cleminson on second guitar. Although it was great to see Zal as part of the line-up I could never quite figure why the added him. They were both excellent guitarists, but in my view the Nazareth set up never really exploited the twin guitars in the way Thin Lizzy or Wishbone Ash did. The alliance with Zal only lasted a couple of years, and by the time Nazareth came to Newcastle City Hall in 1981, Billy Rankin was filling the second guitar slot. I lost touch with Nazareth after the early 1980s, and didn’t return to them for some 20 years. In 2004 I saw a Nazareth gig advertised at Newcastle Arena. At the time the Arena ran a few smaller rock gigs in the foyer of the cavernous venue, and Nazareth was one of those gigs. Support came from the Swedish band Diamond Dogs who were very Faces like, and pretty damn good actually. That night my interest in Nazareth was renewed. I’ve seen them a couple of times since, and hope to continue doing so for some time. Its great that these guys are still rocking, and showing no signs of stopping. Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew keep the Nazareth brand going, and must enjoy it; long may they do so. There are increasingly fewer and fewer of our classic rock bands from the 60s and 70s treading the boards, we need to appreciate those that are, while we can.
Great gig by Nazareth at Newcastle Academy last night. Went along with my mate Norm to see our ageing rocker heroes. The gig was in the smaller Academy 2, and it was packed. Great to see the band in a small intimate venue. Dan McCafetty’s voice is amazing, as strong as ever. He growled his way through the gig, just as he did all those years ago. And Pete Agnew bounced around with a wry smile on his face. The set was a mix of favourites: This Flight Tonight, Bad Bad Bay, Love Hurts, Razamanaz, and newer songs including a few from their new album. They finished with (of course) Broken Down Angel. Setlist (something like): Silver Dollar Forger; Big Dogz Gonna Howl; This Month’s Messiah; Sunshine; Turn On Your Receiver; See Me; My White Bicycle; Radio; When Jesus Comes To Save The World Again; This Flight Tonight; Bad Bad Boy; Whisky Drinkin’ Woman; Changin’ Times; Hair Of The Dog. Encore: Enough Love (with guest rappers – SHY & DRS); Razamanaz; Love Hurts; Broken Down Angel. During the first encore the guys brought on a couple of young Scottish rappers (caleed SHY & DRS) to sing along. A bit incongruos, but fun and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. Support came from Bowden and Williamson who delivered a set of raw rythm and blues.
My first Nazareth encounter was at the Lincoln Great Western Festival in 1972. They came on early on the Saturday morning to a crowd just waking up. At that time they had just released their second album Exercises. I can’t remember a lot about their set that day, except that they seemed good and played a great version of Morning Dew. I must have seen them at least five times in 1973. They played Sunderland Locarno, when Broken Down Angel was in the charts. Razamanaz, an excellent lp, had just been released. Support came from Robin Trower, making it a pretty strong double bill. The programme to the right comes from that night; I think it was given away free at the gig. They were so good that night a few of us went to see them a couple of weeks later at Newcastle Mayfair on the same tour. I also saw them supporting Deep Purple at the City Hall around the same time. Later on in the year they were headlining their own tour of concert halls, with The Heavy Metal Kids support. I saw them at Newcastle City Hall on the tour. My ticket (6op!) and programme are here and below. By now Bad Bad Boy had also hit the charts, and the album Loud and Proud had been released. The band was really hot at the time. The set list featured Razamanaz, Alacatraz, Morning Dew, Vigilante Man (with great slide from Manny Charlton), Woke Up this Morning, This Flight Tonight, Bad Bad Boy and Broken Down Angel.I also saw them at the notorious 1973 Buxton festival, where it rained all day and the Hells Angel took control of the festival. The Angels were driving through the crowd on their bikes, and took to the stage while the bands were on. Highlights of the day were Alex Harvey, who jumped into the crowd to stop the Angels fighting, and Nazareth, with Dan McCafferty facing up to the angels, who came on stage and sand along with him. Pretty scary stuff at the time. I was to see Nazareth many more times through the rest of the 70s. They were always great; I never once saw them put on a poor show. I am focussing on Nazareth memories this week, as I’m going to see them again tonight at Newcastle Academy with my mate Norm. Can’t wait. More on Naz later.