Rocking All Over The Wight

I only attended the last and most anarchic of the three Isle of Wight Festivals in 1970. Arriving on the Friday afternoon the signs were there that many people keen on seeing the event without paying. I parked my chopped Fanny ‘B’ by a hedgerow and built a small bivouac using some plastic sheeting and secreted a change of clothes in the undergrowth. Unknown to me at the time, all this home building was to be a waste of time.

I did not return to the camp until sometime the following Monday afternoon. I passed through the ticket gate just as a Canadian band Cactus was coming on stage. This is the last point at which I have a totally clear memory of the events over the next five days. I know much of what happened but not when, and sometimes not where. I can remember bathing in the surf of Freshwater Bay with the sounds of Sly and the Family Stone drifting down from the cliffs. I remember getting into the reserved seating area in front of the stage as the Who started to play the whole of Tommy. I remember continually passing joint after joint down the line of people sitting on the chairs. (Yes I did inhale, a lot). I can remember being surprised at how short Jimmy Hendrix was and climbing up the speaker tower at the side of the stage to get a better look.

I can remember the river of piss that ran across the field from the men’s urinal that had been located on the higher ground to the south of the arena. I can remember getting so stoned I slept for two days and did not leave for home until the Wednesday. I remember the dirt, the mud, the lack of food, the fact I stank, but most of all I remember the music. Never have I been so close, so overwhelmed by the music.

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