In 1968, 69 && 70, there was a rock festival held at the end of August on the Is…

Written by on August 30, 2018

In 1968, 69 && 70, there was a rock festival held at the end of August on the Isla of Wight, in the UK. The festival on Aug. 31 && Sept.1,1968 drew about 15,000 people. It was 10 times larger on Aug. 30 && 31, 1969 when it drew over 150,000 people. In 1970, from Aug. 26 to Aug 30 (like Woodstock the summer before it did go into the morning hours of Monday the 31st) well the Guiness Book of Records said it was the largest rock festival ever held with between 6 && 700,000 people attending.

The original events were promoted and organised by the Foulk brothers (Ron, Ray and Bill Foulk) under the banner of their company Fiery Creations Limited. The venues were Ford Farm (near Godshill), Wootton and Afton Down (near Freshwater) respectively.

The 1969 event was notable for the appearance of Bob Dylan and the Band. This was Dylan's first paid performance since his motor cycle accident some three years earlier, and was held at a time when many still wondered if he would ever perform again. Followers from across the world trekked to the Isle of Wight for the performance. Estimates of 150,000–250,000 attended. The 1969 festival opened on Friday 29 August—eleven days after the close of Woodstock. Dylan was living in Woodstock, New York, at the time and it was widely believed that he would perform there, after the event had been "put in his own backyard". As it happened, Dylan left for the Isle of Wight on 15 August—the day the Woodstock festival began.

The 1970 event was by far the largest and most famous of these early festivals; indeed it was said at the time to be one of the largest human gatherings in the world, with estimates of over 600,000, surpassing the attendance at Woodstock. Included in the line-up of over fifty performers were Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, The Doors,The Who, Lighthouse, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake && Palmer, Joni Mitchell, The Moody Blues, Melanie, Donovan, Gilberto Gil, Free, Chicago, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Leonard Cohen, Jethro Tull, Taste and Tiny Tim. The unexpectedly high attendance levels in 1971, led to Parliament passing the "Isle of Wight Act" preventing gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special license.

The 1970 festival was filmed by a 35mm film crew under the direction of future Academy Award-winning director Murray Lerner who at that point had just directed the Academy Award-nominated documentary Festival of the Newport Folk Festival. The footage passed to Lerner in settlement of legal fees after a dispute with the Foulk brothers in which the two sides claimed against each for breach of contract. Lerner distilled material from the festival into the film Message to Love (released on video in the US as Message of Love: The Isle of Wight Festival: The Movie) released theatrically in 1996 and subsequently on DVD. In addition to this film, Lerner has created full-length films focused on performances by individual artists at the 1970 festival. To date there have been individual films of Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Emerson, Lake && Palmer, The Moody Blues, Free, Leonard Cohen and Jethro Tull.

The 1968 festival featured:
Jefferson Airplane.
Arthur Brown
The Move
Smile
Tyrannosaurus Rex
Plastic Penny
Fairport Convention
The Pretty Things

The 1969festival featured:
Main article: Isle of Wight Festival 1969
Bob Dylan
The Band
The Nice
The Pretty Things
Marsha Hunt
The Who
Third Ear Band
Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Fat Mattress
Joe Cocker

The 1970 festival featured:
Jimi Hendrix
Jethro Tull
Ten Years After
Chicago
The Doors
Lighthouse
The Who (their set produced a live album)
Emerson, Lake && Palmer
The Moody Blues
Joan Baez
Free
Joni Mitchell
Leonard Cohen
Kris Kristofferson
Donovan
John Sebastian
Terry Reid
Taste (w Rory Gallagher)
Miles Davis
Shawn Phillips.
Kris Kristofferson
Donovan
Heaven
Pentangle
Richie Havens: The musician who opened Woodstock closed this festival with a set during the morning of 31 August. As Havens performed his version of "Here Comes the Sun", a cloudy dawn broke after four days of cloudless sky, so he changed the lyrics to "Here Comes the Dawn".

In our humble opinion, the 1970 lineup may have produced the best festival ever.

So you know we're going to ask…. how many of you were at either of the 3 events? And of course we love to hear the stories…




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