Written by someone who witnessed it, well he says he did….

Loris Valvona.

The author himself, acting the part – Loris Valvona.

In 1970 I was aged 20, and my formative teenage years had coincided nicely with the music and fashions of that magic decade of the 1960s.
In ’62 I wanted an Elvis quiff and “winkle picker” shoes. In ’64 I became a young mod with white jeans, deck plimsolls and a French Breton T-shirt, by ’66 I had my four button suit, Chelsea boots, button down shirt and knitted tie. Then came the summer of love, and along with most of my mates during ‘68 and ‘69 the hair and moustaches grew, and we all turned hippy! A really trendy shop in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, called “Oz” appeared, selling such things as velvet flares, granddad t-shirts, and joss sticks, as well as the underground magazines of the day. Other sources of clothes were the army surplus store and jumble sales. I remember navy greatcoats and ladies fur coats were quite the thing for a while!

All my spare money went on records, but choosing which to buy was agony!
I listened to folk, soul, reggae, blues as well as the mainstream pop and rock. Somehow it all seemed to fit, and every week there was something new.
In 1966 I remember hearing ‘Hey Joe’ for the first time and being amazed, it was like music from another planet, and ‘Stone Free’, the other side of the 45 was even more far out!

In the 60s, the Island was saturated with live music. Looking back now, I have to say we were well and truly spoilt with what was on offer every week.
Some of the first gigs I went to were at The Commodore Cinema in Ryde. During the summer of ‘64, there was a weekly Sunday night concert, featuring chart groups and up and coming acts. These kinds of shows toured all over Britain, and were known as “package tours”. Each artist got about 20 to 30 minutes, and any solo singers would be backed by one of the groups on the bill. I got to see people such as, Lulu, Dusty Springfield, The Animals, and The Yardbirds, and I still have the autographs to prove it!

I think the strangest line up was seeing the “Pretty Things” followed by Matt Monroe and his trio! Matt of course was the star, whilst the Pretty Things had only just got their first record out…

I must also mention the biggest Island gig of ‘64. Would you believe “The Rolling Stones” at Ryde Pavilion, (which is now the LA Bowl).
I had never seen anything like it; the whole esplanade was a mass of screaming kids, trying to get to their idols who were staying in the Castle Hotel.
There were two shows that day, and I was at the afternoon one. My abiding memory is the sheer volume of the screams, and the mass rush to the stage when our heroes finally appeared! I do remember they wore leather waistcoats, and looked pretty cool, and moody.

In those days, The TV was only black and white, nobody had a decent stereo system, and most teenagers listened to the music through tiny transistor radios. Therefore the impact of a live performance was really something exciting and special.
Soon many venues opened up. Local bands appeared everywhere, and I also had the chance to see “name” bands every week. This is just a sample of the groups who appeared in local island dance halls: The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Tyrannosaurus Rex, The Nice, Family, Amen Corner, The skatalites, and Ten Years After. Some of the more poppy groups I saw included The Tremeloes, Dave Dee, Dozy, Mick and Titch, The Herd, The Move, and The Fortunes. As well as the big acts, there were also a host of up and coming groups who played over here. I saw The Idle Race, with Jeff Lynne who went on to world stardom with ELO. I saw Episode 6, who evolved into Deep Purple, as well as Terry Reid, Zoot Money, Chris Farlowe and many, many more. No chance of being bored on a Saturday night when I was a teenager!

The legendary authors lost in time band ‘Monkton Mead’…

We had also had two pop festivals on this little island. The first in 1968 attracted around 10,000, and was a one day affair. The headliners were Jefferson Airplane, supported by Arthur Brown, The Move, Fairport Convention and so on. It hardly seems possible that a band such as The Airplane appeared in a field near Godshill, but I was there!

The second festival was at Wootton, and featured Bob Dylan and The Band. Other acts
included The Who, Tom Paxton, Joe Cocker, and The Bonzo Dog Band, This event was much, much bigger, over 150,000 this time! Again it is hard to believe that Bob Dylan played Wootton, but I was there!

A view of the proceedings – make the most of it these pics get worse!

Well after that, the organisers Fiery Creations promised an even bigger event for 1970, and they certainly kept their word…

As soon as tickets went on sale, my friends and I made sure we got ours. The cost for the weekend was £3.00. This was the equivalent to a third of my wages as an apprentice, or the cost of two record albums, so by today’s festival prices, that was a bargain.

Like millions of teenagers I had got myself a guitar and formed a group. By 1970 we were getting paid for our efforts, and believe it or not we had a booking on the Friday and Saturday of the festival, at a club in Ryde. As we were the resident band we couldn’t cancel, and besides we needed the money, so we intended to drive back to Ryde, play from 12 till 2am, and then race back to Freshwater!
The great thing about the festival site was the access. Parking was free in a massive field next door, and I remember it was easy to drive in and out anytime. I had a small van as my transport, and I put a mattress in the back for the weekend, not that I slept much of course.

My memory has become a bit confused with some of the details after all this time. I can’t even remember whether I first went to the site on Wednesday or Thursday for instance. However checking the list of artists, the only act I remember is Mighty Baby, which means I was there on Wednesday. I can’t remember seeing anybody on Thursday, I am now thinking that my band must have had a gig that night, as we did play at a holiday camp every Thursday, and I don’t remember cancelling any work.
At the moment there are now some great books available about the festival, so I won’t try and describe the whole thing. I am only writing about what I actually saw, or remember, which may not be the same thing anyway! For instance, I didn’t visit Compton Bay and join in with the naked bathers.
I don’t think most of us even knew about it until the newspapers made such a big story of it…then of course we were a little upset because we missed out!
Anyway on the Friday afternoon along with my mates I get into the arena, find a spot, lay the blankets out, and settle down in the hot sun. In those days no one was searching you as you went in, and there was no problem taking in your own food and drinks. The crowds in those days usually sat down during the performances, only jumping on their feet at the end to applaud. It was altogether more civilised and laid back than a modern event. A big difference to the modern festivals is that there was only one stage, and the whole crowd was always facing and concentrating on that one point. There were no big screens or such like, but the sound was so clear and loud, it filled every corner of the site. Also there was a compere, one Riky Farr, who always, had plenty to say between acts! Together with the DJ Jeff Dexter, he gave some sort of cohesion to the whole thing. Love him or hate him, he had a knack of judging the mood of the crowd and on occasions defused some really awkward situations.

Can you believe he only took ten photos!

The first band on were Fairfield Parlour. Using the name, I Luv Wight, they had recorded what was supposed to have been the Festival theme song, a track called “Let The World Wash In”. By all accounts this record got about half way through before Ricky Farr decided it was rubbish, and threw it into the crowd! You can read the whole story in the excellent Bob Aylott book, “Six Days That Rocked The World”. There is a whole chapter on Fairfield Parlour, written by the lead singer, Peter Daltrey. Just to give their performance an extra edge, apparently there had been a threat by the I.R.A. to shoot the first band on stage!

I was really looking forward to seeing them, but I have to admit I don’t remember anything about their set. I must have been on the site, maybe we were still in the queue to get in or something, but I just can’t recall any details.

Later that year they played at the Clarendon in Shanklin, and I definitely remember that one!
The next act were called “Arrival”, they had a hit record that year and were more of a pop band. Nevertheless, they had a great vocal sound, and their music went down really well as we relaxed and soaked up the sun.
They were followed by “Lighthouse”, more of an orchestra than a band. The line up featured brass, strings, and keyboards, as well as the usual guitars and drums. I remember they went down a storm, but I can’t recall any specific details of the set.

After that it was back to basics, and “Taste” were introduced, the three piece rock and blues trio, led by Rory Gallagher. This band definitely got the crowd going, as can be seen on the “Message To Love” DVD. There is an album “Taste At The Isle of Wight“, which is well worth a listen, and it illustrates what excellent musicians they were.

It was now early evening, and my memory has got a bit of a gap. I think I saw Tony Joe White, or at least heard him. I had left the arena and was just wandering around and taking it all in. I noticed a large crowd watching a body painter in action. His subject was a topless young lady, which probably explained the interest…
I had a look at the “Phun City” tent. This has now become a kind of legend amongst old hippies, and was a kind of alternative “happening”. Over the weekend groups such as “Hawkwind” and “The Pink Fairies” played in there, and it was where the real freaks were hanging out…I don’t think to this day, that anyone knows just who played , or who was in there even. By all accounts it just kind of happened…man!
The toilet facilities on site were crude but effective. Massive enclosures with very deep trenches, and rows of cubicles. There were also plenty of fresh water stand pipes.
I can’t talk about the festival without mentioning drugs. Sure there was a lot available, but believe me, apart from the odd joint, most of us didn’t touch them. Outside the arena the police were making arrests here and there, but I think they were daunted by the numbers involved. If any trouble had escalated, the police would have been overwhelmed.
Inside the arena drugs were openly bought and sold. I have one memory of a real scraggy long haired guy, walking around with a handwritten sign hanging round his neck with “Acid” written on it! He was also shouting, “Get your acid here!” The St Johns ambulance were kept very busy, and there were many having bad “trips”. That was one 60’s experience I could do without…

Soon it was time for me and my fellow band mates to leave to get to our own gig, as I mentioned earlier. We were playing at a club in Ryde called Brook House, now converted into flats. Our band used to start about 11.30 and finish at 2am. Needless to say we were on the dot that night! The strange thing is the club was very busy, most of the audience were slightly older anyway, and most of them were not interested in actually attending the festival.
We raced back to Freshwater, and caught the last few notes of something, I later found out it was Cactus. I also realised I had missed one of my favourites, Family, as well as Procul Harum and Chicago. Still there was plenty to come, and I had earned £4 by playing, so the weekend was off to a great start!
I got a bit of sleep that night in the back of my van, but woke up very early and very cold. I have never ceased to be amazed just how cold it was sleeping in a tin box in August. I would hate to try it in the winter! Anyway, the hot morning sun soon warmed me up, and the whole site began stirring. To avoid the queues at the washing facilities, we had the brainwave of driving into Totland to use the Public toilets. We just jumped in the van and drove off the site. As I said before, it was so easy to come and go as you pleased. No barriers or people in yellow jackets anywhere to be seen!

Well you can just make out something……..

During Saturday, I wandered around and made it up to the hill. Looking down across the whole site is something that has stayed in my mind forever.
It was like a Hollywood epic with half a million extras. It was a scene reminding me of a vast medieval encampment, with the tents and banners, smoke from campfires, and dogs and children running around.
I found the area where an attack had been made on the fence, and there had been some confrontations between security and a mob trying to break in.
Everyone seemed to be blaming the trouble on the French anarchists, who most of us thought should just f**k off back to France if they didn’t want to pay! The irony was that you could sit on the hill and hear it all anyway, along with a panoramic view of the whole thing. Even if you had a ticket to the arena, you couldn’t really see the stage, unless you managed to get up close.
This became impossible as the weekend wore on as the organisers gave up trying to clear the arena, so people at the front virtually camped there for the duration.

The music was supposed to start at 12noon on the Saturday, but I think it was about 2pm, before John Sebastian came on stage. It later transpired that he was the only artist ready to go, and he held the fort for two hours! At one point he was joined by his old partner Zal Yanovsky from the Lovin Spoonful, who happened to be in the audience. The crowd loved it, he could have played all day and night and no one would have minded. “What A Day For A Daydream”, never sounded better, than on that August Bank Holiday, 40 years ago!
The next artist I remember on that Saturday was the incredible Joni Mitchell. Accompanying herself on guitar or piano, she was world class. During her set, some weirdo got on stage and tried to talk to her. He was hustled away, but Joni was visibly upset. However she carried on after giving a little speech to the audience, and the mood became relaxed again. I was in the arena during her set, but a long way back. I could just make out that she was the matchstick size figure in yellow. However I could hear her perfectly, the sound was powerful and clear.
Despite the advances in technology, I personally don’t think the sound at todays events is any better….in some cases it seems worse.

Next up was a real off the wall artist, a singer called Tiny Tim. Now we are talking really eccentric! He specialised in singing 20’s and 30’s vaudeville songs, often in a falsetto voice and using a megaphone. His biggest record was a version of “Tiptoe Through The Tulips”, he also covered the Sonny and Cher hit, “I Got You Babe”, doing both voices of course….For anyone who has never seen or heard of him, just check it out, you probably won’t believe it!
Booking him could have turned out to be a stroke of genius, or a disaster…
He was backed on piano and drums by two local musicians, who of course had no rehearsal before facing the biggest audience of their lives! As it turned out he was a great hit with the crowd, the afternoon turned into a mass feel good sing along.
He sang a few rock and roll favourites, before finishing with “There’ll always Be An England”. A priceless moment in time, and for me some sort of illustration of the attitude in those days; Jimi Hendrix on the same bill as Tiny Tim, why not?…indeed why not!
As the evening went on, Mile Davis was on stage. Another inspired booking as it turned out. Personally this is an artist who I have appreciated more and more as the years roll on. Miles was a legendary jazz improviser, always pushing the boundaries of music. One of the pieces they played was just made up on the night. When asked the title for the film that was being shot, Miles said, “Call It Anything!”
Ten Years After, the English rock and blues band, then came on to great reception. Over the last few years they had steadily built a reputation slogging around Britain and the USA. After a blistering appearance at Woodstock they had become huge, and Alvin Lee on guitar was right up there with Clapton and Beck one of our finest blues guitarists.
They did not disappoint, another great festival performance.

During their set, I had to leave the site and head back to Ryde for my own gig at Brook House, just as I did on the Friday. It was a pain to have to leave, but I had already seen TYA, a year of so earlier at The Manor House in Lake.
This is another venue long gone of course, and I was a lot closer to the stage on that occasion! Anyway that night we played an even more inspired version of TYA’s “Love Like A Man”!

Bit of a rubbish Mexican wave….

After playing I again raced back to Freshwater, probably arriving at 3am. The Who were in full flow, and I sat outside to listen.
I was a bit annoyed to find out I had missed The Doors, as I was a big fan, but still I had earned £5 that night….and besides The Doors might be back next year or the year after……!
Thanks to e-bay, I have now got a bootleg CD of the Door’s performance, so I am even more upset about missing them!
The Who were fantastic, it is talked about as one of their best shows ever. They went on for 3 or 4 hours without flagging. I had seen them the year before at Wootton, but now they sounded even louder, heavier and tighter. They played stuff from Tommy, and a long rock and roll segment with Summertime Blues and Shakin All Over. The set ended with My Generation and The Magic Bus, it was now approaching dawn…
To follow the Who, a perfect antidote, singer songwriter Melanie. Another favourite of mine, I was a little in love with her of course, she was the ideal hippy chick, and she sang of love and peace, although her voice is surprisingly strong on some of her songs. Well I am ashamed to say I fell asleep at this point, another great regret.
Not only did I miss most of Melanie, but I slept through the final act of the night/day, the mighty “Sly and The Family Stone”. This band almost seemed to be a symbol of the 60’s. Comprised of black and white musicians, and male and female members, their music crossed over between rock, soul, blues, and funk.
As well songs like “Dance To The Music”, they expressed worthy sentiments in numbers such as “Everyday People”.
Unfortunately, by most accounts, the audience, like me, were too tired to react, or whip up much enthusiasm for things like “I Want to Take You Higher”; 6.30 am is not a good time for getting down, or up!
The sun burst through on Sunday morning for the last day of the festival. The site now resembled the council tip. Most people were looking a little worse for wear, and the effects of living rough for a week were beginning to show.
Some places were knee deep in coke tins and food wrappers. Once again we drove off to the public toilets at Totland, and by now there were kids sitting and laying by the road everywhere you went, along with the mountains of rubbish.
Freshwater itself was jammed with people; the local shops were sold out as fast as they could be restocked. Stalls had sprung up on every lay-by and patch of grass. As well selling food and drink, some enterprising people were printing souvenir t-shirts, completely unofficial course!
Although there were others on before him the first act I think I remember on Sunday was Kris Kristofferson …it gets confusing because he had already played on Wednesday. The film of the event has been edited to show some sort of crowd protest at his act, I really don’t recall any of that. Anyway I always liked “Me And Bobby McGee”, one of his most well known songs.

The first act I really honestly remember on Sunday afternoon were the excellent “Free”.
By now I was back in the arena, sitting on my blanket in the hot August sunshine. The weather really was fantastic.
Free really played well, and I thought they were superb. They are another band that has grown on me over the years. The footage of “Alright Now” was probably the first clip I ever saw of the festival, and I never tire of watching it. Everything is perfect, the solid drums, rock solid bass, screaming Gibson guitar (plugged straight into the Marshall amp, no pedals in sight!), and of course the soulful voice of Paul Rodgers.
Sometime during Sunday, Ricky Farr declared the festival to be free, not that it made much difference as the arena was full anyway; and for the hundreds of thousands on Afton down, it had been a free show all along!
Donovan was on next, I have to say for me he was a bit tedious. He seemed to play everything very slowly, and singing in some kind of weird breathless voice. He even gave us some overlong nursery rhymes. Later in the set he was joined by more musicians and rocked out a bit with some of his hits, which brought a good reaction.
Pentangle took to the stage after Donovan, but I have no real memory of their performance. I think I may have wandered off for refreshment at this point. It was now early evening and we had already had 7 hours or more of music.

I got back in to the arena for the “Moody Blues”, who really delivered the goods, a fantastic well received set. To hear “Nights in White Satin”, blasting out into the open air was something special. As with a lot of these bands, I had seen them in a local dance hall a year or so before. On that occasion, I got right up to the stage, no chance of that at Afton!
Well after the Moodies, could it get any better?
To many the answer to that would be yes. The performance of Jethro Tull took this festival up another gear. The extrovert Ian Anderson was in top form, his flute playing was awesome, and they now had the piano of Martin Barre in the line up. The mixture of rock, classical and woodwind produced a unique individual sound. Absolutely top class, as both entertainment and virtuoso musical prowess.
After the excitement of Jethro Tull came a long wait for the person regarded by most as the top of the bill. The one and only Jimi Hendrix, with the Experience. He was already being acclaimed as the greatest rock guitarist ever, and now 40 years later he still wears that crown. His place in history is assured. His image and music are a core part of the 60’s, and as long as there are electric guitars his fame will live on.
His performance has been much debated over the years. Initial reaction from critics was that it lacked something, and he was not in the mood, and having an off day. Now it is being championed as one of his finest hours, so you pay your money….
I thought it was brilliant at the time, and hearing it many years later, I have no reason to change my mind. He started with a version of ” God Save The Queen”, asking us “to stand up for your country, and if you don’t then f**k you!” This was followed by “Sgt Pepper” a Beatles cover.
I honestly don’t remember the order of the rest of his performance, but I was struck by the way he improvised, almost fighting with his guitar, literally wringing notes and feedback out of it! What a memory to have, and a great thing to be able to say,” I saw Jimi Hendrix on the Isle of Wight”.
Not that I could see much, but I could hear it loud and clear, that Watkins sound system certainly did the business!
Once Jimi had finished it was well past midnight, and the temperature really dropped, I was glad I had my blanket!
To follow Hendrix, something completely different, the amazing Joan Baez. She sang some Dylan songs, and some old folk tunes.
She did an a capella version of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, her voice carried loud and clear into the night air, another great moment which has stayed with me.
In between songs she talked about her husband who was in jail for protesting against the Viet-Nam war, and about her baby and all kinds of stuff. It was so intimate you could have been in a folk club, instead of sitting in a field with hundreds of thousands of other people.

Go Canada, must be Lenord Cohen fans….

We were now in the early hours of Monday morning, next on was another favourite of mine, the Canadian, Leonard Cohen. As with Joan Baez, the intimacy of the performance was amazing. His small backing band were perfect, and the sound of those gentle songs reached every part of the site. At one point he got everyone to light a match, and the sight of the whole of Afton down twinkling away was unforgettable. His performance is now available on a double LP, which as a vinyl junkie, I just had to have! It has a nice gatefold cover with some great images, and the recording quality is excellent.

Ritchie Havens closed the festival, and he gave a great performance.
Just as he greeted the dawn with “Here Comes The Sun”, it began to rain. However he still got a fantastic reception from those of us remaining, and I think he got a couple of encores.

Well that was it, like most people I had now been up for at least 24 hours, and over the whole weekend had only slept a few hours in total. Although tired, I do remember a feeling of euphoria, and almost disbelief that this giant festival had taken place on the Island.
That week I wrote a letter to Fiery Creations to thank them for putting on such an event, I wonder if anyone ever saw that letter?

All the roads home were filled with people and the queues at Ryde for the boat stretched back onto the esplanade. Somehow everyone got home, Southern Vectis and the ferry companies must have made a fortune. The boost to the island economy was enormous. My father used to run a taxi in the summer, and he always said it was the best weekend he had ever had. He didn’t get much sleep either during the festival! He told me the police were actually ordering all taxis to squeeze on board as many people as possible. He was most upset there was no event the following year…
Well as it turned out the establishment were determined to prevent any future festvals on that scale, and Parliament passed the “Isle of Wight Act”, which prohibited overnight gatherings of more than 5,000 people.
We had to wait many years for the film and some of the music to appear. Now that the material is available it is good to see that the performances were as brilliant as we all remembered them. Also with the wonder of “You-Tube” you can see most of the artists at the click of a mouse, something undreamed of forty years ago.
For a more detailed account, there is “Message To Love”, by local author Brian Hinton, this excellent book also gives details of the ’68 and ’69 events. This year has seen the publication of two new books, “The Last Great Event” by local photographer Chris Weston, and “The Isle of Wight Festival 1970- Six Days That Rocked The World”, by Bob Aylott.

The film by Murray Lerner, also called “Message To Love” was finally shown in 1995. It is available on DVD, and is worth having just for the sheer quality of the music. I think that the film placed a little too much emphasis on the negative events of the festival. I know the fence was attacked and there was some unrest in the crowd at times, but I would say the vast majority were there for the music, and to have a peaceful time.
As I said before, none of us could understand why paying £3 was such an issue, especially if you had already travelled to the island and probably paid more than that to get here.
By 1970 I was fully aware of the “counter culture”, and the undercurrent of hard core political stuff. There was talk of revolution, dropping out from society, and fighting the establishment.
I won’t try and go into all the politics of the time. I will only say, that looking back, the speed of change during that decade was breathtaking. Perhaps that is the thing that makes the sixties so different from other decades?
The hippy idea was fine in some respects. People were friendly and relaxed, and there was the feeling that perhaps the world could be changed through music. It sounds naïve now, but it was a moment in time when the youth of the world were actually focussed on the same things, and people were generally optimistic.
It is said that there were over 600.000 people concentrated around Freshwater on that August Bank Holiday…just think about that for a minute!
The vast majority were under 30 years old, the festival was really for young people, and there was a healthy generation gap back then. Sure my mum liked The Beatles, and most of the chart acts, but there was a whole underground scene that my parents were totally excluded from. The growing drug culture and sexual freedom totally drew the line between most parents and kids in those days.

To youngsters now, it probably seems impossible that such an event happened without computers or mobile phones, or that half a million people got to the Isle of Wight without “sat-nav” to guide them!
Anyway, the 1970 Isle of Wight festival seems to me to have brought the curtain down on that amazing decade. Never again would such a gathering be allowed, and never again would there be such a line-up of talent at one festival.
Within a few weeks Jimi Hendrix was gone, and Jim Morrison soon followed. Their deaths, with the drug overtones, showed the down side of the “counter culture” idea.
Even The Beatles broke up, and in an interview John Lennon put it as simply as anyone could, “The party’s over”………
………but what a party it was!


29 Responses to “This Is How I Remember It”

  1. Philip J Davies said

    Hi Loris

    Just read your amazing article and your experiences at the 1970 IOW festival……fantastic, I was glued to every word. I was there but cannot remember hardly anything at all now, save a few vague images which is a great shame and totally frustrating. Looking back how I wish I had scribbled even a few notes !!

    However your brilliant write up might refreshen my brain cells who knows. Thanks so much for talking the time to share this with everyone, an amazing recollection

    All the very best

    Philip (Harlech) NW Wales

    • domv said

      Thanks Philip for the comments, I passed them onto the writer. (Dominic Valona, Founder).

      “Glad you found my article so valuable Philip. Thank you for taking time to read through them. I hope it does this great event justice!
      I’m just glad that the Dominic badgered me to get these recollections done on paper (or screen). Thanks once again for the well wishes.”

      Loris Valvona

  2. John Mitchell said

    Hi Loris It was great to read your article. Brought back a flood of memories. I have felt somewhat guilty all these years of having been at the festival and remembering so little of all the acts. I had travelled up from Morroco, through Spain for the festival, with an american lady who I met along the way. I had a tent and we set up on the hill but also had tickets. I remember fighting our way to the front of the stage to get good photos with my new camera only to have her sit on and break off the tele lens. Chicago were belting out I’m a man. We wandered around the whole place and I can remember the naked swimming and the local bike gang marching down the beach and into the water fully clothed. I wasn’t feeling so good and was pretty grossed out by the huge communal toilet. After a terrible feverish night listening to the who I managed to find the medical tent. I was given some medicine and an hour or so of relative peace listening to Melanie so I guess it was early morning. On our return to London we met a young guy who invited us to stay with his mum who promptly diagnosed me with jaundicing hepatitis. She nursed me back to health. Thanks Mum. I guess I will sort out the photos I have stored and see if any are worth posting to he festival archive
    I also have memories of there being a sort of theme tune played between sets. I think it was an instrumental version of Saving Grace but I have never seen any mention of it. Apart from being sick It was a great festival and an exciting time for a young Aussie to be travelling.
    Thanks again for you story
    Cheers, Mitch, Bali

    • domv said

      Thanks John for sharing the memories.

      Loris informs me that the theme tune you so fondly remember was in fact ‘Amazing Grace’ by The Great Awakening. Thanks for visiting the site.

      Check out Facebook 1970 Isle of Wight Festival Veterans page, if you feel like sharing those photos John.!/groups/12629704356/


      Dominic Valvona (Founder/Editor)

  3. artmiller said

    Hi Loris, Glad that you at least got to see Fairfield Parlour at Herbie`s Clarendon Hotel.

    Enjoyed your piece. Or should that be: Enjoy your peace….?

    Peter Daltrey

  4. Peter Schwaiger said

    Hi Loris, thank you for your amazing article.It brought me back 42 years ago, when I was at this great festival in 1970. I hitchhiked from Munic to the Isle of Wight and I have a lot of memories of this event. Especially intensified by your impressive article now.
    Greetings from Germany

  5. alan fletcher said

    hi loris,
    What an inspired bit of writing, your memory must be sharp despite the “years”. As you say you-tube is a wonderful device, you can go back in time and be there whenever you feel like it.
    i don’t know if you remember any of us, we were apprentices at BHC at the time, we were alan fletcher & alan hunter and our mates chris parr & mick snudden. i remember you playing in a few bands on the i of w do you remember paul hunter? alans brother, he played keyboards in a band called Dream Machine with Mick Green on vocals and Tim Saul.
    Anyway enough of my rambling.
    The festival itself was an awesome event, we camped just behind the hedge at the bottom of the downs and survived on the pot of “Everlasting Stew” for the week, who thought at the time the festivals would come to such an abrupt end!! we thought they would go on forever!!
    i still attend the modern version at seaclose despite my age now and even stumbled across alan hunter in the crowd about four years ago.
    Here’s to many more years of good music.
    Best regards Alan.

    • Hi Alan, Ah BHC…good memories of those times for sure! Iam trying to place you and the others you mention. I definitely remember the Hunter Bros. I have seen Alan a few times over the years, and of course I remember Dream Machine with Mick Green. I used to see Mick around, but have not seen him for a few years now. As you say, we thought the festivals would go on forever……it is annoying to think of all the bands we could have seen before the event was revived…Anyway take care, all the best Loris

  6. aggy said

    i was there in 1970 it was great i remember evrything .

  7. How much time did it take u to write “This Is How I Remember It Monolith Cocktail Blog”?
    It includes a lot of really good material. Appreciate it ,Rachael

    • Loris Valvona said

      Hi Racheal,
      Once I started it only took a couple of hours, and then a bit of editing….I did use Brian Hintons book ‘Message To Love’, to check the running order of the acts….just to make sure I got my memories in the right order!

  8. Phil Truckel said

    What a great summary of what was such a massive part of our lives. I’m honored to have been part of it with you and thank you for documenting it so well. Thanks Loris

  9. graham blow said

    Fantastic write up Loris, really does give the reader a sense of the atmosphere of the time.

  10. Terry said

    Hi, thanks you saved me the bother of trying to negate all the bad stuff, for me 21 and my girlfriend 20 who drove down from Harrogate in my `56 Ford Pop with a couple of other ( forgotten guys in the back to share petrol ) it was 3 days and nights of pure innocent bliss, best of our lives…. too many superb memories to relate, ok, perhaps a couple.. walking thru (the?) main gate in the sun back in to the arena in the sunshine with my g/f, everyone ambling along l noticed the pretty young girl in front because she was painted all over, l then realised she was strolling along without a stitch on,just body paint exquisite ! ….nobody paying hardly any attention it was just normal, happy civilised days, and your comment about the rain, ( in my memory very light early Monday morning after all that music, just enough to refresh the face ! ) how perfectly timed, if l was a believer l would have said thank – you God, however,
    Oh and the other thing, when we finally made it back to my small neglected tent, we packed up and walked back following the crowds to the ferry, picking up cans of abandoned food from the top of a wall, stashed in my rucksack .
    We reached the dock and looked at the huge queues, There was a small open boat packed with people bobbing about with a Captain Pugwash type guy in the middle holding on to the wheel, a voice drifted thru` the air room for two more, he had already cast off ! l told Jean to jump she hesitated, l threw our rucksacks on to the passengers who caught them then pushed her of the side, she too was caught after which l leapt on board, scrambled over to the Cappy who said he was starving as he had been going back and forth for days, so l gave him my remaining packet of biscuits and paid the small fare,, picked up the battered car from etc etc..

    Great days, Thanks again

    P.S. and yes you are right, what was all the fuss about,£3 Christ man, even l could afford that, Anarchists ? bollocks, should`ve just enjoyed the music,weather and great location like the rest of of us (99%) did instead of giving the media a bit of blown out of all proportion sensationalism to feed to the killjoys at home, we saw none of it, what dick heads, ( Just had to get that of my chest after all these years).
    Don`t know where the tickets were bought, it was all arranged impromptu on Wed evening l think, having heard from a friend who saw Dylan in `69 we took our hols there and then. Must stop.

    Thanks again

    • domv said

      Why thank you graciously Terry for visiting and sharing your views. I’ll pass them onto the author.

      As you point out, interesting how these criticisms of the festival have been allowed to remain largely unchallenged.

      • Hi Terry, Thanks for your comments, your comments are spot on about the anarchists and all the negative stuff that followed that event. Everyone I have ever spoken to, says the same thing….It was a fantastic experience, and to be there was something to remember for the rest of your life!
        I love your story about the boat!
        Cheers, Loris

  11. Mandy said

    Off subject, I realise but just wanted to tell you that I used to go to Brook House in the early 70’s. My older sister and her husband used to go there and New Years Eve 1972 my mum let them take me . I had just turned 16. I loved going there and dancing all night. I remember your band, Monkton Mead, especially that you sang ‘Summer Time Blues’. I still associate that song with you. Great memories… (except, I can’t remember the DJ’s name. He used to sit up near the roof in the corner…..???)

    • Hi Mandy,
      Thanks for the comments about Brook House. I am afraid I can’t remember the DJ’s name either…..but you are right about him sitting above the stage! If you look on youtube, there are two Monktonmead songs with photos of those days…
      Regards, Loris

  12. Tony Cornell said

    Really enjoyed your intriguing article, Loris. Well written and I like the personal slant. Also I like your sober take on the event – there’s no exaggeration or romanticising – you just told it as it was. Thanks! I attended the festival, and heard a lot of the music, but didn’t happen to be at the site. I was selling ice creams from the Cornell family van on a verge towards Freshwater. Of course, you’ll remember the upsetting commercial conflict between family ice cream firms on the Island – in fact, I believe your family had a small part in sabotaging several of our vans, while it was my uncle, who contaminated a large batch of your family’s ice cream concentrate mix at one time! Anyway, water under the bridge. But I was wondering whether now you would consider writing an article on the little-known Isle of Wight Ice Cream Wars of the 1950/60s?

  13. Barry Smith said

    Here is the actual story about Miles Davis’ “Call It Anythin'”:

    Miles Davis’ IOW set was actually a string of numbers from his Bitches Brew era. It was recorded by Columbia Records, and in 1971, was included (in heavily edited form) as part of a triple LP set “The First Great Rock Festivals of the Seventies.” The producers of this album approached Miles, and asked what the Isle of Wight recording should be titled. Annoyed, Miles responded “Call it Anythin’!!” and so, that comment became the title of the track.

    You can find the triple LP in used record stores or on Ebay. Other artists included are Sly Stone, Cactus, David Bromberg, Jimi, Leonard Cohen, Procol Harum and Ten Years After. One record has recordings from the Atlanta Pop Festival: Mountain, Allman Brothers Band, Chambers Brothers, Poco and Johnny Winter.

  14. janettoms said

    A terrific, as it happens, personal account. Thanks.

  15. Dave W. said

    What a fantastic account of the festival! Thank you, Loris!
    I was way too young to attend the festival, unfortunately, but my cousin Keith and his wife Liz were lucky enough to be there.
    My family started going to the Island for our Summer holidays in 1972. I remember walking on Afton Down with my Dad and my Uncle Gerry, and there was still some bits and pieces of debris from the festival. I often wonder how long it took to clean the site up properly, and how long it took for the land to be ok to farm again.
    I’m heading to the Island next September and will take a long walk over the Down. I’ll think of you and all the other people who were lucky enough to have witnessed this, ‘the last great event’. Thank you again for sharing your memories of it with us.

    • Loris Valvona said

      Thanks Dave, glad you enjoyed my little effort…I only did it after my son Dominic, who runs this site, talked me into getting it down, while I still could remember some details!

  16. Mrs Jane Murrell said

    I remember the guy shouting ‘Hungarian Goulash, last portions’, everytime you walked by on the way up the hill, therefore they couldn’t have been! Also the wild dancing to the mind blowing Pink Fairies in the dust outside Canvas City, and a strange character in black offering everyone cigarettes. Such a free and easy atmosphere, hard to find nowadays.

  17. martyn fallace said

    Hi Loris,
    lovely personal account of the festival….and love the Monkton Mead band name…you should have gone on to take over the world! You mention remembering Mighty Baby, is that a photo you took of them on stage. Do you remember anything of them, well received or otherwise. I am in the process of getting their footage released from the Verner Est for non commercial use…its the only known footage of the band that is known to still exist…so any recollections you may have would be good to know of.
    Best wishes

    • loris valvona said

      Hi Martyn, thanks for your kind words about my article…and yes Monkton Mead should have achieved world domination!
      As regards Mighty Baby, I really can’t remember much about them, except for the fact they did some long songs…. According to Ray Foulk they were the last act on Wednesday, and my photo is daytime, so probably not M.B…. Judas Jump perhaps?
      It is definitely taken on the Wednesday or Thursday of the festival, before the arena filled up, and getting near the front was impossible on Friday, Sat and Sunday.
      .Sorry I can’t give you much information. As it happens Mighty Baby reflected the whirlwind changes that many of us went through in the 60’s….mods (The Action) to hippies in a few years!
      Anyway, all the best with your project, be great to see that footage…
      Regards, Loris

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