More rare footage of IOW 1969 unearthed

I am indebted to photographer Chris Dorley-Brown for unearthing a video from the BBC archives proving (once again) how wonderfully objective Aunty Beeb really is. The scathing tone of this news item about the 1969 IOW festival may come as a surprise to some, but not to those of us who remember just how hostile the British establishment once was towards pop festivals. But it was this hostility which made the festivals of the time – Woodstock, IOW69 and 70 – so interesting and politically charged.
Chris is the grandson of the man my Dad knew as “DB”, who employed him as electrical contractor for the Island Industries Fair, indirectly leading to him becoming the contractor for the IOW festival.

69ers is on its way

69ers is now in production and should be ready for sale in about a month: I haven’t decided the exact launch date yet, but it will certainly be before Dylan’s 70th birthday as planned. The cover is shown here (click for larger image) and I’ll post details of where the book may be purchased shortly.

30 years since Lennon’s death: another IOW veteran

Today marks the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. It’s worth mentioning in passing that Lennon was also at Woodside Bay in August 1969, sitting on one of those wooden chairs in the VIP area as his friend Dylan took the stage. Rumour had it that the Beatles might actually be up there with Bob (Dylan mischeivously stoked that expectation).

Here is the opening passage of 69ers, which also features JL:

“Standing in the dock at Southampton,
Tryin’ to get to Holland or France,
The man in the mac said, you got to go back,
You know, they didn’t even give us a chance”

The Ballad of John and Yoko was widely derided as the worst Beatles single to date, but Scott liked it. Not only did it feature two misunderstood outsiders against the system, but it also namechecked Scott’s home town, unaccountably overlooked by composers despite its evident charisma as Britain’s greatest passenger port, the city of Spitfires, first and only port of call of the Titanic, original departure point of the Pilgrim Fathers and unwitting harbour of the Black Death.
Yes, Southampton had a lot to answer for, besides the scowling handsome boy at Scott’s side whose Dansette tinnily blared the Beatles’ recent charttopper. Gerry was still fuming at Scott’s idiocy, buying an old-fashioned canvas tent from the Army and Navy which weighed so much that Gerry was forced to carry both the haversacks, also canvas, frameless, and themselves backbreaking, all the more so because of the Philips EL3302 cassette tape recorder within, the key to Gerry’s future, one of sufficient wealth and fame to net the girls of his frequent wet dreams.
Not that Scott saw it like that. He was merely concerned with posterity and spreading the messages which would surely change the world, just as the target of their flimsy microphone had predicted.
Meanwhile the old world stubbornly held out, in the shape of an endless stream of Minis, Cortinas, Imps and Heralds cutting off the grammar school fugitives from the Red Funnel terminus and their ultimate destiny.

The senseless oppression of the Jesus-like Lennon at Southampton Docks was apparently caused by the fact he wanted to travel on the France ferry without a passport. His wait was finally ended by the arrival of a private jet.

69ers and Bob Dylan’s 70th

Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday is on May 24, 2011. With that in mind, I’ve made a radical decision: after 56 titles published by publishers large and small, I am going to self-publish. There are a couple of reasons for this, but the outstanding one is that publishers’ lists are planned so far in advance these days that I’d be lucky to see 69ers out before 2013. The whole process of self-publication, on the other hand, can take less than two months, i.e. in plenty of time for Bob’s birthday, when interest in the 20th century’s most celebrated singer-songwriter will undoubtedly be intense.

As I’ve had such a great response to this site, I’m keen to involve visitors with each stage of publication. For example, I’m currently designing a cover: I’ve enquired about the rights to Roger Jackson’s iconic image from the 1970 Isle of Wight festival. I don’t believe there is a better image to immediately alert potential readers to the content of the novel – maybe someone disagrees?

My initial plan is a print run of just 1000, with the aim of selling most of these online. That’s well short of the numbers my books usually sell, but as I have to pay for all the costs up front, and I am not a millionaire, I am erring on the side of caution. Again, I’m interested in everyone’s opinion, particularly that of writers who’ve taken the self-publication route.

I’ll also be honest about costs. In the spirit of 69 – or some of it – I don’t want to rip people off. I want them to read this book.

Island Industries Fair: dress rehearsal for the IOW Pop Festival

IF coverThe 1969 Isle of Wight Festival of Music was not the first large outdoor event with tents to take place on the island – every two years for ten years there had been an Island Industries Fair, held in 1969 at Ryde Airport. Both the standfitter/tent man for the IIF (Capt Bill Lewis) and the electrical contractor (Ken Blake) went on to do the same jobs for the Dylan fest.

I’ve been unable to find a single reference on the web for these shows, and am indebted to Chris Dorley-Brown, grandson of the IIF’s organiser, for sending me scans from the 1969 programme. The ‘Pop Festival’ is mentioned in a Red Funnel ad (see thumbnails); so is Captain Lewis, as I recall the oldest man in the UK to hold a pilot’s licence at the time. Bill Lewis brought (allegedly) the biggest marquee in the UK to the festival, which served as a disco and sleeping tent till hundreds scrambled onto it for a free view and it collapsed (see article about the site, below).

I have some home movies of Mountbatten at the IIF, taken on the same reel of Super 8 which shows Joe Cocker, the Who, Marsha Hunt and Free. Personally I found the latter names a lot more interesting.

One other boon of the IIF programme is that we now have a photo of the ill-fated Mark Woodnutt MP, first on the web!

If anyone else has any mementos of 1969, please let me know!


The man who got the festivals banned

Wooden head! on Flickr - Photo Sharing!Let’s hear it for Martin “Mark” Woodnutt, Tory MP for the IOW from 1959-74, fan of Enoch Powell, member of the far-right Monday Club, hanging enthusiast, and the man whose Isle of Wight County Council Act put an end to the first festivals and paved the way for further anti-festival legislation affecting the whole of the UK.

Sadly Mark got his hands a little dirty lining his pockets in the development of Bembridge Harbour and was summarily dumped by the island electors in 1974, dying before the end of the year.

By 2002, when festivals no longer had anything to do with undermining capitalism – quite the opposite – the IOW County Council voted to continue the tradition of large campsites, expensive refreshments and loud music. But you can bet there are still a few retired colonels and admirals hankering for the days when their champion smote the hippie menace.

nb the picture of Woodnutt above is merely an impression; mysteriously, no photos of the legendary MP exist in cyberspace.

Stop Press: till now!


Help Dylan sink the Isle of Wight. . .

. . .was the slogan of the 1969 Isle of Wight Pop Festival, the UK’s first great outdoor music festival, featuring Bob Dylan, The Band, The Who and Richie Havens.  I’ve created this site while researching and writing a novel about the festival.  I was there, wiring up lights as a 14-year-old, but I’m keen to hear from anyone else with a story to tell about the event – or from people who weren’t there but have some link to it.

I’m putting up weblinks to anything I can find about IOW 69, and I’ll discuss the progress of the novel, provisionally called “69”.

Jon Blake