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|THE HOLLYWOOD FESTIVAL.
May 23rd and 24th 1970.
Yes indeed -Mungo Jerry- perhaps the most unlikely overnight rock festival success story bar the IOW festival performance by Tiny Tim. But then again, on reflection, perhaps they were successful because they were so different from all the other bands.
Rock Island line
Dust Pneumonia Blues.
Music Now Review
What are your memories of the Hollywood Festival?
Mike Cole : It was quite a colossal bill, you know, a lot of big names on it. The Grateful Dead, Jose Feliciano, Ginger Baker's Airforce, Family and, obviously, we were a bit nervous, a bit tentative with that bill and there were about 40,000 people there in this field or fields and, er, we did the first number, I think we all must have been a bit nervous and then ... finished the first number and then something happened that was totally unexpected and that was that about 40,000 people stood up and started cheering and waving their hands. It was fantastic! It was probably better than scoring the winning goal in the Cup Final because it was so unexpected. I think that a lot of it was down to Ray Dorset and his stage presence and, I suppose, the rest of the band too, but the thing was that there was a lot of electric bands you know and, I think we went on after The Grateful Dead the first time. They were playing thirty minute numbers and Jerry Garcia's sort of ten minute guitar solo's, which is a bit... I mean he's not that great a guitar player that I can listen to him soloing for ten minutes. I always thought that their music was a bit self-indulgent. Anyway, we went on after all these bands, some of them good bands and some of them, er... We went on immediately after Grateful Dead and we were just a sort of skiffle group basically and I think they just loved that idea and the acoustic sound of it.
( Cole is incorrect here ,MJ came on after the Dead on the Sunday- their second performance of the weekend . Ironically , re Coles criticism's of the Dead , most of the members of the band used to play in a jug band very like Mungo Jerry called Mother McCrees' Uptown Jug Champions , also time really made its own judgement as to which of the two bands made a greater contribution to music and it sure wasn't Mungo Jerry, good as they were )
Mungo were so unusual, the instruments used etc.
Cole : That's right! I think they'd already had probably three, four, five, six hours of conventional rock groups with, sort of three guitars or what have you, so...
The second appearance was just the same, was it?
Cole: Yeah! We went down just as well... by that time, the record had been played and everyone around was sort of singing the tune and everything. But, I mean, it wasn't a fluke because Ray had been doing that before, it was just this time it was on a bigger scale, that's all.
What were the other band's reactions to Mungo Jerry?
Cole : Festivals like that, you don't really see that much of the other bands. You come in, you do your stuff, change in the caravan, drive away, or go back to your hotel. You don't really hang around too much. There's no real dressing room as such, I think there was a mobile caravan but we weren't big enough names to use it. I remember Ginger Baker came up in his Jensen Interceptor and he got out of his car and went straight into this caravan but only the "toffs" were allowed to use that.
The Hollywood festival, the best thing by a long, long way that Red Bus ever did for Mungo Jerry. They even got us in an early evening spot, when not only had it stopped raining but the sun came beaming across the horizon in silver shafts. We were also the first band to use the lights (it being dusk), and this has a galvanising effect at any all-day type show. During daylight the stage, visually, is just part of the landscape, but flood it with good lighting plus the sounds, and the performers come to life, like so many enchanted puppets. And what else are you gonna watch? We knew our music worked. We'd played plenty of small colleges, like Borough SE1, Brunel, etc. and large ones like Goldsmiths, Oxford University etc. and we were like any rent party band that our heroes belonged to. We were a part of the whole - that's all. But we knew our music. Hollywood was magical and I am proud to have been a part of something so heart-warming and good.
Hollywood festival menu
Many thanks go to Garry Marsh for his fantastic archival material which has enabled us to construct most of the site. Also to Martin Williams for his oral history and colour photo of the stage and site ,Simon Phillips for all the Grateful Dead archival material and Bob Colover for the film footage .
We have been endeavoring to collect audience or sbd tapes of the performances at this festival , so we can effectively review the performances, provide set lists and band line-ups. The intention is to also display as many personal histories of the festival as possible.
If you can contribute in any way, with tapes, reviews from the music press, photos or personal histories, please Contact us.