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Last updated Dec 2013-

info regarding new commemorative box set of the festival


 
    My Bath.
 Friday
      We went to Bath to make money and have fun as a sideline, but it turned out we had more fun than profit , which was a good thing . At the time we were students at Art college and pretty strapped for cash, Rob Reen and I spent a few weeks designing and printing screen prints of some of our fave artists of the time, such as The Doors, Zappa, Dylan , Beefheart , etc. We also did a lot of Zeppelin posters. Not because we particularly liked them, but because we knew we could sell them . We must have had 200 posters by the time we'd finished , about half of them Zeppelin, and even though I say so myself , they were good prints, with nice colour blends, so each one was different. At 50p they were good value. 

       So we hitched down to Shepton Mallet , weighed down by these bloody great folders  and it was raining . Absolutely throwing it down. I think we got there on the Friday night, as I don't remember it raining quite so hard during the Saturday performances ( late Sunday night was another matter). We had been sensible, since we needed to protect the folders of posters we had invested in a huge sheet of black plastic which we now draped over us and the artwork. But this wasn't really enough, the sky had opened, it was a sheet of rain. We were still getting wet! But Lo! Fortune smiled on us in the form of a gaggle of tar papered sheds which were part of the show grounds. We raced to them and huddled under the eaves, joining several hundred other freaks all trying desperately to keep dry. 

        The problem was , the sheds had no gutters. So although they DID give some protection on one side at least ,they also tended to sluice the water from the roof down on our heads. This was where we thanked the patron saint of hippies for our black plastic , we maintained relative dryness by hoisting the sheet over our heads and keeping ourselves and a few other folks dry. Not so for some of the others. I remember seeing a group of long hairs in thin cheesecloth clothing holding a piece of sacking over their heads and the water from the roof just sluicing straight through , it might just as well not have been there. They really didn't seem to mind, judging by the big grins on their faces.

        It was a good atmosphere, people making the best of it. We must have stayed there for an hour or so and then the rain eased off.  Some folks just danced in the rain and others came perilously close to falling onto the large circular cess pit that was nearby . Why this was there I never found out , but it  was rumoured that someone had fallen into it during the night, which would have not have surprised me one bit given the weather conditions and the physical conditon of some the festival goers. 

Saturday. 
      The next day was relatively fine in comparison with the night before. We got ourselves pretty close to the front and had fun watching a procession of good bands, the usual British festival stalwarts such as Keef Hartley , with brass section, then Colosseum ,who blew up a storm with their  jazz rock flavoured stuff .  Dick Heckstall Smith, the famed ex Graham Bond and John Mayall band sax player , was still a member in those days and Jon Hiseman was as usual, a monster on the drums.- he gave a fabulous drum solo, not boring in the least !. 

   Fairport Convention arrived with an escort of Hells Angels , I remember the Angels making a path forcibly  through the crowd with their bikes , mostly British -Nortons ,Triumphs, Ariels and Panthers, - not many Harleys -which was definitely NOT a real crowd pleaser. The Angels  were around hippie events in those days, seen as a part of the counter culture, although they were never anything more than fellow travellers who happened to like the same drugs as the hippies did. Still they were relatively harmless compared to their US counterparts. 

   Fairport went down well , with the line up including the formidable duo messr's Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick on guitar and violin respectively .Their up tempo folk rock , played at utterly breakneck speed in those days, they were just the thing needed in the fairly cool weather. They played a lot of jigs and reels and made us feel more warm than we really were in actuality. 

Richard Thompson  1970.
        It remained fine for most of the afternoon, and some sun even graced the set of Its A Beautiful Day - headed by David and Linda La Flamme .Violins were in much evidence on Saturday afternoon as David Laflamme jammed it up on most of the tracks from their current album -with Bulgaria being a highlight .They were a good band , and a good choice to have on at this part of the day , although now I tend to feel that their music has not weathered the test of time as well as many other bands of the era.

    Steppenwolf were such a kick ass band in those days and much loved by many for their crucial contribution to the music from the soundtrack of Easy Rider. They blew up a real storm and we were up and dancing, with the weather still acting well behaved for the moment . John Kay was all decked up in his leather pants and the Hell's Angels were loving every minute of it.

    For some reason we then missed all the other bands on Saturday/Sunday Am , probably because of the fact that there were horrendous delays. So no Johnny Winter, Floyd , Mayall or Canned Heat. All of whom played great sets. Hell, Pete Green was part of the Mayall lineup ! What idiots we were !

    Our excuse was that we were worn out after sleeping out overnight and lugging the damned folders around , so we decided to sell as many of the posters as we could the next day. Off we went to the large film tents , to bed down with a movie and to eat our tins of creamed rice and packs of jelly. Yes that's what we brought with us, don't ask me why , but it was probably more nutritious than the bloody awful hot-dogs and this way we avoided the huge queues at the food stands. In the tent we saw King Kong and a number of other B movies, great stuff ! We also managed to catch some sleep and let some warmth percolate into our bones. After all there were still some of the best acts to come on Sunday -Tuna, Zappa, Flock, Santana, Byrds, Dr John  and The Airplane .

Sunday.

     We sold posters for hours whilst Donovan was on-stage doing his freebee concert and we got an earful of Zappa and Santana as well, but at a cost. . We must have been about 50 yards away, enough to get a feel of the acts but not near enough to really get off on them , even though both delivered top notch sets. .It was damn cold the Sunday afternoon, very windy .The sound was being blown around in great snatches .We spread out our posters near a major aisle in the middle of the crowd and we fairly rapidly sold all our Zep posters to the hordes of Zep fans who streamed into the site to see the famed cock rockers strut their stuff, but we had a few Dylan, Airplane and Zappa posters left over by the time we decided to look up the velvet trousered ones on-stage.I suppose we probably managed to pay for our tickets and the screen inks from the sales with a few quid over , no huge profit. 

    Because we were sellng posters I can only remember snatches of the Mothers and Santana sets. Both were really good, as the tapes confirm and both bands mention just how cold it was up on the raised stage.Brass monkey conditions in June  - typical British weather ! 

    Whatever, it was a very solid days  line up, with the Flock racing through some great tunes from their album . A band that has almost been forgotten. They wrote some good songs and were a fantastic live act ,powered along by their brass section and future Mahavishnu Orchestra luminary Jerry Goodman.  One really doesn't see brass sections much anymore in rock bands , but it was very much in vogue in the early 70ís and this one fairly propelled the band along energetically .

    We infiltrated down closer for Zeppelin , I had an open mind about their music before I saw them , as I liked their classic BBCradio broadcast of the first album , had it on tape for years .But neither of us were particularly impressed by their set.  The audience went bananas over Zep and we were definitely in the minority in being underwhelmed by their endless solos and rock medleys.Overall, whilst initially being tolerable , I just felt that they went on for too long and that ( with the possible exception of Page ) none of them were class enough musicians to carry off the long solos. Robert Plant has a great voice, but seeing him getting into his pouting stage persona puts me off , I'm not a lover of rock gods and Plant was just too preening and affected for my taste. In my opinion, they were good, but not great. 

    The rains came late on, after Hot Tunas great set. We were pretty near the front for Zeppelin, I can close my eyes and see a picture of Robert Plant from about 10 metres away , but when they were finished a lot of the crowd left and we were able to get very close for Tuna, which was one of the main reasons that we were there. We were huge Airplane freaks in those days and I'd been listening to the first Tuna album a lot , and  I was expecting an acoustic duo , so it was bit of a surprise when they came out as a four piece. They really rocked ! Total experience , complete with dancing nudes who must have frozen off their asses and been totally mortified about the fact that they were projected onto the TV screens so the entire crowd could see their goose pimples as well as their naughty  bits. 

    Poor old Country Joe McDonald had to come on after that and keep us entertained as it began to pour down. Out came the black plastic yet again! Joe gave a very good performance and he delivered the Fish cheer and some other great numbers . But we were  champing at the bit .Where were The Airplane, we wanted to see Grace ! Finally they took to the stage and although the sound wasn't that good , they were playing really well and they were giving us stuff like Rock me Baby  and the Ballad of You and Me and Pooniel. Then all of a sudden they stop and leave the stage , oh fuck, rained off !.

    They only played 50 minutes. Kantner got a shock off the mic and that was that .Drat !, only time I ever saw them and a short set. Just my luck . 

    But there was compensation,,,, the BYRDS, -who had apparently played an awful amplified set the night before at Kralingen - came on to cheers from the crowd, brandishing acoustic guitars and sitting way back on-stage to avoid the rain , which was still coming down in sheets and being blown on-stage by the wind to boot . The Byrds played for ever it seemed , with so many encores , the audience would just  not let them go. Listening to the tape after all these years , its every bit as good as I remembered it being .... they played many  of their great songs -Mr Tamborine Man, Do You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star,with fabulous jams on Eight Miles High . McGuinn told us that it was the first time ever they played acoustic for a whole concert, - big cheers from the crowd!. Finally they were so tired that they left, they'd played for nearly two and a half hours and it was nearly dawn.

    That's all I remember, we must have missed Dr John, or I've forgotten him , which I'm surprised as I was a big fan, but after 12 hours or more in a wet field huddled up in plastic , I expect the tents were too inviting. It had been an incredibly tiring weekend  ,but well worth it for Tuna and the Byrds alone , let alone Fairport, Steppenwolf, Flock, IAB Day and Zappa- what a line up!.

    Its an experience I've treasured for decades.

    Which is why I've built this site. 
 

 

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Ross Mortimore's streaming Quicktime movie of the crowd features clear images of the stage PA , Colosseum onstage and bikers with Canned Heat at Bath as a soundtrack provided courtesy of Bob C .

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To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Bath Festival we have brought out a special commemorative set. Anyone interested can view it on http://www.rockmusic-offer.co.uk/

A limited edition of reprints of the 1969 and 1970 Bath festival posters and Freddie Bannisters books on the Bath ,Lincoln 71 and Knebworth festivals can be bought online from the link below :
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