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Last update June 2021
The Knebworth Park Festivals.
The view from the dust.
The Stage © Glen Showler
Recollections of festival attendees .
The pilgrimage to the site.....
© Roger Pickering
I was having a good look through your superb site and it brought back memories of some of the great bands of the early 70's. My first big outdoor concert was Knebworth 1976. I was 18 at the time and my older sister knew someone in the business who got us some tickets. I remember arriving at the local railway station and getting a bus to the site along with thousands of others. If memory serves me right there were long queues to get in and we found somewhere to sit during Hot Tuna's set. I don't remember too much about them apart from some interesting soloing. The weather was really warm and most people just sat in the sunshine, smoking and drinking.
I was a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd at the time and when they came on I made my way right to the front and sat with some guys about 10 rows back from the stage. I remember Lynyrd Skynyrd being really good, the sound was excellent at the front and they seemed to be having a great time. The Freebird just blew me away! I'd seen 10CC the previous year and they were quite good, but they really blew it by starting with a quiet song (Don't hang up?) which nobody towards the back could hear, and there was quite a bit of booing. They soon played some more lively numbers but never really overcame the sound problems.
Lynyrd Skynyrd Onstage -
Image courtesy F Bannister taken from" Spirit of Knebworth" video
After a long wait the Stones came on and played a pretty good show, but once again those at the back could not hear very well and the video screens were out of sync with the music. Still most people seemed to be having a good time from what I remember.
One of our most prolific contributors, Garry Bodenham, was also there ...
|Knebworth had established itself as a slick mainstream one-day venue by 1976, and the Stones gig was no exception. The sun shone as it had all summer, and the crowd basked in the natural amphitheatre listening to the support acts, none of which - apart from Todd Rundgren, I have the slightest recollection of. (Er, Hot Tuna?) In search of more mind-altering input I was successful only in stumbling out of the site and into the local pub, where Mike and myself drank many pints in a camel-like attempt to fortify ourselves for the evening ahead. We realised the folly of this when an hour later we found ourselves in a good spot near the stage but with about 80,000 folk between us and the toilets. Fortunately we had a couple of empty wine bottles which were put to use....(very tricky).|
A party atmosphere built up before the Stones, enhanced by a couple of nice girls next to us, one of whom was being very friendly to me. Yes folks, here I was a few yards away from the best rock and roll band in the world, alcohol in my veins and a beautiful girl making eyes at me. Heaven! Most of the rest of the set was accompanied by mad dancing and passionate snogging, so I could not really say what Mick and the boys were like - but we enjoyed them.
As the evening drew to a close, my new friend revealed that her old man was down at the front, so we said our goodbyes and never saw each other again. Well, it was like that in those days.
15 at the time and it was my first concert. What a way to start ? I left
Bodmin, Cornwall with my brother and a friend of his the previous night,
picking up a couple of hitchhikers along the way. It took us about an hour
and a half to make our way in through the gates and suddenly I was confronted
with the spectacle of thousands of people sitting down in the glorious summer
sunshine. There was a thin line of people snaking their way to the centre.
People were huddled on the ground right across the very cramped, huge arena. Clouds of dope smoke permeated the air and flagons of cider, bottles and cans of beer and wine were being passed around in all directions. Unfortunately, these were occasionally being used as incentives for people who were blocking the view of the stage to sit down. I saw a couple of people getting smashed in the face, including one unfortunate bloke who was perched in a tree with his girlfriend - not much that he could do in the circumstances.
I sat down just behind and to one side of a large oak tree and suddenly realised that I was in dire need of the toilet, which was about 20 feet to my right. Every time I stood up to go, I was pelted with flying beer cans, so after several attempts, I gave up. Somehow, I managed to hold out until 1.30 or so, when the Stones finally left the stage.
Hot Tuna were playing by the time we entered and found a
place to park ourselves, having heard the Don Harrison Band from outside. Jack
Cassidy was brandishing a huge Flying - Vee type bass. One song that really
stood out in my mind was "Rock Me Baby".
Next up ( I believe ) was Todd Rundgren's Utopia who delivered a storming set with Mr . Rundgren playing some fine guitar soloes.
Shortly after this, one of our new aquaintances ( a very sexy girl whose name I have long since forgotten) asked me if I knew "Freebird". I hadn't at the time, but Lynrd Skynrd's later performance of this rock classic has been firmly embedded in my recollections of '70's rock since then. They were brilliant - loud throbbing bass and of course the triumverate of wailing guitars and the audience were very receptive.
By this time, the sun was starting to go down and the heat and haze of the day was beginning to fade. Ten C.C. came on, but didn't really leave much of an impression - at the time, I thought that they were just a light weight pop band, but I do remember that this idea was dispelled to some degree as they rocked on some numbers.
tension of the massive throngs in anticipation of The Stones was building
up and for some reason, their appearance was delayed by about one and
a half hours ( or so it seemed ). Hot Gossip, the foxy dance troupe from
the Kenny Everett show put on a bit of a distraction from the wait and
finaly the best rock band in the world at the time hit the stage to a
10CC Knebworth 76
As it was my first concert ever, I remember many things about the day. Later, I went to quite a few festivals, but Knebworth 1976 remains my all time favourite.
18 when I went to the festival. A bunch of us travelled down the night before
from Dagenham, we had a spare ticket to sell and found a kinda official
camper van on site in the middle of cars and tents. They told us they weren't
buying back any spares as the organisers had printed a load more tickets
when the original lot sold out. Judging by the thousands of people, cars
and tents around us it may have been true.
We'd had the brainwave of not taking a tent, but wrapping ourselves in plastic sheeting for the night in case it rained. Not so smart when we woke up at 4.00am frozen and soaking wet from the condensation.
We crashed near to a primitve sound system, where the guy said he'd keep running all night if people could keep him supplied with diesel. Around 1.00am he announced someone had been stabbed and did anyone know what was happening. Everybody freaked out, jumped up and then nothing happened and it all calmed down again.
At dawn we trudged for miles to the arena and eventually plonked down near to the big oak tree stage left, about a million miles from the stage. We soon became fairly tightly packed in which was great for warming up as the sun came out. As it was near impossible to move, food, drink etc was shared around liberally which may be why I can't remember that much about the bands. At one point a bottle was passed along with message 'keep passing it to the edge but don't drink it, it's full of piss'.
remember Utopia being pretty wild and I think they ended with Hiroshima,
a huge thunderflash and a load of fireworks, which didn't quite have the
desired effect in the blazing sunshine. Lynrd Skynrd were also pretty
amazing (was it their last gig in the UK?). The running times got later
and later and I remember all sorts of mad rumours passing around '10cc
are trying to record their set for a live album and there's problems with
the equipment', 'it's so late it's going to have the plug pulled and The
Stones won't play'.
For me it was a mad one, great memories about being there as much as the music.
having a great time at Knebworth 1975 I was eager to go in 76. It was
the biggest rip-off I ever went to. I didn't go to another concert for
a few years.
Sometime in the afternoon I realized I had paid good money, waited hours in line, was next to drunk bikers, one of whom had thrown up, to watch a TV a hundred yards away with a friend having an asthma attack. I felt I was being ripped off.The concert was running late, might be a good time to come out promptly, no that way everyone might make the train. The stones took hours to come on stage, maybe someone had to sober Mick up, finally the volume was better, I left after a few songs, I didnt want to get stuck in any more lines.
didn't give a damn about the fans, why should I wait for them? Lots of fans
missed the last train and slept there, some of my friends did (I do like the
stones music and have seen them, but I don't see that "love the fans thing"
that led zep has)
not cool to get ripped-off
The phone rang one morning and a friend told me that he had tickets for the Knebworth Festival and asked me if I would like to like to go. Rendez-vous at the M6 slip road, to hitch all the way down from Grappenhall, near Warrington, Cheshire. At the site slept in a field which had become a car park.
next morning we walked through the fields to the giant natural amphitheater
which was the festival arena. That giant red circus tent-like construction
was very impressive and it was to transform for the Stones' set.
This was really the last hippy summer. A whole epoch was coming to an end. The atmosphere was still very "Woodstock" (apart from some aggresive can throwing at one point). Back in London, punk rock was just brewing.
As we entered I remember that Ted Nugents "Stranglehold" was blasting through the speakers. The sound was superb, with the bass and drums hitting you in the stomach. As the day progressed, it got hotter and hotter. I remember all the clowns and mime artists all over the place, who were there to amuse the crowd between acts. At one stage a guy in a gorilla suit was chased across the stage by a clown brandishing a giant hammer. A balloon took off behind the stage, a bi-plane flew over doing acrobatics, the Stones' helicopter also did a low pass.
The Don Harrison Band came and went without creating any interest. We slept through most of Todd Rundgren's set. He was the first to get things going a bit however, at one point strutting out onto the prolonged stage. Hot Tuna came and went without leaving a lasting impression.
Then Lynyrd Skynyrd hit the stage in mid afternoon and the whole place just lit up. They played that incredible, now legendary set. Great, good times boogie rock 'n' roll with lashings of rich guitar playing. Lanky Alan Collins was a very striking figure, dressed all in red like the stage, he became the focal point visually. Huge flares, impossibly long hair and a jutting Gibson Firebird. "Freebird" was the greatest moment of the whole festival and perhaps the greatest of any live performance I have ever seen, for the generosity of the musicians and the sheer joy of the crowd.
Thousands of people jumping about and cheering in unison. As the barefoot Ronnie Van Zandt sang the last refrain, he threw his mike and it's stand over the back of the amp stacks, took Collins under one arm and Rossington under the other, and led them down the sloping stage to the crowd, as the two began their furious soloing. It seemed to last forever, coming to a long drawn out final crunch in front a standing ovation. An impossible act to follow.
It seemed ages before the next act came on. Serious technical problems. Skynyrd had blown all the fuses it seemed. 10CC were an excellent pop band but had a credibility problem at such a "serious" rock event. The sound was rough as they began but gradually improved. They did eventually win the crowd with "I'm Not In Love", which matched the mood as the evening drew in. Perhaps inspired by Skynyrd's finale, they treated us all to a superb long version of "Rubber Bullets" complete with a freak out guitar bash at the end. Standing ovation again, and well deserved.
It was getting cold and dark as we waited and waited for the Stones to appear. The stage had inflated into a giant Stones logo. Then suddenly the "greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world" hit the stage with "Satisfaction". It sounded a bit tinny. Where's Mick ? A spot lit up the far end of the right hand stage extension and there he was. He seemed over dressed in a big floppy cap, jacket and a very long scarf. He strutted along towards centre stage in his own inimitable style, looking like a caricature of himself.
set went on and on but seemed a little distant somehow compared to the
warmth of Skynyrds performance. It was freezing while the Stones were
on, which didn't help. I remember Mick rolling across the stage dressed
in a ridiculous pair of glam-rock tights. Ron Wood was impressive, Billy
Preston invasive. We were glad when it was all over.
Most of Skynyrd's set is on the "Freebird" DVD. It is an invaluable record of the day but a little too much crowd noise has been dubbed on. The climax of "Freebird" is absent ! Instead there is a weaker version from a festival show at the Winterland, San Francisco, in front of teeny-boppers who were there for Peter Frampton ! The killer Knebworth "Freebird" is be found complete and unretouched on the otherwise awful DVD "Green Lights, Blue Skies" (Uncut Masters). A must.
Paul 'Splint' Smallwood one fine dude
Dave 'Wiz' Wilson the indian of the group, never without beer, eat your heart out Billy Connelly
Hoppo (silent H) our leader and main man, negotiator of deals and hard as nails ( with his wife, Brumbo sleeping)
Johhny 'cheaplaff' Gaskins asleep with a cig in gob, oh how we laughed!!
a great day had by all
Got a phone call from Bob an old friend who said that he had got tickets to see the Stones at somewhere called Knebworth and did I want to go (I lived at that time north of Stirling and Bob lived in the Scottish Borders) Of course I wanted to go, so I jumped into my old VW beetle and drove down to Bob’s place where I changed over into his VW beetle and off we went.
It was only after we headed off in a general Southern direction did I look for Knebworth on the map. A LONG way to go but we got there and camped in what seemed to be a car-park. Didn’t get much sleep because of the party atmosphere and were up at what seemed to be dawn and followed some people who were making their way into the site.
We rushed down to what we thought was the front of the stage only to find that hundreds of others had got there before us (where did they all come from?) We sat down and later when I looked round there were nothing but people as far as the horizon and it was still morning sometime.
As with all our plans (what plans?) we had nothing with us as all our stuff was outside in the tent/car but we had great neighbours all around who fed us, lent us their binoculars etc. Some guy came past selling Nigerian Bush which we bought and shared around with our friends. This made the rest of the day somewhat of a haze but I do remember Freebird, a small plane doing acrobatics above the crowd and a giant caterpillar winding its way through the crowd eventually ending up on stage before the Stones came on hours late.
were great nevertheless and we were on our feet during the whole set and bopping
with the best of them until it was all over .We left the arena and somehow got
to where we had left the car and made our way out and drove home to Scotland.
What a great couple of days. I recently found the DVD of the Stones part of
the concert in a charity shop for £3 and get to relive an amazing set
of hazy memories.
A 64 year old hippie from Scotland.
10CC © Leigh Revell
In 1976 I was 22 over from Ireland and working in London but I can vividly remember that year as having a boiling hot summer. Every day seemed hotter than the previous one with pics in all the papers of groups of young people bathing in the Serpentine in Hyde Park to cool down and generally a distinct carnival atmosphere was building all Summer long. The first inkling we got though of the Stones at Knebworth was when a 'Streaker' (remember those) ran on to one of the Courts during Wimbeldon with a poster for the event and it was there and then I decided to go. I duly purchased my ticket £7 at the time (those were the days) and could hardly wait as I counted down the days. That morning I kitted up in my Denims and Leather calf length cowboy boots and set off at 7 am. to beat the rush.
on my own,I got to the arena fairly soon and ended up about one hundred feet
back from the stage straight in front-a good view. The sound wasn't that bad
for me and I thought Lynard Skynard were unforgettable,their encore Free Bird
literally blew me away. I remember reading where most of that band were killed
in a plane crash about a month after the gig so their stint proved unique.As
darkness began to fall following a crucifying delay suddenly, a huge pair of
rubber lips were inflated above the canopy of the stage and finally the Stones
arrived. Guitars roared,Drums rolled and to a tumultuous crescendo the Band
launched into 'Satisfaction',could there have been a more perfect intro I wondered.
I did not stay to the end as I had to make my way home before all the public
transport ended but it was a day I'll never forget.
Jagger trips the light fantastic © R Shuff
I went to the Knebworth 1976 festival. I left work in Machynlleth and with others in two cars travelled to Knebworth via Coventry to pick up a friend and food. I was in an A40 and I think the other car was a Zephyr. We went to the supermarket and picked up some food for the weekend – most of us had never been to a concert like this before. On reflection some of the food was not a good choice bearing in mind the weather – margarine and chicken when coolboxes were not common place ended up pouring the margarine onto the bread!
We went to Coventry to pick up a mate and in days before mobile phones it was more by luck than judgement we found him – we went to the nearest pub to his digs and they remembered him and told us where to find him! Ended up in an Indian restaurant for food before setting on the road again. When we got there again by fluke we met up with the guy’s girlfriend who had travelled up from south Wales in a separate vehicle and was walking along the road as we went in.
slept – such as you could with all the noise and excitement before making
our way to the field and where we were going to sit for the next 36 hours! We
were a large group so it was no problem to go off and wander around because
plenty left to secure the spot. The food was limited for a vegetarian but we
had our own anyway. The loos were a round metal frame with doors and a seat
in a circle with a hole in each cubicle and nothing underneath just a hole and
very soon began to stink in the very hot weather we were experiencing in the
heat wave that had hit the country.
The music was great although I was a 10cc fan more than a Stones one! We met loads of people we knew despite the size of the field etc. When it all finished we spent the night on the field and were woken by the litter pickers the next morning – no trouble finding the car with most of them gone too! It was an amazing experience for me I remember going to the toilets in Watford gap on the way home to clean my teeth! I had worn the same clothes all weekend as had the others so we were a bit ripe! By the time we got home it was before for bed and a few hours sleep before up for work on Monday morning in the factory summer holiday job.
parents had no idea where I was going and were amazed to see it full double
page picture in the paper and on the news reports! We could spot the flag behind
where we were sitting on the picture!
Brilliant that you have this web page about it after all these years and despite having moved so many times since then I seem to remember I still had the programme last time I moved 10 years ago!!
I have just listened on a radio 4 programme someone recalling her memories at Knebworth 76, which I cannot better in detail about the band's,( except to say that I found 10cc one of the best acts on the night musically; with few pretentions, they gave A VERY capable workmanlike performance ) ! After the concert finished, rather a lot of people leaving the arena had slaking thirsts, (myself included) due to over consumption of Alcohol, only to find the main public loo's was shuttered off, and consequently, no access to water!
Then, from nowhere two mini-vans arrived, opened their doors to reveal stacked full, those little cheap clear plastic diluted drinks for about 70 pence EACH, ( You can buy them in chip shops NOW for about 30 pence .) Within about 10 minutes the thirsty hordes bought the LOT. With the strains of 10cc's 'Wall street shuffle' ringing in my ears not 3 hours before, I wouldn't be surprised if 'Trotters Independent Traders' was written on one of the vans!
August 1976 we had just got married and settled down in London. We were
a young Italian couple full of dreams and hopes, and liked the same rock
to tell the truth, Rita had been a Beatlemaniac (having attended their
concert in Genoa, Italy, in 1965, which was her very first rock concert
actually), while Enrico was a Pink Floyd fan. Of course we also liked
the Rolling Stones a lot and really wanted to get to Knebworth.
off we started quite early with our camper from London and Enrico drove
all the way down through the M6 motorway to reach Stevenage near Knebworth
We went there with an English friend of ours who had lived in Italy, but her family was from the nearby area and after a couple of hours we got there.
We remember that there were so many people and music and we recall some of the groups who played: Hot Tuna, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Todd Rundgren's Utopia.
But coming from Italy we knew and were mostly interested, as almost everybody, in the Rolling Stones.
The afternoon was very hot, and we sat down on the grass not very near from the stage.
The stage was a Stones' idea with the particular shape of the mouth with a tongue as well as the ideas of the clowns and topless girls in order to give a carnival atmosphere--- and we remember the big screen was for a better view.
It was a long time before the Stones arrived, at about 11,30 pm, and the hot day slowly chaged into a beautiful summer evening.
At last the "greatest R&R band in the world" appeared and Mick started shouting "Satisfaction"... The few hours of the concert let us "spend the night together" quite well and the show was fantastic.
atmosphere was so unique you could enjoy in all those music festivals
in the '70s.
We posted some photos by Enrico as a contribution to your interesting and emotional site with the regret we could'nt take more pictures...
those times digital cameras had still to come...
Enrico and Rita Pelos
Going to Knebworth to see The Rolling Stones in August 1976 was a really big deal to a guy from Northern Ireland just turned 20 and let loose on England’s roads for a week on my new motorbike.
I remember walking into the arena around noon and being blown away by hearing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ for the first time time being played over the PA. Would have loved to see them at Knebworth three years later but was away on holiday. A friend did go, but drank so much he was unconscious by the time Zeppelin came on and slept through it all – what a waste!
the course of the day I enjoyed most of Todd Rundgren, all of Lynyrd Skynyrd
and most of 10cc.
As it was 35 years ago my memories are a bit hazy (was it the effects of the strange smelling pungent smoke wafting across?) but I do remember the TV camera man in front of the stage in his hydraulic seat rising up every now and then and being pelted with cans and bottles because people behind him couldn’t see past him. I don’t think we saw as much of him after that.
Then there was the really, really long wait until the Stones came on (was it hours?) and I was dying to go to the toilet but didn’t want to leave my place in case I couldn’t get back. I was also getting hungry but a couple of girls beside me took pity and kindly shared their supply of seeds which I’d never had before but I was starving and would have eaten anything.
At Last the Stones came on and made up for the wait with a really long set which I think lasted until about two in the morning. The stage was a brilliant concept with the band playing ‘inside Mick Jagger’s mouth’, the lips inflating and the tongue acting as a platform out into the crowd.
then my concert experiences had been restricted to Rory Gallagher and Horslips
who both regularly played the Ulster Hall. Knebworth was obviously a different
league and combined with the great weather made this an unforgettable day.
250,000 people in a field in the English countryside. Naked people. LSD is openly on sale. I am too timid to try it. Lost people trying to locate their friends wander through the crowd shouting names – one of them is Wally. Don’t forget the flag you sat next to or your party seven will get drunk by your friends before you get back. Never mind – you can stand on it to watch the stage – which is a million miles away. We watch the monster screens instead. Wally!, Wally! Wally! every few seconds.
The urinal pits fill by mid-afternoon and then overflow in a muddy yellow river running down towards the naked people at stage left. I want to see the naked people. We don’t move – moving is difficult and there is no return. The food is free and the Hare Krishna short order cooks want me – and I have to pay for a book in order to get away. I have the strongest memories of Van Halen parachuting out of a light aircraft to perform mid-afternoon – which I can find no record of – except references to the fact they faked doing so on other occasions. I don’t remember seeing them play and can’t find a record of it anywhere – strange.
A man runs on stage, gets naked and pleasures himself for what seems far too long… eventually to completion and the act is replayed again and again on the big-screen. The Stones were not very good to be honest. Circus performers lined the long sides of the stage. Skynyrd were my – and I think the crowd’s - favorites that day, even though they were a relatively new act at that time and I had never heard of them before. 10cc - the last performance of this band incidentally - came on after delays. They were probably the best act of the day sound-wise, but the crowd wanted to get it over and see the ‘Stones perform. "Just Like a rolling stone, I’m outside looking in" they sing and the crowd goes wild. I’m Mandy, Fly me but the crowd isn’t listening to the music - its been a long day.
Fear of going to the vast, overflowing hole-in-the-ground urinals – and losing my friends on my return. The doors to the porta-potties swing open down hill and you need a friend to use them. I have the strongest memories of the exiting crowd mooing like cattle as we moved out of the arena. 40’ tall chicken wire fences fell like matchsticks as the mass of people hit them. Sounded like cattle, but looked like ants marching. Later, a quarter million people sitting around makeshift fires – dawn is coming by the time we get back to the tents. A tent, then another then another goes up in flames to reveal people having sex in their sleeping bag.
We get on a bus to ferry us to the station. I think I didn’t pee for 3 days. I decide that I may never wear shoes again. Some months later in London I discover that Hare Krishnas approach people with no shoes on and go back to wearing them.
Jon Connell, Brooklyn, NY
vivid memory of knebworth 1976 was the massive queue at the drinking water tap.
After queuing for 30 minutes I swopped my almost full bottle of southern comfort
for a small bottle of water with a guy at the head of the line,
we both thought we got the best bargain.
remember sleeping in provided plastic sleeping bags in a marquee, double diamond
I think was 26p a pint at Stevenage leisure centre. They turned all the lights
out and played Pink Floyds, Meddles the whole B side, that’s all I can
I went to the Knebworth in 1976 all the way from Brighton where I was spending the summer as a student of english.. Coming from Spain and 16 at the time, I tried to find somebody to join me to the Rolling Stone concert and my first concert ever. Since no body joined me, I made my way there on my own by train... I met some spanish guys on the train station from Bilbao and spent the whole concert with them.. First pills I took in my life too.. Still don't know what it was at the time.
A great atmosphere throughout the whole day and from the concert itself I have vague memories other than we had to wait endlessly for the Rolling Stones to start their concert.. the atmosphere cooled down until they came on and then it really got going...
we somehow got back to London in the early hours next morning and we dragged
ourselves to a flat somewhere in London where I remained for the rest of the
summer.. I can only recall that an Ice-cream van came now and again to provide
us with dope... Yep, that was the end of an era and I still treasure the entrance
ticket from the concert as a memorable event..
the afternoon, between acts, a naked hairy hippy type walked onto the stage.
He proceeded to masturbate in front of the whole audience.
When he had finished he spoke into a microphone 'Sorry for keeping you waiting so long'.
He then left the stage and someone came on with a mop and bucket to clean up.
I later heard a rumour (or read something in NME or Melody Maker) that he had been thrown from the back of the stage by security and had broken both ankles.
Can any of this be corroborated?
Floyd the previous year I wasn’t missing the Stones. Saw them earlier
at Stafford Bingley Hall, it was the Black and Blue tour.
Me and 2 mates travelled down from the north west, camped the night before and didn’t need to bunk in as we had managed to get tickets earlier.
Fell asleep and woke to Lynyrd Skynyrd who were excellent. 10cc was the calm before the storm and the stones were absolutely superb.
Still got the programme and other bits of memorabilia like the sounds at knebworth badge.
the following few years due to weddings and hols and didn’t return till
96 when on the guest list for Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene were brilliant as were
I was there, it was the worst festival I have ever attended, it seems to me that is where the tendency to treat the fans like catlle really got going in the UK.
Rubbish transport, lousy preparation, awful sound, terrible light shows were all exacerbated by funnelling too many people through too few gates, maybe to ensure absolutely no one got in free?
This resulted in a lot of people missing the first two acts because they were queuing to get in even though they had tickets.
None of the bands were memorable but the Stones were totally rubbish, I wouldn't go to see them again if you paid me and I was a fan until that day.
Those are my memories of the worst concert going experience of my life
I was at Knebworth for both 75 and 76 . In 76 my father was part of the film crew that had earlier recorded the backing ‘video’ for Pink Floyd’s light show which, I believe, was an early lazer display.
!976 was memorable for the late start of many of the acts. 10cc were very late on stage but this was nothing compared to the Stones. We had ‘befriended’ some American girls who said that if bands had kept the audience waiting that long in the States then there would probably have been a riot !.
Am not certain what caused their delay but have been told that Mick Jagger was unable to be lowered by wire from above the stage as planned for safety reasons due to his ‘condition’ whatever that may have been!! I was fairly close to the stage and remember that he seemed to be shoved out for the first song and then repeated the question ‘What’s next Keith?’ after several numbers. I think this is all accurate, and I can confirm that it was all very late ending.
I went with my Father who had never been to a Rock Concert before especially to see The Stones and although dreading it when Lynyrd Skynyrd come on I thought they were a complete revalation and Free Bird was absolutely fantastic,.
after 10cc I managed to get from the middle of the park almost right down to the front of the stage by walking over comatose bodies to see The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in The World The Rolling Stones. We drove home around 9am Sunday morning picking up a young couple of hitch hikers and stopped off to buy a broadsheet (can't remember which one right now) which I still have somewhere because it had an amazing double spread front and back page arieal photo of the park
Just been having a reminisce and some flashbacks about trips to Knebworth and thought I would add my experience on the more sociable side of it.
I had a wide taste in music then and in '75 my like was Northern Soul but we was into lot of the festivals too
I was also into the more sociable side of the festivals as I was a very big drug user. Mainly Speed,hash and acid at the time.
The year B4 with Floyd was a great crack so we knew what to expect. There were 8 of us going together from Brixton so we took 2 motors.So we piled them full of stuff we might need. Lots of beer, bottles of Brandy,Southern Comfort and vodka. Even water, cause life's just too short to stand in that queue for the water tap. As for taking a wee you do it in a tin and leave it behind!
I also took 1200 blues and 900 micro dots - Black pyramids and Orange Sunshine. These all went and I'm sure gave many of the crowd one of their best memories.
There's already been so much said about the acts, sound system playing up and of course the winker on the stage - what a legend. Wonder what happened to him?
There was some craziness like ijits going round burning tents and trying to burn cars and I saw one who was caught get a proper slap by some who caught him running away.
We did manage to get invited back stage by one of the roadies for 10CC who saw I was selling trips and swapped some for some very good sqyushy Afghan Gold Seal but it was much more fun out among the masses.
I don't think we slept for three of the 4 nights we were there and it was one of the best festivals of the 70s IMVHO.
Love and Peace
We were staying with Rik & Ros in Edgware up in north London so the drive to Knebworth took less than an hour. We got there early afternoon, found a parking space then followed the crowd into the festival which was a large, gently sloping outdoor area in Knebworth Park. Having attended a couple of other rock festivals we decided to sit well back in the crowd which placed us within easy reach of food tents and what passed for restrooms.
We brought food and drink, yet there were many attractive cooking aromas as well as other aromas wafting 'round the park. The sun was shining and it was warm enough that many people had already stripped to the waist. The energy that day was great - two or three hundred thousand people relaxing, dancing, eating, drinking, talking and passing joints around to share a puff of this or that. Mostly in those days it was hash; heated and crumbled into tobacco and rolled up into a spliff.
The hours drifted by - Todd Rundgren's band made a lot of noise but not a lot of music. A little later Lynard Skynard, not well known in the UK, really got things going with a rockin' performance of songs that were mostly new to us. They brought us all to our feet with Freebird and kept the riff going to an amazing climax. In the evening we got 10CC. After some trouble with the PA system they finally hit a groove and gave us crystal clear renditions of several of their best known songs. They played well but the songs sounded almost exactly like listening to their records which was kinda disappointing in a way.
Now, the Stones were supposed to be on around mid-evening but they were nowhere in sight. It seems while most of the group was up at Knebworth House dining with the lord of the manor, Keef was making his own way up the A1 in his Bentley and managed to get busted on the way. Somebody went and bailed him out of gaol and the Stones finally hit the stage with a bang about two hours late. They played a realy good 90 minute set after which Mick made a brief apology and asked the crowd if we were ready to keep on rockin'. Responding to the roar of approval, they huddled on stage around Charlie Watts' drum kit then stepped up and played three songs. Then it was back to the drum kit for another conference and three or four more songs. They went back in time to some of their earliest stuff and kept playing for at least another hour. It must have been one of their longest concerts ever, Keef's guitar chords rippling across the countryside until after 1 a.m.
Jagger of course played the whole wide "red lips and tongue" stage. As most everyone from that era knows, you stand up for the Stones the moment they come on stage. There's just so much energy that it feels like electricity in the air around you. Probably 10% of the audience had already passed out, ripped to the gills on beer, wine and cannabis not to mention all the free acid and mushrooms being passed around the area where we sat all afternoon. I caught a nap between sets around 6 pm so i was OK the rest of the night. When i awoke there were a lot more people streaming into the festival area.
The crowd swelled to several hundred thousand, yet i'm not sure you could have an accurate count once it began to get dark. When the Stones arrived we strolled sideways to the edge of the crowd then migrated slowly towards the stage. Eventually, we edged our way back to a more central position maybe 100 or 150 feet from the stage. At this point it was pretty densely crowded, but you could still move to the music, no problem. They played a bunch of my favorite songs and it was an awesome evening for the four of us and the entire sea of people around us. Afterwards we stayed right there for about 20 minutes as the crowd made for the exit (which soon became wide open as temporary fences were trampled down). We found the car, exited onto a country lane and rejoined the highway several miles later, a fairly easy escape from a huge traffic jam.
|I went with a group of 3 friends plus my girlfriend (now my wife), and my mother - a Stones fan.
My main memory was the long, long wait for the Stones to come out. It must have been nearly midnight before they fell onto the stage. Yes, they seemed drunk. And, actually we thought they, and the sound quality, were poor and being tired after a hot day in the sun left after 1 song.
We stood far from the stage so our best view was of the two big screens either side of the stage. While we waited for the Stones a fine young gentleman chose to entertain the crowd by getting in front of the cameras and masturbating himself to a full and satisfactory conclusion. I got to stand between my girlfriend and mother whilst he did so.
I am not sure if this is now considered perfectly good etiquette but at the time it did not seem entirely appropriate behaviour. Mrs Beaton has nothing to say on the matter and neither did I.
I was there and i would like to add that there were very long delays for ticket holders to get into the festival which made a lot of people miss the whole first act.Also despite the poor sound quality serving for an excuse the Rolling Stones were what I would in a very kindly way describe as "lackluster" a huge disappointment in every respect, Knebworth '76 remains one of the very few events I have been to which I regret the waste of money and time.
I only bought one memento and that was a small white t shirt with the character Obelisk from Asterix the Gaul carrying a large boulder with "Stones at Knebworth" painted on it. The way the last S was written it could be seen as a "d" and therefore Stoned at "Knebworth". I still have the shirt to this day somewhere and if you want to see an image I can e mail it.
My main memeory is the heat and being shocked as a 16 yr old to see guys with satchels wandering around the crowd openly shouting "heroin,heroin".
My friend Bill stood at one point to get a better view and was immediately bombarded with empty beer cans from people behind him whose view he was blocking (he is now a Professor of Archeology!).I don't think any one of us dared leave our spot to go to the toilets as we would never have found our way back and then Lynyrd Skynyrd came on and blew everyone away with their set.
I remember the Stones were delayed in appearing and allegedly word got out that the gates had come down as the concert should have ended about 11 and that hundreds of people got in for nothing to see the Stones.
We somehow found our coach and arrived back in Edinburgh the next morning - an unforgettable experience !
More great memories!
I’m surprised that none of your other accounts mentioned the entertainment between 10cc and the Stones. As is largely mentioned there were increasingly long waits between sets and everyone was getting pissed off. It seemed like the Stones were never going to arrive and there were rumours that the festival would have to be closed as it had overrun the licence. Then some guy got on stage and much to everyone’s enjoyment, started to masturbate. We got great close ups on the giant screens and when he came the whole place erupted. One of the best receptions of the night.
One other thing I remember was one of the off-stage acts. Some Irish bloke lay down on a couple of mattresses with dynamite underneath. His wife set off the dynamite. He was thrown about 10 feet into the air, stood up, staggered around for a bit and fell over. His wife then came round and took a collection. Later they announced that he would be staging a second performance later, but we didn’t go.
Thanks again for the site,
I’ve just found your website whilst having a reminisce about one of the first and most memorable concerts of my life. I cycled 16 miles on a push bike from North London to Knebworth the day before the concert with a rucksack and a tent on my back (I must’ve been MAD!). That day and the day of the concert were probably the hottest days of the decade.
he concert was totally brilliant despite the long delays between acts, rumours that 10CC had nearly blown up The Stone’s mobile recording unit and the fire brigade cancelling the intended firework finale due to the possibility of starting a bushfire - in England of all places! So many star acts and excellent musicians on one bill – it was extraordinary; I have photos of the guitarists from Lynyrd Skynyrd all jamming on the extended solo of “Free Bird” right at the furthest extent of the ‘tongue’ stage, absolutely igniting the crowd – one of the best moments in Rock history!
|Photogallery audience||Recordings/set lists||Personal accounts||Posters and tickets||Photogallery Don Harrison|
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Knebworth Concerts 1974-86
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