The Archive . updated June 2023
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Al Stokes' Stonehenge Festival photographs
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"I know Pete Loveday's work well, and I love it! ": Hunt Emerson- cartoonist extraordinaire...
"Could that many people gather together today with only minimal communal organisation and such a relatively small amount of trouble but so much pleasure? The question is irrelevant. They would never allow us."
Henge History : 1972-1984
Just some of the Free festivals and Fayres in offer in 1984, before the scene was trashed by the police at the beanfield. courtesy Sunny Sarah
Stonehenge Free Festivals chronology.
A band onstage at Stonehenge free festival 1975 © Dave Jeffries, courtesy Clive
The stage at Stonehenge 1975 © Pema Design
second festival in 1975 was far better advertised by a number of groups
due to the re-focusing energies after the previous Windsor festival where
the police broke it up. There was a subconscious feeling that where was
a need to start afresh and rid the free festival movement from the urban
infection that made Windsor so hard to co-ordinate. Phillip
Russell / Wally Hope was arrested shortly before the start on a
dubious drug charge (he didnt do them any more) and held at a psychiatric
hospital where he became very screwed up due to a highly suppressive drug
regeme. He later committed suicide after escaping and became a sort of
martyr for the free festival movement.
the aptly named Acidia
light show , at Stonehenge 1975
The festival was held in an open field with adjoining woodland to camp in and at its height there were 2000-3000 people present on midsummers eve. The weather was hot and sunny. A number of bands played including Here and Now , Hawkwind, Zorch and Trucker who had a previous guise as the pop band Dozy, Beaky Mick & TItch. The midsummers eve music took a big down turn when a band took the stage very worse for wear on downers and booze and proceeded to argue and fight as they struggled to play a turgid and depressing set. The squaddies and aircrew men from the bases around Salisbury Plain mixed with curious local people to a point where it became quite disturbing to the festival crowd. This was because the local press had run an article that was quite sympathic to the event and so there wasnt the usual media hyping.
For some, it was a desperate night of violence and destruction around the stage as the event went into free fall. Freaked-out squaddies, most out of their faces on a cocktail of chemicals, stumbled about, getting into grief with the pissed local youth. But as dawn approached and people started moving to the Stones to see the sun rise, a uniting of the real festival spirit naturally occurred.
Photos of the 1975 festival -courtesy of Martin and Lynda Williams.
|It has been said that what happened to a number of people by the Heel Stone, at that time still outside the wire perimeter fence, as the sun rose, was an intense spiritual experience which fired them up to sort out the mess back at the festival site. After that cathartic night and morning, the festival settled down to a more relaxed and organised place with the natural environment being repaired and maintained.|
Martin Williams remembers 1975 thus ....
It was admittedly pretty minimal in 75, band-wise, more of a communal meditation/trip.
The surreal photoshoot !
Ultra rare poster for the 75 festy in process of being restored. Drawing by Mary Guyver
the flyer with the naked girl in front of the stones on the yellowing paper was drawn by me in the company of willie x at no 5 truro st chalk farm , as a rush job to get something out , nearly had a heart attack when i saw it again , we were making it up as we went along at the time .
The scene at dawn by the Heel Stone certainly proved to be theraputic for a number of people after the crazy scene around the stage , as this intrepid traveller noted after seeing Zorch play at the Henge
Eventually I wandered off, reassured by you that I wasn't going mad but still unhappy that I didn't know how to fix it. After a number of other encounters (there was some good people there) through the night I was taken by van to see the sunrise down at the Stones. Well , even today, I swear that I experienced an epiphany in front of the Heel Stone the next morning.
As the sun rose I felt its power flowing into me transforming me from a old wrinkled party balloon into a thrusting airship!
I strode back, reborn, along the ancient processional path that led across the fields with a mission to get things moving in the right direction and I worked all that day clearing the site of litter and helping in the free food kitchen until you started to play...."
Harry's stage van © Dave Thurston
I had a call from Tony Andrews who wanted to take some of his new Turbo PA to Stonehenge, and try it out with Zorch who were ( and are) close friends.
He suggested we use my 1000 cu ft threepennybit removals van that I had converted into a living van, with six beds, and which had roof hooks for 2 inch aluminium scaffolding that you can see supporting the projection screen at the Zorch stage on your site photos. On the way into the site we had some scuffles with another crew who didn't want us or our (excellent) PA presumably because they were worried about being drowned out.
We negotiated with the wild eyed furies, and set up some distance away from them. A few days of fine music, excellent conversation and bug-eyed UFO spotting later, and a night or two of accompanying those who may have indulged in a bit too much and for whom the fabric of space time was rending, time to pack up and leave, back to home base .
Some kind person had emptied our radiator in revenge. A few miles down the road and we had steam in the cabin and a long wait while she cooled off. The free service we had given had indeed cost us dearly, and the next few weeks were spent trying to get the cylinder linings that had cracked, replaced. Our beloved home, which later provided the mobility for Glastonbury 78, deeply vale Pyramid and numerous other festivals, was never the same again. The visit to Woodhenge, which is a smaller but much more complex Henge, free to visit, a few miles east of Stonehenge, was fabulous. Wild flowers dotted the site which is features concrete markers where the moveable posts of this 5000 year old analogue computer once stood, and skylarks sang their hearts out, as they have done from time immemorial.
Right :Harry inside the stage van © Dave Thurston
Mendip Free State flag © Dave Jeffries, courtesy Clive
The late lamented Roger Hutchinson was the guy who designed the poster for the 1975 festival , here is his tale of how it came about. If you wish to view larger versions of the artwork click on the image.
After the meeting with Phil Russell/Wally Hope at Windsor Peoples Free Festival in 73, I visited the first festival at Stonehenge on midsummers day in 74 where Phil emerged from a tent and embraced me and greeted me like a brother. A mate, whose car had transported us there, was itching to get back to Essex where he had a hot date that night, so no sooner had I got there then we were off again into the traffic.
A few months I later went back down with the intention to camp with the Wallies and talk with Phil Russell again and work out how to publicise the next festival in 75. The August weather was cold and wet for the small bedraggled encampment of about twenty people, on the exposed track, quarter of a mile west of the Stones.
As Phil and I struggled to light a fire in the rain to cook the large pans of communal veg stew, we talked about the imagery that would convey the right message to attract people of a similar motivation to give the festival a strong spiritual foundation. As for the current state of motivation on the Wally site, it appeared that Phil was depressed by the lack of support for the tasks that needed to be done to keep the encampment viable.
In a polythene covered dome the other wallies sat sheltering from the showers and bumming roll-ups off each other while listlessly waiting for the food to cook. My travelling companion didn't like the situation and so we privately agreed to not stop and move on elsewhere. So we drove off with a promise to Phil that I would get the poster together and see him soon. That was the last time I met him.
That winter 74/75 I worked out a plan where the printing costs and all the postage could be covered by the sale of some of the posters. As to the design of the poster itself, one night I dreamt of a giant Druid looking down on the free festival, the size of which, covered the plains. He showed me large stone tablets that told the secrets of the stones written out in a strange script that I tried hard to decipher but each time I read a sentence over, its meaning changed....
It was a vivid section of a long and confusing dream that stayed with me into wakefulness and I sat at the drawing board later, sketching the design out with the Druid towering over a festival site and the strange lettering. The Druid refused to take creditable form from my imagination and pen and I pondered to whom he had a resemblance that haunted my mind.
At the Albemarle Youth Club in Harold Hill, later that week, I saw Ian Dury with his early band Kilburn and the Highroads and was having a great bop when I met Pete who was a musician in a local band. I stopped in the middle of the hall as the penny dropped to where I had seen his face before - the Druid!
After the gig I arranged to get him to come to my place so I could sketch him, so a few days later he was sat in my room with a sheet over his head and a spotlight between his legs. I made a careful pencil drawing and spent the evening getting to know each otherbetter, which led to other interesting future ventures.
Between other activities I finally finished the poster and took it to a local printer in Harold Wood who liked the poster so much that he would print it for a 1p a poster. A week later a 1000 offset litho posters was collected and I took a bundle up to London and sold most of them for 15p at places like the Hammersmith Odeon, Chalk Farm Roundhouse and the Rainbow. I chose rock concerts where the audience might be into festivals and it was easy to sell them in fair numbers. This income covered my transport, (I didn't go the the gigs) printing, envelopes and stamps. Armed with the Alternative England and Wales, Alternative Europe and Whole Earth Catalogue, I started sending them out all over the place, with a short note inside, to ask if they would display the poster where the people could see them.
© Roger Hutchinson
The poster was so popular that I got another 500 printed and some of these went with me as I headed back to Stonehenge in June 75. I was sad and angry when I learnt that Phil had been arrested a few weeks earlier by the police on a trumped up charge and his whereabouts was unknown (His potential to act as a revered leader to a growing band of social misfits was recognised by the powers that be and so the State made its move to remove him from the free festival equation) His absence was felt at first, as the second Stonehenge Free Festival got off to a rough start but everyone rallied and the festival ran smoothly to its conclusion.
As for me and the posters, I wanted for nothing, as I strolled from encampment to solitary tent selling or bartering the poster. The best encounters were with the people who had come from overseas on the allure of the poster. They were having a great time (free festivals were illegal in most other countries) and thanked me most generously for guiding them to this place.
Copies of the posters are still available in B/W and in hand-tinted colour. Contact Rogers wife Gill for further details.
Which Zorch gig I saw - it was at Stonehenge 75 where I think I saw two sets or perhaps I was seeing double! Thanks to microdot, I know I didn't bring any cultural baggage along as I welcomed Zorch's show as the best development in the infant electronic music field. The Lights, Music and Dancing under a full moon above a silvery Salisbury Plain, were just perfectly one and I felt I was experiencing a brave step forward.
I had earlier visited Zorch on the Saturday night when Laughing Sams Dice were fighting each other on the stage in drunken stupor which created some very bad vibes and caused me considerable distress. I fled down the field to escape the turgid row and discover a darken stage and a group of people huddled around a fire. I remember telling someone about what was happening up at the main stage and I was invited to sit down. I tried to explain my perception of how IT WAS ALL GOING WRONG! and members of Zorch emphasising with me and telling me I was right and something needed to be done. Eventually I wandered off, reassured by Basil that I wasn't going mad but still unhappy that I didn't know how to fix it.
After a number of other encounters (there were some good people there) through the night I was taken by van to see the sunrise down at the Stones Well, even today, I swear that I experienced an epiphany in front of the Heel Stone the next morning. As the sun rose I felt its power flowing into me transforming me from a old wrinkled party balloon into a thrusting airship! I strode back, reborn, along the ancient processional path that led across the fields with a mission to get thing moving in the right direction and I worked all that day clearing the site of litter and helping in the free food kitchen until you started to play....
I was the bod wandering around at that festival and others, selling or bartering the poster that I created to promote the festival throughout Europe.
Enough for gods sake!
Ms Fenn © Dave Jeffries, courtesy Clive
A mate and I were meant to be going to a concert at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 21st June with the Eagles and some other bands. On the Friday we went to the Greyhound in Fulham Palace where someone we knew told us about the Stonehenge festival. We hassled around and got some necessary supplies (don't ask) the went to Wembley at about 8:30am and by a stroke of luck managed to sell our tickets to someone and we were on our way. Fortunately my mate was a fast driver and we got to Stonehenge about 11:00 am.
I was a great site next to the woods and every seemed v friendly and there was a great atmosphere. I bumped into another friend and we all had a great time. As far as I remember the music was great and I had a really good time. I can't remember much else except that I met an American young lady with a tent some time early, (before dawn) on the Sunday and we spent a pleasurable few hours getting to know each other. I got back into London early on the Tuesday morning. My main memory of it was that the sun shone and I had a great time!
I was the drummer in the Hertfordshire band Wandering Spirit who played twice in the warm sunshine at the 1975 Stonehenge Festival.The second time was in the afternoon on the Zorch stage-we played for nearly an hour set up with the stones visible in the distance. A wonderful experience-I still have a recording of our set.This was the first of 3 years in a row going to the Fest. but the only time we played there-we also played at Windsor in `73 &`74 and at Watchfield in 75. One memory I have was as we arrived on the friday evening the sound of Time Of The Season by The Zombies was blaring out and it seemed so right......A time before this festival got bigger with more police hassles and the vibe changed.
Great to be a part of a scene of Alternative thinking that I continue with today involving ecological/vegan/animal rights/social change but without the drugs-we have to move on.
Love `n Peace,
Wandering Spirit get it on . Zorch stage .
I find it quite strange that there has been no mention of the Wallys role in the organising & set up of the festival in '75. We were loosely based at the Polytantric in Chalk Farm Road near Camden Town, N. London which was an arts co-op ( and the birthplace of Crass ) Some of us were living in Cornwall Terrace.. one of the many street squatting communities situated near Regents Park.
The Wallys name was used as a tribute to Wally Hope, who was arrested by the police so couldn't be present.
Kevin Edwards ( Kevin Wally ), Wally Arthur, myself as Mike Wally and many others whose names I can't recall, were involved in organising the festival. It would be wonderful if you guys were able to document more names & faces to that event. It was a great tribute to Wally that Stonehenge '75 was nearly trouble free.
I can recall one point during the festival when we nearly ran out of fuel for the generators & I made an appeal to the crowd for a whip round. We filled a fire bucket with the wonderful generosity of that crowd.
The police presence was low key, which we saw as a great victory, compared with what had gone before. I feel you're missing a lot of history about that event. Yes it was a small gathering but it was a success.
Henge History :1972-1984
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