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Formatted at 800 X 600 minimum- created Feb. 2002. Updated April 2007 with new 1980 photos.

Stonehenge Free Festivals chronology.


1980 : The tribes celebrate the solstice with a jam .© Paul Seaton

    These were the years when the festival grew from a gathering of a few thousand hard core freaks to a major attraction (although still almost exclusively ignored by the rock press who were too busy hyping the likes of Spandau Ballet and Bow Wow Wow ) .
    With the increase in size came hassles that had not existed when the festival had begun. Pressure increased on facilities such as toilets , extra fields had to be used, which did not please the farmer who owned the land and there was an increasing police presence. - strip and search activites increased and a petition was delivered to the police about this invasion of human rights , which more or less amounted to harrassment based on appearance and attendance at a festival.
Bev a traveller and a strong believer in the sacredness and spirituality of the Stones, wrote of this period .
'to me there was an important spiritual journey that was going alongside the daily life , this it was that gave such power to the midsummer celebration at the stones .. sadly though as the festival grew so the spiritual side seemed to diminish, in 77 there were less than 2,000 people at the festival and 1400 went into the stones - by 84 nearly 40000 were at the festival while less than 1.000 offered themselves in the circle , though in the prohibition years 85 up to 99( when the authorities relaxed some ) there was a growth of spirituality and many hundreds walked to the stones each year... in the face of harassment and brutal attacks from the police... now the respectable pagans (Druids and the like )) are trying to do deals for themselves that will once again deny the wild magic in this holy place and refuse those who serve a less ordered spirit '
The late John Pendragon wrote in his newsletter Tribal Messenger
'The Stonehenge festival , for myself and thousands of other people . was about the opposite to commercialism and war. It was about love, peace, sharing, happiness, ecology, beauty, brotherhood and sisterhood, Yin and Yang, meditation and celebration, physical and spiritual awareness , Rock and Roll, music and theatre, sunshine and sun-bathing, alternative lifestyle and cosmic energy.'

© Paul Seaton

   Amongst those who should be acknowledged as seminal organisers of the festival in the 80s were The Polytrantric Commune, Nik Turner, Sid Rawle ,John Pendragon and Big Steve. Others who consistently supported the festival included Hawkwind, Here and Now and the fabulously named Tibetan Ukra(i)nian Mountain Troupe whose tent was the venue for a host of bands over the years- but there are many other anonymous contributors who we would like to hear from and add to the list .

   We now have been able to include Festival Welfare Service and St Johns Ambulance reports on the festivals from 1980-83 . These are fascinating reading for those who are interested in the logistics and organisation of the festival.

1980. June 13th-26th
    The weather was vile in 1980 with rain for most of the two weeks . Numbers gradually built from 200 on the 13th to more than 15,000 for the solstice. The police created tension through their heavy 'strip and search ' activities, 360 souls being subjected to this arbitary procedure and only 10% being charged with any offence. Despite the declaration by FWS field worker Penny Mellor that the festival had a "very pleasant" atmosphere there was one nasty incident which is related below .

    Anarchist band Crass were prevented from performing by biker groups who bottled them offstage ( on the positive side, apparently the biker groups helped erect stages in the early days ).

A night of violence all but wrecked the weekend's Stonehenge Festival. The trouble erupted late on Saturday night when a group of middle-aged bikers went on the rampage, attacking every punk they could lay hands on, and effectively preventing Crass and Poison Girls from playing their sets.

© Paul Seaton

The evening began peaceably with music from Nick Turner's Inner City Unit, The Mob and The Snipers, but when punk band The Epileptics took the stage they were greeted with a hail of flour-bombs, cans and bottles. Their lead singer was knocked to the ground by a bottle. The bikers then set fire to The Epileptics' banner, attacked members of Crass and Poison Girls, damaged the generator and took over the stage.

Ignoring the plight of the punks, the Druids got on with their timeless ceremonies © Paul Seaton.

Penny Rimbaud , a member of the band, wrote

Our presence at Stonehenge attracted several hundred punks to whom the festival scene was a novelty, they, in turn, attracted interest from various factions to whom punk was equally new. The atmosphere seemed relaxed and as dusk fell, thousands of people gathered around the stage to listen to the night's music. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, a group of bikers stormed the stage saying that they were not going to tolerate punks at 'Their festival'. What followed was one of the most violent and frightening experiences of our lives. Bikers armed with bottles, chains and clubs, stalked around the site viciously attacking any punk that they set eyes on. There was nowhere to hide, nowhere to escape to; all night we attempted to protect ourselves and other terrified punks from their mindless violence. There were screams of terror as people were dragged off into the darkness to be given lessons on peace and love; it was hopeless trying to save anyone because, in the blackness of the night, they were impossible to find. Meanwhile, the predominantly hippy gathering, lost in the soft blur of their stoned reality, remained oblivious of our fate.

Ugly stuff, yet another instance of biker boorishness spoiling an event , yet not the first instance of bad feeling at a free festival, as I have heard of punk bands being bottled at Deeply Vale. Yet most writers do not even mention this event .Collective amnesia ?

The Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe ran their tent. Amongst the artists were Thandoy and the You ,Hawkwind and the Torpedoes.

Paul Trew from the Torpedoes has these recollections

I've played stonehenge festival with The Torpedoes I think it was 1980 .As I recall Crass played .We had our own PA and marquee and loads of bands played on the saturday night including THE VULGAR BROS
,ANIMAL MAGIC,ROCKING TIMBO, THE ROUSTABOUTS and I know Larry Millar of the LARRY MILLAR BAND definitely did the benefit gigs that we set up to get the dosh to pay for everything.

The Torpedoes also played on the Friday night on the main stage before Nik Turner as our PA was hijacked by Sid Rawle and the teepee people who thretened to run us off the site unless we gave up our pa .We reached a compromise which allowed us to use our gear at our stage.

On the next night Crass came up to our stage next day and asked to borrow our gear , we declined but said they were welcome to play at our site .

© Paul Seaton

As we only had an audience of 500 or so they said no thanks,the rest is history . I have to say Stonehenge that night was a magical gig ,the bands played all the way through till Sunday evening .The pa ,genny and marquee all had to be back Monday. I just remembered, Martin our bass player was 14 and friday night on the big stage was his 1st gig he stood with his back to 2 or 3 thousand people for the whole set despite mine and the crowds exhortations to turn around.


Mark's extensive report on this festival provides an excellent recount of the nasty incident between the bikers and punks.

All roads lead to the Henge -eventually © Paul Seaton

A friend from school turned up on my doorstep, having deserted from the Navy! We put him up for a week or so & decided we would smuggle him to Stonehenge, at which point he decided that he would be better off taking his chances handing himself in.

As luck would have it, the day I set off, the dole office decided they had underpaid me & sent me a giro for £100+.
I had arranged to meet people on site, having found the tents & a message that they where in the pub in the local town.
Of course by the time I got to the pub, they had gone.
As you will remember there were two roads leading to Stonehenge – the main road, which took a mile extra, but more cars, or a back road, which was shorter but less traffic.

As it was getting towards dusk, I decided to take the short route. After getting a short distance from town, I saw a car approaching me in the distance. Standing there hopefully, I stuck out my thumb & glory be, the car stopped a short distance up the road. As I ran towards it all the lights flashed on – it was of course a Police patrol car.

I have to say, the DS bloke was pretty nice, after the obligatory search back at the Station, they gave me a cup of tea, a fag, an apology (!) & a lift back to the site. Funny thing was he reckoned that 'nobody smokes on my patch, we’ve busted them all ' – yeah, tell me another one.

The following day I scored some most excellent acid – orange barrel. As the rush kicked in, all I could do was sit down on the Iron Age hillocks at the back of the site, listen to some Rachmaninov been played at maximum volume from a sound system & watch this magnificent psychedelic sunset. (At one point the line of trees turned into a silhouette of a herd of elephants, which started to run round in this gigantic wheel).

Sunset in the carpark © Paul Seaton


March of the Druids © Paul Seaton

At some point round midnight, (having discovered that I could still walk!) I came across these little red dots floating around this campfire, closer inspection revealed all these people dancing round a fire & waving joss sticks about.

Later on, we all sat watching satellites/shooting stars/UFO’S zipping across the sky whilst I became earnestly involved in conversation with two (tripping) young women, that "yes, the universe really was an inverted pudding bowl, painted black & if you looked closely enough, you could see the strings the stars were attached to".

Just one of those little, spontaneous events, which made Stonehenge so unique.

The last memory I have of that particular trip was standing round a campfire at 8:00 am (ish) some 13 or 14 hours after dropping the tab, still too wrecked to speak, watching blue, red and green squares, circles and triangles appear on peoples faces.

The Solstice, a week or so later, passed without incident – bar somebody grabbing the mic, as literally thousands of cars were entering the site & shouting:

"The revolution has started, Downing St is under attack, Stonehenge has been declared a refugee camp, and the ley lines will protect us …"

A friend of mine later related the story of how he heard the broadcast just as some Orange Barrel was peaking. He spent a rather confused night…
Band wise, Inner City Unit played a couple of sets, Nik Turner played flute with a band called Entropy & a couple of Hawkwind bods turned up & played as an ICU/Hawkwind crossover – WindHawks??.

© Paul Seaton

© Paul Seaton

Bar that, ain’t got a clue who I saw, bar Spacemen 3 & the wonderfully monikered "Psycho Hamster meets the Killer Doughnuts from Mars". If memory serves me correctly, the latter played something like an all night, five-hour set, as nobody else would take the stage.

I think I saw Ruts DC do a set, though after being on site for three weeks or so, everything became a little blurry round the edges.

Pertinent to this story is the biker gangs – mainly from the South West, who would turn up in force & colonise a section of the festival for themselves & woe betide anybody wandering into it .

During the latter part of the festival Crass turned up & were listed to do a set on the Saturday night. Rumours started to circulate that the biker gangs where making noises about it being "their festival"& the punks could er, "go away".
There was probably a fair amount of politicking going on between the groups. I remember talking to a guy from Release who where considering leaving before the Saturday night (can't remember if they did or not).

At one point, whoever was organising the main stage made an announcement that "we needn’t be worried by Crass, you can easily recognise them, and they are older than us & dressed all in black". I "dined out" as they say for months afterwards with a couple of Crass fans of my acquaintance on the fact that I had chatted to the band round a campfire.
In retrospect, rather foolishly, I scored some Ying Yang blotter, on the following Saturday.

The ceremony at the Stones Sat 21st

photo © Kevin and Ruth Dear

The ceremony at the Stones Sat 21st

photo © Kevin and Ruth Dear

I knew it was going to be good when after about an hour, I got that electric taste in my mouth & similar to "Fear & Loathing… " the sky suddenly rendered open....... On good acid, I always had this thing that the sky was made out of jelly & the horizon was the jelly skin, & all these Pterodactyl type creatures started flowing out of the hole in the sky.

Some friends had accidentally acquired this guy (from Manchester I think) who latched onto them. He was spending the whole day scoring anything & everything in sight. I think his intention was to take his stash back to Manchester.
I bumped into them all, my friends also having decided to take some acid & needless to say, this bloke, who had never, ever done hallucinogenics before had scored some orange barrel… and taken two tabs…


I have some synapses destroyed - memory of stumbling round yelling about the "fuckin bats man, fuckin skies full of them" & one friend shouting, "fucking forget the bat’s man, look what’s over there…" At which point we decided to have a cup of tea.

May I assume many readers will have experienced this – deciding to get together a cup of tea when the initial rush is just peaking on some good acid. Good, then I can leave the ensuing shambles to your imagination

After been chased off the tea stall by some hippy kids shouting what’s "three times six, five times seven", kids having some inbuilt radar to spot what condition we where in by then, we chanced upon a stall selling amyl nitrate at 20p a hit. To his credit, the guy selling the stuff did explain exactly what is & what it did. Did this put the Mancunian off? I think not, indeed he took this MASSIVE snort (getting his moneys worth).

© Paul Seaton

© Paul Seaton

Ever seen anybody get pole axed? This must be the nearest thing to it I have ever seen. Poor sod never knew what hit him.

I met him the next morning, me in some appalling comedown state, (never could handle the day after a good trip all that well) whilst he was still white faced & looking pretty shaken. He reckoned that he spent the rest of the night hiding out under a van, too scared & paranoid to move as all these creatures & slithery things ran around the site.

By that point the acid was really kicking in & I decided that this guy was going to do my head in with antics like that. So I wandered off down to the main stage. ICU where just starting a set, I remember a couple of us climbing up the inside of the Pyramid stage & sitting at the back, looking down on the band as Judge Trev Thoms kicked into "(who stole the fucking) Gas Money"

The next couple of hours, I think I just wandered around until for some reason I ended back at the main stage, round midnight where a band, I thought it was Crass, but evidently I'm wrong, were playing & a couple of bikers jumped on stage, punched the singer and commenced to smash everything up.
The rest is pretty confused; I can recall seeing people being chased across the field & beaten up – some acquaintances from the Islington gay punk contingent were pretty badly hurt. I later heard that they, the bikers (to be fair I suppose, a group of them) just set about attacking anybody with short hair who looked vaguely punkish.
I’m not to sure if this played a part, but some enterprising farmer had brought (at least) a tanker full of really potent home made, (cheap; he was selling it by the gallon)- "scrumpy" on site.

One of the many disparate groups attending the festival was the squaddies – who would sneak in after dark (I’m sure that the Commanding Officer would have banned them from a 100 yards of us lot). The squaddies took to the scrumpy, well like ducks to water. Quite often round dawn, you would see squaddies frantically trying to wake up comatose mates from round dying campfires.

Mega freaked by this turn of events with the biker gangs, but hey, I survived tripping in Kings X , in the company of this guy who would fight anybody if they looked at him the wrong way. The dilemma being do I grab my stuff at 1:00 am & beat it (& into the arms of the local constabulary who were gathered on mass outside the perimeter & I guess that DS guy was just waiting for me to foul up) or stay?

As luck would have it, I bumped into a bunch of hippies running a "chill out" session (long before clubland got in on the act), whom recognising my freaked out state called me over & calmed me down by feeding me rice & beans, a joint & a cup of tea – to whom I shall be eternally grateful for their kindness & if they ever read this A BIG COSMIC THANK YOU. Really appreciated.

Barbed wire and megaliths do not make good companions

© Paul Seaton

Round 4:00 or 5:00 am, I found myself back at what was left of the main stage. Some guy, who deserves the most enormous respect possible, (& again a big thank you mention on the website) had pulled together a scratch band, got the generator working & started playing again.
Whoever he was, he deserves respect for having the courage to get on stage & sound off on "how this was the people’s festival & we don't want no fascists wrecking the place".

Braver man than I (at that time, a veteran of several 1970’s anti Nazi rallies & pitched battles with the NF), I have to say. I remember coming down, sat on the stage as the sun rose, thinking "fucking hell, I’ve really fucked up this time"

Not all the bikers were like the above. A couple of days before, I wandered past a group of bikers (from South London) as dawn was breaking.
The bikers were prising open some car batteries with an axe. A biker came over & said "excuse me man…" leading me to assume he was going to say "have you got 10 pence"– you could not travel 10 ft without been stopped by somebody asking for cash/fags/drugs.
However, to my pleasant surprise, he said "would you like a try of this" producing a MASSIVE home made bong – with a double headed pipe to boot, from behind his back.

Turned out they have just arrived (round 5:00 am to avoid the police) complete with several weights of some extremely good quality Red Leb & freebies were the sales pitch.
I was sooooooooo stoned I was hallucinating……………..

But back to the biker gangs beating people up. I managed to grab some sleep & woke up to a drizzle, the bikers had departed en mass & the whole site was a smelly tip – compounded by a comedown hangover. There was a really awful band – " White Feathers" (?) Playing in the rain at 10:00 am to nobody & a fistfight broke out round a campfire - over who owned a pan. So I grabbed my stuff & hitched back to London.

Left: the Intrepid photographer Paul Seaton -stricken by dysentry

One of the lifts was from a "geezer" type bloke from "sarf Lundun mate", who had spent a couple of days on site, checking the place out. He held forth on Thatcherite free market principles (& selling various substances & goods at mark up prices to the assorted mass’).
I guess him & his mates moved in pretty quickly once they realised the opportunities.

To read more of Mark's festival exploits visit this page

The last free festival in the saga found me made redundant on a Friday. There was really nothing to do but smoke a big spliff, jump on my trusty MZ and head off down the M3 to Stonehenge. As I got there it started to drizzle and by late evening was genuinely raining. The only shelter I had was the survival gear I was already wearing as a motorcyclist and a space blanket. I spent a miserable night in the woods and got back on the bike and rode straight back to London. The actual festival was clearly going up market as all I really remember was a big car park full of real cars and not the ramshackle collection of vans and buses of the mid 70s.

Julian Bond


UK music press reports of the Henge line-ups.

    By the 80s the festival had grown to be a major event attracting up to 65,000 in 1984. Yet brief reports are the only coverage I have been able to find of the festivals in the mainstream press. Since the festival was closely allied to Glastonbury , I have included photos of the adverts for this festival so you can look up the bands who were likely to have played at Stonehenge as well as the mainstream festival. Click on them to see a larger version .

Right , the 1981 poster .This poster is a hybrid . Somebody took the lettering and format of the 1975 poster created by Roger Hutchinson and added the picture of the child and the new dates.

Poster courtesy of Big Steve.

Pillars of Rock at Stonehenge Festival .

    Stonehenge free festival reaches its musical peak this weekend , with a non -stop succession of bands over the midsummer solstice . The organisers say that among the acts who' ve agreed to appear are The Selecter, The Thompson Twins and Black Widow .(Friday ). Merger, Misty In Roots ,Nightdoctor , African Star and Man to Man ( Saturday ) and the Androids of Mu , Inner City Unit , Andy Allen s Future , Stolen Pets , The Lightning Raiders and The Deaf Aids. ( Sunday )

   Its likely that Spirit, Killing Joke, Ruts Dc and Black Slate will show up , as well as surprise guests - who are likely to b some of the acts from the simultaneous Glastonbury festival , unable to be named in advance because of their contractual commitment to that event. The Stonehenge festival is expected to continue until the middle and perhaps even the end of next week - being a free event , its duration is flexible and depends largely upon bands continuing to turn up during the course of the week .

    The organisers advise people to be particularly wary of police 'stop and search' tactics on the way to the festival. They believe these are likely to be stepped up this year.

List of bands who appeared at the 81 festival -from a list supplied by Big Steve, follow the link and see photos of the Polytantric stage used at the festival.

Red Ice, Selector, Theatre of hate, Sugar Minott ,Doll by Doll, Thompson Twins, Night Doctor, Merger, Androids of Mu, Deaf Aids Killer Hertz, The Raincoats, Thandoy, Foxes and Rats, ICU Lightning Raiders, Psycho Hampster, Misty in Roots, Andy Allens future,Inner Visions, Red Beat, Man to Man Triumphant, Stolen Pets,Seeds of Creation, Coxone Sound System Black Widow, Here and Now, Hawkwind, Steel and Skin, The Lines, Play Dead, Lighting by Shoe, Flux of Pink Indians, The Mob, Treatment, Popular History of Signs, The Wystic Mankers, Elsie Steer and Cosmic Dave.


   There was no doubt that Stonehenge proved to be a liberating and seminal experience for many of those who attended, Kevin Hegan from the band Nukli had this to say

KH: It sounds corny, but going to the Stonehenge Festival changed my life. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it. It really was anarchy in action. This thing didn't happen in the U.K.! Right in the middle of Thatchers reign - an alternative state existing outside of the law of this country. A free festival has such a different atmosphere to a paying festival. I had already been to Glastonbury, which had given me a taste of this kind of life, but Stonehenge hit me over the head like a mallet.
It was so different to anything I had seen before. It had the feel of a medieval encampment. There was so much going on - stages on every corner - stalls - and people providing weird tripping environments. It was like an activity camp for trippers! And everyone was doing it because they wanted to - not because they wanted to earn money (although it did degenerate into a drug dealers convention towards the end).
The first year I went with Psi we didn't have a drummer, but it didn't matter - we always seemed to find drummers (it was our first hookup with Generator Jon). Again, some of the jams are on the first tape. After being seemingly in a vacuum as far as our musical style, suddenly everyone's band you heard were playing trippy improvised music with echo guitar. I felt I had found my spiritual home

Used by kind permission of Doug Shaver, visit his great site Aural Innovations to find out more about Nukli and bands of that ilk .

    The infamous pranksters of the Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe were a fixture at Stonehenge during the 80s . Here is an extract from the 1981 Book of the Road, detailing how their busses arrived at the Henge around dawn ......

    And so , after Lunch trek , through the night with the infallible Star Fleet Tib UK , we arrive at Stonehenge. The first rays of the sun have not yet dispersed the early morning mist and as most there are still asleep the Tib UK bus trekkers bus, truck in slow grumble around the site looking for prime pitch . We drop anchor in the first space big enough to accommodate our modest enterprise with a good view of the Stones .
" Naw man the Stones will never turn up here man ,I heard some guy say that Spirit might drop by though .... "
      Its now about 7 am Sat June 12th . The troupe is all totally spaced on no sleep and night driving . I've just gone for a little walk round the site and sold out of lysergic gasket paper. As I look back to where the busses are parked something deep within me stirs as I see half a dozen figures, all in blue overalls with white faces and red eyes and totally blank expressions zipping about putting up the marquee . And all this before breakfast ! We are not alone !
    And indeed we are not alone as by now the rest of the festival is waking up. Stonehenge Freedom Festival 1981 is waking up !

The Polytantric stage

   The Polytantric pyramidical stage on the left was something of an institution at many of the free festivals of the 80s . Originally used by the band Sphynx in the late 70s, and designed by Harry Williamson who played with Mother Gong.

   The Sphynx set was based on the Egyptian book of the Dead, thus the pyramid shape of the stage .The stage with its highly distinctive shape, which echoed the much larger structure used at the second Glastonbury festival of 1971 - survived several lightning strikes and was used by Nik Turners various bands throughout the early 80s as well as at the Stonehenge free festival.

Big Steve , stagemanager of the Polytantric stage from 1981 to 84 has these recollections of the 1981 festival

   Martin , who you can see right- brought down the PA with Nik . The base and some lights were supplied by the polytantric and put up with the help of Kristoff and Willy X and many volunteers. The pyramid top was supplied by Nik Turner. Generator hired from a builders suppliers in Devizes along with additional scaffold polls for the ramp etc .... .unfortunately for me a 18 ft scaffold pole was dropped on the third eye by two hippies, drongoed from day one and after receiving six stiches and two very black eyes I returned as fast as I could from from Salisbury general hospital ......... sound checks to do, etc (trying too hard)
   The next day I bought some Hendrix records from a second hand stall on site to add to the records I had brought to DJ. Band of Gypsies, Rainbow Bridge. I pitched my tent inside the pyramid to guard the gear and we had a ball.the festival was a success and the music and the bands great six days and six nights of entertainment ............... After the show was over and we were packed up we had a little party for ourselves on one of the tumuli staring up at the stars Sparks dancing in the summer breeze before the long trip home....

Photo kindly provided by Big Steve -click and it gets bigger !

Some idea of the scale of the 1981 festival can be judged by the warped photo left which is of the main drag.

Nik Turners stage can be seen centre left, although just what Jerry Garcia is doing there on the right I can't say, as he was supposed to be in the states playing Alaska at the time of this festival , musta been a doppleganger ! :-)

You can view three separate versions of this photo. A 750 pixel version of the complete photo (click on the photo on the left )- or the photo split into two sections which shows more detail .



    The sheer scale of the event was beginning to tax the resources of the area, people needed wood for fires and would break branches off trees in order to get it . This became such a problem that the police formed special plain clothes squads to arrest those who were wood hunting ( see Henge police) . Those who ventured off site were liable to be stopped and searched for drugs as well as having their vehicles checked for MOT and tax infringements. ( see newsletters )


    By 1982 numbers had swollen to 35,000. It was in 82 that people began to realise that the existence of the festival might be threatened by hard drug dealers who had begun to use the festival as an opportunity to sell their wares in a protected environment where a police presence was not tolerated . People who objected to their presence were apparently intimidated , although there were those who attempted to organise opposition to their presence throughout 1982 by circulating newsletters and by word of mouth . Others also dispute the degree to which these dealers had a presence, as they reckoned that they would have been sent off sharpish by the mums with kids as well as being busted by the DS if they were too obvious -or quite likely- shopped by those on site who had no time for their activities.

"As for hard drugs at S/henge, the general policy of the regular festival goers was not to tolerate opiates at all being for sale on site. Coca products were accepted however and became quite popular. "

   Unfortunately 82 also saw a large scale rumble between several biker gangs and certain members of the convoy. This may have started over damage to a bike by a truck . This was always guaranteed to warrant massive retribution from the bikers and this occasion was no exception . Bikers armed with chains went berserk and a food van was set on fire. The music was stopped and pleas were made to the gangs to cease their stupidity . Eventually Sid Rawles came over and more pleas were made to stop the mindless violence and the fighting eventually subsided, but it had been pretty ugly.

1982 Site map

click to see a larger image

"As regards the biker wars - as I recall it was 80,81,82 and 83 when the bikers were playing up, it was the Windsor chapter of the Hells Angels who were the culprits - they were the only large surviving outlaw chapter left and used to come to Stonehenge and play at being silly buggers - pushing their weight around, riding their bikes over tents and robbing folks and stuff. Around 83 there was a inter biker war and several Angels were shot and hacked to death -this resulted in the Windsor chapter being told in no uncertain terms that if they did not knuckle under and join the All England Angels then they would be annihilated. Thus they joined and at Stonehenge 84 the All England Hells Angels erected a large marquee at the end of one of the main drags thoroughfares and proceeded to retail beef stew, beer and all manner of 'raising agents' (if you get my drift.) . Good business you see - basically they are just a bunch of leatherclad businessmen who don't like paying taxes ! "

David Nobbs- Stalwart St Johns Ambo person at Henge 1980-84- holds Jody -the baby girl he delivered at the festival in 1982.

click to read article and to see bigger photo

  The presence of the bikers always made the possibility of violence a real one- as happened at Weeley in 1971 . Fortunately , there were only two incidences of large scale violence by biker gangs,but these were more than enough and they really clashed with the ethos of the organisers and the majority of the festival patrons. However, measured against the hideous football violence of the era and the epidemics of large scale can throwing ( often when full of urine ) that were going on at the Knebworth/Reading festivals at the time, I suppose the Henge was relatively peaceful and safe.

Press article

Photo Convoy Steve

"Stonehenge again plays host to its midsummer free festival this month and although the music runs for just five days , from tomorrow -( Friday 18th June ) to Next Tuesday (June 22nd) crowds have already started to assemble last weekend. The 1981 event attracted 35.000 people and , if the weather holds, a larger turn out is expected this year.

Three platforms have been erected to allow continuous music and over 40 bands are expected to lay on the mainstage alone. Hawkwind,. who were one of the star attractions to appear last year, return to the 82 festival - and among other confirmed bands are Inner City Unit, Here and Now, Amazulu , Deke Leonard , Treatment , Miles Over Matter and Inner Force.

But a number of big name acts who'll be appearing at Stonehenge won't be known in advance, because they'll be coming over from the near by Glastonbury festival this weekend and for contractual reasons they can't be named. "

Click on the Glastonbury advert to see a large version

This was also the year that hippie band Ozric Tentacles were formed, the members meeting at the festival and deciding to form a band as they sat around a campfire . The Pink Dots also had the inspiration to form their combo whilst watching an impromptu jam session by an unknown electronic band in the early hours of the morning .

The most significant occurrence in 82 was the formation of the Peace Convoy (above left) a massive conglomeration of travellers vans, buses, trucks and caravans , which made its way toward the Women's Peace Camp at Greenham Common and caused considerable annoyance and embarrassment to the authorities . To read all about this adventure , visit the Greenham Common pages

Steve , a veteran of the 70s free festivals, has these recollections of 1982 and was surprised at the degree to which the festival had changed

    The first time in three years that I had managed to make it to the festival, and I noticed a difference. It was much bigger than before in terms of the numbers of people there. I arrived as it was getting dark and there was a band playing on stage. The music sounded familiar, and I asked someone who was playing: the answer was Hawkwind. They were playing material from their 1981 album, 'Sonic Attack' and not very well, either. It was fast and ragged. There was a short-haired bloke on stage with them, playing sax. I got a bit of a shock when I realised it was Nik Turner, who surely ought to be hairy and beardy when playing with Hawkwind, even if he did have short hair with Inner City Unit. When the band came back onstage for an encore, Nik was the first one out: his response to the chants of 'Hawkwind, Hawkwind' was to say ' I'm nothing to do with Hawkwind, in fact, I'll have nothing to do with Hawkwind.' (But he rejoined them right afterwards, for a couple of years anyway.)
    Whoever else played that night, I don’t remember. What I do remember is that Eat Alley had become Drugs Alley. You could still buy Hash Cakes etc, but not at individual tents: where there used to be a central thoroughfare selling revolting hippie food (diarrhoeia-inducing vegetarian doner kebabs, for example), now the food vendors were outnumbered by drug dealers. Most of the drugs on sale were harder than in years gone by. I bought some speed and snorted it on the back seat of an old Morris Minor, but it was no problem to get harder powders than that. There were rumours of bad acid flying around, that somebody had OD'd on smack earlier that day…amazing how much changes over 3 or 4 years.
    I also dropped acid at the festival in 1982. In common with the changed ambience from the late 70's to the early 80's, the acid was no longer the dreamy hallucinogen of days gone by, but blotter acid: speedy stuff. After dropping it at about 11pm in the evening, we sat around a campfire talking non-stop (about ley lines and such) till the early hours, and then walked home at 3am. I couldn't sleep at all and couldn't sit still either. So in the morning I dressed and went to work, still tripping….it wore off at about lunchtime the next day….

    So, to sum up, what do I remember? A few of the bands, a few of the people I met, a few incidents. Not very much - but it was a long time ago, and I'm glad to have been there, an uncomfortable experience though it nearly always was. It was probably the greatest degree of freedom that anyone with a static lifestyle could experience directly, and of course it had to come to an end one way or another. I can't say that I miss it, but I was there and I'm glad that I was.

visit Steve's Hawkwind site


Henge Documents

Henge History :1972-1984


Peace Convoy:1982-85

Free festivals in the UK 1960-1992

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Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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