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August 22-24th 1975.
The 1974 Reading Festival.
Unknown band on Radio Luxembourg stage, can anyone identify ? © Lindsay Young
The View from the mud : recollections of festival attendees
Martin Starnes notes
Conspicous over-consumption ?Just a few of the cans left behind at reading 1974
We need more recollections, can you contribute ?
Just to go back a bit in time to Reading festival in 74, these three days had some absolutely magic bands on, on the Saturday I remember Peel saying over the tannoy he’d got married that day and everyone cheered in the sunshine.
Um, he also asked the crowd to stop chucking beer cans at Alex Harvey, the SAHB did a brilliant set in the afternoon, there were other big notables like Rod Stewart ending the Saturday night with the Faces brilliant live, earlier I think we saw Genesis with Peter Gabriel wearing that flower round his head.
Steve Austin has the following recollections about can fights
I can remember several tin can incidents at Reading. Never on the receiving end and never on the throwing end I hasten to add.
Nutz onstage -Reading 1974
The late lamented John Peel -Reading 74
The tin cans I seem to remember would be lobbed (not thrown hard) at people standing up and blocking the view (in the afternoon) . It seems you got a good pitch settled down for the afternoons entertainment and if some ignorant group of people pushed in and stood in front of you then first yell abuse, and if that didn't work a few lobbed cans got the message across. I can see that this could easily have got out of hand and may have caused a ruckus on occasion.
Having said that I am sure that when I saw it happen the ignorant group moved on or sat down and everyone was happy.
Also I remember a giant Pyramid of cans being built and with incredible patience the crowd waited until the last can was put in place on top. Then without a word being spoken a hail of cans reminiscent of the arrows at Agincourt rained down and knocked the pyramid to hell. (Hippy humour)
I cannot remember any crowd fighting ever and agree with your sentiments about the police and why football was never policed as heavily, I went to several football matches and stopped going because I hated the aggressive atmosphere and saw attacks on people. I never saw anything remotely similar at Festivals except at Windsor and that was the Police causing the violence.
one incident I do remember was Alex Harvey stopping playing and making
a big thing about crowd fighting – but I think it was part of
his act. I am sure I remember seeing him again somewhere and he went
through the same routine.
can confirm the cans were thrown at Next (and also Gruppo Sportivo on the other
stage ended up knee deep in rubbish) because I was in the band and we had a
fair amount of litter onstage.
Phil Jones the singer did catch an apple and tried to eat it. The road manager spotted the source of a large slow party seven can and went out and broke a few heads.
On a cine8 soundless movie it is apparent that Phil, who mock hung himself at the end of the act, had left the safety rope off and did seem to be actually hanging himself and I don't know how he got down as I'd left the stage.
Suddenly the whole queue started hurling abuse at the van owner who proceeded to come out from behind the van with a sizeable kitchen knife. At this point a hail of cans forced him back into the van. The crowd which had miraculously grown to about two dozen then started to rock the van in an attempt to push it over. The owner started the engine and drove off as the chip fat spilled over and set alight to the inside of the van. The last thing I remember was seeing it drive out of the arena with a pall of black smoke pouring from the back. It was a strange weekend. I’m sure Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance was actually there but also remember that on Sunday Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel played before Focus as the rain started.
I also remember the drug squad being present on a sunny Sunday afternoon. They stood out in the crowd due to their dress. A man and a woman, they looked like something out of a Cliff Richard film from the early 60s, white slacks, dark glasses and a headscarf for the policewoman would you believe. They were continually followed round by a half naked hippy telling everyone that they were the drug squad. Eventually the male officer cracked and said aloud "if you don’t shut up I’ll nick you". One of our party fell asleep so we painted his face with an indelible marker to look like Alice Cooper. He had tear drops on his cheeks and "slack alice" written on his forehead. We duly woke him up and took him to the beer tent where he got even more drunk and started to climb on top of the tent and leap off growling at people. He was oblivious of his face paint but seemed to like the horror stricken looks he was causing.
Heavy Metal Kids 1974 Photo courtesy Keith Boyce ,the kids drummer
also met some monks from a "monkery" whom we plied with cider and
we cooled off by diving off the Caversham bridge into the Thames between pleasure
cruisers. Alex Harvey was sensational, Steve Harley was brilliant, Focus were
excellent, The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver (who wrote "sailing")
and Chapman Whitney Streetwalkers were our heroes. Lizzy and Traffic were as
good as I thought they would be. I loved the JSD Band – what happened
to them ? - and I vaguely remember Barclay James Harvest. It was a brilliant
J.S.D Band © Vin Miles
Camel on Radio Luxembourg stage © Lindsay Young
Steve Harley © Vin Miles
Les Holroyd of Barclay James Harvest © Vin Miles
Procol Harum Reading 74 © Vin Miles
By this time I had done Reading 74 and then followed it on to Windsor, and we were proper Hippies then. We had been soaked at Reading and spent a miserable night in a Salvation Army Tent with a free breakfast of cold beans on cold bread; we had done this because we had no tent and like the year before were sleeping rough. Morning saw us cold wet and undecided as whether to go on to Windsor as originally planned, the weather cheered up and after buying a copy of the Sun newspaper we saw our photograph in there, so we were famous and just had to go.
Reading 1974. It rained for three days. Very wet. Woke up in three inches of water on the last morning. Sensational Alex Harvey Band were sensational.
Traffic were underwhelming. Steve Winwood had to be carried onstage and contributed nowt ( some press reports contradict this ; ed ) .
Focus were great, despite Thijs van Leer (spelling?) being constantly electrocuted as the rain provided a particularly good conductor between him and a badly earthed mike. What a trooper!
Focus at Reading 1974
First, thanks for creating this site. It's wonderfully nostalgic seeing those pics and reading the personal accounts of fellow festival goers' memories.
I was there in 74 when I was 16 and repeated the pilgrimage in 75 travelling on both occasions with a gang of mates from the Isle of Wight (we were just a couple of years too young to enjoy the legendary IOW festivals).
I can't improve on what the other contributors have written - the same memories of the mud, flying bottles, nice one Cyril t-shirts, choruses of Wally etc. The most memorable performances for me in 74 were Chapman and Whitney who I had to get up and dance to (whilst dodging flying bottles cans), 10cc, Procal Harum, Thin Lizzy, Alex Harvey and Focus. At least they stand out in my mind until I start working through the line up which inspires more wonderful memories.
afraid I can't contribute very much. Not a camera owner at the time and given
the amount of Party 7s (aaargh!!) we were consuming, I doubt if I could have
shot straight and would probably have lost the camera anyway.
I also remember an impromptu jamming session one night just outside the corrugated perimeter fence with a bunch of guys on guitars and a legless Scot who thought he was Alex Harvey. Mostly though it was a drunken blur and a generally great time. When I got home after the 74 gig I slept for a full 24 hours.
Anyway, thanks again for starting and maintaining the site.
I was a huge music fan and an aspiring drummer. I had already been to many gigs from the age of 14 but Reading 1974 was my first ever festival at the age of 16. I travelled up on Friday morning with 3 older friends in a tiny Wolsey Hornet (a deluxe version of a mini). We only took one 2 man tent (very cosy), so we took it in turns to sleep in the car. When we entered the arena on Friday afternoon we queued past some Hell Angels who we somehow got into conversation with (I can't remember why). One of our group, Dave, was a very confident, muscular farm worker, who ended up accepting a challenge from one the Angels to a arm wrestling contest! It was all good natured, but the rest of us were quietly freaking out! Dave lost and said later he could have taken him, but didn't want to start something. We bumped into them several times over the weekend and they were like "hi, guys you OK?" What an introduction to Reading!
Later on Friday afternoon I got split up from my friends and ended up sat on a blanket with a group of 17-18 ish girls. In those days I looked old for my age (long hair etc.) and I spent several hours chatting up really pretty girl and thinking that I'd go back to her tent instead on mine (which probably would never have happened, but there's no harm in dreaming). I was a big Alex Harvey fan and when it was time for the band to come on they played the throbbing intro to 'Faithhealer'. As everyone stood up and started cheering I decided to get down to the front, so I said "see you later", without organising how we'd meet up later. Of course at the end of the night I went back towards the spot where she'd been but had no chance of finding her amongst a throng of 35,000 other people. In fact I spent the rest of the festival looking for her, but to no avail. That is a measure how much I valued my music in those days; I'd rather see my favourite band than get laid!
Reading 74 pages.
courtesy Vin Miles, Phil Newson and Lindsay Young.
|Barclay James Harvest
|Heavy Metal Kidz
The early festivals.
You can find out the complete line ups of the first festivals if you follow the links below .
Most of these have fairly complete documentation .But new contributions of any sort are always welcome regarding any of the festivals.
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