Isle of Wight Festival 1970

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Festival poster, listing artists booked to play on the three main days Isle1970.jpg
Festival poster, listing artists booked to play on the three main days

The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 was held between 26 and 31 August 1970 at Afton Down, an area on the western side of the Isle of Wight in England. It was the last of three consecutive music festivals to take place on the island between 1968 and 1970 [ dubious ] estimates vary[ dubious ] It was organised and promoted by local brothers, Ron and Ray Foulk through their company Fiery Creations Ltd and their brother Bill Foulk. Ron Smith was site manager and Rikki Farr acted as compere.


The preceding Isle of Wight Festivals, also promoted by the Foulks, had already gained a good reputation in 1968 and 1969 by featuring acts such as Jefferson Airplane, T. Rex, the Move, the Pretty Things, Joe Cocker, the Moody Blues (performed at the 1969 festival), the Who, and Bob Dylan in his first performance since his 1966 motorcycle accident.

Many excerpts from this festival have appeared on record and video.

Artists lineup

The 1970 version, following Woodstock in the previous year, set out to move one step forward and enlisted Jimi Hendrix. With Hendrix confirmed, artists such as Cactus, Chicago, the Doors, Lighthouse, the Moody Blues, the Who, Miles Davis, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Jethro Tull, Sly and the Family Stone, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Free also took part. The event had a magnificent but impractical site, since the prevailing wind blew the sound sideways across the venue, and the sound system had to be augmented by the Who's own PA. Organizers also faced the logistical problems involved in transporting some 600,000 people onto an island with a population of fewer than 100,000. The Island's transport services were already stretched by the annual influx of summer holiday-makers at the same time. French anarchists armed with knives were already causing trouble on the ferry crossing.

Political and logistical difficulties resulted in the organisers eventually realising that the festival would not make a profit and declaring it to be "a free festival", although the majority of the audience had paid for tickets in advance, and the event was filmed contemporaneously. The commercial failings of the festival ensured it was the last event of its kind on the Isle of Wight for thirty-two years.

Planning difficulties

The opposition to the proposed 1970 festival from the residents of the Isle of Wight was much better coordinated than it had been in previous years. The Isle of Wight was a favoured retirement destination of the British well-heeled, and a haven of the yachting set, and many of the traditional residents deplored the huge influx of "hippies" and "freaks". This led to the introduction of sections to the "Isle of Wight County Council Act 1971" designed to control any further large overnight gatherings. [4] Renting a few acres of suitable farmland to hold a music festival had in earlier years been a simple commercial matter between the promoters and one of the local farmers, but by 1970 this had become subject to approval decisions from several local council committees who were heavily lobbied by residents' associations opposing the festival. As a result of this public scrutiny, the preferred ideal location for the third Festival was blocked, and the promoters in the end had no choice but to accept the only venue on offer by the authorities: East Afton Farm, Afton Down. One unintended result of this choice of location was that, since it was overlooked by a large hill, a significant number of people were able to watch the proceedings for free.


Image of the crowd, which Guinness World Records estimated at between 600,000 to 700,000 people 1970-Isle of Wight Festival- 5.JPG
Image of the crowd, which Guinness World Records estimated at between 600,000 to 700,000 people

Wednesday 26th

Thursday 27th

Friday 28th

Saturday 29th

Sunday 30th

Canvas City performances

On the bill, but did not perform:

Films and albums

The First Great Rock Festivals of the Seventies (1971)

This three-LP set on CBS Records devoted the first disk to Second Annual Atlanta International Pop Festival, and two disks to the later Isle of Wight. Teo Macero is credited as the producer for the Isle of Wight disks. It featured in order billed: Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, Ten Years After, Miles Davis, Kris Kristofferson, Procol Harum, Cactus, Leonard Cohen and David Bromberg.

Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival

All the performances at the festival were professionally filmed by award-winning film director Murray Lerner. [13] with a view to releasing a documentary film but due to financial difficulties, nothing was released until 27 years after the event. Finally, Lerner distilled material from the festival into the film Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival which was premiered at a San Jose film festival in 1995 and released in 1997. A CD of the soundtrack was also issued by Castle Communications/Sony Legacy in 1997. The film puts a negative slant on the 1970 event by splicing in footage of violent incidents preceding the festival itself. Chief Constable, Hampshire Constabulary, Sir Douglas Osmond emphasised the peaceful nature of the event in his evidence given to the Stevenson Report, 1971 (submitted to parliament as evidence in favour of future Isle of Wight Festivals). By the end of the festival, the press representatives became almost desperate for material and they seemed a little disappointed that the patrons had been so well behaved.

Other films and albums

A number of other performances were later released on various formats: VHS, LaserDisc, cassette tape, CD, DVD, Blu-ray & Vinyl records:

Other audience/soundboard recordings in different audio formats are circulating, among others are: Ten Years After, John Sebastian, Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Joni Mitchell, Procol Harum, Family, Kris Kristofferson, Pentangle ...


The founders/main instigators of the Glastonbury (1971), Windsor (1972–74) and Stonehenge (1974) Free Festivals were all at IOW 1970, respectively Andrew Kerr, Ubi Dwyer and Wally Hope, inspired by the anarchistic nature of the breakdown of control by the original organisation and the subsequent freedom of the last days of the event.

For the 50th anniversary of the event, a re-enactment was scheduled in the same location, with John Lodge, Ten Years After, Pentangle, The Pretty Things and Nik Turner all confirmed. However, this was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. [14]


Related Research Articles

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Atlanta International Pop Festival (1970)

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<i>Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight</i> 2002 live album by Jimi Hendrix

Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight is a posthumous live album by Jimi Hendrix released on November 12, 2002. The album documents Hendrix's last U.K. live performance at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31, 1970, three weeks before his death. The set list for the concert contained songs from the original Experience albums, as well as new songs. Some were previously available on Isle of Wight (1971) and Live Isle of Wight '70 (1991). "Power to Love ", "Midnight Lightning", and "Foxy Lady" released in the US on the three record set The First Great Rock Festivals of the 70s: Isle of Wight/Atlanta Pop Festival" released on Columbia Records in 1971.

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<i>Message to Love</i> 1997 film by Murray Lerner

Message to Love is a feature documentary film of the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. Directed and produced by Murray Lerner, the film includes performances by popular rock acts, such as Jimi Hendrix, the Who, and the Doors, as well as folk and jazz artists, such as Joni Mitchell and Miles Davis. The title of the film is taken from a song by Hendrix.

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The Cry of Love Tour was a 1970 concert tour by American rock guitarist and singer Jimi Hendrix. It began on April 25, 1970, at the Forum in Inglewood, California, and ended on September 6, 1970, at the Love & Peace Festival in Fehmarn, Germany. The majority of the 37 shows were in the United States, with two each in Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, and one in England, where Hendrix was the final act at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.

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Raymond Foulk MA, Dip Arch, ARB, is an English architect, author, environmentalist, art collector, exhibition curator and rock music festival promoter/organiser. Foulk founded the Isle of Wight Festivals of Music in 1968 with his brothers Ronald Anthony (Ron) and John Philip Foulk. Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire Foulk was brought up in the Isle of Wight from the age of 10 with his younger sister and three brothers by their recently widowed mother. Ray Foulk is best known as the promoter who negotiated for and signed Bob Dylan for the 2nd Isle of Wight Festival 1969 - the artist's first full concert, pre-announced, advertised or paid performance since May 1966 and his only such performance in nearly eight years. Foulk is also well known for provoking an Act of Parliament. {{Parliamentary debates (Hansard) House of Commons. Isle of Wight County Council Act. Royal assent 05 August 1971 col. 1900-1 1900#23}}

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Coordinates: 50°40′34″N1°29′20″W / 50.676°N 1.489°W / 50.676; -1.489