The Hollywood Festival and Music at Keele

Music is important to nearly all students - but few remember how Keele was the location of one of the earliest and most important open-air music festivals. Of course, if you do remember it, maybe you weren't really there...

THE HOLLYWOOD MUSIC FESTIVAL AT MADELEY - MAY 23rd - MAY 24th 1970  

Hollywood Music Festival 1970 “The highlight of summer 1970 for me was the Hollywood Music Festival at Madeley in May 1970 - it was quite extraordinary to have such a landmark rock festival right on our doorstep. The impressive line-up included Grateful Dead, Colosseum, Free, Mungo Jerry (about to reach #1 in the charts with “In the Summertime”), Jose Feliciano and Ginger Baker's Airforce.” Bob Smith (1974)

“I have been beginning to wonder whether I was ever actually at Keele since I don’t remember a lot that others do!  But the festival at Madeley – yes!  Topping the bill was Jose Feliciano, with Mungo Jerry and Jefferson Airplane and a host of other acts, including Keele’s own student DJs of whom one was Richard Hames (1972). Keele students were heavily involved in running it, including Paul Hodgson (1972), who was a genius with stage lighting.” Sheila Binns (1972)

“I went to the free rock festival at Hollywood, but I'm a bit hazy about the line-up.  I remember the band Mungo Jerry taking the stage by storm with their exuberant act featuring their hit 'In the Summertime'.  They became firm Keele favourites.  I have the feeling that our own legendary Keele student rock band 'Milk Train' were on the bill too.” Ilze Mason (Ulmanis) (1972)

 “This was the first weekend festival and still the only one I've ever been to – I’ve led a very sheltered life since Keele!  The performers I remember were the Grateful Dead (who seemed to play forever - I fell asleep and only became a fan later), Ginger Baker, Mungo Jerry and Jose Feliciano.  I have several sentimental photos of friends shrouded in smoke.” Gill Burgess (Hindle) (1973)

“The Hollywood Music Festival, had the star of Mungo Jerry with his hit In the Summertime, and Jose Feliciano, who I remember, made a joke about reading Penthouse in Braille.  I got in for free, late on a Sunday night with my girlfriend, Susan Hamlett (1971).  I remember, buying her some earrings and I remember that the Sneyd Arms ran out of beer.”  Richard Kunc (1971)

“I believe it was Mungo Jerry who headlined and broke out their hit "In the Summer Time" there, and John Peel who DJ'd and hosted/announced. As for the rest, it was all a bit hazy, so to speak. “ Simon Glynn (1971)

“I remember seeing Traffic, Mungo Jerry and Jose Feliciano at the Hollywood Festival in 1970. I think the Grateful Dead topped the bill. John Peel compèred. Carol Birch (Fidler) (1972).  

“The Hollywood Music Festival was blessed with great weather as well as great bands. I think it was the first time the Grateful Dead appeared in this country, with other major acts like Ginger Baker’s Airforce, Free, Screaming Lord Sutch, and for me best of all was Traffic, led by an inspirational Stevie Winwood.” Ron Graham (1971). 

Poster Right by permission Brian Plews/Alan Taylor at Circa Design.

“Mungo Jerry, I think, topped the bill, with 'In the Summertime'.” Jenny Kidd (Bowden) (1972)“I was there, along with my sister and a school friend who came to stay in Hawthorns K block for the event. I recall Mungo Jerry, Ginger Baker and Jose Feliciano...” Sheila Thomas (1973) 

“I remember that Mungo Jerry was the big hit act and that their career was really jump-started by their performance at the festival and that they also had a hit record with the song “In the Summertime,” which they first played to a large audience at the festival. I didn’t know that the Grateful Dead also appeared there. Hollywood was not the first outdoor rock concert weekend in the UK. The first Isle of Wight festival, held at Ford Farm near Godshill, occurred in 1968 (I was there!) and featured Jefferson Airplane (or Aeroplane, as they then were), T-Rex, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and the performance I liked best, which took place at about 9 am on a Sunday morning with about 20 people still hanging on, by Aynsley Dunbar’s Retaliation. The 1969 Isle of Wight Festival featured Bob Dylan and is often remembered as the first Isle of Wight Festival. The really big one, though, was the 1970 event with Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Joni Mitchell and scores of others and it is still considered the largest festival to have been held in the UK with 600,000 in attendance. Too big for me - I got out of town.” Roland Goodbody (1975)

"A great gig! My two abiding memories: the occasional policemen at the side of the road as we strolled up to the site, friendly as could be and grinning as if they'd been at the smokes... and 'In the Summertime' seemingly over and over again because Mungo Jerry and his group obviously hadn't rehearsed any of their other numbers enough yet..." Colin Lester (1973)

“I was employed as part of the stage crew along with Phil Bastian, also at Keele. This involved setting up Ginger Baker's drum-kit, making Steve Winwood a cup of tea and generally humping equipment around. The high spots were The Grateful Dead, Traffic, Family and Ginger Baker's Airforce. Jose Felciano, Black Sabbath, Free, Colosseum and Screaming Lord Sutch also played. Mungo Jerry launched their hit single 'In the Summertime' there.... I had to nail Ginger Baker's drum kit to the stage (6 inch nails). When I'd finished, the stage manager advised me to make myself scarce in case I'd done it wrong. Mr Baker had a reputation for having a rather volatile temperament....We never got paid - the Red Bus Company that organised it (registered in Sicily) mysteriously went bust - but we had a great weekend. You can view the poster for the festival at www.ukrockfestivals.com/hollyfestivalposter.html and find more details at www.ukrockfestivals.com/Holly-fest-menu.70.html” Geof Branch (1970)

“It was wonderful apart form the tin can throwing during Mungo Jerry’s set which was the first time I’d witnessed it and felt that perhaps this wasn’t another Summer of Love and was society really going to get that violent? Bands certainly there were Ginger Baker’s Airforce, Jose Feliciano, Grateful Dead incredibly – and was that a 4 or 5 hour set in the end - Mungo Jerry, Family, Screaming Lord Sutch, Black Sabbath, Mike Cooper, Free, Traffic, The Flaming Groovies… But why go on – you can find it all at www.ukrockfestivals.com/hollyhype.html Hugh Coolican (1972)

“Good to hear that someone remembers Hollywood UK style! The line up acts were as follows: Special Guest - Jose Feliciano. May 23: Family, Radha Krishna Temple, Demon Fuzz, The James Gang, Ginger Baker’s Airforce, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Mike Cooper, Mungo Jerry. May 24: Grateful Dead, Colosseum, Free, Wildmouth, Black Sabbath, Traffic, Trader Horne, Quintessence, Black Widow, Shag Rat. And what a line up that was! Tickets were 50 shillings (that’s £2.50 for younger listeners) although I'm not sure many paid the full whack!” Steve Gillham (1973)

“Have a look here too: www.ukrockfestivals.com/Hollywoodpress.html” Rob Hirons (1973)

“Here’s a local link to a local festival! www.ukrockfestivals.com/hollyway.html” Phill Watson (1972)

And a final word on Mungo Jerry….

“I was at the Isle of Wight in 1969 and 1970 to see Dylan and the Band, Joe Cocker, Moody Blues etc. 1970 was the classic event (albeit later in the year than Hollywood) with Hendrix, The Doors, The Who and ELP. The aforementioned Mungo Jerry (who I knew quite well as they come from my home town) withdrew late - too famous as a result of “In the Summertime!” More fool them.” Gordon Mousinho (1972)

 

A JIMI HENDRIX CONNECTION

“I'm pretty sure it was in the winter of 1968, as it was incredibly cold and there was thick fog on the M1 as Steve and I headed home from London to Keele at about 2 am in the morning. We pulled into the Blue Boar Motorway Cafe on the M6 at Keele - does it still exist? As per normal we slummed it in the truckers’ cafe. As we were getting our sausages and chips, Steve points out three colourfully dressed guys over by the window. "That's Hendrix and his band, isn’t it?" Adrenaline shot up my spine. What was the protocol now? Pretend they weren't there, ask them for autographs, or sit as close to them as was reasonably possible. We chose the latter.  Jimi was leaning up against the glass nearest the motorway looking much the worse for wear, like he was on something or other. I ask Mitch Mitchell for the tomato sauce which he hands nonchalantly to me. I ask him where they're off to. He says they're due to play a gig at Birmingham Uni. Being closely associated with the Keele entertainments committee I confirm that like Led Zeppelin they are now worth £1000 a gig and out of our league. Imagine if we could have raised the money? Noel Redding hands me their manager’s card. I'm desperately wanting to attract Jimi's attention. "He hasn't had too much sleep lately" says Mitch. Jimi suddenly asked me, "Where's Keele?" A magic moment that I will relate to my grandchildren. I kept it brief, "We'd love to have you play". "Ask the manager, it’s up to him”. Noel Redding meanwhile is obviously rolling a joint and then they get up to leave. Jimi isn't that steady on his feet. Steve and I follow them down to the car park where they head for a pink Cadillac, fins and all. Noel Redding is passing around the joint. Noel Redding meanwhile opens the boot of the Cadillac, pulls out what looks like a pair of mattress springs, ties them to his feet and then proceeds to bounce around the car park. "He's crazy, man”, says Hendrix. Mitchell agrees. Into the car they get. Steve and I head quickly for my TR4A. They head down the slipway onto the M6 with us in close pursuit.” David Harris (1970)

"I was Social Secretary in about 1971 and I stage-managed the last Jimi Hendrix concert before he died; the festival, rather infamously called ‘Love and Peace Festival’ was a three day affair in Germany on a little island in the Baltic called Fehmarn. Hendrix was top of the bill and there was a host of top bands from the US and UK. I became Stage Manager for the last day. In the course of talking to Hendrix I asked him if he would come and play at Keele (that would have been my crowning achievement!) and he said yes just go and see my agent in London. So Dave Philp (1972) and I did just that a few days later and it was when we were there in the agent’s office that the news came in that Hendrix had died.  The Pink Floyd gig was legendary at the time but it was my predecessor who booked them for £250. I also did a lot of events organising at Keele and throughout the Potteries for ‘Rag week’ one year (1971 I think) and that was in addition to all the Keele events." David Butcher (1972)

NOT FORGETTING BOB DYLAN

For the aficionado of Sixties music, honourable mention must go to Keith Butler (1968).

It was revealed in "Newsnight" on 29 January 1999) that the person who shouted "Judas" at Bob Dylan's celebrated concert at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1966 was Keith Butler (1968) from Keele.

“During a break between songs, the cry of ‘Judas’ was clearly heard from the audience.  ‘I don’t believe you’, came the reply from the great man, ‘You’re a liar’.  He then turned to his band (the Hawks, later to become the legendary Band) and exhorted them to ‘Play ******** loud as they launched into a blistering version of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’. 

This episode has gone down in rock history and was captured on the inaccurately-titled ‘Live at the Albert Hall’ album. It has been called ‘the most famous rock and roll concert in history’ and has been the subject of entire books. Regrettably the originator of "the most famous heckle in rock history" passed away in October 2002.

Did you enjoy this? Why not read more stories from the Keele Oral History Project?