Two weeks after and on the other side of the Atlantic from Woodstock, the second of three Isle of Wight Festivals went down today in 1969, with Bob Dylan and The Band headlining. Indeed Dylan was The “Minstrel Of His Generation” and he hadn’t done much of anything at all since he crashed his Triumph motorcycle in ’66. He lived near Woodstock, and the promoters chose that area to lure him out of his semi-retirement, but Bob signed on to play the British festival instead. He didn’t much cotton to flying, and crossed the ocean on the Queen Elizabeth II, leaving New York harbor the day before Woodstock started. Bob and The Band rehearsed before the show, only allowing one outsider in, George Harrison. The festival was by all accounts much better organized than it’s upstate New York counterpart, and included a VIP seating area near the front for the likes of Keith, Charlie, and Bill from The Stones, Eric Clapton, Syd Barrett, Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Jane Fonda, and The Beatles (who also had been invited to Woodstock, but John Lennon had been denied entry to the U.S. by the Nixon administration, or they didn’t want to meet John’s demand that The Plastic Ono Band play as well, depending on who you talk to), and their wives. The lineup at the island a short ferry ride from Portsmouth included Free, The Pretty Things, King Crimson, The Nice, The Moody Blues, and three acts that managed to play both festivals, The Who, Joe Cocker, and Richie Havens.
Meanwhile back in the States, yet another three day music festival was getting under way in 1969: The Texas International Pop Festival held at the Dallas International Motor Speedway, the brainchild of the son of the founder of the Six Flags amusement park chain. Some of the lineup of acts (Janis Joplin, Canned Heat, Ten Years After, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, Sweetwater, and Johnny Winter) had played at Woodstock, and some who’d been invited there but didn’t play were in Texas: Led Zeppelin (their manager Peter Grant had told Woodstock organizers he didn’t want them playing any more big festivals), The Chicago Transit Authority, Sam and Dave, B.B. King, The Nazz, Grand Funk Railroad,and Spirit. There was a lake chock full of skinny dipping hippies at the nearby campground, and when Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters’ “Further” bus showed up, they were put in charge of it and the festival’s free stage of eclectic performers ( where the head of the “Hog Farm Commune”, who had been Hugh Romney at Woodstock, would be forever after known as “Wavy Gravy“), despite the fact that Ken himself wasn’t there.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono played Madison Square Garden in New York tonight in 1972, a charity fundraiser with Sha Na Na, Stevie Wonder, and Roberta Flack. John bought $60,000 worth of the tickets and handed them out to volunteers. Several songs from this show made it on to John’s Live In New York City album.
Free guitarist Paul Kossoff, who had a nasty drug habit, died for the first time today in 1975. He was revived after 35 minutes, but in March of the following year he didn’t do as well, and checked out at age 25.
Bruce Springsteen’s 10 year younger wife Julianne Phillips from suburban Portland filed for divorce today in 1988, pissed about the tabloid photos she’d seen of him cavorting in Europe with E-Street Band backup singer Patti Scialfa, who Bruce eventually married.
Guns-N-Roses rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin was arrested today in 1989 for being publicly severely intoxicated on a variety of substances, abusing a US Airways flight attendant, peeing in the aisle of the plane, and worst of all smoking in the non-smoking section of an aircraft that still had a smoking section. He was sentenced to a year of probation, and became the first G&R member to clean himself up.
Nirvana played what ended up being their last British show at the Reading Festival today in 1992. Poking fun at tabloid rumors about Kurt Cobain’s mental health, he had himself pushed on stage in a wheelchair by Everett True, the acerbic but very funny British music journalist that Bruce Pavitt and Jon Poneman of Sub Pop Records had flown to Seattle to see them, and made them famous in England before the U.S.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas would be 78. He died at 65.
BBC radio disc jockey John Peel would be 74. He broke new bands and played live in the BBC studios recordings…the “Peel Sessions”….from the likes of Pink Floyd when he started in 1967, the progressive rock movement of the early 70’s, Reggae, punk, British metal, Mudhoney, Nirvana and Soundgarden, and more, right up to his death in 2004.