Monday, 25 February 2013

Weeley Festival 1971

I grew up in Weeley- a blank three shop village in Essex with a caravan park, a crematorium and a concrete merchants. It is nowhere, not really countryside thanks to the big road running through it, yet with porn-strewn woodlands and orchards too.

You would think that this odd and listless Sunshine Coast dwelling non-scape had never seen a remarkable day in its life. I had the same opinion that most kids have about their hometown- I wanted to get out. I stared at the three seaxes with a kind of longing, back-combed my hair and jumped fences with the assistance of BASS BOOST.

If only I had known that
in 1971, right there in those fields a massive rock festival had taken place, at which some of my favourite bands had played- bands that I thought existed in an entirely different dimension, then maybe I would have given Weeley a bit more credence. Have a look at the running list:

The idea that Marc Bolan and Rod Stewart nearly got into some kind of brawl near my little house would have been too much for me to imagine- on that day 110,000 people flocked to Weeley thanks to the Alan Partridgesque Clacton Round Table who most years ran a Donkey Derby.

‘It was almost an exodus,’ said Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel. ‘Thousands upon thousands of us coming from all over Britain- hitching, walking, anyway you could to get to a place most of us had never actually heard of.’ 

How did this r&r thing happened? The bands played all day and all night, the Hell's Angels got into fights and the hippies spun round like lawn sprinklers. It was a far cry from white-haired Mrs Starling next door and the cracker lady who walked around with a toy monkey in a pram

I was minus 5 at the time so missed out, but to get with it I've made a playlist. I hope you like it. Even if you didn't grow up in Weeley it's still a glimpse into a time where a small town commitee can organise a huge depraved rock festival. It's this mix of quaintness and hedonism that sums up a kind of Englishness that I'm very attached to. 


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