Grangemouth Pop Festival Scotland 23 September 1972: Jeff Beck, Billy Connolly and others

The Grangemouth Pop Festival
Line up: Beck Bogert Appice; Status Quo; Steeleye Span; Lindisfarne; The Everley Brothers; Beggars Opera; Average White Band; Sunshine; Billy Connolly; The Chris McClure Section; MC: John Peel. All for £1.50!
I’m going to see Billy Connolly at Newcastle City Hall on Thursday night. I’m looking forward to the gig, and it made me think about the couple of times I’ve seen Billy Connolly in the past. The first time I saw him was at The Grangemouth Pop Festival in Scotland in 1972 (see ticket right). At the time he was unknown outside Scotland and, as he delighted in telling us, he was scared shitless about this gig, as it was his biggest to date. The festival was organised by Great Western Festivals, who had also run the excellent Lincoln Festival which I attended earlier in 1972, and was billed as Scotland’s first pop festival. My friend Nicky and I went by train to the gig. Grangemouth is north west of Edinburgh. The festival took place on Saturday 23 September 1972 and was part of the Grangemouth centenary celebrations. It was held in a sports stadium, which was in an industrial area, next to a gasworks, which spewed smoke over us at various times during the day. It wasn’t that well attended as I recall, with quite a heavy atmosphere, drunkenness, and some fights as the day went on. The promised line up was good, however a few of the bands who were billed did not play; a not uncommon occurrence in those days. Billy Connolly (see left from the programme of the festival) delivered a set pretty early during the day which was a mix of comedy and folk songs, and was one of the hits of the day for me. He’d just had a success at the Edinburgh festival and was just starting to make a name for himself.Other highlights of the day were Beggars Opera who were also local heroes with great swirling Hammond organ, The Everley Brothers who sang all those timeless hits, and Steeleye Span, who were still playing quite traditionally-based elecric folk at that time, before the days of All Around My Hat. Status Quo were at the top of their game in the early 70s, and were great favourites of Peel, who was DJ/MC for the day. Marsh Hunt was to seen wandering around the crowd. The extract to the right, which is taken from the newspaper programme (also see below) shows the line up and timings. Chris Mclure, who was another local hero, also played. Unfortunately, neither Uriah Heep or The Electric Light Orchestra played. Beck, Bogert and Appice were the main reason we went along, and Beck was a revelation. His guitar playing eclipses Clapton in my view, and I was in awe of him that night. I remember him playing Superstition and am pretty sure that he used a mouth-tube, which was the first time I’d seen suc a strange contraption, and was a few years before Peter Frampton used one on Show Me The Way. I can’t remember much of the set, but I’m pretty sure it contained Morning Dew, a new song called Black Cat Moan, Going Down, and an epic version of Keep Me Hanging On, which Bogert and Appice will have brought with them from Vanilla Fudge. After the gig we got the train back to Edinburgh, where we spent the night trying, and failing, to sleep on some pretty hard and uncomfortable benches, until it was time for the first train back to Newcastle on the Sunday morning.

21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by W wilson on January 15, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Yep! It was a great day. The worst part was having to leave in the middle of BBA’s set. The bus driver was leaving at eleven and he wasn’t going to wait for stragglers. We listened to the rest of the gig from the bus car park/ no one could find the driver. Felt a bit sorry for the Everly Brothers, it just wasn’t their crowd. I thought the sound was really good on most sets and there was no really bad performances. Happy times!


  2. Posted by Hilary McDowall on July 22, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    One thing I remember was that John Peel kept playing Tony Blackburn’s record then going oops when he drew the needle across it. He did this several times. I also remember Billy Connolly walking about with cans of lager in his pockets. We did not bring food with us which was a big mistake as, if I recollect correctly, there were only a couple of hot dog stalls to choose from. We had left a blanket in the car and we were not allowed to go back for it. It got quite coo in the evening. When we got home I remember having a hot bath and eating toast! I am so glad that I went though…..a good memory!


  3. Posted by Ian on August 16, 2013 at 10:50 am

    We were Students at G.C.O.B Glasgow College of Building when we were approached to Volunteer for Stewarding at the 1972 Grangemouth Pop Festival in Grangemouth. We all saw the Acts Marsha Hunt Status Quo and even saw Stanley Baker of Zulu , who was one of the organisers,. Hired Mini Bus took us there with a stop at Muirkirk on the way home. Brilliant fun, good to Volunteer sometimes !


  4. Posted by Jake on January 28, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    We were at the Scottish Light Castings and Engineering Training Centre at Earls Gate (and by coincidence, I had just been thrown out of the above GCOBuilding & Printing), and a few of us went along for the day. As i stayed way over the Forth in the Hillfoots, and my bike had broken down again, I had to leave early to catch the last bus home. I think everything was running late by that time, because I’d expected to hear the Quo in my timings, but they were just firing up as we were leaving. I picked up a girl I knew at the event, and the thing I remember most is persuading the conductor that she was my wee sister (she wasn’t tall) and getting her a half fare! It was cold, and by the end of the day, people were building fires in the stadium, fuelled by whatever they could find that was combustible. You always remember your first festival, but not very well…


  5. Posted by Kris connor on May 1, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Big let down for me was the non appearance of Uriah Heep. Quo were magnificent as was BBA, spoiled only by the heavy rain that came on during their set.


    • Posted by vintagerock on May 1, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      It was a pretty great line up , looking back I’m going to see Jeff Beck in a couple of weeks. Can’t wait Cheers Peter


  6. Posted by Andrew Murray on September 2, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    If it was North of Edinburgh it would be across the River Forth. It’s west of Edinburgh actually but then you are obviously too lazy and brain dead to check on a map.


    • But you are – Grangemouth IS north west of Edinburgh. The Forth flows south east from Stirling to Edinburgh. there is no point at which the river is further south than Edinburgh. I won’t bore you with the map references – your head is too full of shit for such technicalities.


  7. Posted by Mo on June 16, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Yip I got a bus which was run from East Kilbride by The Key Youth Centre and I remember I could see Stanley Baker at the back and wings of the stage. I thought as I watched The Everly Brothers that they were old but brilliant ( I was 14 then) Staus Quo we’re still a hard working but not yet famous rock band and they were brilliant to watch.Uriah Heep were a no show which was disappointing and it was John Peel doing all the chat and the intros. It rained later on at night.


    • Posted by Arrietty Blossom on January 4, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      I also went from the key Youth club in East Kilbride!I was 15 and so excited.We brought sandwiches that my mum had made and swapped them for whisky!I remember Billy Connolly being nervous and saying ‘geez a break-i’m shitting ma sel up here’…..


  8. Posted by Stewart Forsyth on May 25, 2020 at 12:26 am

    I was looking for photos of this concert and the only one I could find was the one with the big stage. When I saw the picture I was actually in it. Although you can’t see my face, I’m the one with the long hair standing in front of the girl with the checked top, who was my girlfriend at the time, on the right hand side of the picture. I was looking forward to seeing ELO, however enjoyed the rest of the bands especially The Everly Brothers. Had seen Billy Connolly before as part of The Humblebums, he is totally mental. I missed Jeff Beck as I had to leave after Status Quo for the last bus home, plus I was cold and hungry, but I could hear him from the Falkirk bus station where I was standing eating my chips. Stanley Baker (Zulu) was one of the main organisers. Not much luck with ELO, had tickets to see them this year and the show is cancelled. Can’t believe this was 48 years ago when I was nineteen.


  9. Posted by Ricky Quinn on June 19, 2021 at 3:30 am

    Billy Connolly to a heckler. “Does Mother Superior ken you’re oot?!” He played Humblebums songs. We had to hitch home when our bus didn’t show up.


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 19, 2021 at 11:18 am

      Hi Ricky. It was the first time I saw Billy Connolly and I thought he was great then. Happy days. Peter


  10. Posted by Ann Williams on August 4, 2021 at 9:00 am

    My 1st festival, i was 16, went on bus ran by Kirkcaldy YMCA, I loved it, but really wanted to see Uriah Heep , unfortunately they didn’t show .
    Loved Lindisfarne and Steeleye Span , and of course Status Quo, great memories glad I was there.


    • Posted by vintagerock on August 4, 2021 at 11:14 am

      Hi Ann yes it was a great day. We forget how truly awesome Status Quo were in those days. Happy days Peter


  11. Posted by Jim Scullion on August 23, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    Just recently came across photos that I took at this event. Went up on the Friday and camped out in the stadium. It was brilliant.


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