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.

25 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!

    Reply

  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!

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  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 !

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  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…

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  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.

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    • 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

      Reply

  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.

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    • 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.

      Reply

  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.

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    • 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’…..

      Reply

  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.

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  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.

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    • 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

      Reply

  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.

    Reply

    • 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

      Reply

  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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  12. Posted by Thomas Jack Wren on January 12, 2023 at 1:25 pm

    Ann and I plus my mate Gib and his female companion (Can’t for the life of me remember her name…She no doubt doesn’t remember ours)… We were there!!

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on January 12, 2023 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Thomas a great day. I have many happy memories of the Grangemouth pop festival, particularly the incendiary performance by Jeff Beck. I am very saddened today to hear of his passing. I think that we have just lost the greatest guitarist the world has ever seen. I feel privileged to have witnessed him live several times. Peter

      Reply

  13. Posted by Ed Jones on January 13, 2023 at 3:01 pm

    I was writing for the great little Edinburgh mag “CRACKER” at the the time.
    Here’s my review of the show – in 2023 still available on the rocksbackpages.com website (along with thousands of other writings).
    ——————————————————————

    “Idyll…At Grangemouth?: Beck, Bogert and Appice, Status Quo, John Peel & Steeleye Span”
    Ed Jones, Cracker, October 1972

    AS WE CRUISED TOWARDS GRANGEMOUTH in the Cracker-mobile, hoping for a day of peace’n’love near Falkirk, our suspicions should have been aroused by the RAC’s Official road signs, saying “To The Pop Festival”.

    And the mile or two before the Grangemouth Cycling Stadium was a crash re-education in super-capitalism, in the weirdly beautiful form of BP’s 2001-type oil refinery: cooling towers wreathed in steam, silver spheres linked with miles of snaking pipes, and oil waste burning a glaring orange in the midday sky.

    The Stadium itself weren’t no Woodstockian woodland glade. Concentric cycling and running tracks ringed a grudgingly grassed oval, along one side of which was a concrete grandstand. In one corner of the ground stood the WEM-walled stage optimistically labelled “Grangemouth Celebration”.

    The Celebrators themselves, taking no chances, were inclined to wander about aimlessly, rather unsure of what to do in the gaps between performances, since the October weather in Scotland’s Central Lowlands doesn’t really encourage much in the way of nudity.

    The audience sat on the concrete or grass, or trolled about in slightly self-conscious non-integration. Everyone seemed to be waiting for something to happen, but as I trespassed on the Scottish Daily Express’s exclusive concession for periodicals, selling Your Favourite Magazine, I detected vast reservoirs of goodwill that no one was tapping.

    Great Western’s giant organisational machine had been jolted by fog delays on some of the performers’ incoming flights, so there was only Glasgow-based Chris McClure between 11.30 and 1pm. This meant a tightening up of the schedule all day, though Uriah Heep and Electric Light Orchestra didn’t play at all. ELO arrived late and were offered a midnight spot, after Jeff Beck, which they wisely declined. A similar offer was made to Uriah Heep, who arrived three hours late from Amsterdam, demanding to go on immediately, half way through Lindisfarne’s set. Heep likewise refused the post-Beck option. All this meant that Steeleye Span had to rush from their hotel to the stage at 10 minutes’ notice, which provoked negative karma from some of the audience who inexplicably seemed to be in favour of the idea of hearing Uriah Heep.

    Steeleye Span did an excellent hardworking set without exactly setting things on fire (perhaps a relief, with the refinery so close by), running through an up-tempo selection of their electrified English folk songs, including an almost-moving traditional Christmas song, ‘Laudate’, performed unaccompanied as a five-part vocal. But the circumstances weren’t really right for their clarity and calm. What was required was a spot of circulation-increasing excitement.

    Status Quo attempted to supply this, directing all their energies toward getting the audience to come together a bit and throw some of their energy stage-wards. Musically, they were hopelessly dull, and without apparent embarrassment to either audience or performers, actually contrived to play one number twice. Not that this mattered much as all their numbers seemed to be interminable blues jams in E. However they did it all with energy and humour and were rewarded by a grateful audience with the greatest enthusiasm I saw all day.

    I must confess that during Status Quo’s set, in the face of the freshening October wind and numbing toes, my solidarity with my freezing freak friends crumbled and I sneaked off to the Press Bar, filled with besuited journalists who were, as John Peel put it, “continuing the great tradition of covering festivals from the bar”. One such toad, who later scathingly complained in the Glasgow Evening Standard of “squalor and drunkenness”, had to be carried from the stadium revoltingly pissed. However, the whisky must have been OK, for the press was generally favourable.

    John Peel himself talked of the Dunkirk Spirit at festivals and quite rightly found the whole scene absurd, while complaining piteously about the unprepossessing groupie he’d been landed with, and the lack of dope. This last was linked with his horror at the amazing boozo intake among the kids. I must agree: to my dismay I didn’t spy a single joint during the whole day. That some other drugs were being consumed was evident from the fact that HELP, the bust and bummer people, dealt with over 50 bad trips, providing medical aid in peaceful surroundings.

    Every so often, during the latter part of the day, some poor guy, stiff on a stretcher, would be carried past, in the grip of an Intergalactic Electric Bummer, caused by the adulterated green microdot acid that was apparently circulating. However, there were no drug busts and few arrests, so the police were happy enough.

    The final act, at about 10.15, was Beck, Bogert & Appice, Jeff Beck’s new 3-piece band, with Tim Bogert on bass and Carmine Appice on drums, both formerly of Vanilla Fudge and Cactus. These guys, although finally not as well received as Status Quo, were what made the Grangemouth Festival at all worthwhile for me. Despite amplification and string-breaking hassles, their energy and fire brought gurgles of excitement from me as they resolved some incredible 8-bar contrapuntal whiplash. Beck, on crackingly enthusiastic form, throwing around crashing chords and sly little quotes, worked closely with bassist Tim Bogert, who during a Beck-less episode, took an amazing solo, doing things with fuzz that no bass-player I’ve heard has bettered.

    So about midnight, when the show was stopped “because the authorities are getting pissed off”, we trolled off to our cars or late night buses, all poorer, some wiser and — with the exception of the BBA set — none greatly enriched by the whole thing. That is if you exclude the rip-off food concessionaires paying, it is said, £150 for each stall. Their Reconstituted-Industrial-Waste Burgers at 20p a go brought indigestibly home how far this was from being a Freak Festival.

    © Ed Jones, 1972

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on January 13, 2023 at 4:20 pm

      Thank you so much Ed for sharing this. Very detailed account of the day. I wasn’t fully aware of the goings-on behind-the-scenes but I was disappointed that Uriah Heep and Electric Light Orchestra did not play. This is how I like to remember Jeff Beck, for me the greatest guitarist, certainly most innovative and imaginative, that I have ever seen. Best wishes Peter

      Reply

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