Buxton Festival 1973

Buxton Festival 1973 Line-up: Chuck Berry; Canned Heat; Nazareth; Edgar Broughton Band; Sensational Alex Harvey Band; Medicine Head; Brewers Droop
Billed to play, but didn’t: Groundhogs; Roy Wood and Wizard
This was a pretty crazy event. The weather was miserable, but what really sticks in my mind is the Hells Angels who took control of the entire day and had us all in fear. I hitched there with my mate Gilly and arrived around lunchtime. This was a one day event with a pretty strong line-up. I was a big fan of the Groundhogs at the time, and went along largely to see Tony McPhee and the guys; sadly they didn’t play. When we arrived we found the festival which was right up on a cold moor, and the weather wasn’t great with wind and rain, and lots of mud throughout the day. A large group of Hells Angels had taken their place at the front of the crowd, bikes and all. They were all very drunk and stoned and got worse as the day went on. Every so often they would rev their bikes up and ride them through the crowd. How no-one was hurt, I don’t know. When they ran out of money for beer they came through the crowd asking for 10p from each of us. Almost everyone gave them something; we were all frightened not to. As the day went on they started to go up on stage and take control. John Peel was DJ for the event but at some point half way through the day a Hells Angel took over the mike and John left. A couple of the bands, Roy Wood and Groundhogs, arrived and saw what was going on, and left without playing. I was particularly disappointed that the Groundhogs didn’t play. Gilly and I had made a flag saying Groundhogs, which we were planning to wave during the set (that seems so sad now, but yes we really did do it). We threw the flag away in disgust when they didn’t play. All of the bands who did play were great. buxtonEdgar Broughton always gave value for money at such outdoor events, and that day was no exception. The Poppy was a favourite of mine at the time, and I remember him playing that song, in the white judo suit that he tended to wear at the time. Medicine Head were good: One and One is One was out then. Alex Harvey and his band started with the Osmonds’ Crazy Horses, which seemed a bizarre song choice for a rock band, but worked well. I also remember a great version of Del Shannon’s Runaway being another surprise that day. Alex jumped into the crowd at one point and faced up to a Hells Angel who was trying to beat up another guy, and stopped the violence. Alex had no fear; I had deep respect for the guy. Zal was crazy as ever and looked evil in his clown suit. Canned Heat gave us some great boogie, with Bob the Bear pumping away on his mouth harp. Nazareth were also excellent with Dan singing with a Hells Angel alongside him. By the time Chuck Berry took to the stage it was full of Angels, all dancing round him and trying to copy his duck walk. Chuck joked with them, and just got on with his set, he didn’t seem at all phased by what was going on. Chuck’s set was short, and he left to no encore and a hail of cans from the crowd. Brewer’s Droop came straight on and calmed the crowd down. We left in the early hours, as we didn’t fancy spending the night in the field with the Angels. We tried to walk to the main road, which was a long way. We got so far down a country road and were so tired that we lay down and slept on the steps of a house. When we awoke we were soaked and found ourselves lying in a puddle. We somehow managed to hitch home, getting back around Sunday evening. An experience never to repeated (thankfully). Having said that; reflecting on the event; I’m pleased I went. We saw some great bands and heard some amazing music that day. The ones that stick in my mind most are Edgar Broughton, and Alex Harvey, then Chuck Berry and Canned Heat. Great memories. 39 years is a long time ago.
Many thanks to Ian Johnson for sending me his photo of the event, which is of band Chopper, who I recall playing in 1974, and Ian is sure also played in 1973. What do others remember?

22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bert cooney on October 29, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    hi gilly you got a good memory, i was there with my girlfriend [ still together] i recall someone on stage saying chuck berry wanting 10 grand to come back on again. at the time i had not heard of S.A.H.B but for myself i thought WOW, amazing . Also canned heat really rocked. I think Edgar broughton did a set with his new band .


  2. Posted by Dave Evans on August 23, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I was there too, and left gutted that the Groundhogs did not perform. Great memories though 42 years ago.

    Dave Evans



    • Posted by vintagerock on August 23, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Dave You and me both. The Groundhogs, and McPhee in particular, were my heroes at the time.
      Incidentally, I have just been reading that Ken Pustlenik has formed his own new version of the Groundhogs. They have a gig lined up in Bath next month. Cheers Peter


  3. Posted by Ian Johnson. on February 16, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    It was a great day out. I have a photograph of the band named Chopper. Cheers for the website.


    • Posted by vintagerock on February 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Many thanks Ian Did Chopper open the day? Or was that the 1974 event? Peter


      • Posted by Ian Johnson. on February 16, 2016 at 7:19 pm

        It was 1973. Chopper, as I recall, did open the day. I did go to the 1974 event. How can I forward my photograph?

        Ian Johnson.

  4. I remember that on that Buxton was part of Berry’s 1973 UK tour. I had read about very short sets of five songs, and so was expecting Berry to only do five numbers and leave. But with the Hells Angels there, he clearly changed his mind. He did his usual five songs, and then said “We’ve done our warm up and now we’re ready to do the set”, which got a cheer, and he played a bit longer.

    Though it was a one day festival, some of us camped out for the night before and the night after on the festival site. In the morning the organisers asked for some help in clearing up the site, so we hung around for an hour and did a bit. A local news crew photographed us and did an interview. I sometimes wonder if that got into the local papers.


  5. Posted by patryck albert on June 9, 2017 at 7:47 am

    i was at Buxton Festival on the road from Le Havre to Scotland. Local TV interviewed some of us thus me ( a frog guy wear wood-coat) ….. a guy sez i ‘s on Local news TV …..who get the archive , pleez …… reward !


  6. Posted by Alan Hesketh on July 23, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    I remember it well, the weather was horrendous, it was high on a windswept moor above Buxton, The Hells Angels weren’t too bad really, they were just larking about throwing a bit of mud around, and there was certainly plenty of that.

    Chuck Berry was booed by some fans as his set was such a short one, but you could hardly blame him in the conditions.

    Nazareth were awesome I seem to recall, and were quite big at that time with “Broken down Angel”.

    happy days.



  7. Posted by patryck albert on August 8, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Buxton rock festival 1973 , i was hitch-hickin’ from Le Havre city slang – France to Scotland , & saw BUXTON festival 73 on the road north ……… young teen-ager of 18 years old thus saw this rock festival event …… saw Canned Heatr & Chuck Berry ( my faves ) among others …… WARNIN’ …….just a question : As a teen-ager Frog guy , >>>> i was interviewed by local TV while 2 or 3 minutes before the D-Day ….festival ….. beware : …..i ‘ll be very pround to see this spot 47 years later …… is anybody ‘d help me ? …thx ….sincerely , Patryck .


  8. I was there but left early as the rain started. Alex Harvey was amazing. Never heard of him before as I think they had just started the year before. He sang Framed whilst stuffing his mouth with pieces of towel and swinging high from the stage scaffolding. You couldn’t make it up ! Also Midnight Moses fantastic……and I still have the programme.


  9. Posted by Andy Clements on March 31, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    I went as a 16 year old in the wet one in 73. Spent the night sleeping in the church in town.


  10. Posted by John Cairns on April 7, 2019 at 1:06 am

    I hitched down from Carlisle areas to both Buxton festivals in 73 and in 74 Was freezing cold and wet weather. With loads of Hells Angels from north wales front of the stage,, Canned heat were amazing played a two hours set in the rainy conditions /Edgar Broughton band. /man /Nazareth/ Chuck Berry and I think National Flag band started of the music on the Friday or the Saturday mid -day ish ,,followed by Strider ,1973 I was about 18 years old ,,can remember walking miles as well as getting hitched /lifts when the festival ended -Buxton over to Macclesfield to the M6 at knutsford services and hitched 100 miles plus back to Carlisle. At one festival cannot remember if it was in 73 or 74 I actually got the wrong weekend ,,and I hitched down to the Buxton festival site only to find the organisers still Erecting up the stage and lightning and equipment,,so I stayed one night in my tent and hitched the 150 miles back home next day ,,then the following weekend re-hitched back down to Buxton festival site ,,has anyone on here got any photos /or audio tape recordings of any of those amazing bands in those two years -festivals. I took a few black and white pics and a few colour photos,,some of the main stage areas and bands playing; and a few colour pics of the camp site area ,,cheers


  11. Posted by Joe on December 9, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    I was also at this event driving down from outside Glasgow in a little mini with 4 big guys on board. We were part of a group who tried to stop the bikers from taking. control of the event



  12. Posted by Robert Pearson on March 25, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    yes chopper did open both 73 and 74 festivals they were a local band from leek 10 miles south of Buxton and their agent Dave Daniels was the booking agent for the festival so they probably played for petrol money and the promise of “exposure”. Sadly never made the big time though their set was better than some of the big names there.


  13. Posted by Gilly on October 10, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    I’ll never forget that puddle, or the nice warm jag we hitched a lift in


    • Posted by vintagerock on October 11, 2020 at 9:22 am

      Hi Gary

      Great to hear from you. Happy days. Will email you separately

      You will find some of our joint memories on here Best wishes Peter


  14. Posted by D J salt on March 4, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    I was there in 73 wot a day the weather was bloody awful wind & rain all day. The ground was sodden with loads of sloppy mud with loads of people walking bare footed. The bands wot played were brill chuck Berry, nazarath others but hells angels were a right nuisance throwning mud & threatening people if you wouldn’t give them 10p for ale. But it was a day I’d never forget coz of the music & also the weather & certain reprobates.


  15. Posted by Colin flook on July 27, 2022 at 9:55 pm

    I hitched from s.wales with my mate John Gilles we got there on Friday night we were in our tent in the camp site some hell’s angels tide a rope on. Someone sleeping in their tent then dragged him around the site with a bike crazy buggers, weather. Was awful but the bands were great I’m sure when Nazareth were on they sang broken down angel while the angels tried to take over the stage, it was a very cold and wet occasion but a great weekend


    • Posted by vintagerock on July 28, 2022 at 11:52 am

      Hi Colin. Thanks for sharing your memories. Yes the Hells Angels took over the whole event which made it pretty scary. And yes I have the same memory of Nazareth with Dan McCafferty handling the Angels well. A great day. Happy days Peter


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