Archive for the ‘Thin Lizzy’ Category

Phil Lynnot’s Grand Slam Middlesbrough Town Hall 11th July 1984

Phil Lynnot’s Grand Slam Middlesbrough Town Hall 11th July 1984
thinphilslamThis gig wasn’t well attended. Grand Slam were a shadow of Thin Lizzy, and sadly Phil Lynott didn’t look well. His face was bloated and his performance lack lustre. The concert was a disappointing, sad affair, particularly in comparison to the power and glory days of Lizzy. They played a few Thin Lizzy songs, I think “Whiskey in the Jar”, “Sarah” and “Cold Sweat” from “Thunder and Lightning”. They also performed Phil’s great solo track “Yellow Pearl” (written with Midge Ure and the theme to Top of the Pops in the early ’80s) and “”Parisienne Walkways”, which Phil wrote with Gary Moore. A live CD suggests that they may also have played covers of “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Like a Rolling Stone”, but I don’t recall. Support came from Young Blood a NWOBHM band from Darlington.
Grand Slam’s line-up was Lynott (bass, vocals), Laurence Archer (lead guitar; ex-Stampede, Wild Horses, Lautrec), Donal ‘Doish’ Nagle (guitar; ex-The Bogey Boys),[ Robbie Brennan (drums), and Mark Stanway (keyboards; ex-Magnum).
I prefer to remember Phil as the wild rover, the cowboy, the vagabond, the Rocker, “one of the boys” that he wrote and sung about, and to think about the many magnificent Thin Lizzy performances I saw in the north east and at the Reading festival.
Phil Lynott died on 4th January 1986 (aged just 36) from heart failure and pneumonia. He had been admitted to hospital on Christmas Day, after collapsing from a drink and drug binge at his home in Surrey.
RIP Phil Lynott.

“Down from the glen came the marching men
With their shields and their swords
To fight the fight they believed to be right
Overthrow the overlords
…..They had come to claim the Emerald
Without it they could not leave”
(Emerald, Thin Lizzy, 1976)

Another sad note. Yesterday we lost another great musician, bass player and singer, Jack Bruce. I am a big fan of Jack Bruce’s music. His passing is really sad and makes me realise that we are coming to a stage where we are losing more and more of the legends who formed rock as we know it.
RIP Jack Bruce

Thin Lizzy Farewell Newcastle City Hall 20th March 1983

Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 20th March 1983
thinlizzy83progThe replacement for Snowy White was John Sykes, from Tygers of Pan Tang. Sykes brought a heavier sound and rock axeman guitar style to Lizzy. Very much a showman, he fitted the Lizzy image and signalled a return to form for the band. The new line-up recorded Thunder and Lightning, the band’s twelfth and final studio album. But this was the beginning of the end for Lizzy and the Thunder and Lightning tour, was announced as the final farewell tour. Support for the UK tour was Mama’s Boys, a hard rock group from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland who featured three brothers Pat, John and Tommy McManus. The tour called at Newcastle City Hall for two nights, and I went the first night.
This was very much Lizzy back on form, with Scott Gorham and John Sykes trading and sparking off each other, and Phil and the guys delivering a performance reminiscent of that great rock band of old. Definitely the best time I had seen them for some years. thinlizzytix83We all knew that this was going to be the last time we saw the band, and we made the most of it, giving them a rousing reception. Thin Lizzy played their hearts out, drawing from throughout their back catalogue. They even played Whiskey in the Jar. Stunning.
Setlist, something like: Thunder and Lightning; Waiting for an Alibi; Jailbreak; Baby Please Don’t Go; This Is the One; Angel of Death; Are You Ready; The Holy War; The Sun Goes Down; Cold Sweat; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Sha La La; Emerald; Baby Drives Me Crazy; Still in Love With You
Encore: Rosalie; Whiskey in the Jar; Dancing in the Moonlight
Although I didn’t see Thin Lizzy again, I did see Phil Lynott once more. I’ll close my Lizzy memories by reporting on that concert tomorrow.

Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 1981 & 1982

Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 1981 & 1982
thinlizzytix8182Thin Lizzy released Renegade, their eleventh studio album in 1981. This was the first album to credit keyboard player Darren Wharton as the fifth member of the band. The Renegade tour was scheduled to call at Newcastle City Hall on 27th October 1981. The concert was postponed and Thin Lizzy actually played the gig on 10th December 1981, supported by Sweet Savage, a metal band from Belfast, who included Dio and Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell. Lizzy went out on tour again in 1982, and were scheduled to play at Newcastle City Hall on 25th March 1982. As with the previous year, this gig was also postponed as Scott Gorham was suffering from exhaustion. Lizzy played the gig on 27th April 1982. This was the last time I saw the band with Snowy White. thinlizzy81progSnowy: “It wasn’t really my scene, my environment really… socially … we hardly met. If we were on tour I’d be coming down for breakfast and the rest of the boys would probably be coming in .. after their night out, you know. I’d meet them in the lobby, I’d be getting up for breakfast and they’d be coming in for their bed. So after a while I’d had enough. And I think after a while they weren’t too unhappy to see me go either. You know it was time. It’s just a natural thing.”
Both gigs were excellent, but as I said yesterday, I felt that the classic Lizzy years were past. I saw Lizzy once more, on their farewell tour, which I will write about tomorrow to complete my Lizzy memories.
A typical Thin Lizzy setlist during this period: Angel of Death, Renegade, Hollywood (Down on Your Luck), Waiting for an Alibi, Jailbreak, Got To Give It Up, Don’t Believe a Word, Killer on the Loose, Cowboy Song, The Boys Are Back in Town, Suicide, Bad Reputation, Are You Ready
Encore: Baby Drives Me Crazy, Rosalie

Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 1st May 1980

Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 1st May 1980
lizzyprog80Gary Moore had no sooner joined Thin Lizzy than he decided to leave. The switching guitarists wasn’t the only problem for the band at the time; Phil and Scott were increasingly using hard drugs. Scott Gorham speaking to the Daily Mail “as to why we did it, I can’t give you a simple answer….Some bands take drugs to get high. Others do it to beat the boredom….. people soon became concerned, especially about Phil. Our management would sneak into our hotel rooms and flush the drugs down the toilet.’
Moore’s replacement was Snowy White, a fine bluesy guitarist who had played with Peter Green and Pink Floyd. Snowy: “…. I bumped into Scott….. he remembered me because he’d come to see the Animal’s tour in Madison Square Garden a few months previously… he…said, “Wow man, we’re looking for a guitar player… can you come up and play with us and see how it works out?”
lizzytix80This was, for me, the beginning of the end of Thin Lizzy. Snowy was an excellent guitarist, but it just didn’t seem to work. His blues style, his quiet manner and his on stage persona just didn’t fit with the wild rock image of the rest of the band, or his predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, Snowy White, was, and is, an excellent guitarist, but he wasn’t right for Lizzy.
The new line-up recorded Chinatown, Lizzy’s tenth studio album, which was good, but not one of their best records. The release of the new album was preceded by the hit single “Killer on the Loose”. Thin Lizzy went out in tour in the UK, calling at Newcastle City Hall for two nights on 1st and 2nd May 1980. I went to the first night’s concert. It was another enjoyable show, but it seemed slicker and less wild than previous Lizzy concerts. Sadly the classic years had passed. imageSupport came from The Lookalikes – a power pop band from Dublin. The highlight of the concert was when former Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson joined the band for the encore, playing on Emerald and Rosalie. Apparently Robbo’s new band Wild Horses had a gig at Newcastle Poly the following night. The appearance of Robbo was reciprocated the next night at the Poly gig when Phil and Scott joined Wild Horses on stage (now why wasn’t I at that gig?)
Setlist something like: Are You Ready; Chinatown; Waiting for an Alibi; Jailbreak; Dear Miss Lonely Hearts; Do Anything You Want To; Don’t Believe a Word; Got To Give It Up; Still in Love With You; Sweetheart; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Suicide; Sha La La
Encore: Sugar Blues, Baby Drives Me Crazy, Rosalie, Emerald
Thanks to John for the image of his Chinatown poster.

Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 11th April 1979

Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 11th April 1979
lizzytix79There had been some to-ing and fro-ing between Gary Moore and Brian Robertson for some time, with Gary replacing Brian for a few spells. This time however, the disagreements between Phil Lynott and Brian Roberston had got to a point where the two could no longer work together. Brian left, and Gary Moore joined as his permanent replacement. Thin Lizzy was now Philip Lynott, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, and Gary Moore. This line-up recorded “Black Rose”, the ninth Thin Lizzy ninth studio album, which is generally recognised as one of the band’s greatest and most successful recordings, and features “Do Anything You Want To”, “Waiting for an Alibi” and “Sarah” as stand-out tracks.
Lizzy went out on a UK tour during March and April 1979, to promote “Black Rose”, supported by Irish punk pop band The Vipers. The tour included two nights at Newcastle City hall.
I nearly didn’t make it to this gig. Marie and I had tickets to see Thin Lizzy at Newcastle City Hall on their second night at the venue; Thursday 12th April 1978. Then Kate Bush announced her first tour which included a concert at Sunderland Empire on the very same night. Dilemma. What do I do? We decided that we had to forego the Lizzy concert (I can’t remember what I did with the tickets, I may have sold them or given them away….) so that we could go and see Kate Bush. lizzyprog79However, the pull of Thin Lizzy soon got the better of me, and I somehow managed to get a ticket for the first Lizzy concert on Wednesday 11th April 1978. Not sure how I managed this as the show was sold out; I may have gone through on spec on the night and scored a ticket outside the venue. Anyway; Result! I saw Lizzy one night, and Kate Bush the next, and it didn’t get much better than that in 1979.
Lizzy were, as always excellent. Gary Moore fitted in seamlessly; he came from the same musical and cultural background, was an old mate, and had played with the band before on many occasions. However, his stay with the band was short-lived; he walked out on them a few months later, during a tour of the USA.
Setlist: Are You Ready, Bad Reputation, Get Out of Here, Do Anything You Want To, Don’t Believe a Word, Waiting for an Alibi, Jailbreak, Got To Give It Up, Still in Love With You, Warriors, Roisin Dubh (Black Rose): A RockLegend, Cowboy Song, The Boys Are Back in Town, Suicide, Me and the Boys, Rosalie, Emerald, Baby Drives Me Crazy, The Rocker
PS Note the misspelling of “Thin Lizzie” on the ticket 🙂

Thin Lizzy Reading triumph 1977 and Newcastle City Hall 1977 & 1978

Thin Lizzy Reading triumph 1977 and Newcastle City Hall 1977 & 1978
thintix 771977 was the year of punk, but it was also another very successful year for Thin Lizzy. Lizzy’s attitude transcended the barriers between heavy rock and punk. Phil Lynott speaking at the time: “I could feel it, at the time there was three bands: Dr Feelgood, The Heavy Metal Kids (Gary Holton had that real front y’know) and there was ourselves y’know? And all them bands were quite aware that the kids wanted something different, wanted to be attacked again, wanted aggression and stuff like that. And like within that period we were away, it really got its image with the ‘New Wave’ and the papers really gave it its image. Now I knew the punk thing was going on before I went away, but it really took off.” Phil fitted the image of the street punk, and even played with Jones and Cook of the Sex Pistols in an occasional band “The Greedy Bastards”. So they sort of fitted with the mood of the time. reading1977Phil again: “I just like blood and guts….I’ve seen every Clint Eastwood movie goin’. I get off on aggression. One of the main reasons I get up on a stage is to let the aggression out, to put the aggression to a good purpose like rock and roll. I’m sure I’d be f**kin’ locked up now if I didn’t play in a group. I’d be in this jail I’m always singin’ about.”
Thin Lizzy returned to the Reading festival for a triumphant headlining Saturday night performance. This was the year when the festival site became a mud bowl, with a lake of mud in front of the stage. “1977 The festival officially became ‘Reading Rock ‘77’ this year and an almighty downpour turned the event into a sea of mud. 1977 also saw the first appearance of punk at the festival in the form of The Electric chairs, who were pelted with mud and bottles.” (gigwise). We needed a great band and a great performance to cheer us all up, and Thin Lizzy gave us that. They played a classic set including: Jailbreak; Dancing in the Moonlight; Still in Love With You; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Don’t Believe a Word; Emerald closing with The Rocker as encore. This was Thin Lizzy at the very best, the classic line-up of Lynott, Gorham. Robertson and Downey couldn’t be beaten.
thintix78I saw Thin Lizzy again later in the year, touring in support of the “Bad Reputation” album. They played at Newcastle City Hall on 11 November 1977, supported by Irish punks Radiators from Space. They were back again on 20th June 1978 at the time of their classic “Live and Dangerous” lp. Both shows were excellent. The set that these guys had at the time was simply amazing, including straight-on rockers Jailbreak and The Rocker; the hits Dancing in the Moonlight, The Boys Are Back in Town and Don’t Believe a Word; ballads like Still In Love With You, mysterious celtic tales like Emerald and my favourite at the time Cowboy Song. Great stuff.
Phil would say: “Are there any cowboys out there?” [massive roar from the crowd]…”this is for all the cowboys…”
[cue the quiet guitar intro]
“I am just a cowboy, lonesome on the trail.
The starry night, the campfire light.
The coyote call, and the howlin’ winds wail. [wah wah]
So I ride out to the old sundown.”
[…and the full band comes in, the familiar twin guitar riff starts and away we go…..]
“Roll me over and turn me around, let me keep spinning till I hit the ground
Roll me over and let me go, riding in the rodeo
Roll me over and set me free, the cowboy’s life is the life for me”
You just couldn’t beat it. Pure class. 1000%.
(Thin Lizzy, 1976)

Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 1st November 1976

Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 1st November 1976
thintix761976 was Thin Lizzy’s year. The album “Jailbreak” gave them the breakthrough that they had been working so had for. Released in March 1976, it featured the worldwide hit “The Boys Are Back in Town” which broke the band and reached no. 8 in the UK. “Jailbreak” had all the right elements; the wonderful twin guitar sound of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, great rock tunes which were heavy yet not metal, fascinating stories of the street (bet Phil listened to Springsteen), great use of Celtic mythology drawn from Phil’s Irish heritage, and an attitude and vibe that shone through in the sleeve and Phil’s image, and which completely captured the mood of the time. The album features some of Lizzy’s best compositions such as as “Emerald”, the single “Boys are Back”, and the title track “Jailbreak” which all quickly became concert favourites and would remain in their live set throughout their career. Suddenly Lizzy went from being the club band you could see all the time, to rock heroes who were selling out concert halls and theatres up and down the country.
thinscottPhil Lynott fell ill with hepatitis during a US tour; the tour was cancelled, during which time he wrote the follow up album “Johnny the Fox”. The album was recorded in August 1976, but there were tensions between Lynott and Robertson; including disagreements over the credits for their next hit single “Don’t Believe a Word”. “Johnny the Fox” is a good album, but falls short in comparison to the “Jailbreak”. The band went out on tour in the UK to promote the new album, supported by Clover, featuring Huey Lewis. They performed 25 concerts during the UK tour, all of which were completely sold out. I saw the Newcastle gig which was powerful, energetic and a celebration of Lizzy’s recent success. The crowd welcomed the band back as conquering heroes and Phil was becoming the ultimate rock frontman, who could command a crowd like no-one else at the time. A simple thing, like reflecting light off his mirrored bass front plate so that it cut across the concert hall and dazzled us all, seemed fantastic at the time.
thinphilPhil told us stories, got us to sing along with him, and led his two fantastic guitar compatriots Scott and Brian, and drummer Brian, in some perfect rock music. “Emerald” and “The Rocker” were my favourites, and when they played “The Boys Are Back in Town” we just knew that the song was about Phil and the guys, but we also felt that it was about us; and that we were all “boys” together. A wonderful, uplifting performance. We were so proud that this band, who we had followed through the clubs, ballrooms, and festivals was taking on the world, and was doing it with rock songs which we could relate to.
Thin-Lizzy-Prog76“Lizzy have walked away with the cup this year” and “….. there is no better bona fide rock band in England, maybe the world, at this moment than Thin Lizzy.” (David Housham reviewing the Bristol gig in the music press at the time).
A bootleg of the Newcastle show exists which includes the following songs: Jailbreak; Massacre; Emerald; Johnny; It’s Only Money; Still in Love With You; The Boys Are Back in Town; Rosalie; Suicide; Warriors. Encore: Baby Drives Me Crazy. I suspect that they may also have played “Sha la la ” and “The Rocker”.
Thanks to Mitch for his photo which was taken at this gig.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the length of Scott’s hair, which I was so jealous of. I never quite figured out why mine stopped growing at a certain length, and never quite reached my waist 🙂

Thin Lizzy live 1972 – 1975

Thin Lizzy live 1972 – 1975
thinlizzy-whiskeyApologies if you have read some of this story before. I’ll be spending the next few days with my memories of Thin Lizzy in concert, and I though I’d start by recalling when I first saw the band in 1972, which I have written about before, as part of a post about a concert by the recent Thin Lizzy line-up.
Anyway back to 1972. It’s a Friday night and I’m in the upstairs bar of Sunderland Locarno (“the Mecca”). There’s a tall black guy standing next to me. He’s chatting away to everyone in a strong but soft Irish accent. He seems a friendly guy; looks like he could be in a band. An hour or so later the night’s group take to the stage. They are called Thin Lizzy, and the guy from the bar is the front man. None of us have heard of them; someone tells me that John Peel plays them quite a bit and that they have an album out called “Shades of a Blue Orphanage”. They play pretty well; the front man has great presence, the guitarist is pretty good and the drummer’s impressive. I find out later that the tall guy is called Phil Lynott and the other members are Eric Bell on guitar, and Brian Downey on drums. Roll on a year. I’m watching Top of the Pops and Thin Lizzy are on my TV playing an Irish-folk sounding tune “Whiskey in the Jar” which has a great guitar riff. Next day I go out and buy the record. My journey with Lizzy was beginning. Over the next few years Thin Lizzy play Sunderland a few more times, hitting the stages of the Mecca and the Rink. They appear down the bill at the Reading festival a couple of times. Each time I see them they get stronger and tighter, but they also seem to miss out on that “big break”. I must have seen them 5 or 6 times during the period 1972 to 1975.
ThinLizzyFightingThe next time I saw Thin Lizzy will have been on 22nd June 1973, again at Sunderland Mecca. By now they had released “Vagabonds of the Western World” which featured live favourite “The Rocker”. Support came from local band Beckett: “Thin Lizzy and their cover of Rosalie. Back in early ‘73, my band Beckett…..most of us hadn’t heard any Bob Seger, so his album [Back in ’72] was played incessantly…..On June 22nd..we were booked to play our local Mecca in support of Thin Lizzy who were riding the success of Whiskey in the Jar. While our crew were loading our gear into the lift under the venue, Lizzy turned up and we all stood around in the sunshine chewing the fat … while playing in the background was our tape of Back in ‘72. Phil was much taken with Rosalie and they decided, there-and-then, that they would cover it in their live show. Bob Seger and Thin Lizzy: two of the most heart-poundingly exciting live rock shows I ever saw.” (Keith Fisher of Beckett, ).
I next saw Lizzy at the 1974 Reading Festival, half-way down a varied bill which featured Georgie Fame, Procol Harum, Trapeze, and Greenslade, and was headlined by Traffic. By 1974 the classic twin guitar line-up was in place: Philip Lynott, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, and Brian Robertson, and they had released “Nightlife”. The classic band was now together and was starting to form that classic sound. The attitude and presence were there; some of the songs and the success took a little longer. I saw them back at the Mecca on 25th October 1974 with support from Quicksand.
ThinLizzy76In 1975 Thin Lizzy released “Fighting” which features “Rosalie”, as mentioned above. I was back at Reading, and so were Lizzy, this time a little further up a bill headlined by Yes, Wishbone Ash, and Hawkwind. They played: Fighting My Way Back; It’s Only Money; King’s Vengeance; Still in Love With You; Showdown; Suicide; Rosalie; The Rocker; Sha La La. Encore: Baby Drives Me Crazy.
I may have seen them once or twice more. I have vague memories of a gig at Sunderland Top Rank (the “Rink”), perhaps with Status Quo. Or maybe I remember Quo playing the Mecca, while Thin Lizzy played the Rink on the same night (or vice versa)…who knows….the gigs all sort of blend into one now. I know that Lizzy toured in ’73 supporting Slade and played Sunderland Rink, but I missed that gig as I was seeing Santana at the City Hall on the same night. What I also know is that Lizzy were gigging constantly throughout those years and played in the North East many times. There were a great live band and I guess I took them for granted. I was lucky enough to be able to see the band honing their craft and developing into the class rock act that we all know and love.
In 1976 everything changed for Thin Lizzy. They released “Jailbreak”, the single “Boys are back in town” was played everywhere and massive success followed. For some crazy reason I missed them on the Jailbreak tour (I still regret such things today), and remember kicking myself for doing so at the time. I made up for it by catching most of their tours from then on, which I’ll write about this week, starting tomorrow with Autumn 1976 and the “Johnny the Fox” tour.
Many thanks to Mitch for his action shot of Phil Lynott which he took at Newcastle City Hall on 1st Nov 1976 (I’ll write about that gig tomorrow) and to the great site which catalogues Lizzy tour dates.

Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977

Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977
reading1977prog1Reading 1977 was notable for a couple of reasons. First, the line-up finally (and sadly in my view) lost all traces of the festival’s jazz and blues roots. Instead we had lots of classic rock, with a (small) smattering of punk and new wave. Although 1977 was the year of punk, it was another year before the new music finally started to make its mark at Reading. And second, the main feature of the 1977 festival was MUD. Lots of it. Possibly the worst I have ever seen at a festival. It had been raining heavily for weeks before, which resulted in most of the site becoming a quagmire with rivers of mud, and a large mud lake right in front of the stage. Wellies were at a premium and were being sold for incredible prices in the town.
Friday’s line-up: Staa Marx; S.A.L.T; Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat; Kingfish; 5 Hand Reel; Lone Star; Uriah Heep; Eddie and the Hot Rods; Golden Earring.
A strange mix of bands on the first day. Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat (ex Bowie’s Spiders from Mars) closed their set with Suffragette City. A highlight for me was Uriah Heep; now with John Lawton on vocals. Heep were always one of my favourite bands, and still are; I was a little sad to see them third on the line-up; they would have headlined a few years earlier. Lone Star were also good; showing lots of promise at the time, and Eddie and the Hot Rods went down well with the crowd. Golden Earring closed the day with a strong performance (Radar Love!).
Saturday’s line-up: Gloria Mundi; Krazy Kat; No Dice; George Hatcher Band; Ultravox!; Little River Band; John Miles; Aerosmith; Graham Parker and the Rumour; Thin Lizzy.
I remember being impressed by Ultravox!; this was the early version with John Foxx on vocals. Aerosmith seemed a big band to feature third on the bill, drew a large crowd, and were excellent. “Dream On” from those days remains a favourite song of mine. But the stars of the day were Graham Parker (the whole crowd sang along to (Hey Lord) Don’t Ask Me Questions) and of course, headliners Thin Lizzy. Lizzy were massive at the time and played a classic set including: Jailbreak; Dancing in the Moonlight; Still in Love With You; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Don’t Believe a Word; Emerald and closing with The Rocker as encore. A good way to spend a Saturday night.
reading1977Sunday’s line-up: Widowmaker; The Motors; Tiger: The Enid; Blue; Racing Cars; Wayne County and the Electric Chairs; Hawkwind; Doobie Brothers; Frankie Miller; Alex Harvey.
The Enid were a big Reading favourite and Robert Godfrey got the tired crowd going with versions of classics like The Dambusters March. The Motors and Widowmaker got the day off to a good start. Steve Ellis had left Widowmaker by this point and had been replaced by John Butler, and they still featured that crazy showman Ariel Bender. Tiger featured the excellent guitarist Big Jim Sullivan (I used to love watching him play on the Tom Jones show in the ’60s), and Blue had some neat songs (try listening to “Little Jody”) and deserved bigger success. They were fronted my ex-Marmalade Hughie Nicholson. Racing Cars went down well with the crowd; this was the year that they had a massive hit with “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” Wayne County was greeted by a hail of cans from a tired and twitchy crowd who didn’t take well to his punk songs, including the classic “If you don’t want to F**k me, F**k Off! Hawkwind were OK, as were the Doobies and Frankie Miller, but we were all there to see Alex Harvey. SAHB played the usual set and Alex told his quirky stories: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Gang Bang; Last of the Teenage Idols; Giddy-Up-A-Ding-Dong; St. Anthony; Framed; Dance to the Music. Alex hadn’t been well and this was their first gig for a few months. It was good to see them, but it wasn’t one of their best performances, and sadly it was the last time the band would play together. The end of an era.
By Sunday many people had given up and left because of the atrocious conditions. Poor John Peel tried to keep the crowd amused, partly be starting the famous “John Peel’s a C***” chant which continued into the next few years.
One final note. I had been to see The Sex Pistols play at Scarborough Penthouse club the night before the festival, and I was still buzzing with the memories of that gig. It had opened my eyes to the raw energy of punk, and that, coupled with the mud and awful conditions at Reading, meant I didn’t enjoy the weekend as much as usual. And just to make the experience complete, the alternator on my car packed in on the way back up the M1, and the car finally ground to a halt somewhere near Nottingham. After a wait of an hour or so, a kind AA man towed us back to Barnard Castle, where we waited (a few hours) for another AA relay van to pick us up and take us home. We arrived back after midnight on Monday, tired, hungry and very muddy, soggy and scruffy….the joys of festival going. Happy Days 🙂

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975
reading75flyerThe Reading Festival hit its peak of success in the mid ’70s, and the 1975 festival sold out in advance. Although the previous years’ festivals that I had attended all seemed pretty full, you were still able to roll up and pay at the entrance. In 1975 the success of the festival and the draw of bands like Yes and Wishbone Ash ensured the site was completely packed, with hardly any room to be found in the campsites and car parks.
Friday line-up: Stella, Judas Priest, Wally, Kokomo, UFO, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind. Judas Priest were an up and coming heavy rock band and were gigging constantly, as were UFO. Kokomo were a jazz/rock/funk outfit who were very successful during the ’70s. But the big success of Friday (and arguably the entire weekend) was Dr Feelgood, who were a massive hit with the festival crowd; Wilko and Lee being on red hot form. I was with a couple of guys who had recently become big Feelgood fans; “Back In The Night” had just been released and they were constantly singing it in my ear. “All around visible signs of the Doctor’s now-massive popularity – such as the many home-made banners (“Feelgood”, “Wilko” et al), the rapturous reception, the sea-of-weaving arms” (NME, 1975). “When Dr Feelgood stamped off they had within an hour, transformed this alfresco association into a tiny, sweaty, steaming R&B club. Charisma is too weak a word to describe what the Feelgoods had going for them that night.” (Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker, August 30, 1975). Hawkwind were ok, but it was cold, and they found it difficult to follow the Feelgood’s storming set.
readingprog75Saturday line-up: Zzebra, SNAFU, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Kursaal Flyers, Thin Lizzy, Alan Stivell, Heavy Metal Kids (billed simply as “Kids” in the programme), Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Yes.
My memories are of Thin Lizzy delivering an excellent set as always; they were gradually building up their own following and would soon break through to become massive; The Heavy Metal Kids being as OTT as ever; and Yes, who were amazing. I must also mention the Kursaal Flyers, who are sadly often forgotten in the history of pub rock; they would hit the charts in the following year with the great pop single: “Little Does She Know” (“I know that she knows that I know she’s two timing me”). Supertramp were on the verge of mega-success; they had hit the charts with “Dreamer” and had a considerable following. I was, and remain, a big Yes fan and their performance at Reading came at a point where the band were at the peak of their success. I recall it being very cold, with epic versions of “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I”, and a great version of “Roundabout” as an encore (very late and off to our tents). A bootleg exists of Yes’ set that night: Sound Chaser; Close To The Edge; And You And I; Awaken; The Gates Of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Ancient; Long Distance Run Around; Ritual; Roundabout.
reading75Sunday line-up: Joan Armatrading, Babe Ruth, String Driven Thing, Climax Blues Band, Caravan, Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robin Trower, Wishbone Ash. My memory of Sunday is of Wishbone Ash. Like Yes they were enjoying massive success at the time, and also like Yes they played a set of pure class, with the twin guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield soaring through the cool, late Sunday evening.
Our DJs for the weekend were once again John Peel and Jerry Floyd. The weather was cold, with some rain, and the beer can fights were constant throughout the weekend. The festival had always been an organised, carefully planned event, but was becoming even more commercial. The nature of the festival, and its line-up, would transform further in the years which followed; with the emergence of punk and the re-emergence of heavy metal through the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal). Any elements of the jazz festivals of the 60s had also disappeared.
Thanks to BaldBoris for allowing his image of the festival to be used through the WikiMedia Commons licence agreement.