curiosity about the ways of the world

Hiding from Hendrix

There were no helicopters to drop stars from the sky. Hendrix arrived in a Vauxhall Velux driven by the lead guitarist of a local band – the promoter had booked them to be sure of a crowd.

A letter from an old friend brings the past flooding back. Not the past as I like to remember it, but the past as it really was – or at least as it was reported in the newspaper we both worked for.

Sheila reminds me this is the 40th anniversary of Barbecue ’67 in the Summer of Love when a bulb auction shed in Spalding, Lincs rocked to some of the best sounds of the sixties. It was also the day I turned down the chance to interview Jimi Hendrix.

I know, it’s crazy. I cannot explain why – especially to my bolder sons – except thatyoung even then Hendrix was a legend and I was a very young trainee reporter on the weekly Spalding Guardian. Instead my mates Pat Prentice (one of his other scoops was the three-legged chicken of Gedney Drove End) and John Thorne (now semi-retired from BBC radio) went backstage while I stood at the end of the auction shed, in a home-made pink and purple kaftan, to take note of the behaviour of the crowd.(No voodoo child in this picture.)

We were all expecting more to happen than the music. Spalding had never coped with anything more challenging than the annual tulip parade before. The police sent for the cavalry and the entire staff of the Spalding Guardian and Lincs Free Press were out in force including Hugh the agricultural correspondant. And both photographers.

In some ways it wasn’t any more peculiar to stage a rock spectacle in Spalding than it is to plonk T in the Park in a field near Kinross. Rock festivals haven’t changed that much – not least because some of the old codgers still persist in playing: The Who were headlining T in the Park last year, for goodness sake.
There were screaming fans but the artificial fever of celebrity culture was unknown back in 1967. Jimi Hendrix was put up at the Red Lion pub – just imagine the Arctic Monkeys booking into the Jolly Beggars at Milnathort to be handy for the main stage at Balado. And there were no helicopters to drop stars from the sky. Hendrix arrived in a Vauxhall Velux driven by the lead guitarist of a local band – the promoter had booked them to be sure of a crowd.

All this detail comes from the souvenir issue of the paper Sheila sent me. To be honest, I don’t remember much beyond the sweaty excitement and the overwhelming sound. But it is one of those ‘I was there’ experiences that have become family legend and I like to picture myself as the cool (if timid) commentator on social trends. So what did this perceptive ‘Young Idea’ columnist have to say about the great rock event of the decade? She thought (and I quote):

“From the music angle, Barbecue ’67 was a mixed success. Geno has a football match effect. Jimi Hendrix (chief crowd puller) fits music to sensationalism; the Cream are good, to see the Move is to forget, to see Zoot Money is to see everything and to see Pink Floyd is to laugh.”

Dougal is incredulous when I show my cutting to him. ‘What were you dissing all these great bands for?’ After all, the only band he hasn’t heard of is Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band (a soul band who used to fill the Starlight Room at the Gliderdrome Boston of a Saturday night – and apparently reformed for the special 40th anniversary gig). Sheila and John turned in beautiful descriptive pieces; I guess I was determined not to be too impressed, way back there at the end of the hall.

But I wasn’t the only one who missed a trick. At the end of his set Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar and left it to fizzle out on the stage. From there (according to Colin Ward, the driver of the Vauxhall Velux) it was picked up with the rubbish and thrown into the council dump.

Or did someone save it for eBay?

[pssst: thanks for dropping in, readers who got this far might also enjoy Hendrix at Barbecue 67 and an exciting new installment How I missed Hendrix and Benjamin Zephaniah will follow as soon as I have caught up with the day job! xx Ed]

And, ten eventful years later…Barbecue 67 Revisited 

17 Comments

  1. Stewart

    Hi Faye
    Would love to talk as I’m writing about this for Shindig! magazine. Please drop me a line at stewart.turner@gmail.com if you’re up for it!

  2. Fran Healands

    Hi Fay and everyone else who has contributed to this blog, I am working with Andy Barrett producing the promo vt for the project. I am originally from Essex but married a yellow belly and now live on the out skirts of Spalding. I am too young to have even been a twinkle in my daddies eye in ’67as I arrived 8 years later, however my husband was a year old and my in-laws where living with their in-laws at The Hole In The Wall, a pub tucked down an alley way opposite The Red Lion. I have been reading as much as I can find on the barbecue of 67 and have almost become obsessed (as Glastonbury plays on the tv in the back ground) I have only been to one concert held in Sir Hayley Stewart playing field in 2004 a punk tribute thing mostly but Buster Blood Vessel appeared with Bad Manners and I have yearned to got to something bigger and better since. I am so excited about being involved with the reunion and have loved reading everyone’s memories of the event. I would love to here from any of you that live nr Spalding and meet up for a chat about that historic event.
    I was in a local garden centre today talking to a man named Mike who was heavily involved with the promotion of the event and as we were chatting another couple began reminiscing on their experience of that day. Stay Cool People. x Fran

  3. Paul Allen

    Anyone know about the Whittlesey BBQ in 1968. Same organiser , Fleetwood Mac, Donavon, Fairport Convention, The Move played. Would love to hear from someone who was there… paulsashaallen@gmail.com.

  4. Administrator

    What an amazing keepsake that would have been!

    thanks for your comment, John. It is great to hear from so many people who were there.

  5. John Hitchins

    I was there ! … remember the flames on Jimi’s guitar being put out by a fire extinguisher and the stage hand putting it into a bin close by. I tried to retrieve it as a keepsake but could not get through the crowd as there were so many people in the way !.

  6. Peter Richardson

    Interesting when you read all this stuff about old festivals. Was I there.Yes I most definately was. I turned up on my 125 cc Vespa with my girlfriend Barbara on the back.
    How do I remember that. Some *** stole the kick start and we had to push it half way don the road to get it started!
    She had to push. No easy wearing a micro mini and high heels!
    As the festival, it was unbelievably badly organised. One small door for everyone to get through. Pass outs were a rubber stamp on your wrist which rubbed of if you washed your hands.
    ,No toilets for the ladies, or if there were any we could not find them. No where to get a drink or anything to eat and incredibly hot in the hall itself.
    We managed to find a space at the back where we could hear what was going on, but could not see anything. The lighting rig fell down half way through the evening.
    Music was incredible. None of the multi tracking or phasing nonsense you get nowdays. just raw energy.
    Dont remember seeing Hendix. I think by the time he came on, we had had enough and headed back to Peterborough.
    All this for a £1.00? We didn’t even pay, we crept in through the back door as, like most people we got fed up trying to get in the main entrance and climbed over the fence at the back.
    Inocent days!

  7. Mary

    I was delighted to find this about the Spalding Flower Festival of 67. When I’ve told people I saw Jimi Hendrix and Cream here, they don’t believe me! I was 16 and went on a coach trip organised by St Mary’s Youth Club, Derby. I wore a pale floral mini dress, with long bell-shaped sleeves. It was the only ‘Festival’ I’ve ever been to and what a festival it was. I was quite near the front and really enjoyed Cream, especially Ginger Baker. I hhadn’t heard of Jimi Hendrix but was completely mesmerised by him and his playing. i’ve read a lot of other comments and completely disagree about the quality of the sound. Jimi sounded amazing. It was an unforgettable experience and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

  8. john mcgrath

    I was there,pink floyd,cream,hendrix,plus i think gino washington,the move,but could be wrong.Bought a pass out,then someone shouted the fence had been pulled down,so we just walked in through the back,unforgetable day a coke lorry turned and they just stipped every bottle of it.Jack bruce years later called it that crasy day in lincolnshire.By the way pete when in the beatovens,they where good for the time did a great version of the stones of the hook.

  9. glynn

    Fay – It was so long ago, I can’t remember anything about the event. Only that I was on the cusp of mod to hippy and, whilst riding past the hall on my Lambretta, dressed in grey, single vent, slash pocket herringbone suit, yellow shirt and multi spotted tie, I realisied that I was not suitably dressed for the occasion. You were riding on the pillion seat and made this observation for me.
    Wishes from Wales, G.

  10. john

    I think you should start charging a fee for reuniting old rockers!
    xJ

  11. stewart thompson

    RE; Hiding from Hendrix June 21st 2007

    I found this article & would like to be in contact with Pete Barraclough; we played in a band together in the late 60s & I haven’t seen him since!
    I would be grateful for any contact details you may have for him, or maybe you could forward this to him or give him my phone number; 01507 450624.(I live near Louth, Lincs.)

    Hope you can help, we’ve a lot to catch up on!
    Thanks Stewart

  12. Anna McKane

    hi Fay
    greetings from another Spalding reporter – though i was not there in 67. pat prentice randomly sent this link to Christopher!
    we were in the catskills a couple of weeks ago and went to the site of Woodstock – great museum of the sixties with loads of archive film etc..
    hope all good with you
    x

  13. Emma Blackburn

    Hi Faye,

    I enjoyed reading your articles. I am researching about the Barbeque 67 festival for BBC 1’s Inside Out, broadcast to Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. I was wondering if I could have a conversation with you about the festival and your memories of it? I am currently looking for contributors for the programme. If anyone who reads this attended the festival and is interested in taking part in the programme, I would love to hear from you. It is a fantastic story and I’m sure everyone has their own tales to tell. I want to find out if anyone objected to the festival as it was such a huge event for a small place.

    My email is emma.blackburn@bbc.co.uk

    Many thanks,
    Emma

  14. Administrator

    Done!

    Delighted to meet you, the festival was indeed ahead of its time. What are you cooking up these days?

  15. Pete Barraclough

    Hi,
    Any chance of passing my email on to Paula. My name is Pete Barraclough.Me and my mate Mick Barnes compered the event in 67 and also came up with the line-up.We were amazed when the promoter Brian Thompson booked them all -resulting in a festival that was years ahead ot its time.How I wished we had filmed it.Happy birthday Checky! (Brian’s nickname!)
    p.s.Paula, you can get a copy of the poster on ebay.Nice present.

  16. Administrator

    I am so intrigued to get this comment. I have just emailed Paula direct to suggest getting in touch with the news desk at the Spalding Guardian. Unless things have changed greatly in the news room, this is a story they should be interested in covering.

    Meanwhile, many happy returns to the promoter. I hope he has a great birthday full of fantastic music. [though, I must admit, I do find it hard to get my head round the reality that someone who organised such a fantastic event is pushing 70. But then most of the audience must be claiming their bus passes.

  17. Paula Scott

    Brilliant! What a great description! I have been searching for information on the event as I am putting together a scrap book of memories for my brother-in-law, who was the promoter of the event, as he is 70 (!) next Sunday! Amazingly he kept very little from the concert – no posters or cuttings – is there any chance of getting hold of the commemorative issue you talk about, and if so, who do I approach for it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 Fay Young

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑