FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH 1970
(click on the pictures to enlarge...)
more hippies arriving....
Friday was stormy and it rained throughout the entire day. Around noon, more and more visitors arrived at the festival area and had to face the "security checks" by the the heavily armed and drunk Hells Angels. People were kicked and insulted, cars were damaged and all alcohol was " confiscated". Shortly before the opening of the festival, the sponsor Beate Uhse visited the crowd and gave autographs.
festival area Friday afternoon
Beate Uhse in the crowd
Master of Ceremonies Alexis Korner opened the festival on Friday Seeptember 4th 1970 at 16:30 o´clock. Alexis had been hired as the host of the show for the next 3 days, and he turned out to be the main force in running things onstage and backstage, as no one of the so-called management seemed to have an overview of anything. Whenever chaos struck again, Alexis Korner stepped out onstage and entertained the crowd.
The first group to play was CRAVINKEL from Germany, featuring Kalle Kravinkel of later TRIO fame. As they announced, this was only the second time that they ever played together, asking to forgive "if it shouldn´t work". Sadly, this was not Cravinkel´s only problem:
The PA sounded terrible, the crew had major problems to get the sound system going properly and to cope with the heavy storm.
click here to listen to a snippet of the Cravinkel show at Fehmarn (mp3)
After Cravinkel, the danish jazz-rock group BURNIN RED IVANHOE took the stage. With lots of their fans in the audience, they had a good show, but the rain got worse and worse during their performance.
The following act FOTHERINGAY also had troubles coping with the wheather. Roadie Ford Crull remembers: "The whole stage was wet! Sandy kept getting electric shock from the microphone. The situation was unbearable". A little later, the rain became catastrophic. The area was drowning, and the show had to be stopped for a few hours. People tried to hide under plastic bags and improvised tents, but there was so much water that any attempt was in vain.
Ford Crull, by the way, was later hired by the organizers to become a stage manager for the festival:" If you think the Isle of Wight was a mess, you should have been to Fehmarn. We had to get many of the bands equipment out fast because the German bikers went berserk towards the end of the festival, and turned over trailers, etc, and lit fires before the German police came."
Meanwhile backstage, there is utter chaos. Because of the delay, TASTE cannot wait any longer and have to leave for another show. COLLOSEUM´s car has broken down and is stuck in a traffic jam, they won´t make it. And CACTUS have not even bothered to get in touch at all. Alexis Korner does his best to keep the crowd calm as he announces this, but people start to realize that something is not going right. The organizers try hard to get a helicopter to at least get Colloseum to the festival, without success.
It still rains heavily as an attempt is made to let RENAISSANCE play. But the concert has to be stopped because of the wheather.
JOHN SURMAN reportedly played next.
At 23:00 o´clock, Alexis Korner stepped out to the mike again and said: "We are really sorry, but we cannot go on tonight". There are 15.000 people in the audience.
5 out of 9 groups have played, most of them shorter than usual because of the bad weather. The organizers are fearing riots, but the crowd stays calm. Most of them hope for the rest of the stars scheduled for tomorrow, and of course Jimi Hendrix in particular.
During the night, the bikers are starting riots again. They destroy one of the organizers containers, obviously angry that they are not getting paid for their "services". A decision is made to pay each biker 150 DM to get rid of them. Not all bikers disappear, but the plan seems to work out at least a bit. Lots of them remain on the festival ground, but the "security checks" at the gates have stopped for the moment.
This first festival day made a few things clear:
- the organzisers had built a mammoth stage, and rented expensive equipment but then positioned the stage in a direction, that the strong winds, as usual from North-East during this season, "blew away" the sound from the audience.
- they had actually set up large tents for parts of the visitors to stay in, but these were so far away from the stage, that nobody chose to use them.
- the organizers had apparently lost control over the situation, and suffered from serious financial problems.
I was from here that the festival started to develop a dynamic of its own.