Isle of Wight Festival 1969
The 1969 Isle of Wight Festival was held on 29–31 August 1969 at the English town of Wootton, on the Isle of Wight. The festival attracted an audience of approximately 150,000 to see acts including Bob Dylan, the Band, the Who, Free, Joe Cocker, the Bonzo Dog Band and the Moody Blues. It was the second of three music festivals held on the island between 1968 and 1970. Organised by Rikki Far, Ronnie and Ray Foulk's Fiery Creations, it became a legendary event, largely owing to the participation of Dylan, who had spent the previous three years in semi-retirement. The event was well managed, in comparison to the recent Woodstock Festival, and trouble-free.
|Isle of Wight Festival 1969|
Official festival poster
|Genre||Rock, folk, country, blues, jazz|
|Dates||29–31 August 1969|
|Location(s)||Woodside Bay, Wootton, Isle of Wight, England|
|Founded by||Rikki Far, Ronnie Foulk, Ray Foulk|
The 1969 festival was considerably larger and more popular than the previous year's. Dylan had been little heard of since his allegedly near-fatal motorcycle accident in July 1966. Shunning the Woodstock Festival, held near his home in upstate New York, Dylan was initially reluctant to perform his comeback show on the little-known Isle of Wight. After weeks of negotiations, the Foulk brothers showed him a short film of the island's cultural and literary heritage; this appealed to Dylan's artistic sensibilities, as he was enthusiastic about combining a family holiday with a live performance in Tennyson country. The family was scheduled to travel to Britain on the QE2 and nearly missed the gig completely when Dylan's son Jesse was hit by a cabin door and had to be hospitalised. He instead travelled by plane at the last minute.
Before the festival, Dylan and his fellow Woodstock residents, the Band, rehearsed at Forelands Farm in Bembridge, and were joined there by George Harrison, the only "outsider" to have visited him in his enclave in the Catskill Mountains. On Saturday, 30 August, the day before Dylan was to take the stage, Harrison's fellow Beatles John Lennon and Ringo Starr arrived on the island, along with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton. Also seated in the sealed-off VIP area in front of the stage would be Beatle wives Pattie Harrison, Yoko Ono and Maureen Starkey, together with celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Françoise Hardy, Georges Moustaki, Syd Barrett, Donald Cammell, Elton John and others.
Thanks to rumours that one or all of the Beatles would be joining him on stage, Dylan's comeback show had become, in the words of music journalist John Harris, "inflated into the gig of the decade". On 31 August, Dylan arrived on stage in a cream suit recalling Hank Williams. Backed by the Band, he performed recent pieces from his Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding albums, as well as countryfied versions of earlier songs such as "Maggie's Farm", "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Like a Rolling Stone".
Dylan's setlist was as follows:
- "She Belongs to Me"
- "I Threw It All Away"
- "Maggie's Farm"
- "Wild Mountain Thyme"
- "It Ain't Me, Babe"
- "To Ramona"
- "Mr. Tambourine Man"
- "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"
- "Lay, Lady, Lay"
- "Highway 61 Revisited"
- "One Too Many Mornings"
- "I Pity the Poor Immigrant"
- "Like a Rolling Stone"
- "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight"
- "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)"
- "Minstrel Boy"
- "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35"
Four performances from this concert were included on Dylan's album Self Portrait (1970): "Like a Rolling Stone", "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)", "Minstrel Boy" and "She Belongs to Me". His and the Bands set was also released in several countries on various bootleg records.
A champion of both the Band and Dylan, Harrison wrote a country song inspired by the event and dedicated to Dylan, "Behind That Locked Door", released on his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass.
In 2013, the complete recording of Dylan's performance was released on the Deluxe Edition of The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969–1971).
The Who presented their standard set at that time, which included the rock opera Tommy, as they had recently released that album and were touring in support of it. The group had just returned from a tour of the United States, where they had performed at Woodstock about two weeks earlier. They opened with "Heaven and Hell", followed by "I Can't Explain", "Fortune Teller", "Young Man Blues", and then performed the opera nearly in full, finishing up with "Summertime Blues", "Shakin' All Over"/"Spoonful" and two tracks as the encore: "My Generation" and the finale of "Naked Eye".
- The Band
- Battered Ornaments
- Blodwyn Pig
- Blonde on Blonde
- Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
- Edgar Broughton Band
- Joe Cocker
- Aynsley Dunbar
- Bob Dylan
- Fat Mattress
- Gary Farr
- Julie Felix
- Richie Havens
- Marsha Hunt & White Trash
- Indo Jazz Fusions
- King Crimson (billed, but did not appear)
- The Liverpool Scene
- Mighty Baby
- The Moody Blues
- The Nice
- Tom Paxton
- The Pretty Things
- Third Ear Band
- The Who
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Isle of Wight Festival 1969.|
- 2010 audio interview with Ray Foulk
- Foulk, Ray; Foulk, Caroline (2015). Stealing Dylan from Woodstock. London: Medina Publishing. ISBN 9781909339507.
- Alan Clayson, George Harrison, Sanctuary (London, 2003), p. 274.
- Levon Helm with Stephen Davis, This Wheel’s on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band, A Cappella Books (Chicago, IL, 2000), p. 198.
- Howard Sounes, Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Doubleday (London, 2001), pp. 248–51.
- John Harris, "A Quiet Storm", Mojo, July 2001, p. 69.
- "Bob Dylan: How the Isle of Wight festival managed to steal the voice of a generation from Woodstock". The Independent. 29 May 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- Howard Sounes, Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Doubleday (London, 2001), pp. 236, 251.
- Alan Clayson, George Harrison, Sanctuary (London, 2003), pp. 242–43.
- John Harris, "A Quiet Storm", Mojo, July 2001, p. 68.
- Barry Miles, The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years, Omnibus Press (London, 2001), p. 351.
- Bill Wyman, Rolling with the Stones, Dorling Kindersley (London, 2002), p. 342.
- Chris O'Dell with Katherine Ketcham, Miss O'Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and the Women They Loved, Touchstone (New York, NY, 2009), p. 87.
- Howard Sounes, Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Doubleday (London, 2001), p. 251.
- Howard Sounes, Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Doubleday (London, 2001), p. 252.
- Howard Sounes, Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Doubleday (London, 2001), p. 253.
- "Bob Dylan: Isle of Wight". theband.hiof.no. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
- George Harrison, I Me Mine, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA, 2002), p. 206.
- "Another Self Portrait Press Release" (PDF). expectingrain.com. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- Neill, Andy; Kent, Matt (2002). Anywhere Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The Who. Virgin Books. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-7535-1217-3.