The Isle of wight festival of music 1970

By far the largest and most famous of the three festivals, which took place at East Afton Farm, near Freshwater between Wednesday 26th and Sunday 30th August 1970. Billed as “The Last Great Event”, it was arguably Britain’s answer to Woodstock. Indeed many of the acts that had played at the “Woodstock Music and Arts Fair” the previous year also played at this festival (Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Ten Years After, Sly and the Family Stone, Joan Baez, John Sebastian, Richie Havens), yet the all-star line-up at the Isle of Wight 1970 also included such revered artists as The Doors, The Moody Blues, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Free, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Leonard Cohen etc. 

Such a stellar show was enough to attract an estimated 600,000 attendees (although this estimate is generally the subject of debate), completely eclipsing the estimated 400,000 that had turned up for Woodstock. It also proved to be a little more than Fiery Creations could ultimately handle, with many thousands of people turning up without tickets and enjoying the show for free from the heights of the adjoining Afton Down. There proved to be a number of well documented complications in trying to deal with the huge numbers of “unexpected guests”, and subsequently the event left Fiery Creations with a huge financial loss. It also triggered the passing in parliament of The Isle of Wight Act 1971, effectively banning such mass gatherings from ever taking place on the Island again (or at least until the Festival’s long-overdue revival in 2002!) 

Memorabilia from the 1970 event is probably the most generally available overall. The sheer scale of the event ensured that there was naturally more produced in the way of tickets, publicity and souvenirs than for previous years. All the same, there are still a few rarities which remain in existence if you are lucky enough to find them.

Unless specified otherwise, all artwork was designed by David Fairbrother-Roe (Fiery Creations’ resident designer) 

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Promo Poster 

 

Dave Roe’s now iconic “Drummer Boy” poster, printed in vivid pink, yellow and blue, on heavy grade white paper. The first print (probably dating to mid-summer 1970) includes the confirmed line-up at that time (Mungo Jerry are listed, but ultimately never played). The second print (obviously dated slightly later), had been subject to the addition of Miles Davis and Jethro Tull to the line-up, and has the words "Printed In England by Anvil Press Limited" on the bottom right hand side. Measuring 76 x 51cm (approx.) Current availability: First Print, rare; Second print, fair. 

Worth noting is that in the 1990s this poster, together with the festival programme, was reproduced for inclusion in a limited-edition VHS release of Jimi Henrix’s Isle of Wight performance. Although often attempted to be passed off as originals, these copies are easily spotted as they were folded four times to fit them into their packaging, so the crease marks are still clearly visible.

Weekend Ticket

 

This sizeable, colourful, and very attractive ticket features the “Drummer Boy” (accompanied by a snail), together with his pop-art pals the Flautist (together with cat) and Guitar Player (together with dog), each representing one particular day over the weekend. This ticket would allow punters access to the main arena all weekend, and for only £3 at that! Measuring 22 x 12 cm. Current availability: Plentiful 

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Day Tickets 

As an alternative to paying £3 for the full weekend ticket, it was possible to purchase tickets for individual days instead. These “Day” tickets continued with the general “Drummer Boy” theme, and were produced as follows:

 

Friday – printed in blue and purple on white, and featuring the Drummer Boy (and snail) 

Saturday – printed in yellow and green on white, and featuring the Flautist (and cat) 

Sunday – printed in orange and pink on white, and featuring the Guitar Player (and dog) 

Measuring 11 x 8cm (without the stub) Current availability: Friday, rare; Saturday, exceptionally scarce; Sunday, rare. 

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Also worth noting is that there are a small number of specimen versions of the “Day” tickets in existence, which look much the same as the regular “Day” tickets, apart from the fact that they have “SPECIMEN TICKET ONLY NOT VALID FOR ENTRY” printed clearly across them.

 

In his marvellous book “The Last Great Event”, festival site electrician and amateur photographer Chris Weston describes having found a number of these tickets at the turnstile area on the following Monday morning. He also notes that as they were all lacking perforated edges then they would not have come from a book of tickets in the same way that valid tickets would have done, so what purpose they would have served at the turnstile is unclear. One suggestion is that perhaps they were used by staff at the gates to help them spot forged tickets... Measuring 11 x 8cm. Current availability: Scarce 

Printer's Mock-up Day Ticket

Now then, if hens had teeth (as the saying goes)... This is a truly unique piece of memorabilia - the actual designer's mock-up of how the Saturday Day Ticket was going to turn out. As you can see, in this basic state it is yet to have colour, price or "small print" added.  

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Wednesday Tickets 

 

Possibly the most intriguing pieces of memorabilia in anyone’s collection would be the mysterious “Wednesday Tickets”, of which there are two versions, each with its own design, but when placed alongside each other, forming one picture. It is clear to see that these tickets were produced in an entirely different manner to the other available tickets (printed as one, then guillotined down the middle, rather than printed and collated as a book of perforated tickets).

 

As we know, the 1970 festival was held over five days. Entry for the Wednesday and Thursday was initially advertised as being free. However, these “Wednesday Tickets” clearly state an entry fee of 10 shillings, which aligns with information contained in newspaper adverts published only a few days prior to the Festival. So why were these tickets produced, and who designed them? (Certainly not Fiery Creations’ designer Dave Roe, that’s for sure). Two possible theories for their production: firstly, to freely hand out to locals, as a token gesture of goodwill, to sweeten any inconvenience the festival might have caused them; secondly, they were produced at the last minute as an attempt to mitigate poor ticket sales. Who knows? You can make your own mind up. Each ticket is printed in cerise on white glossy card, and measures 13 x 10cm (approx.) Current availability: Rare 

 

Just a thought: If there are Wednesday tickets in existence, then what about Thursday tickets? Whilst the elusive Thursday tickets continue to be a thing of myth, there is no proof, suggestion or witness account that there ever were tickets printed for Thursday. Which makes the Wednesday tickets even more of an enigma...  

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Reserved Enclosure Tickets 

These tickets were issued to members of the press and VIPs, to allow them access to the reserved seating enclosure in front of the stage. However, someone working front of stage for the entire weekend commented that he didn’t recall seeing a single one of these tickets until many years later.

 

These tickets all feature the “Drummer Boy” image, and are colour coded as follows: 

Friday – Light blue print on white paper 

Saturday – Orange print on white paper 

Sunday – Purple print on white paper 

 

Measuring 11.5 x 11cm (approx.) Current availability: Plentiful 

Programme 

The official programme for the Isle of Wight Festival of Music is a truly marvellous thing. Naturally, Dave Roe’s running “Drummer Boy” theme is incorporated throughout its 46 pages, and indeed the very colourful front cover, with its kaleidoscopic design, is quite a feast for the eyes.

 

Details of many of the appearing artists are contained within its purple-printed pages, together with music-related adverts of the time; even one that includes a “race to the finish” type board game, presumably to keep festival attendees mildly entertained whilst they waited patiently for the next artist to take the stage.

 

Measuring 29.5 x 21cm (approx.) Current availability: Plentiful  

 

Worth noting, as previously mentioned, is that in the 1990s this programme, together with the “Drummer Boy” poster, was reproduced for inclusion in a limited-edition VHS release of Jimi Henrix’s Isle of Wight performance. Although often attempted to be passed off as originals, these copies are easily spotted as they are generally a lot tidier in appearance, the colours printed on the cover are often less vivid, and on the back cover is printed “PACKAGING CONCEPT DESIGNED BY VINYL EXPERIENCE” (see the "Collecting Memorabilia" page of this website for more information). 

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“Mystery” cards 

For many years a further theory surrounded the mysterious “Wednesday Tickets” that we have already mentioned above: the design of the picture that they formed when placed alongside each other seemed to suggest that there could in fact be a third piece to the puzzle (and therefore a third ticket in existence, although nobody ever provided any evidence).

 

More recently that third piece of the design came to light, however not used on a ticket, but on a small number of general-purpose cards which we have reliably been informed were used specifically to issue to crew working behind the scenes, as hand-written "access all areas" passes (see example displayed).

 

Printed in black on white and measuring 10 x 9.5cm. Current availability: Exceptionally scarce 

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“Isle of Wight Festival of Music 1970” Poster 

A very striking print, in pink and turquoise on heavy grade white paper, and there seem to be a small number still in existence.

 

No indication is given of this poster’s designer, yet we are confident that it is indeed a bona-fide “Fiery Creation”; it’s not typical of Dave Roe’s style, however someone close to Fiery Creations once said that Dave Roe “knocked these up” at the last minute.

 

As for its purpose, just as little is known. Someone else, who lived near the festival site at the time, said that he remembered seeing one of these posters on display in a shop window in Freshwater, however he had no idea whether they were for promotional purposes or for general sale. But one thing we can be sure of - they look really smart!

 

Many surviving examples have an identical accidental crease running down the middle; these came from a more-recently discovered unused batch, indicating that the pack itself had been damaged at some point.

 

Current availability: Rare (even rarer without the crease!)  

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Site passes 

These passes would have been issued to artists and crew to give them “behind the scenes” access. Very few are still in existence; the ones we know of are as follows: 

Grouppass – blue on white background, with a Dave Roe designed guy wearing a hat and glasses; 

Exhibition Caterers – purple on white background, with a Dave Roe designed chef; 

Priority Pass – printed in a number of colours, both on a white background, with a Dave Roe designed guy driving a hot rod; 

Presspass – blue on white background, with a Dave Roe designed, four-armed (?!) reporter 

 

Measuring 10 x 8.5cm Current availability: Scarce

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Handbill

  

Two versions of this handbill are available: the first, printed in black on white paper, with red on white on the reverse side; the second, printed in red on white paper, on both sides. Both feature the “Drummer Boy” motif, and measure 29 x 14cm (approx.)

 

The second edition includes an updated line-up (with the addition of Miles Davis) Current availability: First print (black), scarce; Second print (red), fair 

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Fiery Creations Ltd Compliment Slip 

Significantly less attractive to the eye as Fiery Creations’ invoices, yet of great interest all the same. The registered address of “Inglefield” dates these slips to 1970, following the relocation of the Fiery Creations Ltd HQ early that year. Current availability: Rare 

Carrier bag 

Presumably produced for festival goers to take all their souvenirs back home in. Purple “Drummer Boy” motif printed on pink paper. Measuring 47 x 30cm (approx.) Current availability: Exceptionally scarce 

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Souvenir matchbook ​

As you can imagine, as with the match box from '69, not many of these have avoided being discarded in the bin. Therefore these items are naturally very scarce; even more scarce to find one such as this, with the matches still intact.

Souvenir "Grandad" Shirt

These beautiful "grandad" style tee-shirts were screen-printed onsite, and available in a number of colours. They seem to have been quite popular, as there are still quite a number in existence, however as you can imagine many have not survived the ravages of time (and laundering!) as well as this great example, which has still retained its shape and all of its buttons. 

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Believe it or not, this is THE ACTUAL screen printer which was used by a team of six people, onsite back in 1970 to print all of those beautiful Tee Shirts as per the example above. Festival memorabilia doesn't come more unique than this. It still exists today, in all its former glory - but I wouldn't like to see if it still works... (neither would its owner)

More  Coming  Soon!