Ray Foulk on The History of the Isle of Wight Festival (Podcast)

Ray shares his experiences of setting up the 1968-1970 Isle of Wight Festivals with VB

Last weekend we had the great pleasure of spending a few days on the site of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.

Ray Foulk: Original Isle of Wight Festival Organiser (Podcast)The occasion was the annual Hawkfest event which travels around the UK each year. We’ve got a number of podcasts coming out on VB over the next week or so, some with band members, others with organisers of the event.

Whilst we were there, we were lucky enough to spend some time with one of the original organisers of the Isle of Wight Festival, Ray Foulk.

Getting the facts straight
Ray talked us through the history of the three events, taking place in Godshill, Wootton and Afton Downs.

It’s a fascinating journey (including the fact that it was originally set up to raise funds for a swimming pool!), but what became apparent during our discussion was that over the years, the facts surrounding the 1970 event have been wildly distorted in books and through film.

It’s well worth grabbing a cup of tea and putting your feet up for 30 minutes to listen to the podcast lots of really interesting stuff in there

Share your view of the 1970 Festival
It may be 40 years since the event, but Ray’s now keen to ensure that the myths are busted. Along with his daughter, Caroline, he’s working on a project to gather views from the many people who attended the festival, whether they were on the inside or outside of the arena.

He’s keen to hear from any VB readers who might be able to share their experiences with him, so leave a comment below or get in touch and we can pass on your details.

Thursday, 2nd September, 2010 7:42pm

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ShortURL: http://wig.ht/26Al

Filed under: Freshwater, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight Festival, Music, podcast

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18 Comments

  1. Squeaky's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    2.Sep.2010 10:58pm

    Good interview – I think I would be inclined to believe his version of events. I would love to know what he thinks of Brian Hinton’s books?

    Reply
    • Ray Foulk's comment is rated +6 Vote +1 Vote -1

      4.Sep.2010 2:21pm

      Brian’s books provide a good account of the events, and especially in the scholarly treatment of the performances. It is a pity, however, that neither I nor my brothers were invited to contribute our account of organisational matters. Brian quotes instead Ron Smith and relies upon him as an authoritative source. Ron was not one of the promoters. He was in charge of building the site (never a director of the company, Fiery Creations). Ron Smith’s involvement was limited to the site (designed by Bill Foulk), which he supervised the building of admirably, and then afterwards clearing/restoring the site, which was an Herculean task for which he is entitled to huge tribute. But his account of other matters quoted by Brian are embarrassingly wayward. For instance Ron Smith describes how I arrived in the USA “. . . .with enough cash to get a taxi to Dylan’s place, and spoke at the intercom at the gate to Dylan, and Dylan let him in. He stayed there three or four days, and came back with Dylan’s agreement to appear at the pop festival . . ” All this is frankly ludicrous. Heaven portend that Bob Dylan should ever see this and think that I could have had a part of such nonsense. Sadly, this is later repeated and further embellished in certain other books and on the internet.
      Brian Hinton’s ‘Message to Love’ shares its title with the film which came out at the same time (1995). Unlike the film, however, which most 1970 festival-goers regard as a travesty of the history, the book DOES NOT exaggerate the skirmishing by radicals who wanted a free festival. The book concentrates instead on celebrating the event, and like the vast bulk of those attending, see the festival as the fantastic end enjoyable phenomenon that it was.

      Reply
      • Anthony Auger's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

        30.Dec.2010 5:12pm

        Not alive when the festival happened but seeing the film. I was wondering if you ever heard of what happened to one of the american carpenters who built the stage in the film he is “Bud the carpenter” an interesting character. I hope he made it out the 70’s ok. It would be really interesting to do another film of you all now. But thanks Ray, Ron, Bill and Rikki farr. and if you are out there Bud. for putting Freshwater/Totland on the map.

        Reply
        • Ray Foulk's comment is rated +4 Vote +1 Vote -1

          30.Dec.2010 6:18pm

          Thanks Anthony for your kind words. We too would like to contact Bud (and Ron and Eric). So if anyone out there knows of their whereabouts please be in touch.
          All the best,
          ray

          Reply
  2. zyzer's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

    2.Sep.2010 11:24pm

    Too young to have attended the island festivals but have seen Hawkwind many times in many of their incarnations over many years, at both festivals and venues. Great band who stuck with their roots never sold out and therefore never really achieved mainstream stardom although have always enjoyed a sizeable and loyal cult following.
    One particularly memorable moment which springs to mind was the Silchester free festival in the late eighties, with the first rays of the rising sun breaking the horizon and piercing the morning mist, a few members of the band billed as “Half of Hawkwind” took to the stage for a long and intricate jam session with the Ozric Tentacles, themselves heavily influenced by the Hawks.

    Reply
    • N0.5's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

      2.Sep.2010 11:42pm

      Saw Hawkwind, Ozrics and Ruthless Blues at The Marquee, Wardour Street in about 1987…think Dumpys Rusty Nuts where on the bill too

      Reply
  3. Debby Robinson's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    3.Sep.2010 7:04pm

    I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Ray.
    I was there (not paying) – sorry Ray, but I was very, very young.
    Memories, memories….buying wellies in Freshwater which are still serviceable. A young friend recently asked if they were, like, psychodelic. I had to give her a little wellie history lesson. In those days you could have black or black.
    Loads more tales to tell if you want to contact me Ray.
    TTFN (man)

    Reply
  4. kevin webb's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

    3.Aug.2011 8:15am

    I think that the real star of the 1970 Festival was Bud The Carpenter. Should have been given a bigger part than jus the t2 or 3 cameos!!

    Reply
    • Anthony Auger's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

      4.Aug.2011 4:56pm

      I would like to hear his life story from the hippie days. but whats more interesting to me is what he did after that. Since buying the DVD I have had a keen interest in those who were in it so I kept an eye on what Rikki, Ron and Ray did after the event all the way to modern times, Lets hope Rikki gets out of jail. But Bud disapeered off the radar screen not surprising as I didn’t know his real full name.
      I know there is over 100 hours of footage of the event. it would be interesting if one day they release it all. I have been to the site a number of times as well as looked at Ron’s and Ray’s mother old house in Totland which is massive.
      Ron is my idel I tend to like to think of myself as a businessman like him.
      Ever get the feeling you missed out on something special. They really need to do a modern film of them all now explaining how things changed and what happened with the 60’s.

      Reply
  5. Graham Swift's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    18.Sep.2011 10:47am

    Attended this wonderful festival with a pal and a borrowed tent! One of the best lifetime memories for me (I am now 69.)Spent two years of my spare time painting a memorial poster in oils and decided to offer it online. If Ray Foulk would like a complimentary copy, please get in touch. I have also a small leaflet with a write- up of the event which accompanies the poster and a list of the top 20 records for that week.As the old song goes…..” Thanks for the memory.”

    Reply
    • Ray Foulk's comment is rated +5 Vote +1 Vote -1

      18.Sep.2011 12:28pm

      Hi Graham,
      Wonderful to see your comments and I would be delighted to have a copy of your memorial poster. Let me know where the original is to be for sale because I should try and bid! It’s great to hear from people who have good memories of the festival/s (which is usually the case), as opposed to the way the media – especially certain films – try to portray it as just a lot of trouble.
      Please contact me by email at gogreen2000@btinternet.com,
      Kind regards and best wishes,
      Ray

      Reply
  6. Art Miller's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    18.Apr.2012 3:59pm

    What are Ray`s recollections of the controversy over the Official Isle of Wight Festival 1970 theme song, `Let the World Wash In` by I Luv Wight/Fairfield Parlour…..? It was released by Philips in a souvenir bag — but Rikki Farr famously `disowned` it during the weekend. Why…….?

    Reply
  7. richard bevan's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    13.Jul.2012 1:18pm

    My mom and dad had a stall selling tea and coffee at the festival. I remember the big tea urn with a tap on the side, but nothing of the famous stars playing at the festival since I was only four at the time. At least I can tell people “I was there”. The tea and coffee stall made a fortune, I think they bought a car and colour TV out of the profits.
    Ron Smith is my uncle and I remember many visits to the Island as a child but sadly very little of this famous event.

    Reply
  8. Pauline Tyrell's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    31.Aug.2013 7:44pm

    Walked up from the Bay chatting to a chap who told me he’d worked on the stages of all the Festivals .. he’d been to see the Hendrix statue. Maybe that was Bud…

    Reply
  9. Ella's comment is rated +4 Vote +1 Vote -1

    1.Sep.2013 9:00am

    I was at all three festivals. I was fourteen in 1968, and couldn’t believe my luck to be seeing Tyranosauraus Rex at Godshill. My main memories of 1969 were falling in love with a boy named Dermott and thinking that Richie Havens was awesome. He was definitely the best part of 1969 for me. I also remember getting lost and separated from my friends for about 4 hours following a trip to the loo. I can remember asking people if they’d seen my landmark of a cabbage on a stick. In 1970 I was almost 16. I have a photo of me arriving at the festival. I have loads of memories, including hardly eating for three days and being almost permanently high, although that might have been starvation kicking in! I have no memories of trouble around the perimeter ( the subsequent DVD was unrecognisable to me). I slept right through Hendrix, after exhaustion had kicked in. I thought Joni Mitchell was incredible; in my food deprived, drug fuelled state I thought she was singing to me personally. On one occasion I scraped enough cash together for a bag of chips and kindly offered a chip to a stranger only to have him call out to all and sundry “Free food, man!”. I think I got about four of my chips before they were eaten by strangers. I didn’t mind at all. The toilets were awful. A cousin of mine lost her handbag down the pit. I remember that ‘Free’ were amazing. ‘Free’ and Joni Mitchell were my undoubted highlights. All in all, I remember a peaceful and happy event.
    I had an incredible time in 1970.

    Reply
  10. Tony Walton's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    1.Sep.2013 9:46am

    Yeah, I was at all three and worked at the 1970 one – free food & access all areas. Too many memories to post.

    Reply
  11. Paula's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    10.Jun.2014 12:59pm

    I now live on the ‘island’ and its great to read all these comments about the 1970’s festival. I would have been over but was very pregnant with twins. I lived in Chelsea, Kings Rd and it was magic. Lots of famous people and amazing fashions with Flower power one end and Punks with fabulous coloured cherokee hair styles and spiky leather cloths. Chelsea, Kings Rd was a river of amazing fashion and fun. Will never be repeated. Just as the original ’70’s festival.

    Reply
  12. Leonie Frean's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Jul.2014 1:46pm

    Hi Ray I was the receptionist/telex operator at Fiery Creations Ltd, Inglefield House in 1970, what sheer and utter madness, but what sheer and utter FUN, never has anything since come near the joy of working with the Foulk family! Memories are many, but still remember Eric bathing(!) in a discarded bath in the back yard of the house when I came into work one morning. Running a switchboard on the festival field site next to the Main Entrance to the event with the engine running on my moped to make a quick getaway as 1000’s of festival goers were trying to break down the outer fence behind ‘my temporary office tent’ on the first day of the festival. So very proud to have been a teeny part of the greatest event! L

    Reply

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