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


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

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. 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?

    • Ray Foulk

      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.

      • Anthony Auger

        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.

  2. 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.

  3. Debby Robinson

    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)

  4. kevin webb

    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!!

    • Anthony Auger

      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.

  5. 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.”

    • 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,

  6. Art Miller

    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…….?

  7. richard bevan

    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.

  8. Pauline Tyrell

    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…

  9. 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.

  10. Tony Walton

    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.

  11. 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.

  12. Leonie Frean

    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

    • Hi Leonie,
      Brilliant to see your posting. I have just completed my book/s on the IoW Festivals (working with my daughter, Caroline). Volume 1 (1969 & 69) is now with the printers and is due out in the spring. Volume 2 (1970) is due out later this year and there is still time to add more stories. Would love to meet up with you to hear your recollections. My email is globeox@btinternet.com. I’ve never lost the memory of you coping with the mayhem of reception next to my office in those extraordinary times, always in good heat and good spirits no matter what.
      Warmest best wishes, Ray

  13. David Buckley

    16.Jan.2015 11:51pm

    Hi Guys

    I would like to find out how my father was involved in the Isle Of Wight festival as I am tracking his history & apparently at some point he financed some part of this festival in 1970 linked to ski yoghurts. I know this as he secured our family home on the deal. Apparently the money from the festival was misplaced by someone & we lost our home on the deal. There is a lot more that I know but wish to find out who may help me piece things together before all records are lost.
    If anyone can add any insight to this it would be appreciated. I know that he bought the Jenson car from the drummer in the hendrix band & that Marsha hunt baby sat me for periods of time as I was at the festival aged 7 years old.
    If anyone can help add anymore facts to this it would be appreciated?

    • Hello David,
      We have often wondered about your father, having lost touch with him 45 years ago. He was a great friend and supporter of the 1969 and 1970 festivals and features in my book being launched this summer. My brother and I remember Eddie with great affection. I would love to catch up with you and try and help fill in some of the many blanks you have about this period. Lets exchange contact details and I would be delighted to meet up. globeox@btinternet.com Ray Foulk

  14. eric rosse

    26.Mar.2015 11:38pm

    Hey Ray its been a while but what fun it was I had no idea that that was the last festival for some time I got a copy of the film years ago and its still great memories Bud the carpenter is alive and well as am I eric

    • Hey Eric….I’ve wondered how you were for nearly 45 yrs! I once goggled a bit to find you, Ron, and Bud, but only found bits and pieces. I believe I found an obit for Ron??? Before that is what we all find from our buddies in the past let’s connect. I have a vague memory of going to your parent’s home on Strawberry in late ’70s for a memorial service for your Dad?? All fuzzy. I’ve been in Sausalito since ’78. Rowboat@well.com will reach me. If you recall I was the East Coast American that stumbled upon you all building the ’70 IOW site. Stayed to build the site, we did studio in Totland after then down to Ibiza.

      • >>I believe I found an obit for Ron???<<

        Ron Smith is my uncle and so far as I know he's still alive (as of March 2015). I live in Finland now but my relatives back in the UK would have told me the news :)

        • Hey Richard, sorry for confusion, we crossed our “Ron’s”, I was following on earlier posts where folks were wondering what happened to the three California guys that helped to create the IOW 70 site, The Trio from Mill Valley CA; Eric Rosse, Ron and Bud Alamda. Bud will live on as “The Carpenter” from the festival film, thanks to his in depth interview on the can. I was Bud’s Apprentice, another US bloke, though East Coast. Thanks to these postings Eric and I just met for first time in 35 yrs and I hope to reconnect with Bud soon, sadly Ron Almada has passing on a couple years back. We all shared some fun times creating that site.

  15. Mick Ryan

    29.Oct.2015 5:28pm

    I was at the 1970 festival with my best mate Frank who has since passed away,plus my elder brother and his girlfriend at the time.For many years and still today all i ever heard was that the festival was a shambles caused by the fence being torn down by those wanting the event to be free.
    We never experienced or saw anything of this;our experience was of a fabulous event.I feel very privileged to have been at this historic event and have great memories of the artists.Over the years i have picked up a poster,programme and other bits of memorabilia.I have just read Ray Foulks book and cant wait for Volume 2.Volume 1 is very well written and credit to Ray and his daughter,more importantly is Rays ability to challenge some of the nonsensical stories ,and i look forward to Vol 2 equally challenging some of the pieces of fiction that have become folklore.
    I would be happy to chat anytime about my revelations of the event.

  16. Steve Barnes

    23.May.2016 6:28pm

    I was at the 1970 festival as a callow 17 year old youth. A great time and experience for one so young. I still have a book I bought shortly after – “Isle of Wight 1970 the last great festival” – a picture record by Rod Allen.

    I have great memories of getting a lift to Afton Down on the back of a turf lorry (I have a photo), making a mattress out of a plastic bag filled with straw, makeshift tents (I have a picture), resisting “skinny dipping” in the bay, and falling asleep and missing Hendrix !!!

  17. The numbers attending the 1968 IOW Festival have never been very clear. Over the years, myself and fellow organisers have commonly talked in terms of ten to 15 thousand. In the course of this long impromptu interview I stated the upper end of this range when I should have said ten to 15 thousand. Since the interview (2010) I have undertaken extensive research to write my book on the 1968/69 festivals (Stealing Dylan from Woodstock, 2015, Medina Publishing, Surbiton, ISBN 978-1909339-50-7) and conclude, on the balance of evidence, that the higher figure, from which I now resile, should be revised. 10,000 (approx.) is prbably nearer the mark (the Isle of Wight County Press, 7 Sept 1968, stated 9,000).

  18. Was just reminded of going to the 69 and 70 ones, so found this page. Enjoyed the Podcast

    I went to both, Dylan and then Hendrix. There was another the year before, 68 I think but it was very small and I did not know about it.
    Climbed in the second time as did not have tickets…….sorry had no money!! No idea how! But I had help from guys who bumped me up and another hauled me over and I was young then and their defenses not like they are now.

    Always remember we had no tent so did not sleep except for the last night when we slept on the beach around a campfire and got a lift back with two lads from near Littlehampton I think? I did not live far then as lived in Hampshire so knew them slightly, met them in there and seen them at other gigs. On one of their fathers sailing boat.

    We were all arrested as we pulled the boat up onto the beach the other side, and were securing it, as some mums with kids reported us as hippies who had stolen a boat to sail back!!

    No mobile phones in those days so we were kept at the police station all the rest of the day until they could contact the lads parents and prove they had not stolen it. So me and my mates – 3 of us, 3 women, and me only 15 or 16 I think the other two were older, had to hitch back to where we lived – near Basingstoke – after midnight! It took us until 7am as no traffic.Yet the police let me a minor go and find my own way home so late at night. So much for a duty of care then.After all it was them that had made us so late to hitch back!

    Happy days !!

    Last year I went back to the IOW Festival for the first time since 1970. My sister now has a house on the Island so we did not camp but went in every day.

    Its on a different site but still very strange to be back

Add comment