Pop promoters fight to bring love and peace to Isle of Wight again

Rock festival's 25th anniversary could see return of the `beautiful peo ple', writes Simon Midgley
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The Independent Online
Promoters are vying to be the first to stage a commemorative pop festival on the 25th anniversary of Britain's answer to Woodstock, the famous Isle of Wight "happening" during which more than a quarter of a million "beautiful" people made love, sm oked pot and danced to Jimi Hendrix's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Paul King, who promoted the Knebworth '90 concert in which Eric Clapton, Elton John, Phil Collins and Mark Knopfler played, wants to stage a three-day concert in the south-west of the island in July with some of the original artists who performed during the1970 Isle of Wight concert.

John and Ray Foulk, two of the promoters of the 1970 event, want to stage their concert with some of the biggest names in rock, classical music and jazz at Freshwater Farm, the original festival site, in the west of the island. They want to hold it on August bank holiday weekend, the anniversary of the original event.

On Thursday night the Foulks won round one when Mr King's application for a public entertainments licence for a 400-acre site at Atherfield Farm near Chaile was turned down by the South Wight borough council's licensing sub-committeeon the grounds that festival goers might fall over the cliffs of the coastal site. The committee was also worried that the ground around the site was prone to landslips.

Mr King had been seeking permission for more than 125,000 people to attend theevent from 14-16 July. Local people were worried about excessive noise, drug taking and possible criminal acts.

The company's lawyers have 21 days to decide whether to lodge an appeal against the decision in a magistrates' court.

John and Raymond Foulk's application for an entertainment licence on a 500-acre site at Freshwater Farm will be considered by the council's licensing committee on 16 February.

They are seeking permission to stage a four-day festival catering for 75,000 people, part of the proceeds from which would be used to establish a music foundation to help those studying music on the island.

For those whose musical history is a little rusty, there were in fact three Isle of Wight festivals. The first was a one-day event in 1968 which attracted around 10,000 people and starred Jefferson Airplane and Arthur Brown. The second attracted several hundred thousand people, lasted three days and starred Bob Dylan with The Band, Joe Cocker and The Who. This occurred two weeks after Woodstock and was a virtual rerun of that event, with most of the same stars plus Bob Dylan, who was thought at the timeto have gone into retirement.

The final festival, the largest, starred Hendrix, Joan Baez, the Doors, The Who, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell.

Such was the growing Conservative opposition to this burgeoning annual celebration of peace and love that Parliament passed an Isle of Wight Act imposing strict conditions on subsequent concerts. Since 1970 the only events to have attracted more than 5,000 people have been fetes, scooter rallies and an annual garlic festival.

The Isle of Wight has a population of just under 130,000.