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Photos Of The Reading Festival In The 1970s

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The Reading Festival is a mainstay of the British music calendar. The event can be traced back to August 26-27 1961, when Harold Pendleton, of London venue The Marquee, staged the National Jazz Festival at Richmond Athletic Ground, Surrey. After a peripatetic existence and name change –  the Royal Windsor Racecourse, Kempton Park Racecourse and Plumpton Racecourse played host to the renamed National Jazz & Blues Festival – the thing arrived at Reading in 1971.

 

Reading Festival 1970

Sha Na Na at the Reading Festival – 1970

 

Thanks to FatReg, we can tell you which acts performed, the price of entry and what the weather was like for each year.

1970
Weekend tickets: £2 10/-
Family, the Groundhogs, Cat Stevens, the Strawbs and Peter Green represent the old guard, while Deep Purple and Black Sabbath provide a taste of what the 1970s will offer.

1971
Headliners: Arthur Brown, East of Eden, Colosseum
Weekend tickets: £2.00
The festival is already in its tenth year but this is the first to be held in Reading. Plus, it rains all weekend. The line-up includes Lindisfarne, Wishbone Ash, Medicine Head and Rory Gallagher – all big draws back in those days.

 

Stock Photo - Elkie Brooks and Steve York of Vinegar Joe perform at the Reading festival, England, Friday 11th - Sunday 13th August 1972.

Elkie Brooks and Steve York of Vinegar Joe perform at the Reading festival, England, Friday 11th – Sunday 13th August 1972.

 

1972
Headliners: Curved Air, The Faces, Ten years After
Weekend tickets: £2.00
Friday: £1.00. Saturday: £1.75. Sunday: £1.25
The festival, now known as the National Jazz, Blues, Folk and Blues Festival, goes ahead at Richfield Avenue, Reading and the top act is the mighty Ten Years After (shurely shome mishtake?). The sun is blazing and police while away spare hours arresting nude swimmers in the Thames. The line-up includes Johnny Otis, The Faces and Genesis. John Peel and Jerry Floyd are the comperes.

 

Reading Festival 1972

Reading Festival 1972

Reading Festival August 11 1972

Reading Festival August 11 1972

One of the singers from Johnny Otis's band entering a caravan at the Reading Festival, Reading, Berkshire, August 1972.

A member of Johnny Otis’s band entering the artists’ caravan Reading, Berkshire, August 1972.

 

Reading Festival August 11 1972

Reading Festival August 11 1972

Reading Festival August 11 1972

Reading Festival August 11 1972

Reading Festival August 11 1972

Reading Festival August 11 1972

 

1973
Headliners: Rory Gallagher, The Faces, Genesis
Weekend tickets: £4.40
Friday: £1.65. Saturday: £2.50. Sunday: £2.20
The Faces, Rory Gallagher, Commander Cody, Status Quo and Genesis are among the highlights. The first band kicks off at 4pm on Friday and it all finishes around midnight on Sunday. The festival sees plenty of nudity, decent weather and Keith Moon backstage. Organisers also claim that all festival food had been passed by Public Health.

 

Reading Festival August 26 1973

Reading Festival August 26 1973

Reading Festival August 25 1973

14 month old Shiprah In the arms of her mother, 17 year old Cherrie Westphal. Reading Festival 1973

Reading Festival August 25 1973

Reading Festival 1973

Reading Festival 1973

Reading Festival 1973

Reading Festival 1973

Reading Festival 1973

Reading Festival 1973

Reading Festival 1973

Reading Festival 1973

Reading Festival 1973

 

1974
Weekend tickets: £5.50
Alex Harvey, 10cc, Focus, Steve Harley, Traffic and Procol Harum all turn up for those who’d paid a bargain £5.50 for a weekend ticket. Everything goes smoothly and there are a reported 150 toilets on site. Bet they were nice! The NME gets cynical and declares the festival as “institutionalised, predictable and… boring”. So, a lot like the NME is today, then.

 

George Melly at Reading Festival 1974

George Melly at Reading – 1974

23rd August 1974: A young audience sitting on the grass at the Reading Music Festival.

23rd August 1974

 

 

1975
Headliners: Hawkwind, Yes, Wishbone Ash
Weekend tickets: £5.50
Friday: £2.00. Saturday: £3.00. Sunday: £3.00
Milk is 20p a pint for those that are too stupid to drink beer (lager was something exotic and foreign back then). It pours down. 25,000 people turn up to see UFO, 10cc, Procul Harem, Supertramp, Dr Feelgood, Lou Reed and Thin Lizzy. The halcyon days of hard rock at Reading have begun.

 

Reading_Festival_1975

Reading Festival 1975

 

1976
Headliners: Gong, Rory Gallagher, Osibisa
Weekend tickets: £6.95
20,000 punters see 30 bands over three days, including Manfred Mann, Van Der Graaf Generator, Mallard, Eddie And The Hot Rods and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – oh, joy! It rains again.

1977
Headliners: Golden Earring, Thin Lizzy, Alex Harvey
Weekend tickets: £7.95
The night before the festival sees thunderstorms. Mud covers the entire site and the crowds are forced to witness Uriah Heep, The Rods and Ultravox, but respite comes via Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy and The Alex Harvey Band. The NME says the festival is “It’s cold and it’s wet and it’s bloody miserable.” So, still much like the NME, then.

 

Reading Festival 1977 Harp lager

Reading Festival 1977

Reading Festival 1977

Reading Festival 1977

John Peel and Elton John Reading Festival 1977

John Peel and Elton John Reading Festival 1977

 

1978
Headliners: The Jam, Status Quo, Patti Smith
Weekend tickets: £8.95
Friday: £3.50. Saturday: £4.50. Sunday: £4.50
At last the event is known as the Reading Rock Festival, and punk makes its presence felt, in the form of Sham 69, Penetration, John Otway, the Tom Robinson Band and The Jam – singer Paul Weller smashes up his equipment on stage. Resisting the tide of change are The Pirates, Ian Gillan, Lindisfarne and Foreigner.

 

1979
Headliners: The Police, Inner Circle, The Ramones
Weekend tickets: £10.95
August 24 – 26 sees Cheap Trick, Motorhead, The Police, Whitesnake, The Cure and Peter Gabriel all on the bill. Both the Undertones and Thin Lizzy pull out before the event. It rains again.

 

Reading Festival August 27 1978

Reading Festival August 27 1978

Reading Festival 1979

Reading Festival 1979