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KOSSOFF: THE BAND PLAYS ON...Terry Slesser, founder member of Paul Kossoff’s final band, Back Street Crawler, with lead guitarist John Buckton. K:TBPO are confirmed to appear at Million Dollar Bash.

KOSSOFF: THE BAND PLAYS ON...Terry Slesser, founder member of Paul Kossoff’s final band, Back Street Crawler, with lead guitarist John Buckton. K:TBPO are confirmed to appear at Million Dollar Bash.

WHEN is a band not a tribute band? When it’s Kossoff: The Band Plays On, for sure. The mighty Free, that brilliant, precocious, but sadly short-lived blues-rock sensation of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, boasted four fine talents: vocalist Paul Rodgers, bassist Andy Fraser, drummer Simon Kirke and the baby-faced guitarist with the lion’s mane - Paul Kossoff.

They graced both the 1969 and 1970 Isle of Wight Festivals, the latter just after All Right Now had shot them from national blues-rock treasures to international pop-rock sensations. That they started to implode soon after, partly because of Kossoff’s downward spiral into hard-drug addiction, is one of rock’s great tragedies.

Kossoff eventually resufaced with a solo album and then with a band that was named after the album’s title - Back Street Crawler - and the group was led by Geordie vocalist Terry Slesser. Four decades on from Kossoff’s untimely death at just 25, Slesser keeps the flame burning - touring with Kossoff: The Band Plays On, honouring Kossoff’s superb contributions to both many a Free classic song and also the Back Street Crawler output.

With him is John Buckton, a fine player in his own right but widely regarded as the finest interpreter of Kossoff’s spare, soulful blues playing, featuring the memorable vibrato that prompted Eric Clapton to ask the astonished young Kossoff: “Will you show me how you do that?”. Free were supporting Clapton’s Blind Faith on a U.S. tour at the time — in 1969, appropriately enough. Indeed, it was just a few short weeks after that Kossoff-Clapton exchange that Free rocked up at Woodside Bay, on the Island, to play the 1969 IoW festival.

Kossoff: The Band Plays On will arrive at the Bash after another successful UK tour but Slesser says: “I knew Paul so very well and he had a great sense of humour. I know that he would be smiling knowing we were coming to the Island where he played at two such iconic events.”

All Wight Now co-organiser Bill Bradshaw said: "Our founder, Andy Knight, when he set out to honour the first three IoW festivals, wanted to celebrate the music, the memories and legacy of those originals and Kossoff: The Band Plays on will evoke the magic of Free - and their superb late guitarist - supremely well.”

There is to be an exhibition from CH Vintage Audio with an array of original sound gear from the 1969 and 1970 IoW festivals at Woodside Bay and Afton respectively, at the Million Dollar Bash It was these mixing desks, speakers and mics that were used by the likes of The Who, The Doors, Free, Rory Gallagher and Jimi Hendrix.

Also on show will be an exhibition of iconic festival photography from the Cameron Life vaults, presented by Charles Everest’s son, Neil Everest.

Joining them in the exhibition space attractions is an in-progress artwork from sculptor Guy Portelli who will be working on 'The Wight Rocks 50', a mosaic depicting the Island's festivals featuring 200 handprints from iconic rock artists and also his in-progress Bob Dylan sculpture.

All Wight Now is organising a series of events to mark the 50th anniversaries of all three original festivals in 1968-69-70. Stand by for more announcements about 2019 and 2020 retrospectives.

Press release by Bill Bradshaw.

Free’s The Hunter played by Kossoff: The Band Plays On - live at The Musician, Leicester, in 2017.

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Richard Thompson…a special guest at the bash!

RICHARD Thompson has confirmed he is to join the bill of Million Dollar Bash - and this folk-rock icon will no doubt have a reunion with his fellow ex-Fairport Convention member Ashley Hutchings, the Bash’s event director.

By the age of 18 Thompson was playing with the newly formed Fairport Convention back in 1967. Thompson's guitar playing caught the ear of American producer Joe Boyd. Largely on the strength of Thompson's playing, Boyd took them under his wing and signed them to his Witchseason production and management company.

Boyd said:

And there was this group of very nice Muswell Hill grammar school boys and a girl playing American music. Leonard Cohen songs, and Richard Fariña songs, and Bob Dylan songs, all being done in a kind of West-Coasty rock style. And then came the guitar solo, and Richard just played the most amazing solo. He played a solo which quotes from Django, from Charlie Christian, you know, an incredibly sophisticated little solo. And that really amazed me, the breadth of his sophistication... and so, you know, at the end of the gig I was in the dressing room saying 'would you guys like to make a record?'

Shortly thereafter Thompson, already acquiring a reputation as an outstanding guitar player, started writing songs seriously.

I remember saying to Ashley after a gig, that I was kind of embarrassed about doing the material we were doing, because it seemed that we should have outgrown doing covers – even though it was only 1967 – it somehow wasn't good enough and other bands were writing their own stuff and we should too. I remember being angry and saying to Ashley this isn't good enough, we've got to get some original material... and stuff started to trickle through.[13]

It has been quite a journey for Richard since those far-off days - through his exquisite ouput with Linda Thompson and associated acts such as the Albion Band and many others. It will be a joy to have him at The Bash.

Dick Taylor, Phil May, Frank Holland: Dick and Phil played at the 2018 celebration

Dick Taylor, Phil May, Frank Holland: Dick and Phil played at the 2018 celebration

 
 

Press Release: 12/06/2018

'THE PRETTY THINGS MEETS JC and ANGELINA' ADDED TO ALL WIGHT NOW LINEUP

All Wight Now, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the original Isle of Wight Festivals, has added its next major name to the bill of original artists at its 1968 retrospective on September 1.

'The Pretty Things Meets JC and Angelina' features original band members Phil May and well-known Island resident Dick Taylor, supported by two of the Island's finest musicians. They will appear at The Cow, Tapnell Farm, to help celebrate the music, the memories and the legacy of the 1968 event - the inaugural Island festival. All Wight Now is also to mark the 50th anniversaries of the 1969 and 1970 Island festivals next year and in 2020.

The Pretty Things, whose rocking roots go back to formation of The Rolling Stones, played at both the 68 and 69 Island Festivals. The  band has announced that 2018 will be their last year of touring so the All Wight Now event will be one of the last occasions for fans to pay homage.

Dick Taylor said: “I’m really looking forward to performing at the AWN 50th commemoration event.  I have fond memories performing particularly of the 1968 show, it seemed like it ushered in a new era and in many ways it did.” 

Roger Simmonds, All Wight Now spokesman, said: "All Wight Now is about celebrating the music and memories of the original IW Festivals. Our line-up is therefore made up largely of artistes who appeared at those events.

"We are overjoyed to have The Pretty Things featuring JC and Angelina appearing at All Wight Now - it is sure to be a highlight of the event."

The Pretty Things Meets JC and Angelina join headliner The Ashley Hutchings Trio (Hutchings appeared with Fairport Convention at the 1968 festival) at All Wight Now. Another 1968 original festival artist, Paul Athey, is also to appear.

Further announcements of the other artists to appear will follow soon. Visitors to this year;s Isle of Wight Festival (June 21-24) can find out more about All Wight Now by visiting the Dimbola marquee at the festival.

All Wight Now's 1968 celebration take place on Saturday, September 1, from 7pm until midnight, at The Cow, Tapnell Farm, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, PO41 OYJ. Tickets priced at £18 plus booking fee are still available from: www.allwightnow.com

Press release by Bill Bradshaw.

All press enquires please contact us through the contact page. 

 
 
From left, Roger Simmonds of All Wight Now, Dick Taylor, of The Pretty Things, Chris Hewitt, of CH Vintage Audio, IW Festival promoter John Giddings and Nick Turner, formerly of Hawkwind

From left, Roger Simmonds of All Wight Now, Dick Taylor, of The Pretty Things, Chris Hewitt, of CH Vintage Audio, IW Festival promoter John Giddings and Nick Turner, formerly of Hawkwind

Press Release: 19/06/2018

THE searing guitar tones of Jimi Hendrix cascaded across the fields of East Afton Farm as the BBC conjured up the spirit of the original IW festivals - something that will be celebrated by ALL WIGHT NOW at The Cow, Tapnell Farm, on September 1.

The BBC was back on the iconic 1970 festival site - just across the road from Tapnell - to film footage for a documentary to be screened in late summer to mark the 50th anniversaries of the original 1968, 69 and 70 Isle of Wight festivals.

The first of those took place on September 1, 1968, at Ford Farm, Whitwell, starring Jefferson Airplane, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Tyrannosaurus Rex and The Pretty Things, drawing a 15,000-strong crowd. It sparked the much bigger Island events in 1969 at Wootton Bay, headlined by Bob Dylan, and the 1970 festival at East Afton Farm with a massive bill topped by Hendrix.

Present-day IW Festival promoter John Giddings was on hand as Chris Hewitt, of CH Vintage Audio, assembled a stack of original Island festival WEM sound gear, speaker stacks, mixing desk and Marshall amplification equipment. It was the very gear used by Hendrix, The Who, Free, The Moody Blues and many others bands at East Afton in 1970.

Giddings was joined by Island resident Dick Taylor of The Pretty Things, and Nick Turner, an ex-Hawkwind band member. Taylor and his band played at the 68 festival while Hawkwind unofficially played at the 1970 event on Desolation Alley — on a makeshift stage with bands playing to fans without tickets.

The Pretty Things will be playing at this year's IW Festival, which begins this week, and also at the All Wight Now 1968 retrospective event at Tapnell Farm, on September 1, when they will be billed as The Pretty Things Meets JC and Angelina.

Topping the bill at Tapnell will be Ashley Hutchings, who played the 1968 festival with Fairport Convention. He is bringing his trio to The Cow.

Giddings said: "I love this re-creation and I support the All Wight Now event to mark the 50th anniversary. Anything that promotes the Island and marks such great events has to be good. 

"I have always wanted to do that ever since we brought the festival back in 2002 - but sometimes it can be hard work. Seeing this fine old gear used by the greats of yesterday is just great."

Dick Taylor said: "I remember the first festival in 1968 when we played. The highlight for me was being on the same bill as Jefferson Airplane. To get them to the Island was just unreal at the time. I also remember Arthur Brown, of course, and his famous trick of setting his hair on fire - or appearing to. Great memories."

Nick Turner, resplendent in a stetson and Confederate jacket, played a medley on saxophone before the original Hendrix tapes were played through the WEM stacked gear and music again filled the air.

Nick said: "I remember the 1970 festival here very well. It was a great time. We played to the kids without tickets every day of the festival...I kept going with a little chemical help. We all did in those days."

Press release by Bill Bradshaw.

All press enquires please contact us through the contact page. 

Ashley Hutchings

Ashley Hutchings