From being a one-day festival with literally only one overseas feature, the Isle of Wight festival has come a long way. In honour of the goings-on, we, at the Sherp bring to you a trip into the depths of this musical cove, a blast from the past – only to tell you, that today, the festival-world has certainly changed, and of course, for the better. 

People 1970

(Image Courtesy: UKRockFestivals)

In 1968, at the first Isle of Wight Festival, Jefferson Airplane played to an audience of about 15,000 people at the helm of the stage at the Ford Farm – while the likes of Arthur Brown, The Fairport Convention, and The Pretty Things amongst a few other (then) local artists played at the Festival too. For a first, the festival didn’t really bring in a lot of crowd, considering it’s ticket costed but a small £1.25, it sparked a trend that exists even today as one of the most happening music festivals in the world.

Jefferson Airplane

In 1969 however, something amazing happened – with artists like Bob Dylan and the Band, Joe Cocker and The Who, the audience suddenly surged from a meagre 15,000 to about a 150,000. There were foam pits, parties in the foam pits, mail-boxes to pass on the message of love and tell people how much fun it was, there were hippies, tents to camp at, and obviously – good, no. Great music.

1969 Banner

(Image Courtesy: UKRockFestivals)

To have had such an audience in a time when transportation conditions were harsh on the pocket, and to have such a dedicated fan base, only points to the fact that the music was something people craved, and yearned for.

Tim Brighton :: UK Rock Festivals 1969

(Image Courtesy: Tim Brighton via UKRockFestivals)

For those that were amazed at the 150,000 attendees for the 1969 festival, prepare to be shell-shocked by the turn out at the 1970 festival. The hype of the 1969 festival, brought forth a wave of people exceeding numbers by almost half a million! The Isle of Wight Festival’70, was one of the biggest, and most interesting festivals the world could have seen at that time.

1970 People & Stage

(Image Courtesy: UKRockFestivals)

It brought in some of the most famous musicians at the time, and was host to the (sadly), penultimate performance of Jimi Hendrix – who is being paid some intense homage at this year’s festival! There was Joni Mitchell, Jethro Tull, The Who, The Moody Blues, Kris Kristofferson, and Leonard Cohen – all gathered at one space, with a long, but beautiful list of other artists, who got to also perform at the massive tent that was set up for smaller performances, and for people that couldn’t afford the main-stage!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(All Images Courtesy: UKRockFestivals & ZoomerRadio)

This 3rd edition however, was the festival that marked the end of the Isle of Wight trend for a long, long time. The unsurmountable number of people on the island at the time, forced the parliament to create the “Isle of Wight Act”, which forbid a gathering of more than 5,000 people on the island sans special permission.

The act that passed in 1971, disallowed the conduction of any large scale event on the island premises due to the environmental, and societal impacts of the 1970 festival on the people, the landscape, and the island’s functioning. From then on, the Isle of Wight was mum, and the festival had been canned until further notice for the coming years, in the words of Ron Foulk (one of the promoters of the festival)

“This is the last festival, it began as a beautiful dream but it has got out of control and it is a monster.” – Sept. 1, 1970.

30 years later, in 2002 – Annie Horne, pursued the idea of reviving the festival, and managed to propose a plan to the council which enabled the establishment of a ‘win-win’ for the promoters, and the county. She worked hard to ensure that the festival went on without any glitches or mishaps. She tied up with John Giddings, who was heading the Solo Music Agency, to be able to gain a quality filled, and diverse range of music through their sign-ons, Giddings eventually took over the festival and is now the Managing Director of the Isle of Wight Festival.

2002 Stage

(Image Courtesy: Isle of Wight Tourist Guide)

From it’s revival in 2002, the Isle of Wight has been the prime UK summer music festival, featuring some of the best musical talent across the globe. With The Charlatans headlining the 2002 festival, along with other featured artists like Robert Plant, Starsailor and DNA Doll, the festival managed to gain an audience of about 10,000 people, and had a multitude of smaller performances with local audiences across the Island!

Isle of Wight Feature 2


(Image Courtesy: FestivalMag)

Since, the festival has grown a lot bigger, and much, much better – in terms of accessibility, facilities, and other festival needs. Over the past 14 years, Isle of Wight has been able to showcase a wide range of music, across genres, and essentially breaking the barrier between the old and the new. The festival has been a harmonious space for music lovers, and creators not only to mingle and share sentiments, but to showcase their own work on a large, grand, and ever-enthralling stage.

Stage 2005


(Image Courtesy: Isle of Wight Festival)

The growing popularity of the festival led to the increase in numbers of attendees too, from 10,000 to about 40,000 and now, around 50,000 people or more flock to the festival each year to mark the beginning of festival season in the UK. Having featured people like Bryan Adams, Paul McCartney, and Neil Young, Amy Winehouse, Jay-Z, P!nk, to name a few, as well as bands like The Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones, REM, The Police, Coldplay, Bastille, Muse, Pearl Jamand many many more, this year’s line up for the festival seems to be a revisiting of the past, with bands like Fleetwood Mac, The Charlatans (again), The Black Keys, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, and Counting Crows; the festival is sure as hell a promising one.

With 2014 being a great hit within the Festival community, one can only wonder what’s going on this weekend at Isle of Wight 2015!

Check out the 2014 after movie here to know just how fun it was!

Then, in 1969, the Isle of Wight was where the music was called to be showcased to the world, and now, in 2015 – the Isle of Wight is where the music comes. This festival has been through tremendous hardship, it has seen literally the best and the worst times in music festival history, but it still reigns supreme today.