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The 1st and 2nd British Rock Meetings were the promotional brainchild of Marcel Avram and Marek Lieberberg, the founders of MAMA Concerts and were heavily sponsored by the American Army because they had so many GI’s posted out in West Germany. Nice of them to put on a 4-day festival for the troops! 4 days! Sat May 20, 1972 - Mon May 22, 1972 (that's 3 days, surely?! Maybe they lost the ability to count after too much dope)
The GIs were able to purchase tickets at advance booking offices on the army grounds, the AFN soldier broadcaster advertised them, and bus trips from the barracks to the concert were organized. The soldiers made up an average of 50 to 70 percent of the festival visitors.
The 1972 second British Rock Meeting was supposed to take place on Friesenheimer Island in Mannheim, Germany; however, the Mannheim city council opposed it and MAMA Concerts had to change the venue. MAMA Concerts first tried to relocate the festival to Korsika and then to the racetrack in Hockenheim but strong reaction from the city councils made these sites unacceptable. So it wasn’t just uptight small town councils in the USA that didn’t like the idea of festivals. The Man was alive and well in Germany too.
After much searching, the concert promoters were finally able to relocate the festival to Insel Grün (Green Island) in Germersheim. Even then, it looked like the festival would not happen as Germersheim city officials began having second thoughts about allowing a large festival to be held there and issued a police order against the festival the day prior to its start. Boo.
But as often happened city officials relented however after eleventh hour talks with the festival organizers, the mayor of Germersheim, and a top Rheinland Pfalz state official.
As a result, over 70,000 people attended this 4-day festival and 35 bands performed. And an amazing line-up it was too. The cream of UK rock and some interesting American bands too.
Albert Mangelsdorff, Amon Düül II, Atomic Rooster, Beggars Opera, Billy Joel, Brinsley Schwarz, Buddy Miles Express, Country Joe McDonald, Curved Air, East Of Eden, Ekseption, Eri Foerster, Faces (didn’t play), Family, Frumpy, Home, Humble Pie, Jerusalem, Karthago, Linda Lewis, Lindisfarne, Max Merritt and the Meteors, Nazareth, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Osibisa, Pacific Gas & Electric, Pink Floyd, Quiver, Rory Gallagher, Roy Young Band, Sam Apple Pie, Savoy Brown, Spencer Davis, Status Quo, The Doors, The Incredible String Band, The Kinks, Tom Paxton, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, Strawbs
Although The Faces were supposed to headline one day, they failed to show up and Wishbone Ash played instead. Not a bad replacement! I wonder what The Doors were like without Jim. The two albums they put out were rather good, I thought, though quite different.
While the place did turn into something of a quagmire, there were some great performances. Curved Air have recently released their set from the festival and there’s long been bootlegs of Rory and Floyd
It did turn into a bit of a heavy scene though. For the performers the facilities were limited. No dressing rooms or nor a toilets, caravans only for prominent groups like Pink Floyd and the then popular underground band, Beggar's Opera.
The two-part stage was set up by English stage managers and sound engineers. Stewards were armed with iron chains, fixed knives, steel pipes and knuckles, and they caused several bloody incidents. The meadow area on which some of the visitors camped - also directly in front of the stage - was boggy. The tents near the stage hindered visitors and had a negative effect on the acoustics . Even in the middle of the area, the music was difficult to hear. The toilet trucks were opposite the stage at the other end of the square, where the water points were also located.
More than three hundred people had to be hospitalized for drug problems, and another 1200 received outpatient treatment, often for foot injuries from broken glass. Ouch. Bad vibes. Wear shoes, dudes!
More than three hundred people had to be hospitalized for drug problems, and another 1200 received outpatient treatment, often for foot injuries from broken glass.
These German gigs were a huge part of the scene for British bands of the early 70s because they offered them exposure to a huge audience and Germany was to be an important market for so many bands. If you look at tour sheets, many bands played a lot of shows there throughout the decade and it was festivals like this that were the foundations for their support.