BAR-B-QUE '67 Spalding, Lincolnshire

BAR-B-QUE '67 Spalding, Lincolnshire
Authored By John Nicholson

Whilst almost totally unknown, this is an important UK show in the history of rock because this was pretty much the first one-day rock fest in this country. And what a stellar line-up it was too. 

Cream, Geno Washington, Pink Floyd, Sounds Force Five, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Move, Zoot Money

Held on bank holiday Monday May 29, 1967 at the Tulip Bulb Auction Hall, Spalding, Lincolnshire which is basically a massive metal shed.

Towards the end of 1966, Grantham promoter, former footballer Brian Thompson, set about booking Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band and The Move. Their management persuaded Thompson to also book three relatively unknown acts at that time, being Pink Floyd, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream. 

The event was held in Spalding at the tulip auction hall, most likely the largest building in the area that could hold a large crowd, Spalding being a big tulip growing area - it also smells of onions because so many are grown around there. However, the centre of rock n roll it is not and has never been. It’s a rural market town and an unlikely place to find Cream, Jimi and Floyd.

A local covers outfit, Sounds Force 5, were booked to ensure a decent turnout (in case no-one had heard of the other bands  which isn’t as unlikely as it sounds now)and were to perform in all changeovers between each band at the side of the stage. 

Advertising was national and massively underestimated, with thousands making their way to the market town causing national radio to warn travellers to turn back. 6,000 attended but an estimated 12,000 outside, ticketless.Tickets cost just £1 and the posters promised a “knockout atmosphere” yeah, grooby, baby. 

The Monday Bank Holiday was sunny and hot which would have been very uncomfortable in a large crowd inside what was basically a metal shed. The event appeared to be unorganised and the sound was terrible. Well, no-one had done anything like this before. 

Pink Floyd performed at the rear of the venue using a white bed sheet to project moving images. Now that’s high-tech! Hendrix had many issues, including tuning problems, was late on stage meaning he played just a half hour set and finished by setting fire to his guitar and trashing his speaker stack. It was widely agreed that Clapton out-played Hendrix that day and that Geno Washington made a great show too. 

Whilst a groundbreaking event for its time in the Summer of Love ahead of the famous Monterey Pop Festival and possibly being the first Rock music festival in the UK, the event remains largely unknown outside of the area. The event became a one off in Spalding due to opposition from local residents who didn’t want no rock n rollers disturbing the tulips.

Thompson, however, moved to a location in nearby Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, for the 1968 event, Barn Barbeque Concert and Dance, which included Donovan, Fairport Convention, Fleetwood Mac and The Move. 

In 2016 a blue plaque commemorated the event, placed at the Red Lion Hotel where Jimi Hendrix stayed that night.

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