Camden Borough Fringe Festival 1969

Camden Borough Fringe Festival 1969
Authored By John Nicholson

Held on Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath, London initially in 1968, where Jefferson Airplane and Fairport Convention played in the rain. But in 1969 with the promoters a bit more worldwise booked three days of shows across 3 weeks in May and invited some heavy hitters of the emerging British psychedelic Head scene. 

9th May Pink Floyd, Roy Harper, The Pretty Things, Pete Brown's Battered Ornaments & Jody Grind.

18th May Procol Harum, Soft Machine, Third Ear Band , Yes & Blossom Toes.

30th May Fleetwood Mac. Taste, Edgar Broughton, Duster Bennett.

“At the all nighters refreshments will be available and lighting provided. All the groups will be playing free and there will be no charge for admission.”

Interestingly, the first and third shows were scheduled to run from 10pm to 3am, which is the only instance I can think of where an outdoor show started so late, allowing plenty of drinkers to turn up to see what all the freaky hippies are up to, which is what people did on the final show, causing some degree of mayhem with the peaceniks just wanting to groove to the sounds. Fights broke out. Of course they did. Humans, huh. 

The middle show was on a Sunday though, and back in ‘69 you couldn’t do much on a Sunday other than stare at the fire and wait for it to be over. So that was a 2pm to 8pm show. Get off home early to bed, you’ve got school in the morning.

The stage was actually the park’s bandstand, photos show bands with their equipment stuffed on there and everyone cramped up trying to find a space to play. But that was the improvised spirit of the age and none the worse for it.

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