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One of the UK music scene’s drivers was Tony Stratton-Smith who was both the owner of Charisma Records and until 1973 Genesis’ manager as well. Charisma was an incredibly eclectic label, and wilfully so under the guiding hand of Strat, who wanted one of everything on the label. A jazz band, a poet, a prog band, a folk band etc.
It was ironic that just as Genesis broke through and were heading for the big time in 1973, he stopped being their manager to concentrate on running the label. But back in 1971 he put on this two-day weekend festival for a lot of his label’s bands.
He put it on along with Terry King, a famous promoter at the time and one of the pioneering people in the UK rock business whose organisation was partly responsible for the expansion into the town hall and city halls as a touring circuit.
Strat died just 53 years of age, by all accounts, a larger than life character and an epic drinker, he passed away from pancreatic cancer in the 1987s. Born in 1933, he was one of those kids who post-war set about changing the world that they had inherited. He brought us so much great music and was the very antithesis of the corporate worker bees who run the business today. He was in it for the lifestyle, the art, the music, the drinking. And that’s how it should be.
Clearly the night to go on here was Friday if you wanted proggy eclecticism and Sunday if you wanted folk. All the acts were in the early stages of their career. Earlier in the year Strat had put on a tour of his three biggest groups Genesis, Lindisfarne and Van Der Graf Generator. Here without the folkie Geordie, he added Audience - a great band who were musically almost undefinable - and Patto who were more rock than prog and again, a great band whose sales numbers never matched their musical creativity.
Not a bad show for a whole £1.00 or £1.50 if you wanted to go to both nights.