Popanalia Festival , France 1970

Popanalia Festival , France 1970
Authored By John Nicholson

Popanalia Festival, held on August 5, 1970, was one of the first French pop festivals. The event was created by Jean-François Bizot, Jean Bizot and Jean-Luc Young and took place at Autoroute De L'Esteral, in the city of Biot.

Planned to last 36 hours, the event was abandoned soon after it started. Unfortunately, the organizers only managed to get 4,000 to pay while 30,000 just crashed the site. As a result, there was not enough money to pay the artists. The only acts that actually got to play were Joan Baez, Country Joe and Rare Bird. When Soft Machine were told they wouldn't receive their contracted fee, they refused to perform. 

When the crowd was told about the situation, some radical revolutionaries, called Les Companions de la Route, burned the stage and destroyed the equipment in protest. The result was that the event was cancelled. It was subsequently dubbed by the French as "Festival Maudit de Biot" (The cursed festival of Biot)

It was ironic really as the line-up was exceptional. Who amongst us would not pay money to see this roster of bands?

Joan Baez, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Soft Machine, Traffic, Balls (a new trio comprising of ex-Move guitarist Trevor Burton, Ex-Moody Blues singer, Denny Laine and former Plastic Ono Band drummer Alan White), Moody Blues, King Crimson, Spencer Davis Group, Kevin Ayers & The Whole World, Alan Price, Daevid Allen's Gong, Alice, Ame Son, Alan Jack Civilization, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Archie Shepp, Sonny Scharrock & Don Cherry.

Others added included Arrival, Country Joe, MC5 and Edgar Broughton. Keith Tippett, Voyage, East of Eden, Champion Jack Dupree & Chris Barber may also have been added.

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