Hippy dream or total nightmare? The untold story of Isle of Wight 1970

Hippy dream or total nightmare? The untold story of Isle of Wight 1970August 25, 2020

50 years ago this week, the Hendrix-headlined festival rocked a reported 600,000, but the fallout affected how music events would be run forever. Now a more positive story is emerging

Shortly before the infamous 1970 Isle of Wight festival, Stanley Dunmore, a local public health inspector, worried about “a possible breakdown of public order … if the festival is a failure, or falls short of expectations, or the weather is bad, or facilities which the fans expect to find in the town are not available”.

His observations, made when music festivals were in their infancy, confirm some things that we know about them today – if only Billy McFarland and Ja Rule had read Dunmore’s report before the spectacular failure of Fyre festival. These events are complex and expensive to coordinate, especially in remote settings with inebriated and underprepared crowds cowed by the weather. If things go wrong, disaster can ensue.

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