It was 1974, a long time ago and I only have hazy recollections. I can’t even remember whether I went on the Sunday or Monday night but according to one source it was Monday. But I’d better write something before all trace of it vanishes from my deteriorating memory.
The Windsor Free Festival was in Windsor Great Park, a place open to all people by law just down the road from the Queen and Windsor Castle. When I say Free, I mean the bands played for free, no fences, no wristbands, no security guards checking your bags to see if you were smuggling in your own food or drink. Free as in not licensed. Such an event could never happen today, imagine the furore if there were such blatant transgressions of Health and Safety regulations as to allow glass bottles in a festival. Someone could cut their finger!
This was the tail end of the Hippy generation. Long hair, Afghan coats or Greatcoats, kaftans. The smell of hash pervading the air. Announcements on the tannoy about beware of the Yellow Acid. I was young and didn’t know what a ‘straight’ was when asked – luckily enough the hippy used sign language to indicate he wanted a normal cigarette and the language barrier was broken – “Thanks man” he said, not meaning that he had conferrred adulthood on me but that we were brothers. I was offered a ‘skewer’ (I think) at one point and I still don’t know what one of those is. There was one very good game. Every time you saw two men with short hair, t-shirts and shiny black boots you had to shout PIG! Most entertaining but the Pigs would have their revenge.
Not many memories of the music since I was just overwhelmed with the experience. I remember Hawkwind playing and they were always a great band live. After them was the French band Gong. A bigger bunch of hippies you couldn’t imagine. Highlight of the act – the band pointing into the night sky and saying “Look a flying teapot” (I won’t explain because you would have to partake of illegal substances to understand). So, it was a night of Spaced Progressive Rock. I left that night, relying on my inbuilt sense of direction to walk to London – luckily enough a hippy Roadie picked me and my mate up on the motorway and gave us a lift.
On the Thursday when the numbers had dropped, the Police moved in. They gave people 10 minutes to leave and then waded in with truncheons. Cracked a few hippy heads, used truncheons on at least two pregnant women. I saw the fighting on the television news – or rather I saw the Police attacking long-haired people (fighting implies two sides).
All a bit disjointed I know – I’m trying to stop myself going into a rant about the loss of freedom, state oppression, and revolution against the capitalist system. It was all a long time ago and the possibilities that seemed to exist then have been killed off.
(Edit) I found this picture of what is believed to be Hawkwind at Windsor Free Festival 1973 just the year before I went: