Isle of Wight Festival: From Hippiest to Hip

Times have changed...Isle of Wight's been invaded by the hipster set.

Kate Moss' choice of the Isle of Wight pop festival to hold her three-day hen 'do' - complete with 30 best friends and enough booze to sink, well, an island - certainly rolled back the years.

Her arrival on the ferry for her 'Big Fat Gypsy Hen Night' has made the island, normally a haven for the artificial hip generation, hip again. I remember though when it was truly the hippiest place in Europe, where the counter-culture found a flourishing home. For three years from 1968 to 1970 the IoW festival was the place to watch the biggest names in rock. Everyone from Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Chicago, Procol Harem and Joan Baez performed there.

I remember hitch hiking -- what happened to that pastime I wonder? -- to the 1970 festival and found myself in a crowd some 600,000+ strong. The organisers simply couldn't handle the crush of bodies trying to force their way through the ticket barriers. The temporary fence was torn down and I vividly remember fighting for breath as the crush of thousands bodies surged towards the rapidly crumbling entrance. In the end the organisers bowed to the inevitable and declared it a 'free festival'.

Free or not, as the wind breezed across the stage, the sound of music was literally blown away, the difficulty of hearing made worse by the constant buzz of news helicopters photographing the mayhem below. This year's festival is rather more hedonistic - Kate has reportedly hired helicopters to fly in extra champagne for her thirsty guests.

By contrast, at the 1970 festival it was a serious mission to find anything to eat or drink - if you left your spot it was instantly taken. I lived on raw carrots for a couple of day. As I had managed to eel my way near to the stage I was damned if I was going to miss out on seeing Joni Mitchell close up.

While this year's festival is much better organised than the one forty years ago - the 1970 festival became so infamous locally and nationally that it was not revived until 2002 - the loos remain an constant concern. Most savvy festival goers wear rubber Wellington boots to brave the ranks of Portaloos.

I will never forget the stinking sight of the brackish overflow from the latrines pungently pouring through my blue tent which I had pitched, rather foolishly, down slope of the communal toilets. I promptly abandoned my soggy sludgy stinking canvas home and slept rough for the next few days.

Aah, those were the days. Eat - and drink - your heart out Kate Moss!

I spotted this amateur video of the 1970 festival. Did we really look like that?

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As one of the world’s best-known biographers and a leading authority on modern celebrity, Morton has been called "the king of celebrity biographers." He became an overnight sensation with the publication of his groundbreaking 1992 biography revealing the secret world of the late Diana, Princess…

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