On Saturday June 7 th 1969 three of my friends Kevin, Arthur and Kieran and me caught the train up to London to see Blind Faith perform free in Hyde Park to about 200,000 people. It was a real beautiful summer’s day as we sat down on our little patch of grass to watch the afternoon’s entertainment. First on that afternoon was the droning Third Ear Band followed by the Edgar Broughton Band who did manage to liven up the crowd with their open air anthem ‘Out Demons Out’.
Next on stage was Woodstock favourite Ritchie Havens who was great to see and then followed a quiet set from Donovan, and boy was it hot that afternoon! but it was better temperature wise when Blind Faith hit the stage at about 5pm. Billed in the music press as a supergroup this band consisted of Eric Clapton on Guitar and Ginger Baker on Drums from the legendary group Cream also Stevie Winwood on Keyboards from Traffic and the little known Ric Grech on Bass from Family. Straight away you could tell that this group would not be following in the footsteps of Cream but as the first self titled album would show this was a half~decent band which were not given much of a chance to progress and fell apart during the following US tour as Clapton quickly lost interest in playing long solos and decided to hit the road with Delaney & Bonnie as a back up guitar player and was more influenced by the Band album ‘Music From Big Pink’ than anything that he and Mr Winwood could come up with at this point! Unfortunately Stevie Winwood being the great musician he is, does not have the greatest stage present, but it was great to be there to see them.
As we trundled back on the underground to our home town in Essex we decided that such a big debut concert was not the best idea for Blind Faith this new under~rehearsed band but all was not lost as that evening we were going to see Jethro Tull at the Roundhouse in Barking Essex. A full day of music! I had loved Jethro Tull’s first album ‘ This Was’ with Mick Abrahams on guitar and was sad to see that he had left the band due to a difference of opinion with Ian Anderson about which direction to take the band in, but the new album ‘Stand Up’ had just been released and tonight we would be seeing their new guitar player Martin Barre play live. Mick Abrahams would go on to have a solo career and form the band Blodwyn Pig who I also saw live at the Marquee Club.
When we finally got in the place was packed and it was a hot night inside the building and outside and there was little room to move we were like sardines but the band came on stage and straight away delivered a stunning performance with Ian Anderson in his Aqualung tramp stage outfit standing on one leg like a demented ballet dancer all hair and beard with flute in hand and his eyes popping out of his head delivering his outrageous words. Brilliant! you could see that their was only room for one star in this band as they went on to be one of the world’s best bands. On guitar new man Martin Barre with his Gibson Les Paul turned up to 11 let us all know that he could play with beautiful guitar solos and rhythm on each song. On drums Clive Bunker was as solid as ever along with bassist Glen Cornick they supplied the back~bone to the Jethro Tull sound for many years to come.
It was so hot and packed inside the hall that by half~way through their performance people down the front of the audience were fainting and had to be lifted above the crowd and passed back over the top of the audience and out to the St. John’s ambulance people in a tent out the back of the building.
So ended the lesson. One of the greatest day of music from Blind Faith in the open air in Hyde Park to Jethro Tull in an old bingo hall in Barking Essex. Amen.