I was looking through the 1974 archive of the Post and Times when I was staggered to see an advert for the Buxton Rock Festival which featured a billing for the “New York Dolls” appearing with the likes of Mott the Hoople, the Faces and Lindisfarne. The thought of the “Dolls” one of the founders of punk playing in a muddy farmer’s field near Hollinsclough was bizarre to say the least.
In the week of the Leek Blues and Americana Festival which was held in various pubs around the town perhaps it is timely to reflect on the hardy souls who for three years camped out on wind swept, rain lashed moors to listen to some world renowned rock bands. This was a Glastonbury with flairs and Afghan coats at an altitude of 1500 feet. Perhaps a campaign medal ought to be struck? The 72 Festival had “Steppenwolf” whose “Born to be Wild” featuring in the cult film “Easy Rider” was an anthem to disaffected youth. Apparently they played an excellent set. The following year top billing was shared between Canned Heat and Chuck Berry who spent some of his act showing a drunken Hell's Angel how to duck walk before leaving quickly allegedly without being paid. The Angels engaged in a drink fuelled mud fight while Canned Heat played on- imagine a sort of Peak District Altamont. The bar was provided by Samanthas of Leek. In 1974 the festival was held over two days in July although the weather was worse. It rained more or less continuously. Ronnie Wood playing with the Faces complained that it was so cold that his fingers were numb and he could not play. Over the weekend a number were treated for hypothermia although the sun did break out momentarily to ironic cheers when Roger Chapman formerly with “Family” sang “My friend the Sun”. It is rumoured that Rod Stewart did not get paid and who knows looking down on the sea of mud under a leaden sky might have persuaded him to move to LA.
I never went to the Festival, I may have been put off by the cold and the real prospect of looking like Jack Nicholson at the end of “the Shining”, The truth , however, was that I could see many of the bands in the comfort of Trentham Gardens or Vicky Hall. I saw groups like Mott the Hoople, Groundhogs, the Faces, Curved Air, Lindisfarne and Wishbone Ash and many others in the Potteries over this period. As for the “Dolls” they did not appear. Anyway, perhaps they might drop into the Wilkes Head soon fulfilling their contractual obligation of nearly 40 years ago?