1970, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, (his last ever UK appearance), Donovan, Jethro Tull, Miles Davis, Arrival, Cactus, Family, Taste, Mungo Jerry, ELP, The Doors, The Who, Spirit, The Moody Blues, Chicago, Procol Harum, Sly and the Family Stone and Free all appeared over three days at the third Isle Of Wight Festival. Weekend tickets, £3.
It was originally held from 1968 to 1970. These original events were promoted and organised by the Foulk brothers (Ron, Ray and Bill Foulk) under the banner of their company Fiery Creations Limited.
The 1969 event was notable for the appearance Bob Dylan and the Band. This was Dylan’s first paid performance since his motorcycle accident some two years earlier and was held at a time when many still wondered if he would ever perform again. Followers from across the world trecked to the Isle of Wight for what seemed like a ‘second coming’. Estimates of 150,000–250,000 attended.
The Who presented their standard set at that time, which included the rock opera Tommy as they had recently released that album and were touring in support of it. They had just returned from a tour of the United States where they had performed at Woodstock about two weeks earlier.
Tickets 25 shillings, ($3.00). Celebrities who attended include Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, John & Yoko, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Jane Fonder, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.
The 1970 event was by far the largest and most famous of these early festivals; indeed it was said at the time to be one of the largest human gatherings in the world, with estimates of over 600,000, surpassing the attendance at Woodstock. Included in the line-up of over fifty performers were The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, The Doors, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Joni Mitchell, The Moody Blues, Melanie, Donovan, Free, Chicago, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Leonard Cohen, Jethro Tull, Taste and Tiny Tim.
The 1970 festival was filmed by a 35mm film crew under the direction of future Academy Award-winning director Murray Lerner who at that point had just directed the Academy Award-nominated documentary Festival of the Newport Folk Festival. The footage passed to Lerner in settlement of legal fees after a dispute with the Foulk brothers in which the two sides claimed against each for breach of contract. Lerner distilled material from the festival into the film A Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Rock Festival released theatrically in 1996 and subsequently on DVD. In addition to this film, Lerner has created full-length films focused on performances by individual artists at the 1970 festival. To date, there have been individual films of The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues, Free, Leonard Cohen and Jethro Tull.
The event was revived in 2002 at Seaclose Park, a recreation ground on the outskirts of Newport. It has been held annually since that year, progressively extending itself northwards beyond Seaclose Park along the fields of the eastern Medina valley. Many notable artists have performed since its revival including The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Muse, Stereophonics, Donovan, Ray Davies, Robert Plant, David Bowie, Manic Street Preachers, The Who, R.E.M., Coldplay, The Proclaimers, Bryan Adams and The Police. It was sponsored by Nokia from 2004 to 2006. The promoters of the event now are Solo Music Agency and promotions. Apart from being held on the Isle of Wight, and featuring the now customary artwork of Dave Roe, there is no connection with the festivals of 1968–1970.