1970 - Awakening in a year of ruins

10. August 2020


1970 - Aufbruch im Trümmerjahr

It was the zero hour after the turbulent 60s: The year 1970 gave the furious starting signal for the decade of rock. When the last calendar page of the Woodstock year 1969 was torn off, the dreams of the Love & Peace generation were already lying on the floor like broken toys. Because one thing was clear: a new society could not be built with all-encompassing love and mind-expanding drugs alone. Nevertheless, the impulses of youth rebellion continued to have an effect and gradually changed the culture of the Western world. Of course, all this was also reflected in the still young rock music, which, full of adventurousness, pushed in the most diverse directions. 1970 became the year of new beginnings and new faces.

It happened pretty damn fast: Dylan, "Pet Sounds" and "Sgt. Pepper", Woodstock, Altamont and Charles Manson - the 60s had been a crazy rollercoaster, a rollercoaster of change, politically and culturally. After that, hardly anything was the same anymore. And they were loud: Young rock music had accompanied the excited and exciting course of time with never-heard noise - from the rugged Kinks riff in "You Really Got Me", the colourful sound fantasies that soon followed at Abbey Road and came from such diverse sources as the Beatles and Pink Floyd, to the majestic suites of King Crimson and the radical deconstruction to which Jimi Hendrix subjected the US national anthem; not to mention the meandering improvisations of American West Coast bands and Jim Morrison's Shamanic Games.

Now the 60s were over, and they had left behind not only a lot of social awakening, but also a musical plasticine that proved to be extremely malleable in the hands of a new generation of musicians. The debutants of 1970, including Black Sabbath, the Faces, Uriah Heep, Tangerine Dream, Supertramp, Hawkwind, ELP, Curved Air and Kraftwerk, would prove this; newcomers who had appeared a year or two earlier, such as T. Rex, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Free, Genesis, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell and Elton John, would also provide lasting impulses

A weak nation

Old and new faces could be seen from 26 to 30 August 1970 on the stage of the probably biggest festival in music history. But the ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL was not only remembered for its musical highlights. It also revealed the sensitivities of a counterculture that collided more and more often and painfully with reality. Anyone who wants to understand the pop and music of the post-pepper era would do well to take a look into the soul of the Woodstock generation, who in that summer of 1970 still believed they had reached the goal of their dreams, which had actually long since burst

A few months earlier, Joni Mitchell had glorified the events at Woodstock, which she hadn't witnessed herself and had been told by her friend Graham Nash, with the song lines: "By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong and everywhere there was song and celebration The fairy tale of Max Yasgur's farm had spread throughout the Old World: The Woodstock film and album had been released in the spring of 1970, and Mitchell's song "Woodstock" was on its way to the top of the UK charts in late summer in the version by British folk rock band Matthews Southern Comfort. No wonder that at the end of August an estimated 600,000 freaks made the pilgrimage to the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England, where the European Woodstock was on the programme near the village of Freshwater. The
atmosphere was great. People had come to celebrate their own lifestyle.

On site, a visitor let filmmaker Murray Lerner know: "Seeing all these people, hundreds of thousands of them, all with the same outlook on life, gives you confidence and the courage to carry on Another reported that he was "talking to the trees", smiling entrancedly and recommending that the director film "the plastic gods", "the musicians who take 80,000 pounds": "They are the new saints." Which, in his euphoria, hit the nerve of the undertaking: the whole thing was a commercial event. And even though the entrance fee for the Monstersause was only a relatively modest £3, it sparked a controversy that was to spoil the fun for quite a few on Channel Island. It dawned on many people that on the gentle hills of the Isle of Wight they would not only encounter relaxed hippies, but also the highly unromantic phenomenon of pop capitalism and its nouveau riche aristocracy ...

Read more in the current issue ...