Below: "Atomhenge under Construction", (c) Roger Hutchinson 1977. This picture can also be seen on the
Free Festivals website, though I am very grateful to Roger for supplying me with a higher-resolution
version (that I have nevertheless had to traduce to get it onto this page). He mentions that "it has been
taken from the high resolution drum scan image. It was taken on a cheap Ilford Instamatic using Kodak
slide film at 200 ASA, a camera that no-one took any notice of, so my reportage images have a remote
style as no-one recognizes my existence." Great shot, though - very evocative!
Stonehenge - A Free Festival Report (from the NME, 9/7/77)
"Saturday morning, June 25, 1977. Richie Havens arrives between gigs with Genesis at Earls Court,
unadvertised, sets up a small 100 watt amplifier with some free festival stalwarts (Here and Now, Bombay
Bus Company) jamming on a makeshift stage of their own. 'Mind if I join in?' he asks them, and for the next
couple of hours the star of 'Woodstock' trucks through all his hits, 'Freedom' included, to an audience of
around 200. Then he just packed up and split.
Rock and roll was about as important to the Stonehenge festival as free muesli in the morning. Or the
handfuls of home grown grass from a sack which a guy went round giving away. Or the Hare Krishna day
long chant-ins. Or the "sundance" around the Stones on Solstice that brought the sun the next day. Or the
nicky dipping in the river that the BBC News got so excited about.
Rock is essentially an excuse for people to live the way they want. It's a great pity The Sex Pistols and The
Clash didn't appear as rumoured. This really was anarchy in the UK, and they need not have worried about a
hostile reception from the hippies: after all, Johnny Rotten, Richie Havens, they're both after the same thing -
There was even, this year, a complaint in the BIT daily news broadsheet about noisy electronic music - 'the
acoustic players can't hear themselves think'- despite substantially less rock bands appearing than on
previous occasions. The Bombay Bus Company played all day every day, changing instruments and material
continuously, but there were only two nights of what for want of a better word we shall call 'rock and roll'
on the main stage.
Tuesday night. Solstice night, Hawkwind graciously consented to attend, and brought with them a
spectacular "Atomhenge" lighting structure, a PA, and a generator. Tim Blake, who preceded them, was not
allowed to use the "Atomhenge" lights, the PA was removed the next day after 'Wind's set had run on
overtime preventing anyone else playing, and the generator ate up 2 gallons an hour -very expensive- but
they left that behind.
Quite what Hawkwind were doing at Stonehenge, it's difficult to be sure. Yes, they came and played for free
(last year the band demanded Â£400 in expenses to play Meigan Fayre) but the group that six years ago set
up an alternative free stage outside the Isle of Wight debacle entrance hardly entered whole-heartedly into the
Their set itself was horrifying. Heavy heavy heroin riffing, manic, morbid . . . better to stay in your tent and
imagine it's a record or maybe a nightmare. And, good grief, it went on and on. Even after the generator
packed up for half an hour, they began again: THUD THUD THUD - 'THINK ONLY OF YOURSELF'...
yeeeechh. If this is what happens to psychedelic guerillas six years on, I'm going back to 'punk rock' -
although it rather looks like that's what Hawkwind have done, so maybe it's not such a good idea."
First response: (from the NME,16/7/77)
"Dear Jonathon Barnett, having just read your account of the happenings at Stonehenge I feel I must put you
straight on a couple of things.
(1) What Hawkwind were doing at Stonehenge was playing for the people. What were you doing?
(2) If we played for longer than we nornmally do it was because we had perhaps got a little too much into
the spirit of things rather than the reverse, which you implied.
(3) We certainly did not prevent Gong from playing on purpose: we didn't even know they were present.
The P.A. was disassembled not at our request but because our road crew, who had been working for 48
hours continuously -free- were knackered and wanted to go home. What's to stop other bands from
bringing their own gear and crews?
Thanks for giving a totally distorted view of the proceedings. Everyone I spoke to had a good time. Start
taking the tablets."
-Adrian Shaw (Hawkwind)
Second response: (from the NME,16/7/77)
"F*** your criticism and check your facts because writing lies is a dangerous occupation. References to
heroin and thinking only of yourself can only reflect Jonathon Barnett's attitudes more than they do ours.
The generator, as he pointed out, was expensive, but so was the rest of the equipment that we have to hire,
including: an articulated truck; a three-ton lorry; eight roadies; Atomhenge; lighting, P.A. etc..
To turn up at a festival with a guitar under your arm and ready to play is not quite the same thing as trying
to put on a spectacular show for nothing. People who know us know we don't charge money for doing
free gigs. We've been getting ourselves seriously into debt over the years through being a people's band.
And 4,000 of them stayed with us from 12 till dawn and didn't go back into their tents even during the time
the generator had packed in due to constant use throughout the day (four other acts used it apart from us -
Mr. Barnett please note).
I doubt if Jonathon Barnett would recognize a 'Vibe' even if he got it from a sex shop, complete with
-Bob Calvert / Dave Brock (Hawkwind)
The Third Way: Here's an altogether more positive recollection from Roger Hutchinson, who took the great
Atomhenge photo at the top of this page:
"I remember Hawkwind turning up at the site with a generator the size of a transit van which was craned off
the back of a big truck and left behind the stage. The slow construction of the set and PA took all day
preventing anyone else using the stage, but I suppose just created a bigger appetite in the festival folk for
their set that evening. The set was good as I remember it - thoroughly enjoying myself with the effective
light show and Liquid Len's pulsing and rippling banks of coloured lights. Standing in the same position as
the photo, I looked behind to the Stones themselves surrounded by floodlights, barbed wire and rozzers who
were forced to 'enjoy' the set loud and clear and with a certain amount of piss-taking by the band. The band
members gave a good account of themselves when the mighty genny embarrassingly coughed and died as
the pace was really moving and they tried to keep the atmosphere going. While diesel was siphoned from
other trucks on the site and collection buckets made a tour of the big crowd, they acoustically sang songs
and told jokes and finally resorted to desperate impersonations (Frankie Howerd!), all bellowed from the
stage until the genny purred into life again. Then they picked up again (with sore throats no doubt) where
|Flashes from Graffiti Avenue (chalked on the 3-mile path between Amesbury and Stonehenge):
"Wordsworth had it sussed", "Bring more acid - urgent", "I love you now/l love you then/I love you/I
love you now and then", "Utopia this way", "Everything you think is WRONG."
they had stopped and we continued to groove. The
genny was hired for the week so they left it on site
for everyone to use and we ran an extension lead to
our Pyramid and Dave showed films and slides on a
sheet screen for our amusement by the camp fire..."
Roger also mentions that "As you might know I sell
copies of the Stonehenge poster through the
Archive site and it would be nice if you could just
advertise my email address along with the attached
poster image. I don't sell many (just six in the past
year) but I'm happy that it makes folk happy to
have a memory of the times. I sent one for free to
a guy doing time for bank robbery who has decided
to turn his life around and get an education in
religious studies, I got a letter of thanks from him
yesterday, he was really grateful for the thing and
he says that it has pride of place in his cell!"
To get a copy of the poster, email Roger at
firstname.lastname@example.org and put
"Stonehenge Poster" in the subject field of your