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The Rolling Stones, King Crimson, Family: Hyde Park, London

Geoffrey Cannon, New Society, 10 July 1969

2018 author's introduction:  This was the third rock concert filmed by Granada Television for the UK national network in 1968 and 1969, the first two being The Doors are Open (at London's Round House) and Johnny Cash at San Quentin. All three are available on YouTube, and all three were transmitted again by Granada in a week's programmes dedicated to its best work.

I was a member of the Granada team which included rock writers David Dalton and Jon Cott for the Doors and Cash shows. Johnny Cash at San Quentin was my idea. We had lots of ideas never made into shows. David adapted the Mabinogion as a vehicle for what would have been a vast rock super-group, and with Ray Davies we developed a treatment for Arthur, which could have been the first rock opera. Then I left to join the BBC as editor of its tv and radio programme journal Radio Times, and had nothing to do with the Rolling Stones show. The article below was one of half a dozen I wrote for New Society of which I had been a staff member from its launch in 1962 until 1965.

The concert was the second held in Hyde Park in the summer of 1969. The first in June featured the launch of Blind Faith. Mick Jagger attended and proposed to promoters Peter Jenner and Andrew King of Blackhill Enterprises, who astonishingly had persuaded the Royal Parks authorities to allow rock concerts, that the Stones headline the next show. Jagger then contacted Jo Durden-Smith, the impresario of the new age group at Granada Television, and proposed that Granada film the show on 5 June. The film, first transmitted in September, includes Mick Jagger mouthing platitudes while sitting in Derek Taylor's famous Apple chair, many tedious sequences of boats on the Serpentine and of imitation Hell's Angels, and extracts from a set with Jagger going through the motions of menace. The Doors and the Cash shows were authentic. This was not.

I lived less than a mile away, in Notting Dale, and was caught up in the enthusiasm of the occasion as the vast crowd estimated at 250,000 – 400,000 converged on Hyde Park. My article, published four days later, celebrates supporting acts Family, Screw and King Crimson, as well as the Stones. As is well known, the concert took place two days after Brian Jones's death, and the Stones had not played live for two years. Understandably, the band was ragged. It's now not possible to watch the film without thinking of Altamont, six months later.

Total word count of piece: 1968


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