Cissbury Ring Rock Festival – 1974

In 1974 I was living, briefly in Sompting. West Sussex. I grew up there, moved to Brighton for a few years and then to Rochester in Kent where I studied photography for 3 years. One weekend my brother told me about a festival that his friend and local Promoter, Ian Grant was organising on Cissbury Ring on top of the South Downs.

We walked west along the Downs and eventually the path led us to the top of Cissbury Ring. It was early afternoon and equipment was still being set up and a lot of people had already arrived.

Apart from a couple of people, I didn’t know anyone there but my brother did and he wandered off to meet people.

I started taking photos of the set up, the scenery, people and bands. I pretty much documented the whole day and evening. I may well have come back the next day but I don’t remember now.

It was probably in the 1980s when I decided to build a Powerpoint Presentation with the photos I had taken at the festival. First I had to scan all the transparencies and then insert them into Powerpoint.

I knew nothing about Powerpoint but managed to build a sort of movie with some interesting transitions. It was of course a Powerpoint File, not a movie file and I discovered I couldn’t put it on Youtube unless it was a movie file like a MP4, and not being very computer smart, I failed to convert it to a movie file. If I did manage to convert it, would all the transitions be the same, that was the question for me.

So I put it aside until recently, more than 30 years after I produced the PP Presentation. I hired someone from “People Per Hour” agency to convert the file to a MP4. She had a lot of difficulty with the sound track and wanted to give up but with a bit of encouragement she eventually managed to do it. Cost a bit more but we got there.

Why now, I hear you cry? Well there are some people in the movie who have already passed away and a lot of the others must be in their 60s and 70s. There are also children there who are now probably in their 40s and 50s and maybe it will be interesting for them to see what their parents got up to back then.

I think this documentation is evocative of that time and interesting culturally, as well as the perspective of time and you can see that in the clothes people are wearing, such as flares and of course, long hair.

It was the tail end of the Hippy era, the psychedelic period was grinding to a halt and unbeknown to those on Cissbury Ring that day, the Punk Scene was to explode 2 years down the track and I got to learn about that myself as I ended up Managing a Punk band. All that peace and love would be blown away and the new generation frowned on the “old farts”. It was certainly “out with the old and in with the new”, but that was 2 years away.

I hope seeing this after all this time triggers some nice memories for those of you who were there.

To run the movie, click on: