Sep 23 2009

British Rock Meetings — Revisited

Published by at 12:02 am under boot of the month

Rock Festivals have always held a fascination for me, probably because I’ve never been to one, or at least, not to a large one — and there have been some incredibly large ones. Ever since the summer of ’69 when a half a million hippies descended on Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York, people have used the Woodstock festival as the yardstick for all other festivals. Some festivals have been larger, two that come to mind are the 1970 Isle of Wight festival and the 1973 Watkins Glenn Summer Jam festival both of which had in excess of over 600,000 people, but it is Woodstock that draws the most comparisons. Everyone seems to have their own version of “Woodstock”: Lisdoonvarna was called the Irish Woodstock; Pinkpop Festival was the Dutch Woodstock, and in Germany the ’71-’72 British Rock Meetings in Speyer and Germersheim wore that moniker.

Although Rory Gallagher wasn’t present at Woodstock, he played in many of the Woodstock-like festivals, including the 1970 Isle of Wight, the Macroom and Lisdoonvarna Festivals, the Bull Island Soda Pop Festival, the British Rock Meetings, and a host of other large outdoor rock concerts. He may have liked the intimate atmosphere of a 300 seat club better, but he was also a proponent of the large festivals:

I’m pro-festivals because, from a musician’s point of view, they give you a chance to play to audiences who might not normally hear you. And, of course, they are very good exposure for up-and -coming bands -… Some bands are very nervous about festivals because they’re afraid the sound won’t be right and they don’t have their lights. But I wouldn’t be without them. They’re a good challenge. — Melody Maker, Sept 9, 1975

And Rory was always up to the challenge! His performance at the Isle of Wight festival was monstrous, purportedly giving 5 encores. Who knows how much popularity he would have gained if he had played Woodstock — and he almost got his chance:

I remember sitting on the street in New York, the musicians [on the Blind Faith tour] discussing whether they would go up and play Woodstock or not. We kept saying, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ Clapton said, ‘Yeah, it sounds like fun.’ But Winwood wouldn’t do it. And the Delaney and Bonnie band said, ‘Aw, we’ll never get paid.’ So we didn’t. And it was a shame. — quote from Donal Gallagher from ‘Gallagher, Marriott, Derringer, Trower’ by Dan Muise

It was indeed a shame that those “half a million strong” that Joni Mitchell spoke of could not have witnessed Rory and the Taste perform at that legendary festival, but there have been countless other festivals, other “Woodstocks” in different lands that hold testament to Rory’s legacy. One particular festival, the British Rock Meetings, are the subject of this post. Recently I’ve received several newspaper articles, ticket stubs, and other information regarding this German festival and have added the information to a previous write-up I did of the event. Below is my updated write-up.


The British Rock Meetings

 

This month’s “Boot of the Month” is Rory’s performances at the 1st and 2nd British Rock Meetings. These outdoor concerts were the promotional brainchild of Marcel Avram and Marek Lieberberg, the founders of MAMA Concerts, and showcased for the european audience a large number of British rock bands including: Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, Fairport Convention, Stone the Crowes, Rod Stewart, and a host of other notables. The first “Rock Meeting” took place on September 4th, 1971 in Speyer, Germany, and the second “Rock Meeting” took place in Germersheim, Germany on May 22, 1972. A 3rd “Rock Meeting” was planned for the following year in Ludwigshafen, Germany but was later cancelled.

The First British Rock Meeting


 

The first British Rock Meeting was originally planned for the Amphietheatre Thingstatte in Heidelberg, West Germany, and the early posters and tickets reflected this venue. However, the venue was changed to the new port in Speyer in anticipation of a crowd of over 25,000 people. The first British Rock Meeting was part of a 2-day, 2-city event, with half the bands playing in Speyer, Germany, and the other half playing in Vienna, Austria. The next day the bands would swap locations and play at the other venue. The Vienna portion of the event was officially called the “Sensational British Superstar Festival.”

photo of Rory Gallagher at the First British Rock Meeting in Speyer, Germany


German TV report about the First British Rock Meeting in Speyer, Germany


The Second British Rock Meeting

 

Move your mouse over me The second British Rock Meeting was suppose to take place on Friesenheimer Island in Mannheim, Germany; however, the Mannheim city council opposed it and MAMA Concerts had to change the venue. The early posters still show Mannheim as the festival location. As can be seen on the left, the original poster was done in blue, with Mannheim as the venue, new posters were printed in red after the promoters found an alternate site to hold the festival. MAMA Concerts first tried to relocate the festival to Korsika and then to the racetrack in Hockenheim but strong reaction from the city councils made these sites unacceptable.

After much searching, the concert promoters were finally able to relocate the festival to Insel Grün (Green Island) in Germersheim. Even then, it looked like the festival would not happen as Germersheim city officials began having second thoughts about allowing such a large festival to be held on Insel Grün and issued a police order against the festival the day prior to its start. City officials relented however after eleventh hour talks with the festival organizers, the mayor of Germersheim, and a top Rheinland Pfalz state official. Over 70,000 people attended this 4-day festival and 35 bands performed there, including Pink Floyd, Uriah Heep, Status Quo, Lindisfarne, and of course, Rory Gallagher.

By Saturday evening more than 72,000 – rock fans had crowded onto Insel Gruen… All told, the island, hugging the west bank of the Rhine between Mannheim and Karlsruhe looked like a cross between a muddy beach of drowsy sunbathers and a wartime refugee exodus…(read more)– David Iams, Stars & Stripes (*Thanks to Timothy Boss for sending this article and ticket stub!)

fisheye view of the festival at Insel Grün courtesy of J.Wagner

Rory played on the final day of the festival and was one of only 2 bands to be broadcast over the radio, the other being Lindisfarne. Rory was also the only artist to give 3 encores.

“People from other countries hardly could imagine, how popular Rory was here in the earlyer 70’s. I saw him there for the first time, and he really did a great and intense performance! He was so good, we couldn’t hardly wait for his next show…”–Doc’s Diary

The British Rock Meetings showcased incredible talent from the United Kingdom, and none more talented than Irish legend, Rory Gallagher. Have a listen as Rory hits the stage in Speyer and Germersheim.

  • Download an mp3 of Rory’s shows at the British Rock Meetings,
    HERE.
  • Receive notification when a new bootleg is uploaded, HERE.
  • Listen to the concert on your computer right now, HERE
    (You must have Adobe Flash Player 9 installed)
  • Read the “Berlin Observer” festival article HERE.
  • Read the “Stars & Stripes” festival article HERE.
  • Miscellaneous Photos of festival (pic 1, 2, 3, 4)
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18 responses so far

18 Responses to “British Rock Meetings — Revisited”

  1. bill k.on 04 May 2010 at 2:05 pm

    hello i was at the concert . dont remember much but i do have the blue orginal poster and ticket stub in ex. condition.

  2. LG Greeneon 31 Jan 2012 at 2:53 am

    lost my copy of the bands so Ive had difficulty in research. I remember some bands could not get to the festival due to traffic jams. Pink Floyd came on at midnight Sat and played until 4am. I remember Steve Marriot not even as tall as his guitar delivering an amazing performance. A couple in front of me had flown in from Jamacia and had some awesome weed however it appeared that hashish and opium were in abundance. Opium and “OD” tents not far from each other throughout the grounds. After the festival I headed to Amsterdam for three days. Altogether and amazing journey.

  3. Roy Rogers Oldenkampon 07 Mar 2013 at 12:23 am

    Thanks for the nostalgia! I remember being a fifteen year old army brat in Heidelberg and going, I think solo. I got to hang out backstage in a trailer smoking hash with Osibisa and Rod Stewart while naked little African children ran around our feet. The lake was amazing, all the nudity and sex…I just shared sleeping bags with GI’s, and that was quite an awakening! Everybody was into everything, it was like Burning Man but with great music!

  4. nancy lobajeskion 01 Dec 2013 at 2:09 am

    i was at speyer but i have the original poster with heidelberg on it. does anyone know the worth of it, in great condition

  5. Warren Welleron 23 Feb 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I too was at Speyer. What a time we had. Went with army buddies from Kaiserslautern (K-town).

    I have an original poster from Rory’s Euro tour of 1971 which I have framed. It is from his performance in K-town on 17/12 later that year.

    Also the blue “2.” poster.

    I am always turning people on to Rory. Love his music and his energy.

  6. Al Harton 02 Mar 2014 at 7:34 pm

    I was there at Speyer “1” thanks to some good friends I was stationed with in Kitzingen. Mike Bosen, his girl Angel ,Patopa and of course Ron Steel. Of course I don’t remember much,too high! Black Sabeth was great and I do remember a lot of the other bands were really smashed . What a trip back in time! 3/76th Field Artillery.

  7. TOM ECKERTon 01 Sep 2014 at 6:39 pm

    43 years ago this week WOW!!!! what a great time was
    I 18 and in the army stationed in Butzbach Germany I actually had duty that week end but went awol for the German version of Wood stock..
    all I really remember is running into a home town friend
    and getting very stoned under the STAGE DURING BLACK SABBATH

  8. Aster Whiteon 03 Sep 2014 at 4:28 am

    I am interested in purchasing the white background poster from the Heidelberg British Rock Meeting. Please get back to me. Thanks.

  9. jim carneyon 08 Dec 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I was very fortunate to have Rory as my friend. My wife and I lived in London during Rory’s last years. We loved him as a friend. We didn’t have a pot to piss in and he took us to dinner so we cooked an ordinary Irish dinner at out house to reciprocate. and he loved it because he could drink and relax. Rory was the world’s best guitarist and I would argue that comment with anyone. Miss you Buddy

  10. Paul Deanon 14 Feb 2015 at 7:47 am

    Saw this comment – Drew Gomber USA Postd at 9:08am on Monday, October 15th, 2012
    Does anyone remember the singer from Nazareth (I think) grabbing the mikestand and electrocuting himself (he survived)? I can’t agree that Speyer was a failure. We were up close to the stage, and we thought it was great. Some of the musicians may have been stoned, but so was everyone in the crowd.

    It was actually my band Jerusalem and our singer Lynden.

  11. Joseph E. Genovese ( Mafiosi )on 23 May 2015 at 7:50 pm

    ” I was at the 2nd British Rock Meeting from May 8th, 1972 through May 10th (?) and remember Uriah Heep, because I’m one of their greatest fans. I remember when they played at Notre Dame University in the mid 70’s and one band member fell off of the stage as the audience booed. Then the band played ” Look At Yourself ” which I thought so appropriate! Rory G. Is so dynamic as is the whole band. Their music is so haunting like that of the Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, etc. Any body who was there, please contact me at my email address: hippiegee@gmail.com …………… or post comments on facebook.com . I’m a musician and portrait/visual artist who has painted portrats of many Rock musicians. I’m presently reading the Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Drummer, Ginger Baker’s ” Hellraiser “.

  12. Martin Hauensteinon 03 Jun 2015 at 10:37 pm

    The 2nd British Rockmeeting was between the 20.- 22. May ´72!!

  13. tom barryon 15 Jun 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I was there with 200 GI’S we had water trailers, 2-20 man tents and 20-2 man tents and rations. I remember the M-60 tanks lighting up the stage. Atomic Rooster was there so was Buddy Miles and Santana they played together, Osibisi stole the show. I remember when they started to pile speaker on speaker for the million watts of power when Pink Floyd and I think Humble Pie played. I don’t think we called then mud puddle a mosh pit but the rain washed it off. I remember sharing my sleeping bag with a girl and her giving me a big hug in the morning because I didn’t take advantage of the situation.

  14. Carl Galeanaon 20 Jun 2015 at 9:02 am

    I was in Speyer as well. I came done from Asshaffensburg with my Army buddy and took the train. The sound wasn’t great from what I remember but the late night Pink Floyd stands out maybe because we were so fucked up. Rory was great as usual as was Stewart. Lots of nudity. I remember reporting back to duty still higher than a kite. Great times!

  15. tom cannon 12 Oct 2015 at 7:54 am

    was stationed at Schweinfurt ADA3/7 was told in morning formation there was a free concert and those with no duty could go, transportation provided ! two deuce 1/2’s one with food, one with tents and a water pod. and only about ten people went, only time I was happy I was drafted.

  16. J Clementson 12 May 2016 at 4:40 pm

    I was at the 1972 concert. Stationed in Neu Ulm, Germany, 1/81st, Wiley Barracks.

    The parking area looked like an ARMY motor pool with many, many abandoned 2 1/2 ton trucks and 3/4 ton Jeeps.

    Great music. I had just bought Osibisa’s album a few months earlier; they played great. I thought Golden Earring played, but could be mistaken.

    Strange seeing “sophisticated” Germans girls in bikini’s, sunbathing in the midst of drooling GI’s.

    My worst memory about the concert was having to leave early Saturday night for guard duty on Sunday. I can remember walking in the dark back to our car in the night with a male singer in the background (not sure who), dreading returning to Ulm.

    I have the blue background poster on my wall in my “Man Cave”. Still laugh about the bands listed, “The Faces FEATURING … Rod Stewart …” (rather then Rod Stewart and the Faces).

  17. nancy lobajeskion 15 Jun 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Is anyone interested in buying my Heidelburg poster? 920-238-1409

  18. Helmuton 05 Oct 2016 at 7:11 pm

    So wird es nie nie wieder sein . War auf einem Micro Trip hatte Sex mit einer Süssen Frau. Ich brachte sie nach Mannheim ihr Vater erwartete sie schon. Wir waren Jung Und LIEBTEN UNS WIR SAHEN UNS NIE MEHR. Eigentlich sehr schade wir waren auf beiden Festivals . Ich liebe diese Musik immer noch bis zum abwinken.

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