Imagine standing side by side in a dense crowd of cheering bodies, hundreds of thousands of people deep. The days and nights are long and overflowing with song and celebration. The only focus is listening to the music, and your cares have suddenly dissipated.
Imagining such a scene might be hard to do these days. While we continue to experience the effects of a global pandemic, festivals have come to a halt this year. And as we deal with a shifting landscape, our modes of celebration all look a little different.
But in 1970 at the Isle of Wight rock festival, the scene was thriving in the most successful of ways.
Although the true numbers may vary, Guinness World Records estimated the attendance of this festival at anywhere between 600,000-700,000 people—a major headline for its day.
At the time, the festival was widely acknowledged as the largest and greatest musical event, with its outcome far outpacing Woodstock. People poured in from far and wide, taking over the loosely-populated island and causing quite the scene. Logistic and commercial failings kept an event like this from happening again at the Isle of Wight for decades, but the same elements made it one of the most memorable festivals in history.
A killer lineup dazzled the crowd for days on end, giving them just the dose of rock and roll they had come for.
The headliners were powerhouse artists at the time, ones we still love and appreciate to this day.
They included acts like Jimi Hendrix, Chicago, the Doors, the Moody Blues, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake and Palmer—among many, many more. Planning of the festival included many pitfalls due to general opposition to the event, and although many attendees paid for their tickets well in advance, the festival was eventually deemed a “free festival” when organizers realized it was impossible to turn a profit from the madness it swelled to.
Among those that performed, was the original lineup of The Who.
Fortunately, much footage of this festival was recorded and many have worked to restore the sound and video to preserve this moment in time.
It’s breathtaking to watch as they perform the epic tale of the “Pinball Wizard.”
In a video that’s been viewed over seven million times, fans have kept the momentum going, watching to pay tribute to this iconic performance.
The video’s description reads, “At 2 am, August 30th, The Who appeared on stage and gave one of the most memorable concerts of their career.”
Memorable indeed! Just one watch will transport you to a time and place.
In the video, the band builds slowly, working itself into a steady crescendo, and then Roger Daltrey fearlessly sings out the familiar lyrics.
He belts out the famous lyrics:
“Ever since I was a young boy,
I’ve played the silver ball.
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all.
But I ain’t seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall
That deaf dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!”
And the rest is history! Cue the drums, cue the guitar and cue the epic performance of a lifetime. Timeless and relevant as ever, The Who easily makes 50 years look like nothing.
Check out this unforgettable show for yourself in the video linked below!
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