Saturday, June 29, 2013

Knebworth Fair

Tonight The Rolling Stones perform at the legendary Glastonbury Festival, for the first time in their entire career. Almost 37 years ago, on August 21, 1976, the Stones hit the stage at another well-known British rock festival, the Knebworth Fair festival, held at the grounds of Knebworth House, in Hertfordshire. The festival happened to be the band's first since 1969's tragic Altamont, and they played their largest audience - 200,000 - to date.

The Stones went on late at night and performed a lenghty set of over two and a half hours, playing a 28 number set list, marred by technical sound difficulties but fully appreciated as ground breaking and risk taking. Just as during the preceding European tour, Billy Preston played piano and organ, while Ollie Brown helped out on percussion. Ian Stewart, displaying his rolling boogie piano lines, joined Preston on some self-chosen songs, most notably the Chuck Berry tunes 'Route 66' and 'Around And Around'.

But Stu's main task was of course behind the scenes. Guardian and Observer author John Hind, who was present during rehearsals for the Knebworth show, recalls: "Back at Stage A, where the giant hangar doors were opened to accommodate the balmy night, Ian Stewart was running the show – instructing, cajoling and teasing the technicians and musicians to work. Co-founder of the Stones, Stewart had been elbowed from the limelight, 14 years earlier, because of his large chin. 'My shower of shit', he called them". You can read Hind's full article here.

Adapted from the following sources:
Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.
John Hind, The Night I Saw The Rolling Stones Jam Until 7am, The Observer, 2012.

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