Rhino Historic Tours: Bickershaw Festival

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Rhino Historic Tours: Bickershaw Festival

44 years ago today, Bickershaw, England was the site of what is generally remembered in the UK as one of the all time wettest rock festivals, but for all the rain that was dumped on the crowd during the course of its three days, the crowd’s enthusiasm was rarely dampened.

Organized by future television personality Jeremy Beadle, the Bickershaw Festival featured a wide variety of artists from the UK and the US, and when we say “wide variety,” we’re in no way using the phrase in a hyperbolic fashion: the lineup included Hawkwind, Dr. John, Donovan, the Incredible String Band, Captain Beefheart, Maynard Ferguson, Wishbone Ash, the Kinks, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and a five-hour set from the Grateful Dead.

The late Joe Strummer once claimed that it was his favorite festival of all time, making specific mentioned of Captain Beefheart’s set, which took place in the wee hours of the morning. Similarly, Elvis Costello has raved about the Dead’s performance, citing it as the reason he decidedly definitively that he was going to start a band.

The flooding was pretty nuts, though. It was raining before the festival started, there were showers throughout the majority of its three-day span, and there was standing water all over the place. And as if they didn’t have enough water already, a high-dive act performed at some point during the festival, and their tank was emptied right in front of the stage. Top-notch planning there, eh?

In the end, the Bickershaw Festival proved to be a one-off event, likely due to the fact that the organizers actually lost money, but the memories of those who made it through the rain have lasted them a lifetime.