Rhino Historic Tours: Pink Floyd & Jethro Tull in Hyde Park
48 years ago today, two bands who have since gone on to become among the most popular in rock ‘n’ roll history – along with a few other not-insignificant names – played a free concert in Hyde Park, providing a lot of people with a lot of fond musical memories in the process.
London’s Hyde Park has played host to a number of free concerts over the years, but it’s arguable that none were quite as memorable as the very first. Indeed, legendary UK DJ John Peel went so far as to say as much outright:
“I always claim that the best outdoor event I've ever been to was the Pink Floyd concert in Hyde Park, when I hired a boat and rowed out and I lay in the bottom of the boat, in the middle of the Serpentine, and just listened to the band play. I think it was the nicest concert I’ve ever been to.”
The event kicked off with a performance by Roy Harper, arguably best known to Pink Floyd fans for providing the vocals to the band’s song “Have a Cigar,” and Harper was followed by Jethro Tull, who definitely still qualified as up-and-comers in 1968, but they’d already begun to build a reputation as a stellar live band at that point, and by all accounts they lived up to that reputation. Next up: Tyrannosaurus Rex, who’d yet to shorten their name to T. Rex and were still very much in the psychedelic folk phase of their career, but their current sound meshed well with the rest of the music of the day.
And what of the Floyd’s great gig in the park? Well, the band’s set list for the day involved a grand total of four songs, but if you know the songs in question – “Let There Be More Light,” “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” “Saucerful of Secrets,” and “Interstellar Overdrive” – then you know that they could’ve kept playing all day just with that quartet of tracks alone.
Everyone onstage seemed to have as good a time as the people in the crowd: Nick Mason looked back on the show and described it as “a lovely day,” noting that “it was much more a picnic in the park than a mini-Woodstock,” and Harper said, “I don’t think it ever got better than that one.”
Not bad for free, eh?