Deeply Vale Festivals - Deeply Vale Free Festival

Deeply Vale Free Festival

In the 1970s Rochdale resident and associate of John Peel, Chris Hewitt was one of the main organisers of the event between 1976 to 1978, his inspiration for Deeply Vale Festivals being working on Bickershaw Festival with Jeremy Beadle in 1972 and an event at Rivington Pike in August 1976. Chris went on to produce many other festivals and concerts and start a record company Ozit Records. Starting with an audience of 300 camping for two days in 1976 watching space rockers Body and John Peel favourites Tractor, the festival grew to 3000 in 1977 (bands including Andy McCluskey's Pegasus, a forerunner of OMD in 1977) and by 1978 and 1979 to 20,000 people watching bands and camping for six days. The Home Office-sponsored body that reported on many pop festivals from the mid-1970s - Festival Welfare Services - said in a report on the 1978 that Deeply Vale Festival "was actually better organised than the large Bob Dylan concert at Blackbushe the same summer". It was the biggest free festival in England ending its annual run after four years in 1979.

As with the 1970s festivals, Deeply Vale hoped to bring together music of all styles, to create new styles and genres and maybe break a few. Since music seems to follow trends set already in history by names such as The Beatles, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, The Doors and many others who broke the musical mould of the 1950s and 1960s turning the times into a psychedelic outlook on life. Deeply Vale has been credited as a catalyst for many current bands who have formed since the 1970s festivals. Amongst people who claim to have been in the audience at Deeply Vale from the next generation of musicians and Deeply Vale inspired them to pursue a musical career are Andy Rourke of The Smiths, David Gedge from the Wedding Present, Dave Fielding, Mark Burgess and Reg Smithies from The Chameleons, Jimi Goodwin from Doves, Steve Cowen from the Mock Turtles, and Ian Brown from The Stone Roses.

The Deeply Vale Festivals were also the first of the hippy music festivals to mix punk bands on the bill in amongst festival stalwarts like Steve Hillage, Nik Turner, The Ruts, Misty In Roots, Tractor (who had already achieved some notoriety as a John Peel band), Here and Now and The Fall. The Fall were regulars at the festival at a young age (and Mark E Smith still holds the event in high esteem today), and Durutti Column played their fourth ever gig on the Deeply Vale Festival stage. Both these bands were introduced by a young Tony Wilson who had just started his own record company and offered to help his friend Chris Hewitt by compereing at Deeply Vale in 1978. In September 2009, two buildings associated with Deeply Vale Festivals, Factory Records, Tractor and John Peel, one building in Heywood and one in Rochdale had blue plaques unveiled to commemorate the important part the buildings played in the geneaology of rock music. The blue plaques campaign was put together by Peter Hook and Chris Hewitt.

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