The very first Isle of Wight Festival took place way back in 1968 at Ford Farm near Godshill. The bands that played in that inaugural year included Jefferson Airplane, The Move, T Rex, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Plastic Penny and The Mirage. Ten thousand revellers came to the Isle of Wight to watch the acts playing on a crude stage made up of two trailers! The following year, the organisers decided to try to attract bigger names and after much persuasion, Bob Dylan agreed to headline after viewing a film of the Island showing its wonderful natural beauty and literary history. He was particularly swayed by the thought of performing at the place where Alfred Lord Tennyson once resided. Other acts appearing that year included Joe Cocker, Free, Richie Havens and The Moody Blues.
By 1970, the Isle of Wight Festival had become a major attraction for music fans everywhere and the line-up was truly world class. After Jimi Hendrix had agreed to play there, other top acts were falling over themselves to appear alongside the legendary American guitarist, singer and songwriter. The Who, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davies, Procol Harem, Sly & The Family Stone, Free, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, The Moody Blues, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Supertramp were amongst those supporting the great man. It turned out to be Hendrix´s final ever performance – he died a month later in dubious circumstances, aged just 27.
It is estimated that around half a million pop fanatics converged on the Isle of Wight in 1970 for the massive five-day music extravaganza, which is more than Glastonbury and Live Aid combined! Unfortunately, the Island could not cope with such vast numbers and the ensuing punch-ups and general unruly behaviour by rampaging mobs led to the government passing the ´Isle of Wight Act´, which outlawed gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the Island without a special licence, and the annual music event was over before it had hardly begun……
……Until, in 2002 the ban was lifted and the Isle of Wight Festival was revived at Seaclose Park on the outskirts of Newport, where around 8,000 people attended the one-day event. By 2003, it had grown to two days and the following year it was extended further to three days and was sponsored for the first time by mobile phone giant, Nokia, who continued to support the event until 2006. This famous music event has continued to go from strength to strength with the very best artists still performing and attendances rising every year to the current level of well over 60,000. Acts that have appeared in recent years include Paul Weller, The Stereophonics, David Bowie, Coldplay, The Police, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Blur, Fleetwod Mac, Kool & The Gang, Billy Idol and Pharrell Williams, to name but a few.