25 Oct Rikki Farr’s Rant at the Isle of Wight, 1970

Rikki Farr, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of RIVA Audio, discusses his famous rant featured on the Documentary about the 1970 Isle of Wight festival.

“WE PUT THIS FESTIVAL ON, YOU BASTARDS!!! WITH A LOT OF LOVE! WE WORKED FOR ONE YEAR FOR PIGS! AND YOU WANT TO BREAK OUR WALLS DOWN! AND YOU WANT TO DESTROY IT!! WELL YOU GO TO HELL!!”

At the Isle of Wight, I wanted The Doors, I wanted Hendricks, I wanted Miles Davis with Chick Corea, and Stanley Clarke. I wanted Jethro Tull, and um. So I had a tremendous bill with Jethro Tull, The Who, Moody Blues, Chicago, Sly and The Family Stone, Joni Mitchell It was a tremendous bill of Artists. Free. I mean I could go on. And it was four days of music. I had…not slept for three days. Because when you’re on stage and you’re the M.C. and you’re the producer and you’re getting all these bands and Leonard Cohen won’t play because his helicopter’s not available, and don’t give Tiny Tim Scottish pound notes, he’s gotta get British pound notes or else he’s not going to tune his ukulele. I mean on and on an on. And, and you know, no if’s and’s but’s, I was pretty high. But the one thing that was really crawling through all of us…was…we…the French Maoists had said that they were going to destroy the festival. And they’re really doing some bad stuff.

What is portrayed in the movie, is incorrect. Just after Kris Kristofferson, the priest went on and that’s not what’s in the movie. So the priest came out and he said “So look, there’s a lot of people.” He said to me “There a lot of people.” Huh, “Have no money and had their money stolen and can’t get home. Are on bad trips.” or whatever. He’s collected money to help some people in the local church. So I said…I went out and the priest…I introduced the priest and the priest started explaining this to the people…”Please put any spare coins or anything send it to the front of the stage. It will be sent straight to the church where we have people who are in need for some financial help.” And in the front, there were these…there was a whole bunch of these, there were about a hundred of them now. In the press and it was pretty scary and they all had their headbands on. And they were giving out these leaflets, “Music should be free, destroy the festival!” They started spitting on the priest. They spat on his cassock. That’s when I out and said “Now listen you. We put on this festival…” and you know, and I ranted. And I would do the same again if it was tomorrow and I’m 72 now, I’d do it when I’m 92.

I look back on that and all I do is get a nosebleed and a headache. And that’s when I said in the film…

“Please open the all the gates. And when anyone wants to come in, let them in. And when anyone wants to get out, let them go out. And for God’s sake, let’s just have some music.”

And if you really wanted to feel the temper of the audience, and the feeling of the audience. The whole place stood up and we played “The Great Awakening”.

And yet the Maoists just wanted to burn it down. And the hell with you, you don’t burn my stuff down. If I was ripping you off, or making a fortune and screwing you as many have gone on to do where a t-shirt is $50 when it only cost $5. That I don’t…that I don’t go with. But we were doing something right. In fact, the truth is we should’ve charged double and we would’ve broke even. We lost our ass. And I became a hermit and the next phone call I got was from Peter Grant…”Come on you!!! Get your ass in gear!!! Come put on some Led Zeppelin shows.” And now I put my ass in gear and went back and put on some Led Zeplin shows.”

Rikki Farr