December 22nd 1967 and the last big gig of the year. Some of the biggest names in rock were billed! If only we'd been there then.
The only trouble was things had become a little difficult at London's Olympia and as is born out by one of the few surviving clips of the event, the audience were somewhere between lukewarm and dull. In one of the few surviving clips of the event Traffic do their best to ignite some interest. While some some sombre looking dancing from four males and an audience standing around zombie like signalled a less than exciting atmosphere. Some acts were warmed to, for others the gathered clan were confused. What had been until then a magical period of famous Happenings and Freakouts by the end of 67 the tie die tide was turning. It will also always be remembered as Syd Barret's last gig with Pink Floyd.
Here's some memories by those that were there. What an insight they make.. and as you'll see these views were not seen through rose coloured granny glasses.
Pre-publicity is hopelessly inadequate and this, plus a particularly severe winter freeze, results in a sparse attendance and financial disaster for the organisers, despite a fabulous line-up of acts—Jimi Hendrix Experience, Eric Burdon, Pink Floyd, The Move, Soft Machine, Tomorrow, Graham Bond Organisation, Sam Gopal and Paper Blitz Tissue. The Who fail to turn up!
At the concert, Barrett was observed to just stand on stage with his guitar, his arms hanging limp at his side, while Roger Waters played the same bass line over and over again.
*Jeff Dexter (Punter) also DJ at many events:
“Pink Floyd: Not a great gig. A sad night for them. People had realised Syd was losing it but that was acceptable, if you were on the underground scene, man! It was all experimental, but it got boring – they carried on with an experimental riff for what seemed like ages".
*John Newey (punter)
"It was Syd’s last big gig with Pink Floyd. He just stood there as if he was on another planet. He contributed very little and his arms were hanging limply down. It looked sad and all over the place. They had coloured perspex triangles on stage that lit up. There were long rambling ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ jams. But it was far from Floyd at their best.”
*John Love (Co-organiser):
“The real disaster, long term, was the the film was no good. The person who took care of the filming bought outdated film stock.."
*Andrew King (Co-manager of Pink Floyd)
"The organisers just got the event wrong. There was no reason why it shouldn’t have sold out. It was too much of an imitation of the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream and events like that. There had been too many of them. Every time you opened Melody Maker, there were adverts for this Happening and that Freakout. It got like that with raves and dance music in the last few years. Some of them did well and some went down the tubes.”
*Pete Jenner (Co-manager of Pink Floyd):
“Not a great event. It didn’t develop a head of steam. It reads better than it was, a cash-in plus the horrors of the Olympia acoustics.
I think it was a disaster. Someone lost a lot of money. Little did they know that we may have all been extremely alternative but even the most ardent hippies went home at Christmas for the presents!”
* originally published - Record Collector No. 20 Dec 1997. VIA Steve Hoffman Music Forum
So here's Traffic (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason) playing "Dear Mr Fantasy" The sound quality is lo-fi (and tinny). There were clips of Hendrix's performance but they've since been pulled due to copyright issues (no surprise there).
However this event is remembered to see just a small extract of that night is a very rare piece of rock history.