It was the summer of ’85 – I had just moved to London. I’d seen Roy at the Cricketers in Kennington a few days earlier and while I had waited for that gig to start I’d gone for a drink in the bar at the Oval where I had met up with a few Roy Harper fans – most famously someone called Bob who followed Roy to almost every gig – he would later be immortalized in the Roy Harper fanzine in a cartoon strip called Bob’s Rucksack. They had told me about this free gig!
At this point in time Maggie had been in power for nearly 6 years. She had already destroyed the miners and now it was our turn. The Tories didn’t like the idea of people getting something for nothing – unless it was them! The travellers and anyone like them became a target. One week before this gig a group of them had been beaten by the Police in what was to become known as “The Battle of the Beanfield”
Roy was playing in Burgess Park, South London. The weather had been bad all day and I wondered if it would be on. When I arrived in the park I remember meeting someone else looking at a map of the park and setting off to find the bandstand. As we approached we heard the unmistakable sound of Roy’s guitar. I may even be one of the loonies referred to on the recording. We weren’t the only ones who were late – the taper missed the first song “How does it feel?” and the beginning of “South Africa”.
During the second set the heavens opened and the audience dashed for the only shelter – the stage. Instead of stopping playing Roy did the only sensible thing and turned the speakers around to face the stage so we could hear. It was a fantastic show, one that has gone down in legend!! Roy eventually had to stop playing because his hands were so cold. My last memory of him that day was sitting in his car, blowing into his hands. We were there, we few, we happy few!!
How Does It Feel
One Man Rock and Roll Band
When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease
Don’t You Grieve
20th Century Man
I Hate the White Man
Girl From the North Country
One of Those Days in England (Parts 2-10)
Can’t remember who sent me the photographs but he must have been sitting almost next to me on the stage!