Cosmic Slop #124: It Isn’t Isle Of Wight’s 50th Anniversary

By Shaun Ponsonby
Thu 07 December, 2017

As Isle Of Wight Festival announce their 50th anniversary line up, Shaun Ponsonby questions whether they should be allowed to trade off the original festival’s notoriety on the basis that they share a name and location. 

As anyone who read the leadline at the top of the page will know, my name is Shaun Ponsonby.

Next year I will be holding some very special celebrations as 2018 is the 15th anniversary of Shaun Ponsonby supporting his heroes Ocean Colour Scene with his band Black Market Empire at Birmingham’s HMV Institute.

I am going to be celebrating this with a bunch of bands that have nothing to do with either Ocean Colour Scene or Black Market Empire, such as Hunx & His Punx and the Spice Girls.

I mean, I’m not the Shaun Ponsonby in question. I don’t like Ocean Colour Scene and I can’t play an instrument, sing or do anything that would require charisma, so I’m not in a band. Plus I’m not sure I have ever had any reason to go to Birmingham.

No, that is a totally different Shaun Ponsonby. But seeing as we share a name and inhabit the same planet, I thought I might as well steal his identity and big myself up for an achievement that isn’t mine.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I sound like a total twat – and not for the first time, I’m sure.

And yet, this is pretty much exactly what the Isle of Wight Festival are doing next year when they celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Because it isn’t their 50th anniversary. It’s the 50th anniversary of the original Isle of Wight Festival, which has little to do with the current Isle of Wight Festival outside of sharing a name and an island.

?There’s 123 other Cosmic Slops that you can read by clicking here, but they’re all crap?

The original festival was created by Ron, Bill and Ray Foulk, three brothers who owned a company called Fiery Creations Limited, and was held at Ford Farm, and later Afton Down.

It was one of the iconic festivals of its era and lasted for three years (that is three separate festivals, not one three year-long festival). Each subsequent event attracted more and more people, with as many as 700,000 being estimated to have attended 1970’s edition. This is in comparison to the 300,000 people estimated to have been at Woodstock, and featured some of the same performers; Hendrix, The Who, Sly & The Family Stone, Ten Years After, Richie Havens, Joan Baez.

There were also a bunch of bands of major bands on the bill who didn’t play Woodstock such as Joni Mitchell, The Doors, Miles Davis and Leonard Cohen. British legends such as Free were there, and Emerson Lake & Palmer played their first major concert.

In fact the previous event in 1969 took place just two weeks after Woodstock, and did something Woodstock couldn’t – they got Bob Dylan.

Due to the numbers attending in 1970, Parliament prevented overnight open-air gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special licence, which essentially killed the festival.

The bill was overturned in 2002, and some bloke named John Giddings who had made his name as a promoter with world famous acts, including Madonna, David Bowie, U2 and The Rolling Stones. He jumped on the chance to start a new festival called Rock Island, before reverting back to the Isle of Wight Festival a year later.

Significantly, though, Giddings has nothing to do with the original Isle of Wight Festival. This is, in essence, a completely different festival, with a completely different ethos. Not the festival that began in 1968 that is actually celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018.

This is seen quite easily in the acts who have already been announced; Kasabian, The Killers, Liam Gallagher, The Script, James Bay, Blossoms.  The wish list drawn up by Hope and Glory for the unstaged second year of the event. Not the eclectic original festivals that saw Sly & The Family Stone rub shoulders with Joan Baez, Miles Davis, Free and Emerson Lake & Palmer.

Blokey bloke bloke bands. What a celebration!


Let’s be honest – Queen never should have hired Bryan Singer to direct that Freddie Mercury film.

Dear British music press…we get it. The Gallaghers exist. Stop trying to make me give a flying frig, because I never, ever will.

Speaking of the Gallaghers, apparently Noel hates Brian Wilson and thinks he is overrated. That’s right, a man who has spent his life ripping off better artists slagged off the man who wrote God Only Knows.