Book celebrates the golden annivesary of Wigan's famous Bickershaw rock festival

The 50th anniversary of Wigan’s famous – and infamous – Bickershaw Festival falls this month and to celebrate, a book and merchandise have been released to remember that legendary weekend back in 1972, which was supposed to be the “Woodstock of the North West”.

By Holly Pritchard
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 12:30 pm

It was put together in 1972 by businessman turned television presenter, Jeremy Beadle, and held in fields in Bickershaw over the weekend of May 5, 6 and 7.

But it quickly turned into a mud-slide on the old mining site after heavy rain poured over the three days and drenched 40,000 music-lovers, when almost twice as many were expected to attend, leaving organisers with a £60,000 loss and it was never held again.

Chris Hewitt, Ozit Morpheus records, was a 16-year-old student who worked on the festival and helped Beadle promote it.

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Music fans arriving for the Bickershaw Festival in 1972.

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Mr Hewitt said: “The original idea came from market trader Harry ‘The Count’ Bilkus, but it was Jeremy Beadle who organised it.

“He contacted all the social secretaries at colleges around Lancashire to ask if anyone would like to help promote the festival and I was one of the people that got accepted.

“50 years later I am still in the business providing stage gear for music biopics including: Bohemian Rhapsody, Morrissey, Rocket Man and Danny Boyle’s Sex Pistols TV Series.”

Chris Hewitt with the 50th anniversary Bickershaw Festival book

To celebrate half a century since the Grateful Dead made only their second ever appearance in the UK at the time, Mr Hewitt has released a book filled with photographs, memorabilia and commentary along with other merchandise.

The spectacular line-up included legends such as: The Kinks, Donovan, Family Country Joe, Wishbone Ash, Cheech and Chong, Incredible String Band, Hawkwind, Captain Beyond, New Riders of The Purple Sage, Stackridge, Captain Beefheart and Brinsley Schwartz.

In the audience for Beefheart was The Clash frontman, Joe Strummer, who said it was the best gig he ever went to.

Musician Elvis Costello was also there as teenager to watch the Grateful Dead perform as he stood in the mud amazed by their five-hour set.

Jeremy Beadle. You've Been Framed.

And, future rock journalist and biographer, Mick Middles, then just 16, who travelled to the festival on his moped.

To purchase the book, CD and other merchandise you can visit: CHvintageaudio.uk.

For more info email Chris Hewitt: [email protected] or call: 07970 219701

Scottish singer songwriter, Donovan, one of the top artists playing his mixture of folk, pop and psychedelia at the Bickershaw Festival in 1972.
Bickershaw merchandise
Bickershaw Festival 50th anniversary book
Lead guitarist for American rock band the "Grateful Dead" Jerry Garcia, chats to fans backstage after the group's marathon session at Bickershaw Festival in 1972.
The miserable conditions suffered by music fans in the pouring rain at the Bickershaw Festival in 1972.
A dandy of a music fan takes a snooze in his car boot at the Bickershaw Festival in 1972.
Hippies of all ages at the Bickershaw Festival in 1972.
American country rock band "New Riders of the Purple Sage" at Bickershaw Festival in 1972.
English rock band "Family" on stage at Bickershaw Festival in 1972.