IT was probably more to do with it being 50 years since Woodstock, the pop festival that spawned a thousand imitators, rather than Sunshine Music Festival being on again at Upton on Severn this weekend, that opened up the rock vaults, but here we go.

Woodstock, held at Yasgurs Farm in New York State over three days in August 1969 drew 400,000 people when the organisers had aimed for 150,000 in their wildest dreams and set the scene for what was to follow all over the world. On a smaller scale, naturally.

In Worcestershire we are usually a little behind the curve and it was not until a Saturday in August 1972 that free open air rock festivals arrived here, courtesy of a group of friends who hung out at Malvern Youth Centre and went to the town’s Winter Gardens to nod their heads to bands like Barclay James Harvest and Mott the Hoople.

Among them were Don Palmer, Rich Evans, Chris Reagan and Jon Fulcher. “We worked out an ideal site on Malvern Link Common, where there is a natural amphitheatre caused by the lie of the ground,” Jon explained. “Public toilets were also nearby – or there were then, they’ve since been knocked down – so we wouldn’t have to worry about that.”

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Amazingly the habitually straight-laced Malvern Hills Conservators (now Malvern Hills Trust) gave the go-ahead and with support from Malvern Festival Theatre, which loaned its generator, and a hire firm in Ledbury, which supplied another one free, power to the stage was sorted. Scaffolding and planks for the stage came from a Malvern builder, but the lads had to design and build it themselves with the help of some mates, which was interesting. Hearing about the gig, local bands queued up to play.

The free rock concerts on Link Common ran for four years. For the first two the weather was kind and the crowds large, but in 1974 it was wet and by 1975 the idea had come to a natural end. Jon added: “We only ever intended to do one concert when we started, but it went down so well we got swept along and did a few more. I think the best attended was actually 1975 when we had well over a thousand people there, but it was a thing of the times and was never going to last. We always had a good collection for charity though.”

Since them there have been all sorts of open air pop music events in Worcestershire, some official, others not so. Like the hippy-cum-New-Age-Traveller-cum-any-old hangers-on invasion of Castlemorton Common in 1992, when the stages were flatbed lorries and the smell of something in the air was not at all what Thunderclap Newman was singing about.

It was all a while ago now, but maybe you might recognise yourself, a bit older but not necessarily any wiser, in one of the photographs here.