Having been to that first Ngaruawahia music festival in 1973 I suppose you could say I got a taste for big rock events – the freedom, the music and excitement. By the time I left school in the mid-seventies they were starting to pop up all around the Waikato.
My girlfriend Kristine and I kind of looked and lived a lot like hippies but I don’t know that i ever really was. I was always a bit selfish and self-conscious to embrace the lifestyle totally and there seemed to be a big club of beautiful people to which I could never belong –too uptight at my basic core. While peace, love and friendship would be great in the real world I found those ideas stifling creatively and the songs I’d just begun to write were mainly quite dark.
Mother Goose at the Hinuera Music Festival came close to actually blowing a fuse in my mind. One of the guitarists was dressed as a bumblebee and the other as a baby – they had a mouse, a pixie and a ballerina and the singer was wearing a child’s sailor suit. There had been a series of serious denim bands and then these guys came on – they were just insane. The guitarists would peel off solos while leaping across the stage – crossing in mid-air. It was like a cross between hard rock and children’s theatre in that white stone landscape and I loved it.
The first Nambassa was a few months after this and it was a lot more expansive – three days and a huge site with a river and a beach. There were workshops of every new age description and although I was looking very much for something more in my life it wasn’t in any of those tents or camps.
I think Skyhooks were the main act though I don’t remember much about their set. There were about 25,000 people there and they were a really receptive and hungry crowd.
It was a strange festival for me – I felt like an outsider. I saw all these kids I’d been to school with take their clothes off to go swimming or just wander around like that. At one point I got my guitar and sloped off to a lonely spot and started playing the rudimentary songs I’d been working on – Human Failing and Unsung Heroes probably.
I had this very strong idea or feeling come to me that I would be playing at this festival next year but on the main stage – somehow
As I climbed back over the hill where I’d been hiding there was a group of Hamilton people I knew – they’d been listening to me play.