I had only just turned 14 and had never been to a gig in my life but I was getting heavily interested in music. Mike, my next door neighbour, was 15 and not really into music at all. He was more into outdoors kind of things though and had got some tickets to The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival.
Mike’s father drove us there each day and picked us up again at night – as we weren’t allowed to stay over.
As we walked up the long dusty road to the site with the throngs of real hippy-types – various bands would drive past us. Bruno Lawrence was in an old jalopy with his bare feet poking out through the window.
I’d read about nudity of course and even seen a few pictures but as we got closer to the stage I realised that the guy singing Light My Fire was Corben Simpson and he was naked. This seemed to have inspired several of the audience to do the same – it was a happy place.
I can’t be too sure of the order of events but I have vivid embedded memories of certain moments…
Split Ends before they dressed up – Phil and Tim had something pretty intense about them
Sandy Denny – sublime
Butler – I’d never heard of them but I’ll never forget them
Mammal/Blerta – I remember huge, good vibes. They seemed to be the homegrown heart and soul of the festival
Fairport Convention – they brought the house down as I remember. People were doing jigs and square dancing
Black Sabbath – just before they came on we got invited to share some wine out of a goat skin bag and a smoke around a campfire with some older cool dudes – got high for the first time.
So powerful and strong – Bill Ward breaking drumsticks and Ozzy being Ozzy. Dark animal rock with a stomp all over everything sense of humour attached. I don’t really care what anyone says about them – they were magic that night to me.
I restarted high school a couple of weeks later. My new English teacher was fresh from England and when I told her I’d seen Sabbath she sneered and said she’d been in the studio when The Who recorded Tommy.