A Look Back at Isle of Wight Festival


Isle of Wight is the UK’s oldest music festival and has showcased the best of the music industry with headliners such as David Bowie, Pearl Jam and Fleetwood Mac. The festival first began in 1968 and gained the title of Europe’s equivalent to Woodstock. After the iconic 1970 edition, featuring the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Who and The Doors, the festival went on hiatus till 2002. Established music promoter John Giddings re-launched the festival in 2002 and since has become a major UK festival cementing Isle of Wight in music history.

Isle of Wight Festival 1970 was the single largest event of the hippie era, attendance for the five-day festival estimating at nearly 700,000 people. At the time it was one of the largest human gatherings in the world surpassing Woodstock festival. The Doors’ historic last performance took place at 2:00AM on 30 August 1970, delivering a poignant set that will never be forgotten. The set itself took place in utter darkness with only a red spotlight on The Doors, the band were not informed to bring their own lighting equipment. This gave the show an eerie feel and is now on DVD and distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment in 2018.

Another unforgettable performance from 1970 was Jimi Hendrix’s set which now goes down in history and is one of his last live performances before his tragic passing. The guitar genius rocked the house down cementing himself as the King of the Electric Guitar and arguably the greatest electric guitarist in musical history.

Since its re-launch in 2002, Isle of Wight has become the ultimate festival to start the festival season off with legends such as The Rolling Stones, Muse, Foo Fighters and Amy Winehouse taking the festival by storm. Some highlights of the festival since 2002 include Bowie’s 2004 performance marking his last ever UK live show. It was a moment for the history books as Bowie showed the world just way he is Britain’s greatest icon. In 2007 the world saw the iconic duet between Winehouse and The Rolling Stones to ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’. But the moment that tops the history books is Jay-Z’s headline spot in 2010 which not only marked the first time a hip-hop star headlined the festival, this performance featured a surprise appearance by Kanye West.

Isle of Wight has always been an iconic family friendly festival and the true highlight of its 2019 edition was Bjorn Again, an ABBA tribute band, who stole the show. They embodied everything that makes the festival so amazing. It was fun and had everyone from all ages dancing in the mid-day sun. And no one can forget Jess Glynn’s sudden cancellation which resulted in her ‘temporary’ lifetime ban from the festival. Isle of Wight is full of iconic moments that will be remembered for decades to come and the 2021 line-up is sure to add to this legacy. Lionel Richie, Stigma, Duran Duran and Sam Fender are a small number of the festivals top class line-up.

Tickets for Isle of Wight Festival 2021 are now available, be sure to grab your tickets whilst you can. In the meantime, check out David Bowie’s final performance at the festival!


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Editor 2020/21 and a History student with a Britney Spears addiction.

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