PORTSMOUTH Festivities took a step back in time to 1967 to recall the Summer of Love and the counterculture.
In an event dubbed Playpower – borrowed from underground magazine Oz – Portsmouth Guildhall hosted a book launch, film screening, music and the launch of a new section in the Portsmouth Music Experience exhibition on events of 50 years ago.
For music historian and retired University of Portsmouth lecturer Dave Allen, it was a key year, and one he returns to in his new book, The Autumn Of Love, which looks at the impact of the counterculture when it hit the south coast of England.
‘The summer of 1967 was extraordinary, really. I left school in July, I hitch-hiked down to the west country and slept on beaches and went to my first music festival.’
Later that year he started studying for his A-levels at Highbury College, where he formed his first band, Harlem Speakeasy. They soon attracted the attention of the music business and were snapped up by a major label.
‘My music career started at the top and went downhill from there,’ he laughs.
The book talks about the era’s music, but also looks at the wider culture of the times. Dave paraphrases: ‘We lost all of the arguments politically, but we won all of the cultural arguments.’
Nigel Grundy, curator of the PME, gave a screening of his new documentary, Cool Days and Groovy Nights: Memories of The 1960s Portsmouth Music Scene.
He has also created a new section of the exhibition, which tells the tale, with period cuttings, of how he and a friend ended up all over the national newspapers after attending the Woburn Festival in 1967.
He explained: ‘We met this girl hitching on the way there, and she stayed with us. We thought we’d stage this hippy wedding – she became the bride. The press went mad for it and we were all over all of the papers on Monday.’
The evening was rounded off with a performance by Bruce Barthol, who played at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival in California with Country Joe and The Fish.
Autumn of Love is available at £9.95 from Blackwells University Bookshop and the Guildhall reception. Any profits will go to music projects by the Portsmouth Cultural Trust in the Guildhall.