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Gallery: Bob Dylan and The Who play the second Isle Of Wight Festival

Fans at the Isle of Wight
Fans at the Isle of Wight (Image credit: Central Press \/ Getty Images)

It was meant to be something else. Bob Dylan had been lured out of retirement by the festival’s promotors (he was paid £35,000) after three year’s near-seclusion in the Catskill Mountains, and the rumours started almost immediately: The Beatles were going to join him onstage.

The rumours weren’t entirely without foundation. George Harrison visited Dylan during his rehearsals for the event, and John Lennon and Ringo Starr arrived on the island the day before he was due to take the stage. In the end it never happened, and the three Beatles settled for watching Dylan’s set from a VIP enclosure close to the stage, where they were joined by Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Eric Clapton, Elton John and Syd Barrett, plus an A-list celebrity line-up including Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Jane Fonda, Françoise Hardy, Roger Vadim, Elton John and Terence Stamp. Dylan’s set — “You had to be a musician to understand it,” said Clapton — was later released as The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969–1971).

Other highlights included headline sets from The Nice (Friday night) and The Who (Saturday), and a PA so bad it’s surprising the audience didn’t revolt. “The acoustics were so bad that I couldn’t even hear our drummer,” said Ged Peck, guitarist in Marsha Hunt’s band. “So goodness knows what the audience were listening to. We appeared to go down well, although I suspect that this was because many of them were so stoned that they didn’t know any different.”

One of the more bizarre moments of the weekend was at the climax of The Who’s set, when several enormous phallic balloons were meant to ejaculate foam into the air. Instead, a huge cloud was blown directly into the audience, who proceeded to get lathered up in the discharge, creating an instant “soapy happening”.

All in all, the festival was a huge success, despite the £120,000 spent on expanding the size of the site, building a new stage, and flying Dylan and The Band in from the US. In 1970, they’d go again.

Our gallery of Festival Highlights is below.

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Bob Dylan onstage

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Keith Richards in the audience

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Pentangle on the festival stage

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Marsha Hunt

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Vivian Stanshall from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

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Richie Havens onstage

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Roger Daltrey arrives on the Isle Of Wight in a helicopter emblazoned with his The Who's record company logo

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Jane Fonda and husband Roger Vadim

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An audience member and a security guard

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Actor Terence Stamp

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French chanteuse Francois Hardy

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The Who onstage

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George Harrison and Ringo Starr in the VIP enclousure

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John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the VIP enclosure

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Bon Dylan attends a press conference at his hotel

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Roger Daltrey onstage

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Tom Paxton onstage

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A crowd member disrobes

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Someone's gotta tidy up this mess...

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