The Picnic At Blackbushe by Jerry Bloom book review

Big book remembers even bigger outdoor gig

Cover art for The Picnic At Blackbushe by Jerry Bloom book

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July 15th 1978, and 250,000 people display the negligible impact of punk on rock’s old brigade by trekking to Blackbushe Airfield in Surrey to watch Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading and Graham Parker. Harvey Goldsmith calls it his best-ever event, and Dylan’s first UK dates in 12 years dominate the news. Yet for all the shelves of Dylanology out there, it somehow hasn’t entered rock lore like some smaller events. This hardback book in a metal flight case aims to rectify that.

Compiling hundreds of photos, anecdotes and cuttings, it’s a devotional scrapbook recording everyone’s performances plus fan reaction on a grey English summer’s day. Dylan stands alongside Billy Connolly to watch Clapton. Armatrading wears a rugby shirt. Jenny Agutter and Ringo are there. Dylan performs in a top hat given to him by a Savoy doorman and plays for nearly three hours. Back to the garden, kinda.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.