FOR four years in the early 1970s a free pop music festival was held on Malvern Link common in the shadow of the famous hills.

It was aimed at being the local version of America’s Woodstock and the 1974 event, 50 years ago to the month, certainly followed the template, because it poured with rain.

Nevertheless the county’s hippies turned up to sit on the sodden grass with their ponchos and, rather less cool, umbrellas and nod their heads to the music of half a dozen bands.

Organisers of outdoor events always roll the dice with the British weather and that year unfortunately they lost.

Woodstock, held at Yasgurs Farm in New York State over three days in August, 1969 drew 400,000 people when the organisers had aimed for 150,000 in their wildest dreams and set the scene for what was to follow all over the world. On a smaller scale, naturally.

In Worcestershire we are usually a little behind the curve and it was not until a Saturday in August, 1972 free, open air rock festivals arrived here, courtesy of a group of friends who hung out at Malvern Youth Centre and went to the town’s Winter Gardens to shake their hair to bands like Barclay James Harvest and Mott the Hoople.

Among them were Don Palmer, Rich Evans, Chris Reagan and Jon Fulcher.

A few years ago I interviewed Jon and he told me: “We worked out an ideal site on Malvern Link Common, where there is a natural amphitheatre caused by the lie of the ground. Public toilets were also nearby – or there were then, they’ve since been knocked down – so we wouldn’t have to worry about that.”

Amazingly the habitually strait-laced Malvern Hills Conservators (now Malvern Hills Trust) gave the go-ahead and with support from Malvern Festival Theatre, which loaned its generator, and a hire firm in Ledbury, which supplied another one free, power to the stage was sorted.

Scaffolding and planks for the stage came from a Malvern builder, but the lads had to design and build it themselves with the help of some mates, which was interesting. Hearing about the gig, local bands queued up to play.

The free rock concerts on Link Common ran for four years.

For the first two the weather was kind and the crowds large, but in 1974 it was wet and by 1975 the idea had come to a natural end.

Jon added: “We only ever intended to do one concert when we started, but it went down so well we got swept along and did a few more.

I think the best attended was actually 1975 when we had well over a thousand people there, but it was a thing of the times and was never going to last. We always had a good collection for charity though.”

Since them there have been all sorts of open air pop music events in Worcestershire, some official, others not so. Like the hippy/New Age Traveller/any old hangers-on invasion of Castlemorton Common in 1992, when the stages were flatbed lorries and the smell of something in the air got law enforcement’s noses twitching.

It was all a while ago now, but maybe you might recognise yourself, a bit older but not necessarily any wiser, in one of the photographs here.