Mudworth 25th

deep purple knebworth 1985 posterNoel Bayley and others reminded me that the twenty fifth anniversary of Deep Purple’s headline show at Knebworth passed in June 2010. It’s the sort of anniversary which does make you wonder where it all goes. It also made me convinced I’d been right not to go to outdoor festivals before, or since! Yet for all that the day was an experience I’ll never forget and, despite all the odds, I think Deep Purple did by and large pull off an event performance. It’s just what they put everyone in the UK through to see them which I found hard to forgive, and which to some degree set the pattern for the reunion.

Still, if the intervening 25 years have been patchy at times in terms of output, there have been some great shows, memorable performances and enough excellent studio recordings to have kept most fans interested.

We were very lucky at Knebworth; we’d bought tickets anyway but a contact at Polydor got a few of us admission to the general hospitality area somewhere on the left of the stage going up the side of the hill. By grabbing a couple of hay bales and shoving them under the shelter of a large oak tree we made a tolerable place to wait out the seemingly interminable support acts, and get a distant but clear view of the stage.

I think the best thing about them only doing Knebworth for me was it got us off our arses and made us do a bit of travelling into Europe for the first time, meeting fans who became friends and seeing a bit of the world as well as catching more shows than we would have done otherwise.

Knebworth generated a ton of memorabilia too, a great variety of posters, passes and other collectables (not forgetting the special vinyl releases like the picture disc albums and EMI’s attempts to make a quick buck out of the old catalogue), though design wise many left a lot to be desired.

deep purple knebworth 1985 crowd

All this was brought back to me by an old snapshot which Ian Bell sent us after the event and which I kept. At first I couldn’t work out why he’d sent it, until I turned it over. What looked like the backs of a couple of blokes looking at a UFO turned out to be his view of the show. The UFO – which I have circled in the photograph – was actually the stage several miles (or so it seemed!) in the distance, and at some stage I had scribbled “Daddy; where were you at Knebworth?” across the photo (an echo of the infamous WW1 recruiting poster slogan).

As for Noel Bayley, he’s just sent us this shot (top left) of his treasured display poster for the show. There’s a Polydor promo poster shown on our Deep Purple Poster website gallery too. I think we still have a few originals of these left for sale, again check the DTB store.

And with recent news that one fan has won a settlement after claiming a Whitesnake show recently damaged her hearing permanently, I wonder if it might still be worth putting a class action claim in for new sets of clothes to replace those ruined by the trek home through the mud after Knebworth?


If you haven’t got around to picking it up, the Connoisseur 2CD live recording of (most of) the Deep Purple set is still available, though the label no longer officially exists. Check out the link to the DTB Online store. It was also released on a couple of bootleg vinyl titles and then as a now hard to find official double vinyl release too. The details for this title can be found in our Deep Purple Discography. And if you want the set, a cassette edition which is even rarer!


5 Responses to “Mudworth 25th”

  1. Steve Allum Says:

    Never had tickets for Knebworth.
    Decided to go on the night and try and get some tickets.
    Parked the car up, followed the crowd and ended up in the middle of the arena. The fence was not there !!
    Basically saw the band for nothing !!
    Only one downer, the car got stuck in the mud. A few mud covered fans helped us out. Rear wheels spun and covered them a bit more.
    It was like something from a Monty Python sketch.
    Gave them a fiver for the help. Mind you they were so high……….

  2. CaptainJJB Says:

    the audience picture is brilliant! There must be thousands just like this around somewhere as you always get camera flashes going off and the result must be pretty much the same. I don’t have any as I couldn’t afford a camera at the time (sob) but maybe others out there have some other great shots like this!!
    My mate once took a load of pictures of the back of someones denim jacket during a motorhead gig – again with flash of course and a distant haze of lighting in the background (the band). Mind you, who wants a picture of Lemmy anyway? It was quite a nice denim jacket though.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Yes, there is something fascinating about these strange almost abstract shots taken on low-tech cameras. I used to keep wanting to shout ‘you’re wasting your time’ at people as they fired off Instamatic126 flashes into the blackness! Not to mention when they set them off in your face and blinded you; worse than Rainbow’s thunderflashes. I’m half tempted to try and get a collection going, there must be an Arts Council grant in it somewhere (though not for much longer now the Tories are back in!).

  3. Arthur Says:

    That was pretty much identical to my view at Knebworth, having travelled from Scotland to attend. I was a bit miffed they hadn’t used any screens albeit it was early days in terms of that technology they were certainly available.

    • simon robinson Says:

      I never found out why there were no screens, it would have made things easier. Maybe they didn’t want to spend the money, or perhaps the weather was so bad they decided not to risk it?

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