Many A Year Has Passed And Gone
Motorcycle Nightmare Blues
by Chris Cooper
1969 wasn’t a good year for me, and on reflection not a great one for his Bobness either.
Well me first, it was my last year as a teenager, I was 19. Footloose an’ fancy free, though I did already know my future Missus Dizzy. I had been a sorta Mod, SX200 an all, I had been making trips at the weekend to Brighton and Southend. Funny actually I was only the other day watching the Who’s Quadraphenia. It was never as exciting as that you know. Mostly it was drinking expresso coffee and posing about. Oh there were pills but nothing “stronger” that I can recall looking back now it was quite civilised, usually though of course I was going in at the end of such things. Dizzy never came with me to those weekends, it would have meant her staying away overnight, her parents would have never permitted that you see. After all, respectable girls don’t go away overnight with boys do they? It just wasn’t done. These weekends were not much about music either, so it was inevitable that they were not going to interest me for that long either.
You see music was what interested me most then.
I had already discovered “progressive music” and was getting albums with hugely overblown sleeves and even larger concept ideas. And yes of course, Bob Dylan was there. Actually of course he had slipped back in my consciousness somewhat. I had by now got all his albums and played the Holy Trinity all the Time (Bringing It All Back Home – Highway 61 Revisited – Blonde On Blonde) but Dylan wasn’t doing that much was he? I Mean he had almost died, and after John Wesley Harding there was nothing much happening.
But then suddenly there was to be the Isle of Wight!
Dizzy an I were already going to quite a lot of gigs together but we had never been to a Festival, here was a chance to take her to see Mr Dylan and all those other people too. And of course it was a WEEKEND event, we’d have to stay away!! Boy life was sure looking up!
We made our plans for this, I ordered the tickets, we would travel down on my scooter. I had passed my bike test a long time before, a necessary thing to hide my other side. You see there is a further dark secret I have to reveal now. I wasn’t just a mod, I was almost a rocker too.
Oh I never had the Levi's or the leathers or anything like that. But I did have a proper motorbike as well as a scooter. I had a BSA Starfire 650cc. A beautiful bike that I used for racing about on, and the odd bit of amateur motorbike scrambling.
We had to approach Dizzy’s family with some caution over this of course, they knew I had a motorbike, her dad used to call it “the flying bedstead” an I think it quite impressed him quietly (it was about the only part of me that did impress him sadly) as he had been a motorbike despatch rider during the war. They also had a fair bit of unused camping gear so we were set up pretty easily. And we were not going alone, several of our friends were also going we were planning to drive down on the Friday as soon as we had finished work.
I cannot honestly say that seeing Dylan was the main highlight for me (sorry Bob) but of course I was looking forward to seeing him again, especially after John Wesley Harding. So I was quite excited about the event.
Of course life has a tendency of wrecking your plans when you least expect it. An it sure buggered me big time. Remember the Starfire? Well, I managed to wrap it around a tree in a local scramble in Worcester just at the end of July. Disaster. I guess in many ways I was lucky, it was a serious smash, the bike was wrecked and I wasn’t much better. I had a fractured pelvis and in Hospital for 6 weeks on traction! So our plans were wrecked, Dizzy wasn’t prepared to go with out me, an I wasn’t going anywhere! So we missed it. The whole event, of course we soon got to hear various recordings and yes I was pretty shocked, Bob seemed to be just enjoying himself. In 1969 life was too serious for that, music was too serious. In a way my accident saved me the problem of saving his honour from the many pals of mine that did go and thought he was crap. Me, I was in Hospital until mid September, when I got out I found Dizzy and my Mum had sold my motorbike. In fact it was far worse than that, they had got me a three wheeler (Robin) car which was like riding a moped with a plastic case over it! I was soon on the scooter again.
But in many ways it was a life changing experience. My Mum realised Dizzy an I were “serious” and didn’t object too much when I got a place of my own soon after. On the quiet Dizzy moved in with me. We gave her Mum a friends address. We kept it a secret from our parents for about 18 months, (well we thought we had) one day they both arrived at our flat in Malvern and said “Isn’t it about time you two got married” but that was 1970. and another year and another story!
Till Next Time
Signs on the windows
For further details of the concerts held at the Isle of Wight 1969 click here.
To find out more about what Dylan was doing in 1969 visit one of the most fantastic Dylan sites on the internet here.
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