Bob Dylan, Stratford upon Avon 1995.
In 1995 I managed to get a couple of press passes, including entrance to the hospitality marquee, for the Phoenix Festival at Stratford Upon Avon to see Bob Dylan, where this shot was taken. As well as Dylan, Van Morrison and Suede were also on the Friday night bill.
Ian Clayton and myself borrowed a tent and decided we would camp overnight. We arrived and parked up around tea time, there were still people putting up tents amongst the hundreds already erected.
To relax a little after the journey, I rolled a number and then pondered whether to put our tent up now or to leave it till we got back from the concert. To this day I have no idea why two fairly rational and not unintelligent men decided, ‘F**k it, we’ll sort it out later.’
We flashed our press passes and then hit the hospitality marquee where food and drink were plentiful. This resulted in us missing most of Van Morrison’s set, which is a shame because we’re both big fans of his.
Even though my press pass had a photo pass attached to it this didn’t include taking shots of Dylan. This was par for the course – I’d photographed other festivals where Bob was playing and as soon as he was due on stage you were not allowed to take his photograph under any circumstances.
Ian and I went into the crowd so I could get some shots from the best vantage point we could manage, which wasn’t easy as it was jam packed. We’d also spent far too long indulging ourselves in the VIP area and we were both quite pissed and found it difficult to navigate through the audience.
Security had ‘spotters’ placed at strategic points and we saw a couple of photographers and guys with video cameras being removed from the crowd. Three or four ‘bootleggers’ were also ejected but, using Ian as a human shield and attaching a zoom lens, I managed to get a few half decent shots for my collection.
After Dylan had finished, it started to rain a little so we gave Suede a miss and returned to the hospitality marquee where we sat drinking and smoking for the next couple of hours, telling stories and laughing and joking – thoroughly dead chuffed with ourselves and the great time we were having.
Until suddenly it hit us like a freight train: “F***in’ hell, we’ve still got to put the bloody tent up.”
It was really pissing it down when it was time to vacate the VIP area we so didn’t want to leave. Walking through the wet grass, drunk and stoned, cold and damp we were fully aware of the warm glows and sounds of merriment coming from inside the rows and rows of tents as we trudged miserably past them, looking for my car with our canvas shelter inside that we still had to figure out to put up.
When we eventually found the car and got the camping gear out of the boot it looked like something from another planet, what the f**k were we supposed to do with this lot?
We decided to think it through in the car before making a start, so I rolled another joint and Ian grabbed a couple of more beers. About an hour later we staggered out of the car and tried to erect our home for the night. We were performing like Laurel and Hardy, although the people trying to get some sleep a few yards away didn’t find it so funny.
I don’t know how long it was (Ian claims it was over an hour and he could well be right) before a bleary eyed girl emerged from one of the nearby tents. She called us a couple of daft c***s, and then pointed out that we were trying to erect the ground sheet and that the actual tent was still in its bag.
By this time it had stopped raining, so Ian decided to get his head down outside in his sleeping bag on the groundsheet and I opted to sleep in the car.
Suddenly there was a lunatic riding around the camp site on a motorbike. Worried for Ian’s safety, I put my complimentary BMW warning triangle sign near his head in case the mad bastard ran him over.
Morpheus, the son of sleep and the god of dreams was having nothing to do with Mr Clayton and my good self. At least we were the first in line for breakfast next morning at a swanky hotel in Stratford town centre, where we decided to treat ourselves. Pity we didn’t have the foresight and good sense to treat ourselves to a nice room the night before but hey, if we had, I wouldn’t be typing up this story now.