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Crystal Palace festival brings back memories of 1970s heyday when Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and Elton John played

PUBLISHED: 15:01 16 July 2013 | UPDATED: 15:01 16 July 2013

Bob Marley headlined the festival in 1980.

Bob Marley headlined the festival in 1980.

Archant

Put together a musical map of Britain and you might expect to see Glastonbury, Reading and the Isle of Wight.

Mike Fox is funding the return of the Crystal Palace Garden Party.Mike Fox is funding the return of the Crystal Palace Garden Party.

But more than 40 years ago hordes of festival goers flocked twice a year to SE20, where the likes of Bob Marley, Elton John and Pink Floyd would perform at the Crystal Palace Garden Party.

Beginning in 1971, as music festivals took off across the country, the one-day event in Crystal Palace Park sought to capitalise on London’s underused green space.

Promoter Harvey Goldsmith attracted the pinnacle of rock, reggae and pop music to perform at the Crystal Palace Bowl – but 30 years later the festival had disappeared.

This year, event organiser Mike Fox, of Bromley, will resurrect the festival over two days from Saturday, August 17 using his own money.

Audiences watched likes of Eric Clapton and Bob Marley beside the water in Crystal Palace Park.Audiences watched likes of Eric Clapton and Bob Marley beside the water in Crystal Palace Park.

His eagerness to stage the event comes from childhood memories of hearing basslines thud from his nearby home, and it seems he has tweaked nostalgic bones in other music lovers too.

“I didn’t really know how famous it was until I got into organising it,” said Mike. “I’ve heard some really touching stories come forward since we started putting it together, and people seem to really want these events to come back.

“There was almost no other festivals like this in 1971, and it’s such an amazing space – I just had to try and bring it back. I’m all for putting beautiful music in beautiful spaces.”

The festival was due to take place last summer, but scheduling issues due to the Olympics and faulty staging meant Mike had to postpone the Garden Party.

Pink Floyd were joined by The Faces at the Garden Party.Pink Floyd were joined by The Faces at the Garden Party.

Music is separated into two very different days, with The Blockheads headlining on Saturday before orchestras take the spotlight for The Proms on Sunday.

Though the festival remains a long way from its former scale, Mike is hoping to see the phoenix rise from the ashes in the near future.

He said: “We are not funded by anybody and don’t have tens of thousands lying about in the bank. Me and my wife, Cheryl, are bank-rolling the event and we’re just ordinary people. I’m just a graphics teacher.

“Most of London’s one-day music festivals are in Victoria Park, but now Crystal Palace has good travel links I don’t see why the park and the Garden Party can’t establish themselves.”

Despite his teaching day job, Mike is no stranger to organising big events in Bromley and could be found last summer hosting Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Amphitheatre, in Church House Gardens.

He is also heavily involved with Bromley’s comedy scene and organises regular comedy nights at The Churchill Theatre, in Bromley High Street, where he has secured performances from likes of Russell Howard and Reginald D Hunter.

“Organising the Garden Party has been kind of the same,” said Mike. “But on a much bigger scale.

“You never know, if this works out maybe I can give up the day job.”

To book your tickets, or read more about the Crystal Palace Garden Party, visit crystalpalacegardenparty.com

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