Affiche du Festival de l'île de Wight

Almost fifty years ago, on Wednesday August 26, 1970, a horde of young people with long hair and unshaven beards were preparing to experience a legendary event that brought a symbolic end to the stormy 1960s: the Island Festival of Wight. Among them, Bernard Rouan, camera in hand, plans to immortalize his birthday in front of the Jimi Hendrix concert. The rest is history …

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Concert de Jimi Hendrix au festival de Wight
La Scène du festival de Wight

Peace, Love, and Music

ARRIVED ON THE BARE ISLAND WITHOUT LUGGAGE AND THE BARE FEET” sang Michel Delpech in 1969 in reference to the “beautiful people” gathering since the summer of 1968 on the green island of the south of England in the name of music, love and peace.

Of the three editions, the 1970 festival is certainly the most notable. Although the numbers fluctuate, the Guinness Book estimates that around 600,000 people attended this latest and final edition. The lineup was enough to stir up crowds: Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Supertramp, Jethro Tull, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, Chicago, Procol Harum …

The iconic Woodstock documentary was just released in theaters, revealing the legendary atmosphere of the American festival and ending to convince young Europeans to have a similar experience.

Bernard Rouan remembers. The multiple ferries from Southampton and Portsmouth transported festival-goers in much more peaceful conditions than those of Woodstock. Accompanied by his 16-year-old brother, Bernard Rouan takes the initiative to immortalize everything with his Nikon F, “the camera of the time”, he specifies, to perpetuate these ephemeral moments of musical quintessence.

On a stage displaying a large banner “3rd isle of Wight festival of music 1970”, we discover the powerful breath of Miles David in his trumpet, the point raised in a playful jump of John Sebastian or Jimi Hendrix giving his last great concert before going out twenty days later. You can also soak up the good-natured atmosphere where the bodies bask serenely on the ground to attend the concerts, where the thousands of sleeping bags line the surrounding grounds, where there reigns, under an English sun, a feeling of brotherhood despite the crowd.

This peace & love vision is exhibited at the Rouan gallery (Paris 3 °) and is disseminated in a catalog bringing together more than a hundred photographs, as exceptional as they are historic, transmitting this little taste of nostalgia for an era synonymous with sexual and cultural liberation.

Anne-Laure Peressin
Officiel des Galeries & Musées