Blog: Chris Hewitt

The organiser of 1970s festival Deeply Vale has put together a fortieth anniversary celebration

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Music fans from all over Europe will join locals from Heywood, Rochdale, Bury and Manchester for the Deeply Vale Festival’s fortieth anniversary two-day festival at Heywood Civic Centre on 17-18 September.

Fans from Sweden, Holland, Germany and France have bought tickets and there’s a large contingent from the Isle of Man plus all areas of the UK.

Deeply Vale Festival was held for four years at the top end of Heywood/Rochdale’s Ashworth Valley, although the only road approach to the site was through Bury.

Starting with 300 people and local bands in 1976, it grew to 3,000 in 1977 and 20,000 in 1978 and 1979.

Many people say the best year was 1978 when Gong guitarist Steve Hillage, who had left the band to go solo with his partner Miquette Giraudy, flew in from Finland to play the last night of the 1978 festival. The crowd shot of the people sat crosslegged all over the top end of Ashworth Valley waiting to see Hillage has become iconic.

What was unique about the festival was four people who lived in a commune in Rochdale in 1976 and frequented the Heywood hippy music pubs of the Dressers and the Seven Stars. Together with me, a Rochdale sound man, we pulled the whole thing together in under two weeks in September 1976 and then just watched it grow over the following years.

The first band to walk on to the stage at Deeply Vale on the weekend of 17 Sept 1976 were Heywood band Spike, containing local musicians Larry Norwood, Charlie Debono and Eric Sager. They will be playing a couple of songs 40 years later on 18 September.

Heywood’s Reverend Mike Huck, now a young 75 years old, performed at the 1977 Deeply Vale with his Christian rock band Movement Banned, which includes fellow Wigwam Acoustics founder Mick Spratt. Reverend Huck and Movement Banned have been rehearsing solidly for months for their first reunion concert for many years on 17 September at the two-day indoor festival.

Hillage, legendary guitar hero and now also dance music hero with his act System 7, will perform different genres of music to headline both Saturday and Sunday nights. Sunday will see a unique line-up recreate Gong, with many original surviving members of the band coming together with Hillage on stage.

In total there’ll be around 30 acts with original connections to Deeply Vale, including Segs from The Ruts, Notsensibles, Nik Turner from Hawkwind, The Drones, Fast Cars, Victor Brox, Mike Sweeney and his Salford Jets, and George Borowski, plus a whole host of Rochdale and Heywood 1970s bands that have come back together – Accident on the East Lancs, Wilful Damage, Physical Wrecks, Mudanzas, Frogbox, Alchemist and more.

Buy tickets from or call 01565 734066 or 07970 219701

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