THREE generations of photographers have ensured the name Beken is synonymous with sailing photography, but in 1970 a young Ken Beken turned his lens to something quite different – the Isle of Wight Festival at Afton.

‘After my nine years boarding at Ryde School, the summers of the late 1960s were a time not to be wasted!

You just had to sample the brilliant music at the Babalu, Middle Earth and the 69 Club. Then in 1968 came the first of the trio of pop festivals — Jefferson Airplane and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown perhaps the most memorable for me.

I went for the music never thinking of photographing the event.

The next year we had the Dylan gathering in Wootton and I was at the back of several thousand fans and with him looking less than 1cm tall, photography was out.

When 1970 came, I was determined to get some pictures. I was working in our marine photography business by then but late of the Friday I was mingling with the crowd, soaking up the atmosphere along with over half a million other fans.I approached the organisers and arranged a press pass for the Saturday and Sunday, enabling me to get into the VIP area right against the front of the stage.

Daily Echo:

Saturday dawned but my first priority was meeting a pre-arranged helicopter for me to photograph the Cowes-Torquay-Cowes Powerboat Race.

By 10am I was airborne skimming the waves at 20ft above offshore powerboats, getting wet from their spray. That over, I had to process the film and get the photos ready for the competitors to see by lunchtime.

Then a quick jump into the car and race off to Freshwater for the big event! To see the mass of people across the fields and on Afton Down was truly incredible.

My camera was a Canon AE1 with an ultra-wide 18mm fisheye lens, a standard 50mm lens and a long pistol-grip 240mm telephoto lens. This looked like a bazooka and I got many strange looks from the stage.

Daily Echo:

The artists were literally 10 to 20 feet away. This was fine for melodic songsters like John Sebastian and Joni Mitchell but when the big groups got in their stride the noise was truly deafening.

Emerson Lake and Palmer let off two cannons during their set that I’m sure did no good for my hearing for the rest of the day.

There are a couple of good books telling the whole story of the festivals so I’ll just let my pictures speak for themselves…’

All pictures are the copyright of Ken Beken of Beken of Cowes.