John Giddings is a genuine British Music Industry legend with whom Heather Minx was recently in candid conversation with, at his HQ.
HM: Hello John and welcome to your office! 😉
JG: Thanks for inviting me. 😅
HM: You have a festival that’s a legacy festival as it were.
JG: It was the Woodstock of Europe in the 1970s what people don’t realize, is that it was banned for 32 years by an act of parliament.
HM: Was it Actually banned?
JG: Yeah, it started in ‘68 with Jefferson Airplane and in ‘69 they had Bob Dylan, then ‘70 and they had The Doors and Jimi Hendrix they had 600,000 people, brought the island to a standstill and some clown MP got an act of parliament banning it. In 2001 the Isle of Wight counsel asked us to restart it.
JG: They asked everybody in the music business and nobody could be bothered to go down there.
HM: They saw you as the sucker… 😉
JG: Well I just went down there for a laugh, really, because I was there in 1970 and I thought it would be good to go on a day off. Then I was sitting on the ferry and the sun was shining on the Solent…So I thought – I’ve been at everybody else’s festival why don’t I have my own one?
HM: What does it take to be a stand out star?
JG: I think what I’ve realized over the years, is you can’t just perform to be famous. You’ve got to work the room all the time. People like Bono, Mick Jagger, they’re professionals. They know how to work the room, they know who to talk to. You know you can feel them come into the room even if you’re looking the other way… It’s an extraordinary sensation.
HM: What were the first albums you ever bought?
JG: The first album I ever bought was ‘Pipers at the Gates of Dawn’ by Pink Floyd. The second album was ‘Axis: Bold As Love’ by Jimi Hendrix
Third album was Saucerful Of Secrets by Pink Floyd. I think that explains where I came from.
HM: You’ve found the magic formula of mixing old and new. How do you do that and still stay authentic?
JG: Well first and foremost I’m older. The idea is to put bands on from past, present and future.
I’ve grown up with all those rock gods. You know we’ve had The Rolling Stones, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, but then you have people like Catfish and the Bottlemen coming through.
It’s all about good live music really. I think you have to have music with integrity.
HM: Yeah that’s your formula.
JG: I take great pride in it. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
You get the headliners and then you don’t wanna put ten indie bands on the main stage, you want people to move around the site and discover different things at different times during the day.
There’s probably about 10 stages, I lost count last year! I walked into the tent, and I thought where did this come from?😅
HM: …Who are these people? 😉
JG: …I’d forgotten, ha ha…😂
HM: There they are ha ha ha! 😂
HM: So how did you end up being The Ramones’ agent?
JG: I went to New York to meet them I went to CBGBs and I was standing there saying “Where is the stage?” And the tour manager said you’re standing on it! I thought there might be some amazing stage somewhere behind the bar 😅
In all of my career people ask most about the Ramones.
HM: What are your passions outside of work?
JG: Well The festival is my hobby which no one believes! You have to think about it all the time, all these ideas for different areas because it’s not all about the music – it’s about entertaining people 24 hours a day
HM: So what are we going to see where we going to see in 2019? What are you looking forward to
JG: Noel Gallagher, I know really well. He is a great bloke and a great entertainer. George Ezra has the biggest album, he’s like this year’s Ed Sheeran, really.
Then Fatboy Slim – I know what that’s going to be like!
Then we have Biffy Clyro back on the Sunday, one of the greatest British rock bands. So there’s something for everyone on the bill, Jess Glynne, Madness and a few we haven’t announced yet so I can’t speak about it!😉
HM: …No, no don’t give it all away! People have to just come and see! Get your tickets herehttps://isleofwightfestival.com/
John Giddings – tip of a very big iceberg; Background
John graduated from University with a degree and the experience of booking what are now heritage bands, i.e. Genesis.
Going on to be the agent for The Ramones and Iggy Pop (who he still represents), then in the 80s his alumni included Duran Duran and Tears For Fears. In 1986 his Solo Agency and Promoters were formed. In short, it soon went stellar reppikng many of the globe’s biggest names and events, ever since.
To name but a few: David Bowie, Beyonce, The Rolling Stones, Little Mix, U2, Madonna, Pharrell Williams, The Spice Girls, Sex Pistols… The multi award winning John Giddings is definitely a who in music’s Who’s Who.
In 2002, John was recruited the revive the Isle Of Wight Festival. Starting well attended and billed, but at a loss. Thank to the Giddings magic touch, IoW Fest is now annually a multi million contributor to the local economy. With a high reputation for green credentials, the festival is also as ecologically sound as possible. Headliners include Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Coldplay,
Last year’s 50th Anniversary festival was not only repped on BBC News at Ten, but the main stage was opened by one of the faves from TheZineUK stage, Bang Bang Romeo, who talked on the news article about females repping at festivals.
Always on point, massive thanks to Heather and John. Xx
TheZineUK Events Dept. Love Pirate at Rocklands Artbeat / RocklandsTV. PR stands for Punk Rebel. Mad Old Bat (Deluxe) or Vintage Rock Chick? You decide.