THE searing guitar tones of Jimi Hendrix cascaded across the fields of East Afton Farm yesterday (Monday) as the BBC conjured up the spirit of the original Isle of Wight Festivals.

The broadcaster was on the Isle of Wight to film footage for a documentary to be screened this summer marking the 50th anniversary of the original 1968 Isle of Wight Festival on September 1, 1968.

That event, featuring Jefferson Airplane, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Tyrannosaurus Rex and The Pretty Things, drew a 15,000 strong crowd to Ford Farm, Whitwell, and sparked the much bigger events in 1969 at Wootton Bay, headlined by Bob Dylan, and the 1970 festival at East Afton Farm with a massive bill topped by Hendrix.

Present day Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings was on hand as Chris Hewitt. of CH Vintage Audio, assembled a stack of original Island festival WEM sound gear, speaker stacks, a mixing desk and Marshall amplifiers. It was the very gear used by Hendrix, The Who, Free, The Moody Blues and many others bands at East Afton in 1970.

John was joined by Island resident Dick Taylor, of The Pretty Things, and Nick Turner, a former Hawkwind member. The Pretty Things played at the '68 festival while Hawkwind unofficially played at the 1970 event on Desolation Alley — on a makeshift stage with bands playing to fans without tickets.

The Pretty Things will be playing at this year's Isle of Wight Festival, which starts this weekend, and also at the All Wight Now 1968 retrospective event at Tapnell Farm, on September 1, when they will be billed as The Pretty Things Meets JC and Angelina.

John said: "I love this recreation and I support the All Wight Now event to mark the 50th anniversary. Anything that promotes the Island and marks such great events has to be good. I have always wanted to do that ever since we brought the festival back in 2002 — but sometimes it can be hard work. Seeing this fine old gear used by the greats of yesterday is just great."

Dick said: "I remember the first festival in 1968 when we played. The highlight for me was being on the same bill as Jefferson Airplane. To get them to the Island was just unreal at the time.

"I also remember Arthur Brown, of course, and his famous trick of setting his hair on fire — or appearing to. Great memories."

Nick, resplendent in a stetson and Confederate jacket, played a medley on saxophone before the original Hendrix tapes were played through the WEM stacked gear and music again filled the air.

He said: "I remember the 1970 festival here very well. It was a great time. We played to the kids without tickets every day of the festival. I kept going with a little chemical help. We all did in those days."