We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at one of the wildest nights in British rock history as attendees like John Lennon, Yoko Ono (who hadn’t yet started their romance), and Jimi Hendrix danced the night and day away to a range of bands headed up by Pink Floyd. Get lost in The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream.
One of Britain’s foremost psychedelic rock events is barely remembered at all. The ’14 Hour Technicolor Dream’ took place at London’s Alexandras Palace on 29th April 1967 and was held in aid of The International Times and featured the underground heroes Pink Floyd as the headline act. It’s largely forgotten because most of the people in attendance were, in fact, in another dimension.
About as close as Britain ever came to matching the intensity and creative of the famous Acid Tests, the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream ranks among one of the craziest nights in British music. The benefit was held in aid of The International Times, a counter-culture newspaper that was struggling to survive and saw the culmination of London’s growing hippie scene at the illustrious Alexandra Palace.
It was quite the setting for the freak out. A combination of music and multi-media art was on display for all to see and the special blend of hallucinogenic drugs were allegedly available almost on tap—if you knew who to talk to, of course. The music was suitably subverted too.
On the bill was Arthur Brown, Soft Machine and Yoko Ono, among countless others, but they were headed up by the underground sweethearts of the day, Pink Floyd. With Syd Barrett still leading the band, the group were the cutting edge of the counter-culture music scene and were provided all the acid rock London could handle. They arrived on stage at Alexandra Palace at 5am after driving back from an earlier gig in Holland.
If you so happened to be in the crowd for the whole evening then you were rewarded with welcoming the dawn alongside one of the most powerfully creative bands in Britain. To match that, the performance art on show was also of high concept and visceral validity. In particular, John Lennon, recently exploring LSD himself, was particularly enamoured with a piece titled ‘Happening’.
The performance art piece saw patrons of the event cut off pieces of a model’s clothing until she was left naked. It was an impactful piece on its own but when you add the power of the hallucinogenic to the mix then it’s certainly an arresting piece. Lennon was captivated by it but didn’t get the chance to meet the artist behind the work, Yoko Ono. Soon enough they would begin their love affair.
Reportedly in the crowd also was none other than Jimi Hendrix, who himself had become the object of fandom. While there are no concrete reports of his attending, the fact that this was such a huge event suggests it is quite likely he did. Memories of the event tend to be sketchy at best and straight-up fantasy-fiction at worst.
John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins was the organiser of the show and struggled to actually offer any real aid to The International Times after a run of tickets went missing and many were collected but not paid for. As Hoppy describes it: “The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream was a big event and a financial disaster. Most people were on drugs of one sort or another. It was a crest of a wave. It wasn’t fully understood, but it was a landmark event”.
There is a varying degree of quality films about the project but perhaps the most succinct one in telling the story of the event is Pete Whitehead’s footage which is featured on Pink Floyd, London, 1966-67. In that footage, we not only have the brilliance of seeing Lennon (quite possibly on acid) walking around the crowds and partaking in the festivities but we also get to see and hear Pink Floyd in their absolute element.
This came shortly before their first album Piper At The Gates of Dawn was released, a time while the group were still thought of fondly as the immersive sound of the new underground. It sees Syd Barrett lead his band through a kaleidoscopic sound spectrum and come out the other side relatively unscathed.
We’ve also compiled all the best footage of the entire event that we could find which offers up a keen insight into this bubbling counter-culture and a history lesson in creativity that is far from black and white.