In October 1969, inspired by the rising success of Woodstock Festival in the States, European music fans began to flock to the village of Amougies, in Belgium, for four days of free love and psychedelic rock and roll.
The event, a festival created by French record label Byg Actuel, was born out of the hippie movement and emerged as one of the first major European music festivals to gain serious traction. With over 50 acts on the billing, the likes of Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Ten Years After, Zoo, Archie Shepp, The Nice and more acted as the headline attractions.
Funded by the Actuel, the monthly underground music magazine whose finger was very much on the pulse of the 1960s hippie culture, Festival d’Amougies ran from Friday, October 24th to Tuesday 28th and was rounded off by a momentous performance by the great Captain Beefheart.
The standout moment, however, is one that was chronicled by filmmakers Jérôme Laperrousaz and Jean-Noël Roy who released their picture Amougies (Music Power – European Music Revolution) after documenting the festival activities across four, particularly hazy days. Their film premiered in Paris in 1970 and ran for one week before it was banned.
It was rumoured that the decision to ban the film was propelled after Pink Floyd objected to the creation and, given how they appear in some of the footage, it comes as little surprise. One particular highlight, it has to be said, is the moment when Frank Zappa joined Pink Floyd on stage for a somewhat surreal, bizarre jam session which began with a planned rendition of their song ‘Interstellar Overdrive’.
With Zappa looking as fresh as ever, the members of Pink Floyd appeared to have perhaps overindulged in the free-spirited activities that one comes to expect from a music festival — especially one that took place in the decade of free love and hippie culture. Despite the band looking somewhat comfortably numb, they and Zappa produce a mind-melding performance which is balanced somewhat precariously between Nick Mason’s supreme drumming and Zappa’s unique guitar contributions.
While Zappa would later go on to forget the performance, Pink Floyd drummer Mason said in 1973: “Frank Zappa is really one of those rare musicians that can play with us. The little he did in Amougies was terribly correct.”
See the performance, below.