The Music Lounge

Monty Python at Knebworth in ’75

Monty Python support Pink Floyd at Knebworth in 1975…

496_knebworth75_flyer_frontI often like to flick through a few pages of Michael Palin’s excellent volume of diaries called 1969-1979 The Python Years which is a very honest and interesting account of not only Palin’s life, personally and professionally but a wonderful insight into life in the 1970s and a glimpse into the reality of the showbiz lifestyle. In it he talks openly about disputes, work opportunities, money concerns, buying cars (a mini) and meeting fellow celebrities, the latter being something which doesn’t seem, not unsurprisingly, to sit too comfortably with him.

Interestingly, in an excerpt from 1976 we see the beginnings of what would prove to be a hugely successful career as a travel writer and broadcaster in which he writes: “Vivid impressions of South East Asia in Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar-a book which has stirred up so many of my travel impulses”

But it was a year earlier in 1975 when he and fellow Python members were approached to appear on the bill of the second Knebworth music festival which featured headline act Pink Floyd, The Steve Miller Band and Captain Beefheart amongst others. Palin writes in an excerpt from his diary on May 15th: “Floyd are very keen to get us on the bill for their prestigious open-air gig at Knebworth in July. We’d said no, but O’Rourke (Floyd’s manager) has made us a new offer. For five of us, a half-hour cabaret appearance, £1,000 each in notes, no questions asked, ready at the end of the show. It’s like an offer from the underworld”

He doesn’t say anymore on the offer or the gig until he writes about a play he is to appear in based on the novel Three Men in a Boat; “My dates for Three Men in a Boat were confirmed today. They amount to nearly six weeks’ work. The fee is little more than half what I was offered to spend half an hour at the Knebworth concert. C’est showbiz” I find that really rather interesting and, if you look at the promo flyer you can see that Graham Chapman only, has taken up the offer of appearing at the concert. Whether or not it was with the same agreement one cannot possibly say but according to Palin’s later entries he describes Chapman as often looking worse for wear as a result of the new-found company he seemed to be keeping (Keith Moon amongst others) and seemed to be enjoying the rock star environment more than was perhaps healthy.

I have read a couple of online reports from the show, they seem somewhat indifferent to Chapman’s sketches, I always wonder as to the point of comedy routines at music concerts, it seems pointless and misguided to me. So there you have it, a grand each back in ’75. That would have bought Palin another Mini automatic…

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