This Post has been updated and transfered to the new Hobo sites here along with all the comments http://covdiscoarchive.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/lanchester-arts-festivals-now-coventry.html
Ted Little was responsible for organising the Lanchester Arts Festival in the late 60's / early 70's.
I never knew Ted Little but as an 18 year old, like many Coventry musicians and fans of the time, I regularly frequented the Lanchester Polytechnic's student's union on a Friday or Saturday night to see some the best upcoming underground acts of the time. The kind of bands and acts that you'd hear on John Peel at that time. The Lanch gigs were the highlight of the week. Everybody would be there. It was such a great social-networking venue and an inspiration to budding local musicians. The first band I saw in the autumn of 1969 was Soft Machine. The list of bands I saw just goes on and on and includes -
Principal Edward's Magic Theatre, Jack Bruce, Colosseum, New Jazz Orchestra, Skid Row, Osibisa, Tyrannosaurus Rex (and later T. Rex), the Nice, Yes, ELP, Ralph McTell, Strawbs, Mr Fox, Atomic Rooster, Blodwyn Pig, Jethro Tull, Roy Harper, Vadergraff Generator, Can, Groundhogs, Duster Bennet, Kevin Ayres and the Whole World,Curved Air,Grimms, The Liverpool Poets, Jake Thackery, Neil Innes, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Scaffold, Paul Jones,Claire Hammil, Blackfoot Sue,Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts, Heron, Fairport Convention, Centipede, Nucleus,Arthur Big Boy Crudup, Climax Chicago Blues Band,Patto, Mott the Hoople, Roxy Music, Wild Angels, Nashville Teens, Leon Russell, Adrian Mitchell,Pete Brown's Piblokto, ELO, Wizzard, Gentle Giant, Fleetwood Mac, Who, Elton John, Caravan, Bridgett St. John, Lindisfarne, Stone the Crows, Medicine Head, Brinsley Schwarz,Brewers Droop, Ivor Cutler, Edwin Hawkin Singers , Lesley Duncan, Suzi Quatro, Cockney Rebel, Arthur Brown,-
These are just the ones I remember seeing. Later there was the Clash, Sex Pistols, Selecter, Specials, Bad Manners, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Chuck Berry, UB40 and so many more - not neccessarily in that order!
Ted Little wasn't responsible for all of those bands however. He was a student at the Lanchester Polytechnic in
Coventry, where he read modern studies between 1967 and 1970. His interest in arts administration began when he ran the Lanchester Arts Festival in 1970.
I'm not clear on whether Ted actually invented the Lanchester Arts Festival but he certainly helped to establish it as a multi-media festival with some of the top bands, street theatre, film, poetry, classical, blues and jazz, comedy and much more. This model appears to have been quickly followed by nearby Warwick University with their annual mixed meda arts festival which always took place a month later in March in the early 70's.
I only know of Ted Little because the other day I got an e mail and phone call from Colin Richardson who is sited on the 1971 Lanch Arts Festival programme as the man who booked most of the artists for the Festival through the BRON Agency in London. Colin (who was a former manager of the Marquee Club in London), was
full of praise and respect for Ted Little and they established a good working relationship. Colin was particulary impressed with the Multi-media aspects of the festival and the interest and inspiration that he brought to the festival. Colin told me that it was Ted who asked him to book Monty Python's Flying Circus for what would be their first ever Live performance at the Belgrade Thetre as part of the 1971 Arts Festival. (This story will be told more fully in another post).
I also seem to remember there were some great (60's style) artistic posters produced for both the Arts festival and the gigs. If anybody has any of these posters please let us know. I really think they should be archived on the internet in some form!
I was interested to learn that Ted went on to be the administrator of the Birmingham Arts Lababoratory in 1974. I remember going along to the Arts Laboratory to watch how the Birmingham Streetpress was layed out and designed after starting Hobo magazine. I can't recall meeting Ted or even knowing that this was the same guy who organised the
Lanch Arts Fest. However, as a result of Colin Richardson's phone call, I am now aware of Ted Little and his influence on the Coventry and Birmingham Arts and music scene of the early 70's.
(Colin Richardson's Blog on Typepad http://colinrichardsonjazz.typepad.com/blog/
In my research, I discovered that Ted had gone on to bring his innovative and democratic approach to the arts to the London Institute of Contemporary Art which he headed and, in the words of the Guardian, he became one of 'Britain's leading arts administrators' .
Unfortunately Ted Little fell down the stairs and was paralysed in 1985 but despite his serious disability - "Between 1985 and 1987 he was director of Northampton Arts Centre, followed by two years as director of Artsline. He was active in the development of disability arts; in 1993 he established the Arts Council of Great Britain's initiative to increase the employment of disabled people in the arts." The Guardian
Ted Little passed away in 1999 aged 56 but his influence on the Coventry and Birmingham arts scene,not to mention his work in London and elsewhere, is still felt but those who went to Lanch Festivals or the Birmingham Arts lab back in the 70's.
If anybody has anymore information on Ted Little (especially his role in Lanchester Arts Festival) or anyone one else associated with organising the bands and festivals at the Lanch or any posters / flyers, please get in contact. I can add your information / memories in and any material you have. Alternativly leave a comment here.
You can read more about Ted Little by following these links to obituaries in the Guardian and the Independent.