FIVE decades since the Isle of Wight Festival lured Bob Dylan back to live performing when the organisers of Woodstock couldn’t, a Northwich music industry veteran is recreating the troubadour’s sound system on the Channel Island.

Wincham’s Chris Hewitt, of CH Vintage Audio, is heading over to the Isle of Wight next week to rig up the very same sound set up that Dylan used on his return to the stage back in 1969.

The well-documented story goes that despite living in Woodstock, Dylan eschewed that inaugural festival in favour of the Isle of Wight, which at the time was the biggest pop festival Britain had ever seen.

Northwich Guardian:

He said: “Dylan hadn’t played a concert since a mysterious motorcycle accident in 1966, even his own producer said that he would never perform again.

“The organisers of Woodstock tried to get him to play there thinking it would be a dead cert as he lived there, but he didn’t go for it, instead he agreed to play the Isle of Wight.”

Chris owns one of the biggest collections of Watkins Electric Music (WEM) vintage sound equipment in the world – some of which has belonged to the likes of Pink Floyd, The Who, plus Emerson, Lake and Palmer and has featured in a host of music documentaries plus recent biopics Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocket Man.

Northwich Guardian:

The 65-year-old explained that all the original amps, speakers, mics and mixers used in Dylan’s historic come-back performance – including the WEM Audio Master Mixer – will be used at All Wight Now’s Million Dollar Bash on August 31.

He said: “It was a 1,500watt set up, played in front of around 150,000 people which, by today’s standards is a small set up but was ahead of its time.

“Back then, there was no such thing as a mixing tower like you’d see at festivals such a as Glastonbury today. You had a sound engineer working from the side of the stage who kept having to keep walking out and listening to what it sounded like. You mixed blind because you weren’t out in the audience, hearing what they did.

Northwich Guardian:

“It was live sound engineering in it’s infancy – there were no rules because the rule book was being written.

“Reflecting back, it was a very exciting time because what we think of today as the rock and roll sound system was being invented in England at the Isle of Wight festival.”

Amongst the performers using the original sound system at Million Dollar Bash will be Julie Felix who opened for Dylan at the Isle of Wight festival and is reportedly one of the people who calmed his nerves ahead of that famous event, which was attended by George Harrison, Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Yoko On, Elton John, Ringo Star and Keith Richards, all of whom were there to see Dylan's comeback.

Chris said: “As well as her own music, Julie covered quite a lot of Dylan’s songs. Apparently, when he was nervous about performing at the festival, she talked him in to going on.”

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Chris’s love for music started when he was a 16-year-old schoolboy at Hulme Grammar School in Oldham, and during a period attending Rochdale College he met the legendary radio DJ John Peel. During his long career he’s run his own successful record label, Ozit Morpheus, and has worked with acts including Captain Beefheart, Thin Lizzy. The Fall and Tractor.

He also promoted the 1972 Bickershaw Festival in Wigan – a three-day event for 40,000 fans featuring The Kinks and folk singer Donovan – before running his own festival, Deeply Vale, four years later.

For more information about CH Vintage, visit