Pilgrimage for Pop, Ourimbah – Jeff St John and Copperwine
The Pilgrimage For Pop festival, held in Ourimbah on the New South Wales Central Coast in January 1970, was Australia’s first rock music festival. Occurring only months after America’s Woodstock festival, Australian promoters decided the local music-going public was ready for an outdoor rock festival of their own.
The organisers decided on an all-Australian line-up, although even up until a few days before the festival was due to begin, there were strong rumours that John Lennon and Yoko Ono would attend and perform. These proved to be untrue but provided welcome publicity for the event.
Local outfit the Nutwood Rug Band, a psychedelic rock group formed of American expats who also helped to organise the festival, opened at Ourimbah to ‘roars of encouragement’. Lead vocalist Margaret Goldie attracted a lot of attention with lyrics featuring, according to reporters at the time, 'a four-letter word, screamed repeatedly into the high-powered microphone'.
Other bands at Ourimbah included one of the first appearances of the new-look Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs after their permanent move to Melbourne in 1969. There were also performances by other regular bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s including Tamam Shud, Tully, Doug Parkinson In Focus and Jeff St John and Copperwine.
Ourimbah was important for the latter band, as Jeff St John had only recently returned to performing live due to unsuccessful operations on his legs in relation to his spina bifida that resulted in him requiring the use of a wheelchair for the rest of his life. However, with a powerful bluesy and soulful voice, and backed by the powerful band Copperwine, he was a musical force on the pub rock circuit.
The band interpreted many songs in their career, including this powerful version of the Four Tops classic, ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’. In this version, Jeff sounds quite exhausted following the previous song, before giving it his all again in this amazing live rendition.