Before the Rolling Stones played in
He asked the multitude in the Cockpit, a grassy bowl above the Serpentine, to "cool it for a minute because I would really like to say something about Brian. I don't know how to do this thing, but I'm going to try. . . I'm just going to say something that was written by Shelley."
And he began: "Peace, peace! he is not dead, he does not sleep/He has awakened from the dream of life. . ."
The mighty throng heard the poem in silence and the dust of the day rose into the sultry air amid the oaks and elms and beeches. From far off, you might have supposed that this great gathering had come to hear a religious leader or some eastern mystic.
The thousands looked like a great dish of confetti and the atmosphere was strangely peaceful. Could there really have been half a million? Some perched like birds in the trees; others stood on piles of tins or upturned litter baskets; girls climbed on the boys' shoulders. And the concert was free. When Jagger had finished reading, the Stones began to blast the air and thousands of butterflies were released from cardboard boxes.
Why the butterflies? "Because," said an organiser, "we thought it would be nice."
Girls and boys wore ornate Chinese robes and smocks in coloured silk with wide purple or orange trousers. Some carried children on their backs. A girl slept using a small black and white dog as a pillow. Others collected for Biafran relief. An old man wore rectangular purple glasses. There were even Scots Guardsmen.
A group of toughs in boots and jeans with their hair shorn drew the attention of a police car. There were kaftans on girls and boys wearing coloured headbands;
There were any number of delectable girls with their bra-less breasts bobbing beneath their white vests, confidently aware of their appeal. One wore a lacy transparent dress with nothing at all beneath.
In the musicians' enclosure, rockers and Hells Angels acted as stewards. They wore black leather jackets, Nazi steel helmets and swastikas and crucifixes swinging from neck-chains.
Most were gentle and unmilitary and kept order well. Many in the enclosure were camp followers: beautiful girlfriends and wives, feeding grubby, healthy children. Others were swarthy, wearing rings and handled whippets.
"It's nicer than I expected," said a middle-aged man.
This is an edited extract
Jagger reads from Adonais. WireImage
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