Van der Graaf Generator - Sheffield, England 1976
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At the time when Phil started putting together this site, he wrote to me asking if I had any VdGG memorabilia. All I had were these photos of the band playing Sheffield University in 1976 during what was then my second year there. I had no idea really how I came to have the pictures. My best guess was that they had been taken by a friend of a friend who was in Ents (the Entertainments group), and that since people knew that I was a VdGG fan the photos had found their way to me. Well, it turns out that I was pretty much right. They were spotted on this site by Ian Laycock who recognized them as having been taken by Derek Ruddock. Derek was in Ents; and it was actually Derek who was largely responsible for getting the band to play Sheffield in the first place. Derek wrote to me, and it turns out that he and I did know some of the same people at that time, although not each other.
I thought at first that the photos had been taken during rehearsal and sound checks, but Derek tells me that they were in fact taken during the concert. I remember the gig quite well. I'm sure that they played Undercover Man, Sleepwalkers and Gog, and, I think, La Rossa and Still Life from what was then the new album. I spent 1977-78 in Strasbourg, and I actually saw VdGG play there (that was quite amazing; PH did the Lighthouse Keepers suite alone at the piano which I'd never seen before). When I returned to Sheffield in September 1978, however, the whole scene had changed. The punk rockers had taken over and the progressive bands had disappeared. So, these photos were taken at a time when, although most of us didn't know it, the musical era which VdGG exemplify so well was already on the wane.
I moved to the States in 1980, and naturally I took these photos and the VdGG albums with me. Before that, I had seen the band play on several occasions in England: the Manchester Opera House, the Marquee, and the Roundhouse. Phil was usually there. In fact, he was usually the one doing the driving! I have also seen members of VdGG play in the States on the rare occasions they get over here. I first saw PH with Phil in Boston and New York in 1999 (although, unlike Phil, I did not travel as far as Baltimore!) and then VdGG in 2009.
|7th May 1976|
|(Pictures courtesy of Derek Ruddock)|