“Hugh McSpedden’s light show, the Giant Edison Screw, was a show in itself. Just setting up took an inordinate amount of time. The Edison Screw was very Edison like, it had projectors and wheels, all sorts of things. There would be light projections on the stage and all around the stage as well, static projections, moving oil projections, liquid lights. You could actually stick your finger on the cells and create patterns. He had it all. It was a big part of the show.
“I’m not sure they were trying to replicate the San Francisco ballrooms but I think it probably had the same result with the light show and the loud music, definitely a very hippie feel about it. And Roxie was American anyway, and John Pinder may have been exploring that side of it, I’m not really sure. But the smell of patchouli oil, I cannot forget that. Patchouli oil drowned out everything. It was all pervasive!” Mike Rudd of Spectrum
This starts with a Super 8 still frame of Hugh filming at the Wallacia Festival in 1971. He’s using a prism (from an ex miltary periscope gunsight – there was a lot of re-purposed war surplus optical gear) and I borrowed it briefly to take the image of the dancing crowd that follows. The next section was taken in Hugh’s downstairs projection studio in his house in Eltham (I think), in 1972. Set up with theatre seats a loud sound system and banks of his devices, overhead projectors for the oil and ink organic amoeba shapes, rotating filters in front of slide projectors, his film projectors. There’s a pan down to his hand at the control panel where he could play with each devices, change dissolve timings. I wish I’d filmed wider now. This was on the Kodak Ektasound camera (you can hear it clattering away on the soundtrack) and focus wasn’t great in low light.
I was overwhelmed at the brightness, all that pure light coming through, not like an 8mm film projection. And the music – Kings of the World by Mississippi Graham Goble’s precursor to the Little River Band. A big hit at the time.
Hugh hasn’t stopped performing as you’ll see from this site below. I wrote about the Wallacia and Sunbury festival movies here, and there’s a bit of superimposed Leaping McSpeddens who ‘tumbled’ at festivals and concerts, in the Sunbury movie. Those circus act performances at music events is another story.