Isle of Wight Festival: Five of the best headline acts

If you was born after the ‘peace and love’ movement, you might not realise that the Isle of Wight Festival dates back to the 60s. Back then it was seen as the British equivalent of Woodstock and at its peak attracted over 500,000 music fans.

Unfortunately, after the 1970 instalment of the festival it was forced to go on hiatus until it was resurrected in 2002. Around 10,000 people turned up to the ‘second coming’ of the festival, and now in its eleventh year it’s considered one of the UK’s largest, attracting around 60,000 punters.

This weekend The Stone Roses and The Killers will join a long list of bands and artists to have headlined the festival – below are our five favourites:


In 2011 Jarvis Cocker’s salacious dance moves lead the crowd through a joyous set that included many of Pulp’s greatest hits from the 90s. The Britpop veterans ironically kicked off proceedings with ‘Do You Remember The First Time?’ and kept the indie disco going all the way through to set closer ‘Common People’.

David Bowie

England had just lost their opening game of Euro 2004 against France, and a dejected crowd looked forlornly at the stage as they waited for Bowie to make an appearance. In no time at all, Bowie walked out dressed in all black, and as soon as the opening chords to ‘Rebel Rebel’ kicked in all thoughts of football were dispelled.

That night the crowd got to witness the last show to date by one of Britain’s greatest performers – and probably the best show they’ll ever see.

The Who

In 1969 they famously attempted to land their helicopter on the stage, narrowly avoiding a crash, and when the festival was revived decades later they returned to headline the 2004 edition, only to complain that they couldn’t make their amps loud enough!

Having played the festival three times, the band are so engrained in its history that the main campsite is named after their 1971 hit “Baba O’Riley”.

Primal Scream

Supermodel and close friend Kate Moss introduced Primal Scream to the Seaclose Park crowd for the first time in 2006. Despite frontman Bobby Gillespie constantly looking like he was about to fall over, the band tore through their back catalogue, bringing out the best moments of Screamdelica and XTRMNTR.

Jimi Hendrix

Hampered by crosswinds and an ailing PA system, Hendrix’s performance at the 1970 instalment – which was to be his last in the UK – is probably the most famous in the festival’s history.

Taking to the stage in the early hours of the morning, the enigmatic guitarist played an unrehearsed set in front of a 500,000 strong crowd, before having to be carried off semi-conscious.

If you’re taking the ferry down to the Isle of Wight this weekend, let us know how this year’s headliners compare.