I was 22 when I promoted Led Zeppelin's show at Western Springs in February '72. The year before I had negotiated the deal with their manager, Peter Grant, in the UK.
In 1972 I travelled through Japan, Beirut and Germany, not only sourcing acts for the forthcoming festival but also plugging Split Ends to radio stations I had written letters to. I took sick along the way, and my diabetic condition didn't help. I landed emaciated in the UK, and in need of medical attention. A friend put me on to William Burroughs, who in turn organised a hasty appointment with a Harley St professional specialising in naturopathic medicine. He advised me that I needed to book myself in to get better.
Once I had recuperated, I made an important business appointment. Going to a mansion on the edge of Wimbledon Common, I saw vans were loading in lush purple carpet. I noticed that the carpet had been perfectly cut with perfect gold trim. This opulence didn't go unnoticed, and I was greeted by a mouthy young woman in her late teens. "Did my daughter, Sharon, look after you?" was how Black Sabbath's manager, Don Arden, greeted me. "I need to make it clear I am only interested in you taking Sabbath if you can do Australia as well." I agreed. I hadn't toured acts in Australia before, but if it meant securing Black Sabbath for the Ngaruawahia Music Festival, I would do it. Don insisted the deal had to be contracted in New York through Sabbath's agents, so I travelled to New York and cut a deal.
I scheduled Black Sabbath to play midnight on the Saturday of the festival, 'coincidentally' after Split Ends who I was managing. Earlier that day I was summoned by Black Sabbath with the request for the burning cross. I contacted the festival carpenter. We found wood, scrub, wire and whoever could help. We took the parts for the cross to the top of the hill and hastily erected a cross that would burn at midnight.
It was like a pagan ritual. At midnight the cross was lit as the band took the stage. Sabbath played most of their early material - Iron Man, Sweet Leaf and closed with Paranoid. The crowd were also treated to a rarely performed song, Changes. They loved it.
The original Black Sabbath line-up of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler has reunited and will release a new studio album produced by Rick Rubin in 2012, followed by a world tour.