Wally Hope

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Wally Hope (1947–1975) was a name by which Phillip Russell (born Alexander Graham Russell on 9 August 1947) was known.

Phil was a visionary and a free-thinker, whose life has had a profound influence on many in the culture of the UK Underground and beyond. He was an important figure in what may loosely be described as 'the organisation' of the Windsor Free Festival from 1972 to 1974, as well providing the impetus for the embryonic Stonehenge Free Festival. It is believed that he was born into a wealthy family, and was due to inherit a considerable sum when he attained the age of 30 years; his guardian was the BBC radio and television announcer John Snagge, according to a newspaper report of Wally's death. [1]

Biography[edit]

Activities and adoption of new name[edit]

While in London during the early 1970s, he fell in with a group called the Dwarves, taking their name from the Dutch Provo group the Kabouters. Described as “a kind of Notting Hill version of the Yippies in America: a joke-prankster group,” he adopted the name "Wally Hope" for himself, under which he would acquire the status of countercultural folk hero. The name Wally derived from a popular festival cry (a kind of “Everyman” joke that arose when the crowd began echoing the name of a lost dog being summoned by his owner at the last Isle of Wight Festival) and he had the word “Hope” embroidered on a shirt that “became his trademark: a riot of spectacular colour with the eye of Horus in the middle banked by a rainbow.”[2]

Stonehenge Free Festival[edit]

See Stonehenge Free Festival

Whilst at a well-known hippie café on the Spanish Island of Ibiza he first came up with the idea of a free festival at Stonehenge. He “wanted to claim back Stonehenge (a place that he regarded as sacred to the people and stolen by the government) and make it a site for free festivals, free music, free space, free mind.”[3]

The first Stonehenge Free Festival took place at Summer Solstice in 1974, alongside a bye-way just a few hundred yards to the west of the stones. Despite a leafleting campaign and promotion by Radio Caroline, it was a small gathering, numbering about 500 people at the most. The only music was provided by early synth pioneers Zorch, who set up stage facing the stones, and who had to compete with a wonky PA system.[4]

The festival might have had little impact if it had stopped soon after the solstice was over, but by this time Wally had persuaded thirty people to stay on in the field beside the stone circle. They styled themselves “The Wallies of Wessex” and lived a makeshift, communal lifestyle in tents, a rickety polythene-covered geodesic dome and a small fluorescent tipi. Nigel Ayers, who visited at the time, said, “It was an open camp, inspired by a diversity of wild ideas, but with the common purpose of discovering the relevance of this ancient mysterious place by the physical experience of spending a lot of time there.”[5]

The Wallies went to court in August,[6] in the newspapers’ silly season, and the story was widely reported. They included in their number Sir Wally Raleigh and Wally Woof the Dog, they gave their address as “Fort Wally, c/o God, Jesus and Buddha, Garden of Allah, Stonehenge Monument, Salisbury, Wiltshire,” and they had a snappy motto: “Every Body is Wally, Every Day is Sun Day.” The fancy dress went down well too, with Phil appearing in the uniform of an officer of the Cypriot National Guard. When they lost the case, Phil told the press: “These legal arguments are like a cannon ball bouncing backwards and forwards in blancmange. We won, because we hold Stonehenge in our hearts. We are not squatters, we are men of God. We want to plant a Garden of Eden with apricots and cherries, where there will be guitars instead of guns and the sun will be our nuclear bomb.”[7]

After the court case, when threatened with eviction, they moved to another site across the bye-way and continued their festival there, until after the winter solstice some of the group moved into a squat house in nearby Amesbury village, whilst Hope went off to Cyprus. In May, whilst stopping at the squat on a trip from London to Cornwall, an unexpected police raid resulted in Wally's arrest for possession of a small amount of LSD.[8]

Death[edit]

His friend Penny Rimbaud has credited him with much of the inspiration behind Rimbaud's project CRASS and believes that Phil did not commit suicide but was murdered by the State for political reasons. [9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Bath & West Evening Chronicle, page 12, dated Thursday October 7th 1975
  2. ^ Andy Worthington - It’s 25 Years Since The Last Stonehenge Free Festival
  3. ^ Andy Worthington - It’s 25 Years Since The Last Stonehenge Free Festival
  4. ^ Andy Worthington - It’s 25 Years Since The Last Stonehenge Free Festival
  5. ^ Andy Worthington - It’s 25 Years Since The Last Stonehenge Free Festival
  6. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition. citing "1974 Times 8 Aug. 2/4"
  7. ^ Andy Worthington - It’s 25 Years Since The Last Stonehenge Free Festival
  8. ^ Andy Worthington(ed) (2005) - The Battle of the Beanfield - Chapter 1:Stonehenge and the road to the Beanfield by Andy Worthington with Alan Dearling, p15
  9. ^ Rimbaud, Penny (1982). The Last Of The Hippies - An Hysterical Romance. Crass. "The court passed a verdict of suicide with no reference at all to the appalling treatment that had been the direct cause of it. [...] Our inquiries convinced us that what had happened was not an accident. The state had intended to destroy Wally's spirit, if not his life, because he was a threat, a fearless threat who they hoped they could destroy without much risk of embarrassment." 

External links[edit]