The Atomic Sunrise Festival was a musical festival that lasted from March 9 to 15, 1970, at the London Roundhouse. The festival is notable for featuring, in particular, David Bowie, Genesis, and Hawkwind, all in the early days of their careers, and for being professionally recorded. Despite its musical significance, the resulting movie has never been released.
There were multiple acts present at the Festival. The extent to which the acts were filled is undetermined besides those explained in detail:
- March 9
- Black Sabbath
- March 10
- Marsha Hunt
- Alexis Korner
- March 11
- David Bowie
- March 12
- Graham Bond
- Clark Hutchinson Band
- Juicy Lucy
- March 13
- Brian Auger
- Formerly Fat Harry
- March 14
- Third Ear Band
- Liverpool Scene
- Kevin Ayers & The Whole World
- March 15
- Arthur Brown
- Mighty Baby
- Jackie Lomax + Heavy Jelly
- Peter Straker + Hair Band
- Principal Edwards Magic Theatre
The movie features an appearance from David Bowie and his band The Hype. This recording occurred prior to the recording of The Man Who Sold The World, Bowie's third album, and features Mick Ronson on guitar, just after his recruitment. His backing band also featured Tony Visconti, Bowie's longtime friend and producer, on bass, and John Cambridge on drums. The songs I'm Waiting for the Man and Memory of a Free Festival, a cover from The Velvet Underground and Nico and a song from Bowie's 1969 album, are known from the festival.
Genesis were well known in the early 1970s for being a very mystical and enthusiastic progressive rock band. This concert predates their popular albums Foxtrot and Selling England by the Pound. The film is the oldest visual document of the band in existence and also the only visual recording of Anthony Phillips and John Mayhew as band members, possessing the positions later given to Steve Hackett and Phil Collins respectively. At this time, the band were not yet signed to the Charisma label responsible for most of their output through the 1970s and were developing Trespass. The particular songs from the gig include Looking for Someone, The Knife, Twilight Alehouse and Stagnation.
Hawkwind are best known for being a pioneering space rock group that have lingered on since inception in 1969. The film is the only visual document to depict the band's original lineup, consisting of Dave Brock, John Harrison, Dik Mik, Terry Ollis, Mick Slattery, and Nik Turner.
A filmed recording of the event was produced by an entity anonymous to this day. The show was professionally recorded on film and sound. The film is owned privately by a man named Adrian Everett. Everett spent years looking for the film and obtained the rushes hours before destruction, paying the processing costs.
In 2010, Everett released a snippet of the performances of Bowie, Genesis and Hawkwind, onto YouTube in a very watermarked video. Everett was motivated to release the film not necessarily for his own benefit but in response to the deaths of Mick Ronson, John Mayhew and John Harrison as time elapsed. News of the film climaxed in 2013 when Everett screened the movie at the London Roundhouse, where the event originally took place. He launched a fundraiser intent on raising money for the movie's release on DVD with a supplementary book. The media however merely glanced and the attention was not enough to see it released.
Despite the soundtrack's alleged existence, Everett does not own the sound tapes to the movie and had to resort on other recordings artists had made at the time. For Genesis, for example, he relied on the BBC Session of Looking For Someone and the studio version of The Knife to dub the missing sound.
In the late 1970s, a snippet of a live performance of Twilight Alehouse, believed to be from the gig, was broadcast during a Peter Gabriel interview of the time. This sound clip, if truly sourced from the Roundhouse, remains the only sound recording from the gig extant. The rest of the performance's sound remains extinct.