FOLK CLUBS, SALLYANGIE, BAREFEET
1968 May Paris 1968 26-28 July Cambridge Folk Festival 1969 24 March
Mike’s earliest performances were at folk clubs around Reading when he was 13 (some articles say 11, but 13 is Mike’s own statement). By 14 he had formed a very short-lived band called Barefeet (he once called it, “a mixture of the Shadows and early rock ‘n’ roll”). “I played in youth club bands when I was 12 or 13. We only did a few gigs and it lasted about 6 months,” Mike told Thomas Rosenthal in 1993. Oldfield together with another boy, “Used to play at a couple of folk clubs in Reading. We did some original songs that were quite involved. Most were the typical adolescent poetry – the painful stuff.”
Mike played with his sister Sally as a short-lived folk duo SallyAngie but specific dates for them are difficult to finger. They only played a few gigs – mostly Cousins Folk Club, Greek Street, London and some colleges. Interviewed by David Porter Sally remembered that the Sallyangie days did not last for long, only a few weeks. In May 1968 Sallyangie played a gig in Paris when tear gas from disturbances outside crept in and upset Mike because of the effect on his performance.
They played 26-28 July 1968 at the Cambridge Folk Festival with Mike wearing, much to his disapproval, green velvet and satin. “I didn’t like what we were doing at all, apart from two long instrumentals which I used to do at every gig.” He said. “Probably the reason it didn’t work out was those little brother-big sister squabbles”. Other acts at the festival included Paco Pena whom Mike once listed as among his 3 favourite guitarists. He may even have inspired Mike’s enduring interest in Flamenco music. The audience numbered up to 5,000.
Despite Sally’s recollection they do appear to have at least been down to do a gig several months later . Terry Oldfield told David Porter “They were booked to play at the Festival Hall and Mike just suddenly said he wouldn’t do it, and it was too late to stop the concert so Sally had to go on on her own, and it was a complete shambles.” [The gig is listed for 24 March 1969 – others that day included Fairport Convention, Al Stewart – John Peel compered] ‘Folk Meets Pop’.
Afterwards Mike formed a band called Barefeet. The band seems to have comprised Chris Bracklick, Mike, Terry Oldfield and a drummer – they played a few gigs for instance at Bishop’s Stortford Grammar School and did a radio show with Bonnie Dobson. Of it Mike said, “we packed up after one disastrous performance.” That may have been the radio programme which did not go as planned and Mike instead played solo guitar. Barefeet folded in February 1970. In March 1970 aged 16 Mike auditioned for Kevin Ayers and the Whole World and his earliest experiences of touring were not far away.