THE STORY BEHIND THE
Some of the people who attend the festival will have known Ian Downton personally, and for them this festival honours their friendship and raises money in his name for a charity that was close to his heart.
For many of us the festival is a great weekend of live music and fun in beautiful countryside in Worcestershire, which we know raises money for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.
So how did the festival come about?
Ian Downton was a much loved biker and part of the Upton on Severn biker community. He tragically died in September 2009. He had spent 12 months in hospital after a road traffic accident - ironically in a car and not on his bike - after a hole in his oesophagus wouldn’t heal.
His friends pledged to use their annual football match, Slayers v Talbot Head, in his memory, and looked at ways to raise money in his name. They organised a bbq and live music and continued this tradition for the next few years.
In 2013 Phil Peel met Stu Evans when Stu’s band at the time (Riff Raff) played the annual fund raiser.
Whether alcohol was involved or not we can’t possibly know - but at this meeting the idea of a bigger event was born! Stu offered to help with getting bands to play and a full day event was planned.
The first Drunken Monkey Rock Festival was held at the Drum and Monkey, near Upton on Severn in 2014. The venue spawned the name of the festival!
This event was very successful and outgrew its home in 2 years. Luckily nearby friends of the festival had some land that they kindly offered to be used. It was at this stage that the decision was taken to make the event a full 3 day festival. With Stu’s contacts in the music biz, and a huge variety of local talent happy to play the charity event, he had no trouble filling 3 days with great live rock music.
In fact, there were too many great bands wanting to play so the idea of another stage was born. Chris Harvey from Tower Studios was already involved in various ways and created the second stage, which, like the rest of the festival has gone from strength to strength.
Ian is still very much an important part of the festival. His bike, a 1964 Triumph Thunderbird 650cc proudly sits on the main stage. Given to his close friend Phil, by Ian’s daughter after his death, Phil ceremoniously starts it every day before the music starts.
And, the giant drunk monkey that sits proudly on stage next to Ian’s bike? Well, he is the festival mascot of course! You can see he makes it onto all the merchandise . He has become a much loved emblem for the fun weekend that is now a regular and important feature on the British music festival season.