Controversies, Down Memory Lane

Jennifer Wilson – Iconic Image Of The Summer Of Lovfe And The Hippie Movement

September 18, 2011
Jennifer Wilson was the subject of an iconic image thanks to this old rock festival photograph that epitomised the free spirited summer of love

Jennifer Wilson, originally from Exeter, became an iconic image thanks to this old rock festival photograph that epitomised the free spirited summer of love and the hippy movement.

Jennifer Wilson was the subject of an iconic image thanks to this old rock festival photograph that epitomised the free spirited summer of love

The picture was taken at a music festival in 1978 shortly after Wilson, now 67, moved away from her home city of Exeter in Devon to London.

The photo shows the young, long-haired Wilson standing topless amid her friends, playing air guitar, lost in the music at an open-air festival.

But now more than three decades on the woman in the shot has revealed she wasn’t a drug-taking hippie chick of easy virtue, but a straight-laced married woman looking for something to do.

‘I seemed to be photographed at pop concerts every time I went,’ she said.

‘I used to wear unusual clothing with lots of colours – I still do but I’m trying to tone it down now I’m older.

‘I think it was at Reading Festival while dancing to a band like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Genesis – it could have been any band like that.

‘I used to love music when I was at school.

‘The teacher used to tell us to close our eyes when listening to a piece of music so you can hear it properly and not get distracted by what’s going on around you.

‘I still close my eyes now when listening to a new record.

‘Sometimes the photo is used with the wrong story, like drugs or promiscuity, that insinuates all sorts of things I don’t like.

‘I didn’t take drugs, I was too naive. And I wasn’t even promiscuous.

‘I had been married for a few years at that time. I was very straight. I went to pop concerts for something to do.’

Ms Wilson was the eldest of eight children, five girls and three boys, and grew up in Alphington, Exeter.

She got married to an Exeter man and moved to London after her divorce aged 25, where she made a living as a dress maker.

Today she lives in East Acton with her partner of 12 years and has raised three daughters.

2011 Jennifer Wilson

She regularly visits Exeter, where her mother and two sisters still live, and can recall the times her dad used to take her and her brothers and sisters to watch Exeter City.

‘When I divorced I started going to rock concerts as a way of trying to pick myself up off the floor,’ she said.

‘It was a kind of freedom after being brought up strictly and convent educated.

‘I used to go to Reading and Knebworth a lot to listen to various bands.

‘I can’t remember them all. I remember it was a really hot day and people started to sunbathe topless.

‘I looked like the odd ball with my clothes on. All the girls were going round with their tops off so I did the same.

‘I couldn’t believe I was the one who was photographed. It was the happiest time of my life. I met lovely people. It was all love and peace.

‘There was no violence like there is now.’

Ms Wilson said she worked for a time as a Go Go dancer in London.

She also spent a year living in a bus in Morocco sitting on the side of the road selling beaded headbands.

‘I used to get recognised in and around Earls Court near where I lived,’ she said. ‘Even the bread delivery man noticed me.

‘I seemed to get photographed all the time. Every time anyone sees a photo of me I try to get a copy. And a friend’s son found quite a few pictures of me on a hippie website.’

She added: ‘I’m shocked that the photo has been used this long.’

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1 Comment

  • Reply ines October 22, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Isn’t it amazing, a 67 years old women, see herself so many years after. :)

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