Thanks to Tom McQuown at Amoeba Music Berkeley for schooling me on the historic night the above clip featuring the late Allen GInsberg is taken from. It was a June 11, 1965 performance at London's Royal Albert Hall and the large venue sold out all of its 7000 seats-- an amazing accomplishment for a spoken word/poetry event. In addition to Ginsberg, the performance, which was billed as the International Poetry Incarnation, attracted a wide variety of important figures at the time, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, William Burroughs, Michael Horovitz, Tom McGrath and Adrian Mitchell. The performance was recorded by Peter Whitehead, who documented the event on film and released it as Wholly Communion, which is where the above video clip came from. Two years ago the film was released on DVD in the UK under the title Wholly Communion and & The Endless Reinvention of the 1960's, which also includes Whitehead's 1967 documentary Benefit of the Doubt.
As Amoeba's McQuown related, what was most amazing about the night was how it became such a happening, bringing together all these people in London in 1965 who never saw themselves as a collective up til this point. "It was a time when a lot of people who didn't necessarily know each other showed up at this poetry event but they started to recognize each other. They might have seen each other at other art or poetry happenings or at an early Pink Floyd show. But this night kind of solidifed things and people started to realize that they were all connected and all part of a scene," said McQuown. Not surprisingly, a copious amount of mind altering drugs, not to mention a lot of booze, was consumed that evening by those in the audience and on stage and hence some of the performances were a little sloppy. But none of that mattered for the "wholly communion" that took place that night 44 years ago.