FOLK rock legend Richard Thompson has spoken about returning to play at the Isle of Wight for the first time in more than half a century.

Thompson, who played the inaugural IW Festival in 1968 as the lead guitarist in Fairport Convention, said he remains proud he helped lay the foundations for the then embryonic rock festival movement.

Described by the Los Angeles Times as 'the finest rock songwriter after Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Hendrix', Thompson is to perform at the Million Dollar Bash – a one-day event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 festival – at the County Showground, on Saturday, August 31.

Thompson said: "Hard to believe it’s more than 50 years since the first IW Festival. It was cold, ran hours behind schedule, and was nowhere near as glamorous as the following year (1969), but the music was stellar, and we were proud to be a part of it.”

The upcoming Bash will include Wishbone Ash, fellow Fairport founder-member Ashley Hutchings,1969 festival veterans Julie Felix, Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle and The Pretty Things’ Phil May and Dick Taylor.

Back in the day, Thompson only had eyes for Dylan, who has been a major influence on his career.

Thompson said: “He’s a very important figure culturally. He brought intelligent lyrics from folk into popular music and made the whole genre more grown up.

"Fairport were always a lyric band, and before we wrote ourselves, we were covering Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs — and Dylan.

“Without Bob, the Beatles would have never tackled serious subjects, you’d have no Radiohead, no Kate Bush, no PJ Harvey and so on.

"Dylan opened the door for me and a host of others. I’ve never consciously copied Bob, and I don’t think I do anything remotely close to his style, but his influence is indisputable.”

Thompson turned 70 in April and reckons age does not have to dry the creative juices.

“You should not slow down creatively,” he said, “but you can lose energy and focus.

"Experience is a wonderful thing and can compensate for that first flush of youth.

“If you love music, you want to play as long as you can, so you try to stay fit and mobile, and keep the important bits - fingers, voice - in working order.”

Tickets for Million Dollar Bash available from, That 60’s Place in Cowes, and Dimbola Galleries and Museum.