Sid Rawle: 1945 – 2010

Sid Rawle at StonehengeSid Rawle, the so-called “King of the Hippies” passed away, on 31st August.

I knew Sid in the 70s/80s. I would run into him at free festivals, then I spent a summer living at Tipi Valley, the community that he helped to found.
He told me that his mother had been a Romany girl, his father an Exmoor shepherd; according to him, his mother had gone back to her people a year after his birth and he had been raised by his paternal grandmother. I don’t know how true any of that was but he certainly had a huge respect for women that would have come from being around strong women as a child.
And he had a great love for women as well. He had flaming red hair; around the free festivals, the big joke about him was that any red-haired child around was probably one of his. I was with him once when a woman carrying a red-haired baby walked by – she held up the baby and called out to him “This is another one of yours, Sid!” and he just chuckled.
He wasn’t particularly educated, but he was highly intelligent and loved to read. At a festival, he would wander into your van, greet you, pick up whatever interesting-looking book that was lying around and settle down for a couple of silent, intense hours of reading; when he finished, he would thank you for it and wander off somewhere else.
He was a master at peace-making and bridge-building. In a dispute, he could talk to anybody – police chiefs, biker gang leaders, junkies and councillors – and convince them to come to a compromise.
1984 was the last time I saw him. I kept track of him via friends of friends, and magazines; the 90s were none too kind to him – he had health problems and some women found his 60s brand of sexual licence unpalatable.

It’s so sad that he’s gone from us. He wasn’t all that old – born 1st October 1945 in Bridgewater, Somerset (I did his astrological chart* – he seemed to value my skill in that area).
He went easily, by all reports – slipping away as he sat at a campfire at the Superspirit Rainbow2000 festival in Gloucestershire.

Wherever he is now, I’m sure he’s sitting by a camp fire in front of a tipi, amongst rolling hills, enjoying a big mug of thick sweet tea and a long conversation with somebody interesting.

There’s a press report on his life here, and some 2007 video interviews here.

* He didn’t know his time of birth; I rectified it to 00:15 GMT, giving him an AS of 3 Leo.