AS a teen of the 1960s, Simon Nicol from Fairport Convention was lucky his parents were quite radical and allowed him to follow his dream of making music.

“They were hands off in a good way, they trusted me... but they did not like the pony tail,’’ he said.

Simon’s father was a doctor, a GP at Fairport House surgery in Muswell Hill, North London. When Simon, Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson and Shaun Frater began rehearsing for a new band in 1967 they became the Fairport Convention. The musicians were pioneers in the new wave of folk rock that was bubbling through the harder edged, headier rock of the time.

“Everything was extreme and socially changing,’’ said Simon. “We knew we had joined the youth movement and with hindsight we can see the importance of that period.’’

The multi-instrumentalist is the only founding member of Fairport still in the band and is also one of the main organisers of the annual Cropredy Festival which runs from, August 9 to 11.

This year the three-day extravaganza features Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys.

“Cropredy will take on a California, West Coast accent when Brian performs Pet Sounds,’’ said Simon. “He was one of those people that was always on my wish list. We develop a wish list every year but some get away and finally all the planets aligned for Brian.’’

Another big name for this year is Al Stewart, no stranger to Cropredy or the Fairport boys.

“We have invited Al back regularly over the last 20 years because, like us, he is not preferred on radio but has a deep outreach into the hearts of people,’’ said Simon.

More old friends in the shape of The Levellers are on the bill in the Oxfordshire village, and Fairport traditionally open and close the festival. There will be more special guests and surprises in store and Wiltshire brewery Wadsworth from Devizes supplies the cask ale.

Simon plays guitar, vocals, dulcimer, synthesiser and drums. He is a record producer and played in the Albion Band with Ashley Hutchings. Always in demand by other musicians, Simon worked with such stars as Cat Stevens, Ralph McTell and toured with Art Garfunkel.

“It was a great experience working with Art. In fact it was Simon and Garfunkel!’’ Simon said. “He was one to follow his own star.’’

Simon collaborated in writing the hit song based on the Peasant’s Revolt with Ralph McTell called Watt Tyler.

He says it was Ralph who was the one for beating the political and historical drum, not him.

“To me it was a narrative story. We were writing about Wat Tyler and it was based on historical events. “At the time we were main stream, with a record company, getting chart recognition and selling discs to that end. We were doing photoshoots, TV and yes Top of the Pops. It was a milieu that was uncomfortable.’’

Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival first began in the long, hot summer of 1976, when two members of the band, Dave Pegg and Dave Swarbrick were staying in the tiny village. They were asked to play at the end of the local fete held in a back garden.

“We were playing as they took the bunting down,’’ said Simon. “We could not have created the festival without the good will of the villagers and I am so happy it came into being.’’

For more details or to book tickets visit - Flicky Harrison