AS Ray Foulk moves around his environmentally-friendly home in Jericho his phone is ringing constantly.

All of a sudden he is very much in demand just as he was 50 years ago when he was a leading figure in one of rock music’s most audacious coups.

Legendary troubadour Bob Dylan was being courted by promoters to play Woodstock in Bethel, New York, for one of the defining episodes in American counterculture history.

Dylan lived just down the road - but in an astonishing twist of fate he decided to give Woodstock a miss and played instead two weeks later on the Isle of Wight, in front of about 150,000 adoring fans.

At the centre of this mind-blowing steal was Ray Foulk himself and his brothers, who had organised a Jefferson Airplane gig a year earlier.

The Oxford Times:

The concert had irked the local farmers but it went ahead anyway and put the island on the map as a possible venue for rock festivals.

The success of the Jefferson Airplane concert, which also featured performances from T-Rex, The Move and The Pretty Things, persuaded Ray and his brothers to go for broke and bring in Bob Dylan.

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They tried their luck and succeeded, and the legendary performance went ahead on August 31, 1969, with Dylan ending a three-year hiatus from paid gigs by performing. John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were in the audience.

Five decades on Mr Foulk, now 73, is preparing to return to the Isle of Wight for an anniversary celebration.

Called the Million Dollar Bash, the one-day rock festival on Saturday, August 31 will mark the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1969 IoW ‘Dylan’ Festival of Music.

Musical performances at the Million Dollar Bash are being curated by Ashley Hutchings MBE, regarded by Dylan himself as ‘the single most important figure in English folk rock’.

Hutchings is hailed as the father of genre in Europe and he was a founder member of both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.

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Apart from Dylan, the 1969 festival featured top transatlantic names such as The Band, Tom Paxton, The Who, Free, Julie Felix, The Moody Blues and Pentangle.

Performers at the Bash near Cowes either appeared on the Isle of Wight roster in 1969 or have close links to the music and ethos of the era.

They include Julie Felix, Richard Thompson, Wishbone Ash, Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle, Kossoff: The Band Plays on and Dick Taylor & Phil May of The Pretty Things with JC & Angelina.

The Oxford Times:

At the top of the bill will be Hutchings’ specially-assembled Dylancentric, an all-star band put together to honour Dylan’s Island set.

As the 50th anniversary event approaches father-of-four and grandfather of 11 Mr Foulk has found himself in demand and he is looking forward to catching up with old friends.

“It’s been unbelievably busy,” he tells The Oxford Times.

“No one is really interested in remembering it at the 25-year mark but after 50 years in the fullness of time you realise it has not been bettered.

“Bob Dylan was extraordinarily important in 1969 - it was the coup of the decade - we were just kids and it was like winning the lottery.”

The pensioner was just 23 when he and his team persuaded music manager Bert Block to get Dylan to agree to the Isle of Wight gig.

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In a photo of a hastily arranged press conference before the show Mr Foulk is pictured sitting alongside Dylan, looking slightly stunned and chuffed to bits at the same time.

Has Dylan acknowledged the anniversary, I ask the former architect?

“Yes he has,” Mr Foulk replies, wearing the same enthusiastic grin captured on camera all those years ago.

"Dylan has sent a poem to Ashley Hutchings - something he wrote 50 years ago in the wake of Girl from the North Country.

“It’s typical Dylan to send a poem to someone as a tribute - although it’s not quite the same as turning up.”

The Oxford Times:

“In 1969 Dylan was seen as prophet and a messiah - perhaps that has waned a bit over the decades.

“He introduced us to protest music with fantastic anthems like The Times They Are A Changin' and Blowing In The Wind - he set the tone for the whole era, with the Vietnam War in the background.”

Mr Foulk said he was delighted the Million Dollar Bash was ‘keeping the flame alive’.

He added: “I think there will be thousands of people there and I will give a talk about my own background.”

At the age of 10, after his father died, Mr Foulk moved with his family to Totland Bay on the Isle of Wight and worked as a printer for five years at the County Press before his moment in the spotlight came.

The skills he learned working for the newspaper were put to good use promoting the music festivals.

The Oxford Times:

Mr Foulks’ colourful memories are detailed clearly in two of his books - Stealing Dylan From Woodstock: When the World Came to the Isle of Wight, which his daughter Caroline Foulk helped him to research, and The Last Great Event, which tells the story of the 1970 concert. Both are published by Medina Publishing.

In the first book Mr Foulk recalls the surreal moment he was sitting alongside Dylan at the 1969 press conference: “As we lined up like congressmen either side of our prize it occurred to me that somebody should have been chairman - there were enough of us - and that somebody probably should have been me.

“There I was, prominently seated at Dylan’s side with little to do but maintain a quiet presence in my sharp suit and skinny tie.”

The assembled journalists at the Halland Hotel didn’t get too much sense out of the singer but he did reveal his interest in seeing the former home of the poet Alfred Tennyson.

Mr Foulks is hoping the anniversary will lead to a resurgence in sales of the two books.

While getting Dylan to appear for the 1969 concert was seen as a big achievement the 1970 concert had just as big an impact with 600,000 people turning up to see acts including The Who, The Doors, Joni Mitchell and Joni Mitchell.

Alarmed by the high attendance MPs passed the Isle of Wight Act in 1971 preventing gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special licence from the council.

Mr Foulks has now lived in Jericho for more than 30 years and can look back at a life featuring a number of different careers.

After his exciting experience in the music business he worked as an architect and became an environmental campaigner.

After securing a place at Cambridge University to read architecture he set up his own design practice.

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There were lots of Dylan obsessives at Cambridge but they didn’t realise who they had studying with them and Mr Foulk didn’t like to boast about it.

With his daughter Caroline he established a Millennium Debate project to promote ideas about environmental solutions and they organised all-days events in schools across Oxfordshire.

For now though, the multi-talented pensioner is happy to focus on his musical past, particularly the weekend in 1969 when he and his friends brought Dylan to the Isle of Wight for a legendary performance.

Before I leave he shows me a CD copy of a recording of the concert, which he plays to keep those brilliant memories alive.