Aged 10 I spent the first festival sitting on a blanket in front of the stage with my mum, dad, younger sister and baby brother. The experience has had an everlasting influence on my life - and outlook. It opened my eyes to a more colourful life. A freer life. And, although I havent lived an extraordinary life I have certainly lived a life that was more spontaneous, more colourful and more open because I was there. The memories are as clear as if it were yesterday. I havent done many things in my life where I can still see, hear, smell the whole thing when something reminds me of it.
Beautifully written @Saxi! Wish I was there to experience the very first Glastonbury… It’s actually quite amazing how it has lasted and managed to keep its original spirit for such a long time while impacting so positively on so many people’s lives.
Would love to hear more of your memories from those early Glasto times… also, may I ask how many Glastonbury’s have you been to since?
Thank you @BruceB that is very kind of you to say.
Interesting question: I’ve never counted how many Glastonburys I have been to but I’m going to go and work it out now.
From 1970 to 1990 there were 13 and I went to them all. I have included the unofficial one in 1978 because my sister and I were friends with the older Eavis girls and our second home was the farm - I remember all the excitement and intrigue (on our part, not the grownups – I’m sure there were stronger emotions from them) surrounding it. I stopped going because I moved out of the area and had 2 more children - my firstborn had been going with me and/or (usually) his grandmother since he was a baby. Then in 2000 the children were older and my marriage split up and I went to another 4 from 2000 and 2005 (think that’s 17). Then I was in a new long term relationship with a musician and we were never free for the festival (although he once played on a minor stage it was straight in and out so can’t really be counted). In 2012 we split and since then I have been to 2013 and 2016 - so 19/36 (or 20 if you count the straight in and out one).
Jumbled memories of 1970 and before:
In the build-up to it. Michael piled us into the back of his pickup one afternoon and was a bit mysterious about where we were going. I don’t remember who was there exactly but definitely my sister, and at least 2 of his daughters but maybe all 3, and a couple of other children who were staying at the farm. He drove us down the narrow lanes from the farm, crossed the main road and drove up a track and parked at the top of the hill overlooking the Bath and West Showground. The Blues Festival was in full swing and we could see all the people and hear the music and it was really exciting! He asked us what we thought and we all thought it was wonderful. Then he asked us if he should have a festival on the farm and we were all jumping up and down with excitement. Of course, I am under no illusion - I’m sure he had already made up his mind but we were thrilled to be asked and we were SO excited about the thought of a festival on the farm.
In the lead up to it happening the thing I remember most was that the Kinks were going to be there. We played their album, at top volume, on Juliets record player which was on a window ledge at the top of their stairs, and knew all their songs.
And then it happened:
There were already a lot of people there when we arrived and we found a good place, in the midst of the crowd in front of the stage, for our family blanket and settled down. It wasn’t packed by any means – lots of space around us.
Mad Mick was the compere - I immediately had a crush on him … he was in control of the whole thing (or so it seemed to me).
When they announced that the Kinks would not be there we were all literally gutted (there may even have been tears). We were told it was because Ray Davis had an upset stomach. In the simple way a 10-year-old sees things I remember thinking ‘pathetic!’ and was personally affronted. I vowed never to listen to their music again. Although it does make me feel some shame towards my younger self, I have to admit that I still enjoy Sunny Afternoon and all the pre-1970 stuff they did - I am slightly proud to say that I have ignored anything since though.
The BBC were filming and I remember huge inflatable balls and sausage shapes that my sister and I and the Eavis girls, along with many other children, were all filmed playing on. This clip was shown for years afterwards when there was anything about Glastonbury on the TV.
I remember feeling really excited when Mad Mick announced that they were going to have a money collection for a group of Hells Angels who were outside and didn’t have tickets. It was a thrill because their reputation made them seem mean and scary. They were really nice happy people and played and talked with us - they were great fun. I was never intimidated by a Hells Angel since then … if you grew up in the '60s or 70’s most people were. I have had many a cool experience from taking no notice of the leathers and in hindsight I have wondered if Pilton Pop Festival took away any prejudices (and unfounded fears) that I might have had in later life by showing me at a very young age that you just cannot, must not, believe what people say about other people. When you learn something at such a young age, from something that memorable, I think it probably becomes part of you and shapes you for the future. I think it also made me more charitable – it showed me that if someone hasn’t got something but you have then it’s great to share it with them and it makes you and them feel good at the same time.
Being around the farm growing up brought me into contact with all sorts of people who were different to the kind of people I had grown up with. It expanded my mind, my world. I talked to people with different points of view and different experiences – whose minds weren’t closed in to what society expected from you and who were free to express themselves how they chose. Who wore different clothing, wore their hair differently, were passionate about what they believed in … believed in things (even that was different). The thing that formed the future me most strongly I think was the realisation that as long as you were doing no harm to any living creature you were free to do, dress, think, feel as you pleased. That judgement from others was their problem not yours. It gave me a spontaneity that other people have admired often and kind of made me fearless of consequences. Not in a detrimental way to others but consequences of what you might lose if you did something … reputation or money maybe … it’s hard to put it into words but strangely that spontaneity appears to have made me lucky (I certainly feel lucky). I don’t remember a spontaneous act ever turning out badly whereas friends have said they would never have done [whatever it was I had done] for fear of [whatever it was they feared].
This is far too long!! Are you bored or would you be interested in more memories – I don’t want to overwrite and kill the moment!
2019 was my first Glasto! I had it on my bucket list to celebrate my 50 years of survival since Woodstock 69! Glasto maintains the spirit and vibe of Woodstock as far as I’m concerned. I was blown away by it all! Hooked up with a group Camp Solo in Darble and they brought me camping gear and all! Wonderful bunch of folks! I’ll be there 2020!
Wow! Woodstock is somewhere i’ve always wished I could have been. Woodstock was a different class of cool! I wasn’t at Woodstock so cant really compare but from my experience and what i’ve seen on TV documentaries and films the Glastonburys after the first one had much more of a Woodstock vibe than the first one did.
To be honest it was a bit of a blur! I took the infamous bad brown acid so it got pretty crazy!
Hey @Saxi! Thank you for sharing your Glasto memories with everyone here… It is much appreciated and a true delight to read. Welcome to the community!
Really enjoyed reading that @Saxi! Wasn’t expecting it to be so detailed. Fantastic!
And no, it was not too long at all (not for me at least)! If anything, it just opened my appetite and made me want to hear more… Perhaps even see a photo or two from back then (if in existence)
Lovely piece of writing! My first Glasto was this year. I choose it specifically to honor and celebrate my 50 years of survival since Woodstock when I was 18. Glasto has the spirit and vibe of Woodstock as far as I’m concerned, just a bit more organized! I’m so looking forward to 2020! I hope to get there each year from now forward until I can’t physically do it any more! Cheers! Happy 2020!
Thank you for the warm welcome. Hopefully you wont regret the encouragement … there are a lot of memories
You are very lucky to get tickets - well done!! I am really hoping I can be at 2020 it would mean so much to me - it feels like its going to be the best ever. Hoped to get tickets but unlucky. Still hopeful something will turn up :-D. Happy 2020
You are very kind - thank you.
I have some photos somewhere of the '80s and '90s… will fish them out and try to share them. The ones from a couple of years ago aren’t that interesting really its the earlier ones I like the best. There is one somewhere with my 2-year-old in a pushchair/buggy in front of a huge wall of speakers at the Pyramid (can’t remember who was playing now but it was loud) and he has fallen asleep with an ice-lolly in his hand.
Great read! Thanks for sharing. It appears you had experienced history in the making…
A few more memories for you.
Jimmi Hendrix had died shortly before the first festival – it may even have been the day before. For a couple of years it felt as though id actually seen Jimmi Hendrix play (we didn’t have the internet in those days to look anything up especially to do with music – celebrities weren’t what they are today … you relied on what people told you, you heard on the radio or music magazines). I remember someone getting up on stage with his guitar and doing a tribute to Jimmi Hendrix – the guitar playing, at least to a 10-year-old, was amazing!! I’d never heard anything like it – he made the guitar come alive – it was like a screaming (in a really good way) animal. I’ve heard Hendrix played many times since and I can’t tell the difference so in my mind it was a really good tribute. There was a lot of talk about Hendrix that day - the festival was a fitting venue for it to happen.
Marc Bolan was beautiful! Absolutely beautiful! I’m still not sure I have ever seen another living person who was as beautiful to look at. His energy and presence on stage was huge yet he seemed so small and the band, Tyrannosaurus Rex in those days, were so utterly wonderful. For a few seconds when he got on stage, I wasn’t sure if he was a man or woman. I now know that way of dressing was called androgynous (at least back then) - he had such an unusual style. He would have been so comfortable in the times we live in now – as would many others.
All I remember about the Pink Fairies on stage was that there was an awful lot of them but I have a great memory that Ive told many times since. The Pink Fairies stole my mums car. I think it was a little cream Austin A40 – an egg. It was found in Wales with come coins and a note in the dashboard saying (paraphrased) “Sorry for any trouble we have caused you. Please accept this money for petrol. Love from the Pink Fairies.“ We got the car back safe and sound and my mum drove it for many years.
A few years later mum had a bigger Austen (maybe an A60 or A80?), still cream coloured. She had picked my sister and I up from Shepton Mallet and was driving us home – the roads were scattered with festival goers. The Festival was starting the next day. We crossed the main road and started to drive down the hill into the village. It was packed with people carrying backpacks, sleeping bags and tents all walking to the Festival. Half way down the hill mum peeped her horn and it stuck on. I remember my sister and I lying on the back seat, trying to cover ourselves in coats, and clinging to each other red faced (actually both crying by the end of the ordeal) shouting at her “Turn it off!! Turn it off!! Mum!! Mum!!! Make it stop!! Make it stop!!!” We both still get quite agitated at the memory of it – they all thought she was being rude and angry – of course these days we’d have wound the windows down and laughed along with everyone else but then we wanted to die! I honestly think if id been given the choice ‘die now or carry on to the house (another mile or so) with the horn blaring’ I would have chosen death. The other thing I remember really clearly which echoed in my head for years afterwards was my mum saying ‘Oh fuck’. Quite politely and demurely and not angrily – just ‘Oh fuck.’ I’d never even heard her say bloody before (her swear word of choice was ‘blast’) and, I don’t think I’d heard any worse swear words than ‘bloody’ or ‘bloody hell’ before. She denies this profusely now but you cannot unhear your mother saying something like that and I’m pretty sure you can’t imagine it either. She was so angry with us! We must have made it 10 times worse than it actually was. We still bring it up every couple of years … we think its hilarious and she gets cross.