THINGS YOU GENUINELY NEVER KNEW ABOUT…
2000 Glastonbury Festival kicks off this Friday. For those
of you wisely choosing to stay at home in order to avoid
the poor sanitation, theft, trenchfoot, drugs cut with
scouring powder, and the sight of horrible fiftysomething
hippies having sex while a couple of freaks stick flowers
up their rectums, and a spaced-out teenager masturbates
furiously before the entire debauched ensemble, you can
watch Travis, Chemical Brothers, David Bowie and the rest
on BBC2. But if even that sounds too awful; here are 16
things you genuinely didn’t know about the Glastonbury
is an area steeped in mystery, visited for centuries
by spiritual pilgrims, and guys with goatee beards,
and crystals round their necks. Overlooking the town
is Glastonbury Tor, a conical hill topped off by a
mysterious stone tower. Legend has it that the hill is
man-made, and contains a network of tunnels. It also
features in Arthurian legend as a possible resting
place for King Arthur and the Holy Grail (a sort of
magic cup that Jesus may have been sick in).
farm dude Michael Eavis held the first Glastonbury
Festival – then known as the Pilton Festival – on
his farm in September 1970. Rather than some cool
hippy sensibility, Eavis’s motivation was purely
monetary; he wanted to pay off the sizeable mortgage
on his property. Unfortunately, the cost of staging
the festival merely compounded the farmer’s
financial woes, inflating the size of his overdraft
like a seal sucking on a helium hose.
a Glastonbury tradition that still continues to this
day, Eavis was inspired to stage the festival by his
own visit to the Bath Blues Festival the previous
year: the cash-starved Eavis broke into the festival
by climbing though a hedge. It is unrecorded whether
Eavis later did a poo in the hedge.
original headliners of the first Glastonbury Festival
were The Kinks. However, they pulled out at the last
minute, and a hasty replacement was found in the shape
of T Rex. The immortal Marc Bolan (that’s
“metaphorically immortal”: he’s actually dead)
arrived at the festival in a velvet-covered Buick.
acts who performed at the first festival included
Quintessence, Amazing Blondel, Steamhammer, Duster
Bennett, and Keith Christmas. Don’t worry; we
haven’t heard of any of them either.
event was attended by some 2,000 hippies, who enjoyed
the benefits of free milk – courtesy of the
organiser’s farm – as well as a reportedly
delicious roast ox.
chapter of Hell’s Angels had been hired to provide
security for the festival. Unfortunately, the security
guards got drunk, stole the ox, and set fire to a hay
wagon. Hell’s Angels are excellent!
following year, Eavis staged the “Glastonbury
Fair”, a free event at which the centrepiece was a
“psychic pyramid”, one tenth the size of the Great
Pyramid of Giza, and constructed over a “blind
spring” – a conduit for the release and absorption
of ley energy. The concept behind the fair was that of
hippy intellectual Andrew Kerr, who said at the time:
“We're going to concentrate the celestial fire and
pump it into the planet to stimulate growth.” Yes,
line-up of bands for the fair was considerably more
impressive than that of the previous year’s event;
David Bowie, Traffic, um, Hawkwind, ah… Fairport
Convention, er, Brinsley Schwartz, and Quintessence.
Eavis described the event as “very pretty and
romantic”, Somerset’s top doctor likened it to a
refugee camp, while The Observer called it “one of
the weirdest events ever staged in modern Britain”.
The tabloid press reacted with outrage to reports of
naked hippies, mud-baked orgies, vandalism and drug
abuse – one report claming that aspirin dyed with
beetroot juice was being sold at the festival as LSD.
The negative press over the event, encouraged Eavis to
stick to dairy farming for the next eight years.
return of the Glastonbury Festival in 1979 was marked
by a set-list that included Peter Gabriel, the
Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and Jimi Hendrix’s
sister, Nona. However, like the original event, it was
a financial disaster for Eavis, and another festival
wasn’t held until 1981.
1981 festival was a charity event, with proceeds going
towards the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmarment. A
permanent pyramid stage was built for the festival,
and was used between festivals as a cow shed.
Famously, it burnt down in suspicious circumstances in
1994 – just weeks before that year’s festival.
average attendance of the early 80s festivals was
about 30,000 people. By the early 90s, this had risen
to more than 75,000 – many of whom took a cue from
the event’s organiser, and snuck in without paying.
And then watched OAPs having nude sex in the mud.
dawn of the acid house movement saw the festival cater
for dance music fans for the first time, with the
establishment in 1990 of a dedicated “rave tent”.
A larger dance tent was erected in 1995, organised by
hippy pioneer – and 1979 festival
performer-turned-new-age-dance-guru – Steve Hillage.
We bet he looked real cool in his smiley face, Global
Glastonbury performances of recent times have included
Pulp’s triumphant 1995 set – filling a gap vacated
by The Stone Roses – and Radiohead’s 1997
headlining set, promoting their OK Computer album. The
band triumphed in spite of technical problems, and
extreme weather that had transformed the festival site
into a mudbath.
Radiohead’s performance, several members of the
audience done a blow-off!
Glastonbury Festival runs from Friday 24th
June, to Sunday 26th.