Wednesday, 7 August 2019

The Reunion - The Glastonbury Festival

BBC Radio 4 broadcast: 28th August 2016

Billed acts bailed out, naked hippies horrified locals, and Hells Angels provided the security. But even then, Michael Eavis knew that the first Glastonbury Festival, held at his dairy farm in Pilton in 1970, was the start of something that would change his life. Sue MacGregor reunites key players from the early days of the festival.

Now Glastonbury is a British institution and the biggest festival of its kind in the world. It's a rite of passage for any self-respecting teenage music fan and the acme of many musicians' careers.

At the first Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival, The Kinks were booked to headline but cancelled in disgust after reading that they were to appear at "a mini festival". Eavis was delighted when a band called T Rex stepped in to replace them. But a disappointing turn-out left him in the red.

Winston Churchill's debutant turned peacenik granddaughter bankrolled the 1971 "Glastonbury Fayre". Her entourage of Notting Hill hippies lent it a glamorous air, although the organisers still lost money!

Acts in 1971, included Melanie, veteran of Woodstock and the Isle of Wight festivals, the incendiary Arthur Brown whose dark and theatrical stage act countered the hippies' peace and love aesthetic, and flautist Jessica Stanley Clarke's prog band Marsupilami. Jessica's home in Pilton became the negotiating ground between festival organisers and incensed villagers. Jessica, now Jekka McVicar, is an organic herb grower recently appointed vice-president of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Arthur, Jekka and Melanie are reunited with Michael Eavis and Chris Church, who bunked off school to go to the early festivals.

Producer: Karen Pirie
Series Producer: David Prest
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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