Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 11:47 UK

Festival fan remembers Glasto '71

By Liz Lewis
BBC News

Deborah Rees who was known as Tandy in 1971
Deborah remembers Bowie, Melanie and Edgar Broughton on stage

Homeless and with no shoes on her feet Deborah Rees arrived at Worthy Farm in summer 1971 for an event which is now acknowledged as the forerunner of the world-renowned Glastonbury Festival.

"I'd been kicked out of Bournemouth because they weren't very keen on hippies and I was hitching so I bagged a ride and had no idea where I was going," said Deborah.

The people she had hitched a lift with said they were going to Glastonbury.

Everybody was there to have a really good time and a really good time was what everybody had
Deborah Rees

"'There's this happening - do you want to come with us,' they said and that's how I wound up at the '71 Glastonbury."

Sitting in her sunny kitchen in a village in Wiltshire, Deborah talks with passion about Glastonbury Festival over the past 37 years and is looking forward to this year's event.

"The '71 was a free thing; if you were a free spirit you were free there and you can't be that free in today's society - but you can be freer at Glastonbury than anywhere else," she said.

"You can't compare the two - the happening in '71 sparked off what you have today and you can't ever go back because society bears no relation to how it was back then."

Music rumours

Today's festival-goers are asked to register with a photo id months before the event and, of course, the festival is not free.

In 1971 it was all rather different.

"The first thing that happened to me as I got out of the car was somebody handed me a bag with 150 tabs of orange sunshine (LSD)," said Deborah.

"People were so stoned, so off their faces that it was a blending of fantasy and reality and it left you wondering what was real and what wasn't."

Glastonbury Festival 1971 :photo Mervyn Penrose Rand
Deborah's memories of the festival are "hazy": photo Mervyn Penrose Rand

Although health problems mean Deborah can no longer camp at the festival, in 1971 there was no option but to bed down where you lay.

"I turned up and I had nothing but there was food available and people looked after you.

"There were blankets around because we didn't have tents or things like that, we just slept in the open with a blanket."

Hazy memories

While much has been made of this year's choice of headliner, (rapper Jay-Z) in 1971 the hippies were treated to David Bowie and Melanie among others.

"The music was really quite amazing because you didn't know what to expect and there were rumours going around the whole time that The Grateful Dead were going to play.

"It was like 'they're coming, they're on their way, they're going to be on stage' and everybody was getting really, really excited but it was such a far cry from what you get today because nothing was organised," said Deborah.

"I've got very clear memories of Melanie, Gong - of course - and Bowie was there. He'd just had Major Tom (Space Oddity) in the charts.

"Quintessence were brilliant, a band I was really into at the time and Edgar Broughton and I think the Pink Fairies were there because they used to turn up to absolutely everything in those days."

But Deborah admits some of her memories from 1971 are a little hazy: "People will tell you all sorts of things but really if you can recall in that much detail you weren't there, you really weren't there," she said.

One thing the festival-goers of 2008 do have in common with the '71 revellers is the determination to have a fantastic time over the next three days.

"We had something different for that time, a way of life that was very very different and it was about people caring about everybody else.

"Everybody was there to have a really good time and a really good time was what everybody had."

Eavis 'nearly quit' Glastonbury
25 Jun 08 |  Somerset
The highs and lows of Glastonbury
26 Jun 08 |  Entertainment
I got trench foot at Glastonbury
23 Jun 08 |  Magazine
The udder side of Glastonbury farm
01 Feb 08 |  Entertainment


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific