BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Entertainment  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Monday, 1 July, 2002, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Glastonbury: Music, mystics and mayhem
The original Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury Festival, 1971
The first Pyramid Stage was built in 1971
From a low-key start in 1970, the Glastonbury Festival has grown in scale and stature to become a legendary destination for music fans and those in search of good times.

It has had its ups and down in its 32-year lifespan - and BBC News Online looks at the key events in its history.

Inspired by the Bath Blues Festival, 35-year-old Somerset dairy farmer Michael Eavis decided to organise a two-day music show on his land.

Marc Bolan turned up in a velvet-covered car, but the good vibes were overshadowed by the death of Jimi Hendrix the day before. Despite predicting that "this is the quickest way of clearing my overdraft", Eavis lost 1,500. But the event was still seen as a success.

Acts: Marc Bolan and T-Rex, Quintessence and Ian Anderson.
Entry: 1, including free milk.
Attendance: 1,500.

 Click here to watch Michael Eavis talking after Glastonbury 1970

Michael Eavis in 1970
Michael Eavis faced local opposition to the festival
The first proper Glastonbury festival, and considered to be the "legendary one". Funded by "rich hippies", as Eavis put it.

The event was timed to coincide with the summer solstice and featured the first Pyramid Stage, which was made out of scaffolding and plastic sheeting and positioned on a spring near a ley line.

Acts: David Bowie, Fairport Convention, Joan Baez, Hawkwind.
Entry: free.
Attendance: 12,000.

 Click here to watch John Craven reporting on Glastonbury 1971

After 1971, Eavis did not organise any festivals - but hippies kept turning up anyway. A successful impromptu gathering in 1978 led him to resurrect the full-scale event the following year.

It became a three-day show, the main stage was provided by Genesis, funds went to UN Year of the Child and there were children's and theatre areas for the first time.

Acts: Peter Gabriel, Steve Hillage, Tom Robinson.
Entry: 5.
Attendance: 12,000.

Aswad were among the stars of 1981's show
Eavis says this festival was "our breakthrough", doubling the previous attendance and raising funds for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament for the first time.

A permanent Pyramid Stage was built out of army surplus sheet metal, and was used as a cow shed for the rest of the year.

Acts: New Order, Ginger Baker, Aswad.
Entry: 8.
Attendance: 24,000.

The festival was now an annual event, and Eavis successfully defended himself in court against five charges of breaching the licence the previous year.

1983 had been the first time a licence was required after a law introduced by the local MP, who Eavis says wanted to stop the festival and was later made an MBE. The first Green Field was introduced in 1984, partly to accommodate new-age travellers.

Acts: The Waterboys, The Smiths, Elvis Costello.
Entry: 13.
Attendance: 35,000.

The Cure
The Cure were big stars in 1986
The council refused the festival a licence, but Eavis took them to court and won. He said they were trying to block it for political reasons because he had "rattled a few right-wing cages" with his CND involvement.

The festival was also growing at a fast rate, which alarmed some involved. Eavis was also providing refuge for thousands of travellers who had been pushed out of Stonehenge.

Acts: The Cure, Madness, Simply Red.
Entry: 17.
Attendance: 60,000.

Local villagers voted against the event taking place in a referendum, and the council refused the licence again. But Eavis overturned the decision, and the festival went ahead.

The Stonehenge festival took place in exile at Glastonbury, causing friction because travellers resented paying and Eavis said they took advantage of his hospitality. Open drug-taking became an issue, and there was no festival the following year to take stock of the problems.

Acts: Van Morrisson, Elvis Costello, New Order.
Entry: 21.
Attendance: 60,000.

"The sense of innocence had disappeared, to be replaced by edginess," one journalist wrote. Riots between travellers and festival security teams broke out on the day after the festival, ending in 235 arrests and 50,000 of damage.

Eavis said the travellers were looting the empty site, but the guards were accused of sparking the battles by attacking a group of travellers.

Police later said security teams had prepared petrol bombs and weapons. Ecstasy use and tent crime were also rife. The following festival was cancelled.

Acts: The Cure, The Happy Mondays, Ry Cooder.
Entry: 38.
Attendance: 70,000.

Glastonbury main stage, 1994
A new main stage was built after 1994's fire
Glastonbury had returned, bigger and better-organised, but things looked bleak for 1994's festival when the Pyramid Stage burnt down just ten days before the event. But a replacement was found, and the festival went ahead.

The first ever festival fatality was recorded when a man died of a drugs overdose, and five people were injured when a gunman opened fire. 150,000 was donated to Greenpeace, 50,000 to Oxfam and 100,000 to local charities.

Acts: Bjork, Manic Street Preachers, Orbital.
Entry: 59.
Attendance: 80,000.

Tickets sold out in record time as the festival attracted the most intense interest in its history. Parts of the fence were torn down, meaning thousands of gatecrashers flooded in.

The sun shone for the summer of Britpop, and there was a legendary performance from Pulp after they stepped in to replace The Stone Roses at the last minute. The dance tent also made its first appearance and 400,000 was raised for charity.

Acts: Oasis, Pulp, Prodigy.
Entry: 65.
Attendance: 80,000+.

Revellers in the mud at Glastonbury 1997
1997 was one of the wettest and muddiest years
The first of two consecutive mud-fests, which led to some festival-goers suffering from trench-foot. By now, the site had its own daily newspaper, cash machines and covered 800 acres.

The bad weather led Eavis to spent 35,000 on improving drainage and laying 200 tons of wood chips to improve the site's roads in time for the following year's event.

Acts: Radiohead, Supergrass, Sting.
Entry: 80.
Attendance: 100,000.

The council was reluctant to grant a licence after they estimated 100,000 people crashed the party in 2000. The deaths of nine festival-goers in a crush in Denmark the same year had focused attention on safety.

But the licence was granted after Eavis enlisted promoters Mean Fiddler - who staged the Reading and Leeds festivals - to look after security. But Eavis insisted he was still in overall control of the festival.

A 1m "super-fence" was erected and he gave a strong warning to ticketless fans to stay away or risk jeopardising the event's future. The warnings worked - organisers claimed only one gatecrasher tried to get in, and he left again because none of his friends could get in.

With crime down by more than half, the future looked secure.

Acts: Rod Stewart, Coldplay, The Charlatans.
Entry: 100.
Attendance: 100,000.

Festival focus

The band's diary

Send us your views


The history of Glastonbury

Glastonbury history

See also:

21 Jun 02 | Entertainment
Internet links:

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

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |