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A Brief History

This page is provided only for information, it does not apply to the 2002 festival.
19th - 20th September 1970 The Blues festival at the Bath & West Showground inspired Michael and Jean Eavis to begin a festival of their own, although on a smaller scale.The first Glastonbury Festival was held on the day after Jimi Hendrix died, over a two day period. Acts included : Marc Bolan, Keith Christmas, Al Stewart. Attendance: 1,500. Admission: £1 including free milk from the farm. 20th - 24th June 1971 The festival was rescheduled to coincide with the Summer Solstice and was known as the "Glastonbury Fayre". It had been planned by Andrew Kerr (Randolph Churchill's P.A. for many years) and Arabella Churchill who felt all other festivals at the time were over commercialised. Today, Arabella still runs the massive Theatre and Circus side of Glastonbury. The 1971 fayre was paid for by a few people who supported the ideal; the entrance was free and the fayre embraced a medieval tradition of music, dance, poetry, theatre, lights and spontaneous entertainment. The first "pyramid" stage was featured in 1971, constructed out of scaffolding and expanded metal covered with plastic sheeting, built on a site above the Glastonbury-Stonehenge ley line. Glastonbury 1971 also spawned an album (now a precious collectors' itme) recorded at the event and a film by a crew that included Nick Roeg and David Puttnam, both called "Glastonbury Fayre". Acts included: Hawkwind, Traffic, Melanie, David Bowie, Joan Baez and Fairport Convention. Attendance: estimated at 12,000. Price: free 28th - 8th July 1978 This became known as the"impromptu " festival. This happened with the arrival of travellers washed out from Stonehenge who were led to believe that a festival was taking place. After persuasive discussion, a free mini festival did take place. There was little organisation and few facilities laid on but somehow it did not matter - the stage was powered by an electric motor in a caravan with the cable running to the stage. Attendance: 500. 21st - 23rd June 1979 By now three day event, still known as Glastonbury Fayre but with "the theme of the year of the child". Bill Harkin and Arabella Churchill were the instigators on this occasion and turned to Michael and Jean Eavis for financial backing. They secured a bank loan against the deeds of the farm. Special provision and entertainment was provided for children and it was at this event that the concept of the Children's World charity was born which still exists today and works in special schools throughout Somerset and Avon. Again, despite the numbers attending, the organisers suffered a huge financial loss and no one wanted to risk another festival in 1980. It was also this summer that Michael's youngest daughter, Emily was born. Acts included: Peter Gabriel, Steve Hillage, Alex Harvey Band, Sky and the Footsbarn Theatre. Attendance: 12,000. Tickets: £5. 19th - 21st June 1981 The name was changed to Glastonbury Festival and Michael Eavis took the helm running the event again. This was the first "Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament" festival, and a turning point for the event. Michael helped positively towards the peace movement by holding the festival at Worthy Farm to benefit the Mid Somerset CND campaign. Michael had to convince National CND and said that with proper management the festival could be turned into a profitable venture. Agreement was reached with National CND sending out information in their mailings, handling advance ticket sales and allowing the use of the CND logo. It was up to Michael to provide the money, arrange entertainments and organise the event, liaise with the authorities and organise market stalls etc. It was this year that it was decided to build a new Pyramid stage. However, this time it was a permanent structure, doubling as a cowshed and animal food store during the winter months. It took two months to build the permanent Pyramid stage out of telegraph poles and ex-MOD metal sheeting. The CND logo was not present at this festival as it was too heavy to lift into position at the apex. Approximately £20,000 was eventually handed over to a very grateful CND by Michael Eavis. Acts included: New Order, Hawkwind, Taj Mahal, Aswad, Judy Tzuke. Attendance: 18,000. Tickets: £8. 18th - 20th June 1982 Again, there was CND involvement and it was this year that Western Region CND took control of the entrance gates and Mid Somerset CND took charge of all the information. This year was a muddy year with lots of bad weather. In fact, the highest rainfall for a single day in 45 years was recorded on the Friday but it was also the year of the first laser show backed by Tubeway Army's "Are friends electric?". Acts included: Van Morrison, Aswad, Jackson Browne, Roy Harper, Richie Havens. Attendance: 25,000. Tickets: £8. 17th -19th June 1983 1983 called for a licence to be obtained for the event since the introduction of the local Government Act became law, giving local authorities the power to regulate such events by stipulating the conditions. Mendip District Council issued a Public Entertainments Licence which set a crowd limit of 30,000 and went into considerable detail about access roads, water supply, hygiene and so on. It was also the first year that the festival had its own radio station, Radio Avalon. £45,000 was eventually raised for CND and local charities. Acts included: Marillon, The Beat, UB40, Curtis Mayfield, King Sunny Ade. Attendance: 30,000. Tickets: £12. Programme price: 80 pence. 20th -22nd June 1984 In January 1984 Michael Eavis successfully defended 5 prosecutions bought against him by Mendip District Council alleging contravention of the previous years licence conditions. All five charges were dismissed after a day long hearing at Shepton Mallet Magistrates Court. The local council then announced that the licence for 1984 would cost £2,000. The licence numbers were set at 35,000 and for the first time specific car parking areas were designated with stewards employed to direct the traffic. Messages were also broadcast on the radio to advise people not to turn up unless they had purchased a ticket in advance. 1984 also saw the start of the Green Fields as a separate area within the festival. £60,000 was raised for CND and other charities. Acts included: The Waterboys, The Smiths, Elvis Costello, Joan Baez and Ian Drury. Guest speakers included Bruce Kent, the chairman of CND and Paddy Ashdown, Attendance: 35,000. Tickets: £13. Programme price: 80 pence. 21st - 23rd June 1985 By 1985 Worthy farm was considered too small to accommodate the festival so the neighbouring Cockmill farm land was purchased to enlarge the site by a further 100 acres. The sheer size of the newly enlarged site meant that communications were stretched to the limit - the ultimate test for any organisation. With tractors the only possible means of towing people off the site in seriously bad weather. Michael Eavis was pleased that, "we have had the mud bath and proved we can still cope with the conditions". £100,000 was raised for CND and local charities. Acts included: Echo & The Bunnymen, Aswad, Joe Cocker, Style Council and The Boomtown Rats. Attendance: 40,000.Tickets: £16. Programme: 90p. 20th -22nd June 1986 Again, this was a bigger festival than the preceding year's event. Due to the growth there were additions to the farm office, communications, welfare and medical teams. The Theatre and Children's Areas moved to new homes, the first Classical music tent was introduced and the market areas relocated from the top of the site. £130,000 was raised for CND and local charities. Acts included: The Cure, Madness, Simply Red, The Housemartins, The Waterboys, Pogues and Level 42. Attendance: 60,000. Tickets:£17. Programme: £1. 19th - 21st June 1987 The councils decision to refuse the licence was overturned in court only in May. 1987 saw the introduction of the Womad stage to the festival. £130,000 was raised for CND and local charities. Acts included: Elvis Costello, Robert Cray, New Order, Paul Brady, Michelle Shocked and Van Morrison. Attendance: 60,000. Tickets: £21. 1988 The Festival did not take place as a decision was taken to have a fallow year to regroup and review the problems associated with the increase in size. 16th-18th June 1989 Again there were once again complications with the local council over the granting of the festival licence. The Police were bought into the organisation and planning of the festival for the first time. Donations of £100,000 were made to CND. Acts included: The Wonderstuff, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Pixies and Suzanne Vega who appeared despite a prior death threat. Attendance: 65,000. Tickets: £28. Programme price: £2. 22nd - 24th June 1990 The festival took the name of the Glastonbury Festival for Contemporary Performing Arts for the first time, to reflect the diversity of attractions within the festival. It was the twentieth anniversary of the first festival but unfortunately ended with a confrontation between the security teams and travellers who were looting the emptying festival site. This resulted in 235 arrests and £50,000 worth of damage to property and hired plant. 1990 was the first year that a professional car parking team was employed to encourage the best use of space. Donations of £100,000 were made to CND and other local charities. Acts included: The Cure, Happy Mondays, Sinead O'Connor and World Party. Attendance: 70,000. Tickets: £38. Programmes: £3. 1991 There was no festival due to the disturbances in the previous year. 26th - 28th June 1992 This was the first year that the donations from the profits of the festival were made to Greenpeace and Oxfam. Michael Eavis felt that with the ending of the Cold War that people's concerns had shifted away from the possibility of nuclear war to the concerns of the environment. The festival was also linked with National Music Day and the surprise guest was Tom Jones. £250,000 was donated to Greenpeace, Oxfam and other local charities. Acts included: Carter USM, Shakespear's Sister, Primal Scream, P J Harvey, Sawdoctors and The Levellers. Attendance:70,000. Tickets:£49. Programme: £4. 25th - 27th June 1993 The festival continued to go from strength to strength as it began to get into its stride as a successful and increasingly popular event. The advance only tickets were sold out by mid June. This years big performer and golden oldie was Rolf Harris. More than £250,000 was raised for Greenpeace, Oxfam and many local charities. Acts included: The Orb, Lenny Kravitz, Velvet Underground, Galliano and Stereo Mcs. Attendance: 80,000. Tickets: £58. Programme: £4. 24th - 26th June 1994 On 13 June 1994 the famous Pyramid stage burnt down in the early hours of the morning but luckily a replacement was provided by the local company who also provided the stages for the NME and Jazz stages. It was also the first appearance of the wind turbine beside the main stage providing 150 kw of power for the main stage area. Channel 4 televised the event live over the weekend and it increased the appeal of the festival to a wider audience. On the Saturday night there was a shooting incident involving five people but no one was badly hurt. But there was the first death in the festivals history when a young man was found dead from a drugs overdose. £150,000 was donated to Greenpeace, £50,000 to Oxfam and some £100,000 to local charities and good causes. Acts included: Bjork, Manic St Preachers, Orbital, Van Morrison, Lemonheads, Elvis Costello, Galliano and The Levellers Attendance: 80,000. Tickets: £59. Programme price: £5. 23rd - 25th June 1995 The 25th anniversary of the first festival was celebrated and saw the return of the two performers from the first event - Keith Christmas and Al Stewart. Demand for the tickets had never been so intense and the event was completely sold out within four weeks of the ticket release date. 1995 also saw the introduction of a Dance Tent which was a major success and featured Massive Attack, System 7 and Eat Static. The Stone Roses were forced to pull out the week before the event to be replaced by Pulp but did appear at the Pilton Show in September instead. Channel 4 televised the event again. The Greenpeace donation was raised to £200,000, Oxfam to £100,000 with local charities benefiting by another £100,000. Acts included: The Cure, Oasis, Orbital, P J Harvey, Simple Minds and Portishead. The event was marred by the perimeter fence being taken down at the top of the site aggravating the problems of trespass for other land owners adjoining the site. Attendance: 80,000. Tickets: £65. Programme price: £5. 1996 There was no festival. After the phenomenal success of the previous event to give the farm a rest, the cows the chance to stay out all summer long, and allow all the people involved the chance to take a break from the demands of organising such a large event. However, 1996 also saw the introduction of the Classical Extravaganza which took place at Glastonbury Abbey in the August. 27th - 29th June 1997 Torrential rain just before the weekend resulted in this being the "Year of the Mud". Undeterred, festival-goers boogied in their boots to more live performances than ever before. This year's highlights included a "dubhenge" made from upended VW beetles and campervans and the first ever Greenpeace field with a reconstructed Rainbow Warrior and solar heated showers. The site expanded to 800 acres, a daily newspaper was published by Select and BBC2 broadcast live. Greenpeace, Oxfam, Water Aid and Mid-Somerset CND were the main beneficiaries. Acts included: The Prodigy, Radiohead, Massive Attack, Ray Davies and Sting. Attendance: 90,000. Tickets: £75 including official programme.

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  Updated: 9th May 2000 08:29