The Archive

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Updated August 2014

This site is dedicated to the memory of Roger Hutchinson, who inspired me to delve deep into the magic of the free festival and who passed away Sept 3rd 2010.

R.I.P. Roger .....

For information on today's festivals see eFestivals.co.uk

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GLASTONBURY.

1970-1978.

 


28th June -8th July 1978. Worthy Farm .

The Pyramid stage at Glastonbury 1978 © Craig Mitchell

   The venue was different from 1977, six miles up the road at the farm itself. Apparently there should not have actually been a festival at this particular site ,but the field that had been planned to use was cordoned off by the police . After a lot of persuasion , it was decided to run a mini festival. It was all very impromptu , but great fun, power for the stage was provided by an electric motor in a caravan close by. About 500 attended and it was declared to be a success, which may have prompted the revivial of the 'official ' festival which was held in 1979.

As you can see , the weather was NOT kind, but possibly a bit nicer then it had been at the Henge. All pics Roger Hutchinson©, Craig Mitchell © and Norman Hewston ©.

Nik Turner

The free festival at the farm in 1978 happened when a convoy had left Stonehenge after the solstice to go to another free festival we were planning. It was the early days of making the vision of festivals being a summer-long nomadic culture real. We'd identified a field at Cinnamon Lane in Glastonbury as the site there had been a small alternative culture settlement for a number of years, caravans and a tipi. I'd lived there myself. But when we turned up the farmers and police knew about it and had blocked off the access. The police radio'd around and eventually came up with the venue of Worthy Farm, so we all headed there under police direction. I remember seeing Andrew Kerr there, and him saying 'This is better than '71'.

Nak tape deck used to record Glastonbury 1978


In the summer of 78 we feverishly adapted the body of an old 3 tonner, welding bits together and forging huge hinges to make a 24 ft trailer , with home made jacks for the corners . We covered it with chipboard ( ugh), painted it black ,folded it up and took off for Glastonbury with about a dozen on board. The whole of Sphynx, which was Nic, Corrina, Jerry, Barron, Sukie, Ermanno, myself, our two roadies and a great lightshow.

A few days before the festival, I was asking whether this was official. I was suprised that our tiny stage was considered sufficient. I should have talked to Michael! So we arrived, it was muddy and raining but despite this we were keen to try out the stage. Park, extend the jacks, a few wedges and lower the sides of the triangular stage. More props. It all went together suspiciously well. Then, in the rain, up with the canopy. We had done that many times before so there that was a team effort. Up with the PA. So far so good. Next, the power. An old friend was living in a caravan on the site, and had electricity on a meter, which had to be stuffed with 20p coins. We passed the hat round, and ran a dangerously long lead through the mud.

Then a band from East Anglia showed up. They were in a rented Transit because their van had died en route and they were soooo keen to play, they had had such a terrible day. We were magnanimous and besides I was keen to hear the prototype Pyramid bins I had bought from Tony Andrews ( with their 30 inch Vega drivers, down to 20 Hz!) in a real situation. So on they went. As time progressed, the rain came down harder, the band rocked more, and the stage slipped on its props. The centre was now sitting on the overloaded trailer springs and bouncing up and down like a huge trampoline. So tempos were cool, other resulted in the cymbal falling over and the drums walking around like possessed trash cans.

Under the stage went roadies Steve and Phil with more chock and levers, Egyptian style. The drumming settled down, the rain increased, we shut the front of the tent and the small crowd, about 150 people, came inside. It was steamy with all the dancing. The band built up to the end of their set, and one of the new recruits was leaning over to adjust a 2K light on one of the aliminium ples. The drum solo built up and up, the penultimate bars of a rocking performance, louder and louder, when the thunderous rolls became impossibly loud, deafening, megawatts of power, our recruit glowed blue, sparks of light leapt down the poles and across all the wet canvas, and the lights went out.

There were worried voices from outside the tent, in the sudden shocked silence. 'You guys alright?' 'Anybody hurt' ' Wow man, like wow, wow, wow'
'You should have seen that'
'What?'
'The tent was struck by lightning, we thought you were all dead!'
It wasn't the last time with the Green Pyramid.
Harry Williamson


Despite Andrew Kerrs positive opinion, our intrepid festival goer and usually positive person the late Roger Hutchinson felt rather differently about 1978.

Muck and Misery - Glastonbury 78

 

Michael Eavis comes to the rescue of a broken down bus Glastonbury Free Festival 1978 © Roger Hutchinson

 

     After the sunny '77 festival on NT land at Street, wild horses couldn't have stopped me from going to the next event (I wished they had!) I hitched down to Michael Evi's farm at Pilton, uneventfully , only to be held up at the gate by some bored DS officers who just went through the motions of looking at the contents of my pack. Once inside the site, I too went through the motions to remove the cling film wrapped lump of black that was up me arse and a welcome spliff was mine.

    The festival site was a minute fraction of today's massive festival sprawl, tucked up at the north end of the farm by the entrance with the green pyramid stage facing downhill towards where the silver pyramid cowshed stands today. Friends had kindly carried my tent and canopy down in their van a few days earlier so it was not long before I was established and set off for a walk about. The weather had not been kind and already, despite the low numbers of folk at the festival, the routes through the site were turning to sticky mud with a vengence. In fact, this festival seemed clinically depressed as everything seemed like too much effort to bother with given that it was unseasonably cold and wet.

         Glastonbury 1978 - a sea of mud

© Roger Hutchinson

 

Clowns entertain the multitude

© Roger Hutchinson

    Musical entertainment did happen but it did little to lift the spirits and we were just going through the free festival motions (once again!) I look at the few slides that have survived and they do not conjure up any feelings of joy or good times just the grind of survival - just people standing in mud watching vehicles being towed through it by Michael's tractor.

    Shamefully all I can clearly remember of the week was the occasion when a not-so-young couple copulated fully clothed (including gloves and hats) lying in the mud in front of the stage, under a midday sky of grey clouds. They seemed orgasmically unaware of the dis-interested audience as he humped her relentlessly without pause for what seemed like hours. The general consensus was that they were both tripping, some were concerned that if they continued much longer she would disappear from view into the liquefying mud. I went off to the bogs and then for a cup of tea and when I came back they had ceased to move and the ragged crowd had wandered off.


        And that's it ! Nothing else to report.
There you go - chalk and cheese or was it heaven or hell?

Spike has a very different recollection to that of Roger

Panoramic , but wet , view of the campsite Glastonbury 1978 © Roger Hutchinson

Michael Eavis saves the day © Roger Hutchinson

 

     We do have photos of Glastonbury 78 (which was a brilliant festival and nothing like your miserable corespondant described it). It always rains at Pilton -and anybody who saw the lightning hit the pylons and dance down the cables towards the tor must have blown away by the experience.

     At 78 we ran a stall called "Greasy Joes Half Foods" and we think we were the first people to start selling egg and bacon butties at festivals. Up till then it had been all vegie stuff ,dammit we even offered corn flakes for breakfast+lemon meringue pies, these were all sold to the bloody stage crew. The event finished 2 days early due to Micheal E getting hassle from the cops, so everybody who had been saving their more interesting substances had to take them all in one go (paranoia about leaving the site carrying) it turned into a mother of an interesting party highlighted by a marked lack of tobacco !

Spike


    I went to the festival in 1978. I can't remember much about it except I was 20 and intoxicated by the whole alternative society/culture or at least the idea of it. I drove down from Wales with my mate Dave, I'd seen the Glastonbury Fayre movie the year before for the first time so being on the same terrain was very exciting indeed. I can remember going down to the site of the pyramid stage and feeling like we were walking on sacred ground. The "festival" was very small and occupied a portion of the top of the main"arena" field. In subsequent years this was initially the site of the markets before it got so huge that they moved it down to the flatter ground and last year the cashpoints were sited on it.

    I remember very little of any performers on the solitary stage but I'm sure we watched Nik Turner's Sphynx and one of the "mummies" passed a clay pipe to us for a toke. This prompted me to later get up on stage, grab the mic and start pouring out a stream of cosmic verbal bullshit much to the amusement of the audience. That same evening Dave got chatting to a band and ended up jamming with them until the early hours. I just wish I'd taken a camera. The weather was crap but it was a blast!

Martin Ashford


Looks like Nik on Sax.....© Craig Mitchell

     Photos© Norman Hewston

    I am overjoyed to find this site, as reading the memoirs really does bring it all back. These days, from one year to the next I never see anyone who was part of the scene back then and so my memories are mostly kept to myself. I was at Glastonbury in 1978 from 30th June-2ndJuly.At the time I was 24 and living in Moseley village(Birmingham), so-called commune of Birmingham and went down to Glastonbury that weekend with my girlfriend, my kid brother and a mate in his firms car. I don't remember the exact location but as we got there, we were surprised to see all the coppers and DS at the entrance. As we neared, I shoved the dope supply into a couple of cream buns and wrapped them back up in clingfilm. We got through allright and pitched our tent; this was a homemade job that my girlfriend Vee had designed and constructed from sheet plastic and lined with brightly colured silk scarves. I heard that it was dubbed the "Turkish screwing tent"!

Photo© Norman Hewston

    Anyway, the first night we were there we scored some acid and sat huddled together in the tent, as it was cold and damp outside. We turned up the gas bottle heater full blast and this really brought the trip on. In the distance we could hear the distant beginings of Jimi Hendrix's "1983 A Merman Should I Turn To Be", so we left the tent in search of its source, all clad in thick grey blankets and the mist that had enveloped the site. I turned around to my mate who was really spaced out and he mumbled "I'm searching for my soul..." as  he stumbled along following us. Eventually we came to a sound system run from a generator in a caravan and took our places right next to the amps and got lost in the sounds.Nearby was a large campfire, around which were sat a large group of people.

    Every now and again someone would throw a load of wood on to keep the fire burning well and there were lots of different circles and scenes going on about. There was obviously some very bad acid or "Poor Cwality Psychedelics" as we used to call such, as we saw some terrible states about the site over the next couple of days. I particularly remember this night, a guy with a mass of shaggy hair, all matted and forked out, sitting stark naked beside the fire. He bore all the characteristics of a dead stick insect. His gaze was blank and unblinkered as he halfheartedly masturbated as though totally unaware of his surroundings. I can only say that this guy was not on this planet and neither was anyone else but he was out there on his own on the back end of beyond. Someone walked up with a huge piece of log, dumped it on the fire and immediately a shower of burning embers rained down upon him. Like an old Indian Fakir, he didn't flinch or bat an eyelid, "Ooops, sorry mate!" said the culprit and strolled away.

    The bands played on a very makeshift stage and the system was powered from the generator previously mentioned. We all huddled around this during the day to listen. Again, I remember a couple of freaks who were making quite a nuisance of themselves, gambolling through the crowds and screaming "Glastonbury Fayre!!" The farmer was up on stage with a band called Pedro, and he was doing a few "Hendrix""stage antics with an unplugged guitar, which one of these stoned-out freaks objected to and mounted the stage to try and drag the farmer off and generally make a scene up there on stage. (right) More photos from this sequence can be viewed here

Photo© Norman Hewston

          The following day I ran into Phil, an old mate of mine, who had just just come from Stonehenge and a Legalize Cannabis Rally. We decided to go into a nearby field to get some firewood for his bonfire, overjoyed at our meeting and as we entered this otherwise empty field the grass and trees errupted in brightly coloured butterflies, fluttering like psychedelic snowflakes all around us. It was one of those magic moments that only memory can capture and preserve as it has done most cherishingly to this very day. I know that when we were packing up to go quite a few others were too and the whole thing seemd to be winding down, tents and tepees were being dismantled. I remember not wanting to leave but accepting that we had to hit the road back to Brum and whatever lay before. I dont know how others look back and remember Glastonbury Festival 1978, there were only about 500 of us I believe, but rain, mud, sunshine, mist, fog, cold or whatever, it was free and there was no charge for it.

Pedro onstage Photos© Norman Hewston

    Put it down to experience; such was the way we spent our youth. All these are the things that made those times special, magical even. I dont think kids have this nowadays, I mean, we went to these venues with next to nothing to get back to mother nature. It's a bit hard to do that packing a laptop, mobile phones, credit cards and cashpoints!! Well, for what they are worth, these are my recollections. I hope someone enjoys sharing them.....

Norman Hewston

The site © Craig Mitchell

Photos - © Roger Hutchinson -as usual, click on the photos to see a bigger image, blah, blah.....

Erecting a shelter in front of the stage ? © Craig Mitchell

Hi There,

Love your site. Been trawling through the pics trying to spot anyone & anything recognisable from my attendance at the fesies in those heady far off days of the late 70’s early 80’s. So far all I’ve come up with is that the black speakers visible on the left of the photo of Nik’s pyramid stage (the photo where Nik is seen struggling trying to erect a shelter at the front of the stage) were mine. We went under the name of The Sonic Haze Roadshow in those days & the speakers mentioned were part of our sound system. We had decks set up inside the stage & anyone attending that year might remember being woken by us playing the track Time from Darkside of the moon, at full volume early on the Sun morning, happy days J

Cheers
Bob


Hi guys,

Strange.. i was just browsing and found your site, that's not that strange in itself, but it brought back memories (although very limited) as i played the guitar in a band called 'white island'

we were 3 lads and a girl from leicestershire, and even stranger is the fact that i'm from loughborough..as is your friend who sadly passed away.

I remember we had just been travelling round in our van doing gigs and jeff the drummer said we're off to glastonbury for a gig,
After having an accident in the narrow lanes with all the kit hitting me on the head as i was in the back of the van, and being searched and hasseled by the police, we ended up in the field getting soaked and hammered playing the gig getting more smashed with nik and ending up back in coalville... poor story but memories are trickey..
I love your site and the pictures are how i remembered it.... strange
love
john


Glastonbury Fayre pages .


Glastonbury Festival

 

Free Festivals List

Any info to add- well don't just sit there ! Contact us

Free festivals and small fayres held in the United Kingdom between 1967-90.

1967-69.

 1970-79  
1980-92

 

  • Windsor Peoples Free Festival 1972-74
 
 Free festival related articles
Pay Festivals- Benefits for Travellers aid.
 

Main list of Free festivals 1970-1985

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe-surreal pranksters of the Traveller community .

Acidia Lightshow Lightshow for Windsor festival and Stonehenge in the 1970s.

Traveller Daves Website - Chock full of of free festival photos !

Many, many thanks go to Roger Hutchinson , Big Steve , Roger Duncan, Celia, Will , Chazz, Jeza ,Chris Hewitt ,The Fabulous Time Tortoise , Peter Piwowarski - ( 70s music site/photos ) Martin S, Steve Austin ,Traveller Dave, Herb, Tim Brighton, Vin Miles, Haze Evans , Noddy Guevara, Chris Brown, Janet Thompson, David Stooke, Gary Gibbons , Nigel Ayers, Rich Deakin ,Glenda Pescardo,Justin Warman,Brian F, Steve Bayfield, Kev Ellis, Paul Seaton and many other minor contributors for their help in providing the archival material related to these free festivals which has at enabled us to construct the site .

Any info to add ?-well don't just sit there , Contact us


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