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Formatted at 1280 X 1024 res or higher -Updated Feb 2012

June 17-19th 1983

King Sunny Ade,

Curtis Mayfield , UB 40 , Fun Boy Three ,The Beat, The Enid ,Denis Brown, Marillion , Aswad, Alexis Korner, Melanie, A Certain Ratio, Incantation, Moving Hearts, Jean Philippe Rykiel, Julian Cope, The Chieftains, Tom Paxton, Hunters and Collectors, Alexei Sayle, Farm Band , Kevin Brown, Black Roots,Green Coyote, Juggernaut.

Glastonbury 1983 © Paul Seaton

  Oh yes the lasers, I had never seen anything like them before Glastonbury, and nothing really compares to them, all the lighting effects you can get now are good, but the first time you see those lasers...well it was truly amazing, it was the highlite really, everyone would wait by the Pyramid until the lasers came on, sometimes they would come on before the last band finished, sometimes not, but those green rays would reach it seemed for miles and miles, and then they would sort of pan out and catch smoke and things in them !

Oh what lovely memories !


Pilton Farm just before the start of the 83 festival. Image Marcus Pennell -used under creative commons license



Program cover and site map courtesy Lynne

   We don't have a lot of information about 1983, it was the first year that the Local Government Act -making it mandatory for festivals to be licensed- came into force and the numbers attending the festival were limited to 30,000 (although that did not last for long ) . We haven't been able to scare up much recording info either as yet , we do know that this was the first year that the festival's radio station Radio Avalon was broadcasting , but overall so far this is the year that the net forgot, at least as far as any meaningful information is concerned.

   We do however, have some information pertaining to Glastonbury and festivals held in 1983 in general, gleaned from the incredibly useful Festival Welfare Report of 1983 . It indicates the grim reality that was to confront those who wished to organise and attend festivals - and travelers in general- from 1983 onwards.

Festival Welfare Report Chairman's Introduction
    This year FWS has again noted a record number of festivals, with 75 events on our list, including ten on August Bank Holiday weekend. The trend towards more small local festivals, Including one day events, has been maintained. Unfortunately, quite a number of organisers of such festivals have experienced considerable difficulties with their local authorities as a result of the licensing provisions of the Local Government (miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

    The welcome trend towards smaller events with lower admission charges has been marred by some organisers who have seemed unwilling to consult or to take advice and who have alienated those who might otherwise have given them considerable help by a single minded and self defeating concentration on gate receipts. Festivals promoted as fund raising events for some good cause are just as liable to this syndrome as those run for private profit. Of course, festival organisers are Invariably taking serious financial risks with their own or their organisation's money, and the worry this can cause Is understandable, but a festival cannot be kept together by one person.

Lettin' it all hang out at Glasto 83 . photo © Bookmole



    This year's dose of convoy paranoia reached its height at the Glastonbury Green Gathering, but was also apparent at a number of other festivals. It may be all to the good that several thousand people had the chance to discover, during those few days at Lambert's Hill, what life is like for the convoy throughout the summer. The maintenance of the siege throughout this period Is estimated to have cost the police a total of over 1 million pounds . According to Supt. Lee, of Avon and Somerset Police, the operation was "in the Interests of the community at large to maintain law and order" on the grounds that the convoy "had a reputation for violence and anti social behaviour". This explanation, although apparently adequate for Mendip District Council, is unlikely to satisfy those who were stopped and searched a dozen or more times at Shepton merely because they were staying in the next field to the convoy. The flagrant illegality of the police operation makes the reference to "law and order" particularly Inappropriate. Such examples of current police practices Increase our concern over the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill now before Parliament, which will considerably widen police powers In such areas as stop and search, without providing any adequate control over their use.

The farmhouse circa 1983. Photo© Warlox

Festivals have been characterised this year by :

  • "convoy paranoia" by festival organisers, local authorities, the police, the local community and other festival goers. The media must hold considerable responsibility for this, as reports in local papers have done much to create this fear . There has been a lack of communication between the "convoy" and these other groups seen especially at Inglestone Common, which has worsened relations and led to violence.
  • more drugs, including alcohol, have been consumed at festivals, where the welfare groups have reported a less caring atmosphere and less support for each other amongst festival goers. Many young festival goers have been less "together" and relied more on other people to organise facilities and services, rather than organising for themselves.
  • fewer free festivals except for the Stonehenge Free Festival, one day events sponsored by local authorities, free peace festivals, and those supported by the convoy".
  • legislative confusion brought about by the introduction of licensing powers for district councils under the Local Government {Miscellaneous Provisions} Act 1982. The conditions imposed on festival organisers have varied widely throughout the country and appear to have had the effect of deterring some organisers from going ahead with their proposed events.

   Festivals involve many groups of people , organisers, performers, traders, audiences, the local community and the authorities. In an ideal situation, unity is provided between these groups where people enjoy themselves at festivals. The "convoy" have bridged the gap between some of these groups when they attended festivals they provided organisational assistance, performers, traders and became part of the local community when they remained in an area for a long period of time. The "Convoy" are a mobile festival in themselves.

Shopping anyone ?

© Warlox

Glastonbury itself seems to have been very well run in 1983 and FWS has nothing but good to say about the festival, although they did not create a report on the festival itself merely referring to it as a good exemplar in comparison to other events.

At the end of a long hot weekend. photo © Bookmole

Fws recommends the issuing of site plans for large festivals, whether as separate sheets or as part of the official program .At the Glastonbury festival there were excellent site maps included in the programs , which were reasonably priced. Rubbish at festivals is always a problem, although it can be reduced to some extent if traders are careful with the packaging they supply and if there are plenty of rubbish receptacles around the traders, particularly the food stalls. Skips would seem appropriate in many situations, although some promoters and authorities, such as at Stonehenge and Castle Donnington, do not allow these because of the risk that they will be set on fire. Oil drums scattered around the site worked very well at the Glastonbury CND Festival .The site communications at the Glastonbury festival were excellent, and a small child who needed to be found was located within 15 minutes.


Glastonbury also had several food marquees where entertainment was also provided.
The Samaritans were of course in attendance and their report stated.
The team sent to Glastonbury were able to work for three days at the venue this year. This enabled us to see a greater number of callers and to integrate more fully with the other welfare agencies on site. In particular we found that we could fulfil a much needed role in running casualties to hospital . Of course, the bulk of our work was the more usual role of befriending and we saw a number of depressed callers , some of whom had suicidal thoughts and feelings. There were also some drug related problems, but these in no way reflected the general mood of the festival.

Firewood: This is another area of dispute, where some organisers are in favour of providing firewood whilst others feel it is not their responsibility. FWS feels that festival goers should be more careful with fires, both camping gas and wood, and a more responsible attitude by them would encourage more organisers to supply firewood. There were some enormous fires at Stonehenge Free Festival this year, even abandoned fires burning throughout the day, and the festival experienced several very serious injuries and one death caused by fire. The risks of fires on site are extremely high, especially where tents and vehicles are too close to fires; where there are many small children; when the weather is very dry and where access is difficult. Large notices warning of the hazards of fire were put up around the Glastonbury festival site and these did seem to have an effect on the size of fires.

An enormous amount of lost property was handed in to the welfare area at the Glastonbury CND Festival this year. It is recommended that this be dealt with in a separate place next year, as the welfare area was too busy and crowded to cope with this extra work.


Warlox and friends by Pyramid stage 1983 © Warlox

can anyone help fill in the gaps?


Dennis Brown backed by Aswad :Glasto 83 © Bob Schaffert


After a couple of years as a punter at Glastonbury, I was asked to help out with the site electrics by Graham, who was the festivals electrician at the time. He had got the job the
year before by fixing the pyramid generator when it went live, had to switch it off using broom handle! There were only a couple of us doing the electrics for the whole site, plus
another couple doing electrics for the market area. Its not like it is now, all nice blue plastic plugs, it was a railway carriage full of old reels of wire and ancient metal breaker boxes.
Everything was joined together with connector blocks which we put inside plastic bags and taped up to keep the rain out; luckily it was a pretty hot year.

Most of the generators, apart from the one for the pyramid, were old site gennys or borrowed from the local carnival club, so it was quite a challenge keeping everything going. Just before the pyramid stage opened on the Friday, all the electrics went and I happened to be first on the scene. I quickly traced the fault and replaced a couple fuses and got it going again, at which point I was told I wasn’t to leave the stage area during performance time for the rest of the weekend, which suited me down to the ground, spent most of the time watching bands from side of stage.
I remember Marillion being on Friday and Melanie on the Saturday. During Melanie’s set, the Hells Angels invaded the stage and as there was no security then, any crew on stage had to deal with it. They were actually no problem, each taking it in turns to give her a kiss before we escorted them off stage. Later that night I saw her sitting behind the pyramid, in a circle of the Angels, strumming and singing late into the night for them. PeeWee who was running the festival bar had got in a few Angels as security.

Alexis Korner was the compere for the weekend on the pyramid and at the end of the festival on the Sunday night, he got together with a few other musicians and played for the crew. Sadly he died not long after, but it’s a memory I cherish.

I was there for a couple of weeks before the festival started and the entire crew catering was done in Charlie’s caravan with him and his daughters doing the cooking. They were brilliant, kept everyone happy and supplied tobacco and papers as well as brandy coffees. The lasers were brilliant as usual, LSD (light and sound design) did the pyramid lighting and the legendry Tony Andrews (turbosound) did the PA.
It was also the first year someone fell into the toilets...poor woman was tripping too!

There was very little in the way of radios then so all the communications were via telephone cables laid through the hedges and fields and back to a cabin with a telephone exchange in it. It all worked pretty well most of the time but funny seeing the old type telephones dotted round the site.
Anyway for me it was a brilliant festival and I’ve been working there ever since.
Pete Wilson


I went with about a dozen friends from Weston-Super-Mare and we all stayed in an old army 14ft ridge tent.

They greased up the slope on the front of the Pyramid stage to stop people climbing up, but my mate got a 'bunk-up' and gave Melanie a kiss in the middle of her set. He came back to the tent covered in thick grease.

One guy spent the whole festival serving tea to anyone who wanted to stop by his tent for a chat. In the mornings there were hundreds of people there chatting and drinking tea - taking it in turns to get more water etc.

UB40 stole the whole event for me. They came on on the sunny afternoon following the Fun-Boy-Three (who were awful) and everybody got up and danced.

There wasn't much food and the queues for the hot dog vans were miles long so we went to the Krishna field where they were serving everyone free lentil meals - fab ! Polly Styrene (ex X-Ray specs) was there with her Krishna band)

A couple of my friends had a few too many farmhouse ciders and started chasing each other around the site. In the process, they ran down 'Drug-Alley' knocking over scales and sending clouds of powders and tabs everywhere. They spent the evening tripping on whatever they scraped off their feet !

Hope this helps


remember thinking how lucky I was to be seeing one of my all-time favourite singers being backed by such a great band like Aswad. I've been a life-long Reggae fan and Glastonbury held a lot of appeal back in the early 80's with other bands like Matumbi, Black Roots, Black Uhuru and Talisman.

Bob Schaffert

Recordings and setlists

Steve Bayfield has a page here on his impromptu band Green Coyote who ended up performing at the 83 festival.


1983 Glastonbury Festival Glastonbury UK 65min CDR SBD A

Aswad were missing their singer Brinsley, drummer Zeb deputised

Dennis Brown was backed by Aswad .

Curtis Mayfield : Set included Gypsy Woman ,Pusher Man

Fun Boy Three : Set included The End (Doors)

6-17-83 -
Garden Party ,Charting The Single Script, For A Jester´s Tear, Assassing ( premeiere performance ), Chelsea Monday ,He Knows You Know ,Forgotten Sons ,Market Square ,Heroes.

FM - Radio Avalon Broadcast - Glastonbury Festival´s Radio Station

Christy Moore
• Glastonbury 1983 FM A-/A (1cd)- possibly Radio Avalon Broadcast ?

can anyone help fill in the gaps?

Chilling out at Glasto 83 photo © Bookmole


The Archive is as usual interested in this topic as regards to it being an aspect of social history of the counterculture , traveller and rock festival scene of the 60s to the late 80s and does not condone or encourage the consumption of any substances ,illegal or legal which may lead to mental or physical incapacitation by those who consume them .

Glastonbury Festival pages .

Glastonbury Fayre pages 1970-79

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

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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