From the first strains of Tyrannosaurus Rex’s “Deborah” the Piltdown Pop festival was born. Little did Marc Bolan, or the organiser, a one Michael Eavis, know that they were at the beginning of a festival that was to become the premier event of the British Summer for the youth of the nation for the next 48 years. It is a 5-day event that spreads itself across the mid-summer solstice and it has the perfect background of the famous Tor making for some incredible photo opportunities. One thing about the modern Glastonbury you can be sure that there will be a lot of Event Medical Cover provided.
The origins of the festival are actually quite sedate. The composer Rutland Broughton created a series of summer schools based around classic pieces for the youth of the country. This lasted from 1914 to 1926 but it was the chance viewing of the rock Gods Led Zeppelin by Michael Eavis that convinced him to create a new festival and this would be on his farm just outside the small village of Pilton on the route of the A361. Suffice to say the local were not enamoured with the free Pilton Pop festival especially as it meant that a load of hippies and travellers would be coming to the area. It was a pound to get in and 1,500 people turned up. This is marked contrast to the 175,000 that came in 2017, it cost a lot more than £1 for a ticket as well. This was in the September of 1970. Everyone agreed, with the exception of some of the locals, that they should do it again next year.
The Free Festival in 1971 must have been a truly wonderful affair and it can be viewed by watching the film Glastonbury Fayre by the director Nicholas Roeg. This was the last swansong of the hippie movement and featured David Bowie, pre-Ziggy/Hunky Dory phase and the incredible Hawkwind all on the same bill along with Gong and Fairport Convention.
It was to be the last of such festivals, except for a strange impromptu meeting in 1979 after the Police kicked some travellers out of Stonehenge but it was in 1981, under the control and directorship of Eavis that the Glastonbury festival became a regular fixture apart from some fallow years to allow the site, and the local’s to get some peace.