15 posts tagged Glastonbury
The founder of the Glastonbury Festival, Athelstan Joseph Michael Eavis, CBE, was born on the 17th of October, 1935 to a Methodist local preacher (his father) and a school teacher (his mother). He attended Wells Cathedral School until he was 15 when he left to join the Union-Castle Line, becoming a trainee midshipman as part of the British Merchant Navy. He spent these years largely sailing between Britain, Kenya, and South Africa.
His plan to spend 20 years at sea and build up a pension to subsidize his farming career was cut short by the death of his father to cancer when Eavis was 19. He reluctantly agreed to take on the “150 acres of land, 60 cows, and an overdraft” (as is popularly reported). He eventually came to love the work, and the farm still produces 10,000 litres of milk a day. Around the time his father died Eavis married his first wife Ruth with whom he had three children. The couple divorced in 1964.
It was with Eavis’s second wife, Jean Hayball, that he experienced the event that would lead him to create Glastonbury. In 1969 they attended the Blues festival at the Bath and West Showground, where they saw Led Zeppelin.
Eavis still recalls the moment that led to starting his first festival, stating, “something flashes down and you suddenly change. Bit like St.Paul; do you know what I mean? There’s a change of attitude, a change of purpose.” The couple hosted a free festival (the Pilton Festival) in 1970. Tyrannosaurus Rex headlined (later T-Rex). Stackridge and Al Stewart, amongst others, performed. About 1500 festival goers paid £1 for the privilege and they also received free milk from the farm.
In 1971 the second festival was held (called the Glastonbury Fayre) and it received worldwide attention. Performers included David Bowie, Traffic, Fairport Convention, Quintessence, and Melanie. It was at this event that an early ancestor of the Pyramid stage first appeared. Believers in the Fayre’s ideals, one of going against over-commercialization appearing in music events of the day, supported the festival and as a result entrance was free.
The festival took a more encompassing approach, including music, dance, poetry, theatre, lights and spontaneous entertainment, and acts included David Bowie and Fairport Convention. The event was organized by Andrew Kerr and Arabella Churchill.
Read the rest of this fascinating biography