Pilton Festival 1970

Pilton Festival 1970
Authored By John Nicholson

The first show put on at Worthy Farm, which the next year would become titled the Glastonbury Festival, was inspired after Michael Eavis saw an open-air concert headlined by Led Zeppelin at the 1970 Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music at the nearby Bath and West Showground in 1970.

It was small scale affair with 30 stewards and 24 toilets.

Held on Saturday 19 September 1970, the day after Jimi Hendrix’s death and attended by anywhere from 1,000, to 2,500 people when 3,000 were needed to break even, the original headline acts were The Kinks and Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, but these were replaced at short notice by Tyrannosaurus Rex. 

Tickets were £1. Other billed acts of note were Al Stewart, Alan Brown, Amazing Blondel, Derek James, Duster Bennett, Ian A. Anderson, Ian Hunt, Keith Christmas, Mad Mick, Malsulami, Marc Bolan, Originn, Planxty, Quintessence, Roy Harper, Sam Apple Pie, Stackridge, Steamhammer and T. Rex

It fell to Stackridge to open the show with their song ‘Teatime’. The thing you notice about the photos of the show is how spread out and relaxed everyone is, no doubt in no small measure to the amount of dope smoked. It was more about being there and rubbing shoulders with like-minded people, who like yourself, had to put up with straight society on the 9-5 but at weekends and night times, could emerge from their disguise and become a hippie.

This isn’t something we can really feel in the same way today. Whatever your bag is now, you can find your way to other people whose bag it is too, within a few clicks. But in 1970 it was much harder. Festivals were the only place you could do it outside of running into a fellow head in a stoner bookshop or record shop. 

So in that sense they were a real coming together; a meeting of the tribes, even in the UK which was slower to get into and perhaps less evangelical about the counterculture than in America.

We couldn't have a imagined the way that Glastonbury Festival would become such a massive middle-class lifestyle choice and so very big.   

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