News Column

History of the world's best-loved music fest

October 10, 2013


When you are the home of country's biggest single-site cultural event, it's pretty inevitable that you are going to get a lot of hangers-on.

There are books, newspaper articles, magazine spreads, DVDs, blogs and websites all devoted to the Glastonbury Festival.

Rarely do any of them tell you anything new or give any kind of insight into the phenomenon of the festival or its roots.

The last proper, well-written effort was nearly a decade ago, when John Shearlaw and Crispin Aubrey put together Glastonbury Festival Tales - an oral history.

Today, finally, a worthy successor can be found. Glastonbury, A Complete Story Of The Festival by John Bailey is well put-together, accurate and entertainingly written.

John has not written the book as a personal memoir, but as a proper history, detailing the warts and all background, as well as the standout musical performances that has made the festival famous.

It is packed with quality photographs - many of them not seen in print for years, if ever.

And it gives an insight into the 80s festival years that are usually glossed over.

Holcombe-based John, who has been taking pictures for more than 30 years, has tried to tell the tale of the festival from its humble beginnings to the massive event it has become today.

He was given the backing and help of Michael Eavis, Glatonbury's founder, who read the book before publication, and gave the background that only he could, such as the ten-year search for the CND sign that once graced the top of the pyramid, or the use by Mendip District Council of aerial photographs in 1987 to try to prove the licence had been breached .

John said: "The aim was to use stories, reminiscences and photographs to trace the festival's history, from its origins in 1970 through the turbulent years of the riots, fence-hopping and anarchy right up to the present day.

"We have talked to the artists, backstage workers and volunteers who have kept the festival rolling throughout the years, despite all the obstacles that have been thrown in its way."

John spent a year researching the festival, collating the book and contacting a wide variety of individuals for their own slant.

He said: "I had a lot of help from Michael, which made a big difference."

Glastonbury, A Complete Story Of The Festival is published by Halsgrove at Pounds 16.99 and we have five copies to give away. To win, answer the following question:

Who replaced The Kinks as headliners on the bill of the very first Pilton Pop Folk and Blues festival in September 1970?


T Rex

David Bowie

Send your entries to Glastonbury Book Competition, Mid Somerset News and Media, Southover, Wells BA5 1UH.

Usual terms and conditions apply and the editor's decision is final.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters