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Formatted at 1280 X 1024. Updated June 2023 .
June 20-23rd 1979.
Peter Gabriel, Steve Hillage, Mother Gong, Tim Blake, John Martyn , Tom Robinson, UK Subs, Sphynx ,Sky,Footsbarn Theatre ,Nona Hendryx , Alex Harvey, Leighton Buzzards,The Pop Group/The Slits and The Only Ones.
|In 1979 I was living in a huge squat in Islington, London that would iater mutate into the Angel Housing Cooperative. Some members of the house were in a street theatre group called the Demolition Decorators,whose greatest claim to fame that I can think of is that they later supported John Cooper Clark at a gig in Amsterdam.The local paper 'The Islington Gutter Press'gave them universally bad reviews but that didn't prevent them from going to Glastonbury to stage some sort of happening.As I was vaguely involved, sometimes in the capacity of doorman,I went along too.|
Demolition decorators Glasto 79
photo Richard Arridge
was the first big Glastonbury since the legendary 1971 festival which
had spawned a triple aibum of great beauty & was seen as'aIternative
Britain's finest hour. So 1979 had a lot to live up to, which as it
couldn't really & so didn't.For
a start it wasn't free & although people like John Martyn,Steve
Hillage & Peter Gabriel played fine sets it wasn't the spontaneous
magical event I had somewhat naively expected.Maybe everything was growing
up or old.
However I drank a fair amount of scrumpy & the Demolition Decorators did their social comment as seen in the photo.At one end of the carpet of plastic sits the swami & at the other a television. Draw your own conclusions.
The Swami & the T.V. are supposed to make some kind of statement about mind control, I think. At night there was a big fight to sleep in the van as it got pretty cold. I was wearing a yellow Mickey Hart Rolling Thunder T shirt which somehow I lost & I later glimpsed worn by a total unknown in another part of the site.
Sometimes the Decorators would have loose jam sessions where we would all swop instruments.They had a Wasp synth which was great fun,(recently I read a Robert Wyatt interview where he bemoans the fact this machine is no longer available),& we made tapes that are thankfully now erased!!
I have very fond memories of this festival but sadly, no photos. The whole thing was really well organised. The artists performing on the main stage were hugely enjoyable and I can verify that the sound system was really stunning. In the morning we were woken up by incredible music (gongs? chimes? bells?) which seemed to fill the valley. After the acts finished on the main stage the techies would play around with the lights for hours.
can recall watching the Only Ones doing a brilliant set until the power
went out for what seemed like eternity. Steve Hillage was my absolute
hero at the time and hearing him perform "Are You Experienced?"
was a real trip. I finally got to meet him that year at the Ashton Gate
free festival. I'm positive that Alex Harvey did a rousing solo spot and
Peter Gabriel was pretty awesome too. Definitely one of the best Glastonbury
Stage under construction Glastonbury 1979
Notice that you have recently updated your Glastonbury 79 pages. Having flicked through I cannot see any mention of the fact that the festival ended (or nearly, as you will see in a minute) with a "supergroup" of Tom Robinson, Nona Hendrix and Steve Hillage for sure, and maybe Gabriel too, playing a set together. And when I say nearly finished, I guarantee you 100% that the whole thing finished with a lengthy solo set by Tim Blake and his synthesisers; he was not advertised as appearing and I remember wondering who he was at the time (not being a Hawkwind fan).
Many people had left by the time he appeared, but my friend (a different friend, sadly departed now, but to be seen in one of the Stonehenge photos I have sent ) and I were down near the front of the stage; in actual fact we woke up in exactly the same place the following morning!! Lol! I remember all this as it happened to be the last Glastonbury I ever went to.........well, they actually charged us to get in, which had never happened previously, and we didn't know at the time (in fact I didn't know until today) that the price of admission was all for a good cause.
I remember going to this festival because when I was in London before the festival a rumour was freely circulating that the Grateful Dead would make a surprise appearance. Instead we got the super group, with Tom Robinson, Nona Hendrix, Alex Harvey, Peter Gabriel and I am sure John Martyn came on and that Phil Collins played drums. The weather was great as was the local scrumpy. I got a lift from some older Glastonbury veterans and being too tired to set up my tent I fell asleep in a marquee. I was wakened by applause which I did find a bit strange but there was an American speaking to the audience around my sleeping bag. I slid out my sleeping bag at the back of the tent and asked someone who the speaker was. It was Allen Ginsberg legendary beat poet. The whole event was pleasant and enlightening experience for me. Unfortunately I have never been back. Highlight though for me was John Martyn.
Myself and friend John
Mathias arrived at the site on my Moto-Guzzi motorcycle… not being used
to paying for festivals - heaven forbid! - I rode through the security guards
and into the site. Memories of the event... after pitching our 3 man tent.
The 24hr worshipping, then demolition of the TV set by the theatre company. Steve Hillage playing fairly late; then still later that night after all had closed down, he was back on stage either tidying his gear up or looking for something. There was a bloke at the edge of the stage hassling him. "Hey Steve…. blah blah blah"; "Steve blah blah blah"; "Hey Steve blah blah blah"… The tea cosy'ed Hillage crossed to the edge of the stage and enquired … "S'cuse me mate but do you know me?… you know … personally?..." "Nah" came the glib reply. To which Hillage bellowed with all his might "WELL... F%^K OFF THEN!!!!" I was quite taken aback. I hope he didn't talk to his cabbages like that.
Tim Blake at Glastonbury 1979 © Ron Reid (from the collection of Ed Bueller )
Alex Harvey off his noodle on stage. He joined the superstar lineup with (to the best of my recollection) Peter Gabriel, Nona Hendrix, Steve Hillage, Phil Collins (drums), John Martyn on guitar. Alex didn't last too long he tried rousing the crowd into football chants, without too much success and was quite put-out.
Pop Group and the Slits (combined) were as challenging as ever, my mate Kevin Steptoe was playing drums in the Leighton Buzzards and good they were too. I was err…. a little under the weather... so the accompanying photos on your site are not at a focal best.
Nick Turner swathed in funerary bandages for a Nick Turner's Sphinx daylight show, mad as ever. I've seen recent photos of him unwrapped - scary.
St. Michael's tower on the Tor was visible at the end of the valley and one night it erupted from within in brilliant staccato light - thanks whoever arranged that… it was great.
most memorable performance for me though was Tim Blake. He announced that
the gig was dedicated to his lighting technician who was nearly blind from
working on the lasers. The previous night or two we were treated to the sight
of a sole green laser reflecting off of a mirror ball suspended from a tethered
balloon way above the audience area in front of the main stage - hundreds
of green lights dancing on the valley hillsides. Anyway Tim Blake continued
with his set.. including the spacey 'Lighthouse', then launched into the apt
and wonderful 'New Jerusalem' the laser lifted a little and split into a canopy
of a thousand green fingers which reached a mile or so to the hills beyond.
It looked semi-solid miles-wide blanket over our heads; then as the song reached
it's climax it lifted still further and flipped over in space before dropping
down again. Absolutely breath taking and what a way to close the festival.
So our 3 man tent ended up sleeping 5 that night …. as you do.
The Atoms onstage at Glastonbury 1979
I was at Glasto 79, working onstage for most of the event. The opening band, like the closers, was impromptu, a Nottingham band who travelled with the p.a. and who helped crew the event.
is them, Harry (Stevenson) and The Atoms, on the opening morning, effectively
sound checking the rig.
to see so many positive comments. It was an event that effectively finished
my interest in the technical side of the business, nothing could really follow
this and I moved out of the town soon afterwards to make some significant
life changes. I was the the 'wireman' who helped build the rig at SSE in Nottingham,
technical 'stage manager' for the weekend, resident in one of the artists
caravans, though uninvited. It was our fairly anarchic 'make it happen' attitude
that gor all of the bands on and off and it was we who fixed the power out,
not the generator itself but making sure everything worked straight away when
it came back online. The power went out when the Only Ones hit an opening
power chord and the lights went up full simultaneously!
We are also probably fondly remembered for the mammoth joint rolled at the end of the weekend in the technical base setup in aformentioned caravan. [I supervised that too! ;)]
nice photos, but typically i don't appear in any/many.