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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.

© Paul Seaton


June 21st -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.

Poster courtesy Rich Deakin

The Pop Group onstage © Dave Walkling

Peter Gabriel and Friends - Glastonbury 1979 . Photo © Steve Bayfield


Stage at Glastonbury 1979. Photo © Steve Bayfield

Mother Gong .Photo © Steve Bayfield

   A resumption of a commercial festival , the first since 1970 , with an established roster of artists , was a step not to be taken lightly. Costs were considerably higher than any free gathering and permits had to be arranged , councils negotiated with and various local Tory MP's placated ( if this is ever possible to achieve regarding rock festivals ) .

    The festival was very well organised and unlike many of the day, received a glowing report from the Festival Welfare Service

   As 1979 was the Year of the child, it seemed appropriate that the purpose of instigating a fee paying festival was to raise funds for charity.The profits were to be donated to the UN Year of the Child and to help found the Children's World charity.

   Tim Blake made a largely unheralded appearance and technically headlined the festival, appearing after Peter Gabriel . Tim wrote :

"Ah , thats Life...

Glastonbury 79... I was announced, came complete with Laser show, was paid !

Then came a meeting with Michael and all and Gail Colson...

Michael " Tim, we'd really like You to play last, and finish the festival off with Your lasers and all "

Me ( swelling up" Oh of course "

Gail, "Ok Tim , You'll be playing after Peter"

End of meeting, I say to Gail, "who did You say you're working for now? Oh I manage Peter, Peter Gabriel..."
I almost fainted!

I spent the whole evening shitting myself !!

No Jam though, Just the New Jerusalem set with Jean-Phillipe Rykiel.

Peter played with a quickly assembled group, Steve H on Guitar, Phil Collins on drums etc, they rehearsed every afternoon of the Festival and played so well !

© Michael Cashman

I didn't want to do concerts in 1980, and Michael found that unfriendly, so that must be why they chose to "leave me out of Glastonbury History"

But Yes , I headlined the '79 Festival with P.G. as support ! Never forget it!!"

Leighton Buzzards

The Pop Group © Brian F

   Michael Eavis, owner of Pilton Farm- ( the long term site of the festival ) had to put up the deeds to the farm to get a loan to cover the expenses that the festival incurred .Unfortunately , even though 12.000 turned up , these numbers ( at five pounds a head ) were nowhere near enough to cover the costs of the festival over three days . Somehow money was found to donate to the charities, but there was no festival in 1980 whilst the organisers licked their wounds and re-assessed their financial strategies. This was the last year that the festival was known as a Fayre, from 1981 onwards it became the Glastonbury festival.

   The festival was apparently extremely well run, with excellent facilities such as crash tents, great food, health care , childrens resources and a state of the art sound system . This was designed by Jerry Gilbert of Funktion One who says this about the system

© Paul Seaton

© Paul Seaton

Although there were some horn-loaded systems around at the time - Dave Martin's Philishave system comes to mind - they were of inadequate sonic integrity and argumentative dispersion pattern when used in quantity. Maybe it's these factors that meant the continuance of multiple direct radiating loudspeakers in the US. You know, glorified guitar cabinets with screeching horns stuck on top. Yuck! The fact was they weren't much better off and needed tons more units to make up for the deficiencies in efficiency. Naturally enough, the Festival system had the big, fat, firm, bass of the 2x 18in bin I mentioned earlier, coupled with the unprecedented mid-range projection and clarity of the then new early Turbo devices. In fact it's still in use today.
Perhaps the most important aspect was the excellent coherence of such a large rig achieved by treating the sound footprint as narrow slices of a pie. Hence my fixation with narrow dispersion units. I tried to get it so that any given person in the audience would only hear one, or at the most two, loudspeakers. All the now standard array principles naturally fell out of this approach and were being fully employed in the late '70s, despite the claims of others that came later. All in all, with its excellent size, weight and power ratio, it represented a paradigm shift in large scale PA design approaches. We did an AES presentation on this work, in I think, 1978 and some said that we were out of our minds. I feel this conveys the standard reaction when some of humanity is faced with information that rocks the foundations.

The system was based on dual 18" bass bins, 2 x 10" low mid drivers and a central high-mid and HF section

Mother Gong © Paul Seaton

One of the 'biggest 'spelling mistakes ever © Grant Abbott

courtesy Bodge

more info on Glastonbury , Jerry Gilbert and Funktion one

More Mother Gong ,Gabriel , Hillage Glastonbury 79 photos here


Glastonbury Fayre pages .

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Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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