In 1970, it would cost you one British pound to get into Glastonbury. For this one pound, you would be witness to the first ever Glastonbury festival, the most iconic music event in British history. You would see Marc Bolan’s Tyrannosaurus Rex, Keith Christmas and Quintessence, not forgetting your free milk courtesy of Worthy Farm, the festival’s home ground for the next forty years to come.
Held on the day after Jimi Hendrix’s death, the first Glastonbury festival (at that time called Worthy Farm Pop Festival) was brought to life by Michael Eavis, the now legendary festival organiser. Eavis was inspired to put on his own event after watching an open-air concert headlined by Led Zeppelin at the Blues Festival at the Bath & West Showground. While headliners The Kinks failed to show, Marc Bolan stepped in and around 1500 people attended. A mere fraction of the 175,000 that are lucky enough to secure tickets today.
The 1971 festival, known as Glastonbury Fair, was planned as an antidote to other ‘over-commercialised’ festivals. With an estimated attendance of 12000, it had certainly grown from the humble pop festival just a year previously. Offering music, dance, poetry and theatre, the Fair was free to attend and the lineup included Hawkwind, David Bowie, Melanie and Joan Baez. It also featured the very first incarnation of the Pyramid Stage, constructed with scaffolding and covered in plastic sheeting.
In 1978, a group of travellers on their way back from Stonehenge were directed by police towards Worthy Farm, despite no planned Glastonbury festival taking place. After persuasive discussion with the farm, an impromptu, free mini-festival took place with a makeshift stage powered by an electric meter inside a caravan. A year later, and Glastonbury Fayre returned, this time funded with a bank loan secured by Michael Eavis against the deeds of the farm. With 12,000 attendees, the festival was themed as ‘The Year of the Child’ and featured performances from Peter Gabriel, Steve Hillage and Alex Harvey Band.