That night I drove around the site in my Austin Champ jeep, watching the flags fluttering and the campfires burning. I felt like a General surveying his troops before a great battle, perhaps Agincourt. The police had given me one of their walkie talkies to carry and we had a complete walkie talkie system throughout the site to keep us in communication with each other. Release had set up a ‘bad trip’ tent, next to a hospital tent that was put together by local doctors and nurses. I remember Doctor Julian and Doctor Sam from Glastonbury Fair was there. There was a Glastonbury free food kitchen that had been set up who were going out to local towns and getting donations of food to put in their pot. There were catering concessionaries who had come down from London and many local groups of people, including the WI and Boy Scouts, had set up their own tents and as time went on it became more of a mixture between a local country fair and an outdoor concert.
There had never been an event of this size in a rural setting outside of wartime. The logistics kept everybody busy for days on end. Hardly any of the organisers or the people working on the site got much sleep, myself included. Although I had a caravan backstage I ran most of the show from onstage with the help of a couple of other presenters. We got a good rapport going with the audience. The rest of the weekend passed in a haze of sound and lights. If you go to the UK Rock Festival site there are many intimate recollections from people who attended. There is also a documentary that I was part of a couple of years ago for BBC Inside Out.
My high spots at the festival were Barclay James Harvest with their 40-piece orchestra playing; Rod Stewart, Marc Bolan and I had a cup of tea together in our glam rock satin suits and going to see the Grease Band in their caravan to discover Joe Cocker and John Lennon there together, jamming. Both had arrived with The Grease Band in silly disguise (when they went outside they wore joke shop glasses with a fake nose!). Very few people knew that they were there and it must have been nice for them to be punters.
© 2011 Colin King