Documentary telling the story of the evolution of the British music festival through the mavericks, dreamers and dropouts who produced and experienced them.
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This programme contains some strong language.
There are more music festivals these days than you can shake a pair of designer wellies at.
One in ten British adults attended a festival this year.
It's a billion-pound industry.
The latest craze of the media age beamed directly into your homes.
From anarchy and freedom in the '60s, to the mobile phones and cash points of today,
the British festival has been an ever-evolving battleground for society's hopes and ideals.
This is the story of Britain's love affair with the festival.
And how a handful of mavericks, dreamers and drop-outs
felt the calling of the music of rebellion and the wild.
How different generations have sought an alternative
way of life through festivals and how that has changed the British cultural landscape forever.
Ah, the British summer.
Cricket on the village green.
An ice-cream at the pier.
A day at the races and...
MUSIC: "Song 2" by Blur
The music festival has become part and parcel of our summer months.
It's a yearly pilgrimage into the countryside to wallow in mud, music and mayhem.
A youthful rite of passage.
A place where people go to lose themselves and discover each other.
When you arrive at the festival, it's as if your life has now been cut
from the life that you lived.
I think it is freedom.
People are looking for freedom,
even if they're not quite sure what it is.
They are looking for the idea to go into a field
with a group of other people and have a bit of a fire
and dance around to some music and escape the walls.
It's that feeling that you're not alone. It's really important.
And that you're part of a group.
I think it's some sort of spiritual need, maybe,
for people to go and get together and enjoy each other's company
and let a bit of steam off, really.
For many, a festival is about the call of the countryside and getting back to basics.
It's got its own magic. I mean, it's all about being alive.
Back to those memories when you're looking up at the stars
for the first time.
And I think it's as simple as that.
The idea of actually going out into the country and sitting on green fields,
with a lovely sunset, stars in the sky, the moon at night, and all that kind of thing.
There's certain smells like the camp-fire-at-dusk smell.
There's a sort of excitement which comes with it because
it's turning into darkness
and it feels like it could go in any direction at that point.
# Out here in the fields... #
For others, it's about the unifying force of the music.
There is something magical about coming together and having that
sort of transcendent moment where your band that you love
plays a song that you love when you're in the environment
that you love with all these people that suddenly you love,
cos they all love this moment too.
CROWD SINGS: # Na na na-na-na na
# Na-na-na na, hey Jude
# Yeah, yeah, yeah... #
You feel the emotion, in the middle of a song, I mean,
you feel the emotion and you go, "What did I do?"
It's just all over the whole place a mile back.
And you start to feel it like a wave go with you.
But these fundamental forces that draw us to festivals every year are nothing new.
What has seemingly turned into a corporate juggernaut has older, more humble roots.
The two voluntary sufferers of Chipping Campbell
had thoroughly entered into the spirit of festival week.
The idea of a festival goes back into antiquity.
The great cosmic moments, if you like, which occur every year, which are the longest and shortest days,
were always anciently celebrated
up and down the shires and the rest of it,
in fairs, events, gatherings and music and merry-making.
This seems to be as old as man.
There was dancing on the village green.
I feel there's a certain element in the British cultural DNA that
really kind of lends itself to rural gatherings. They are traditional.
They go back almost before time.
Sheep fairs and horse fairs and Michaelmas.
The festival itself has become huge.
The Jazz Festivals, I think,
were definitely among the first, if not the first.
The actual breeding ground of pop festival
would have to be jazz festival, because at jazz festival you have
the complete freedom of alternative culture, and jazz, of course,
has been the sound of bohemia since 1920.
A young generation was emerging from the austerity of post-war Britain,
desperate to let its hair down and get its knees up.
In search of an identity and a cause,
jazz would be their rallying call as thousands of teenagers gathered
whilst a bewildered establishment looked suspiciously on.
The raucous, gay, sad music of a generation more closely scrutinised than young people have ever been.
This is a cross section of the young - students, office workers,
shop girls, apprentices enwrapped by rhythms that separate them from the old.
Or are they so separate, so different from the way young people have always been?
Certainly, they mature earlier physically, which creates problems.
You go into a jazz festival, you can jump up and down as much as you like,
and you can drink as much as you like without getting arrested.
All you do is fall on the floor, fall on the grass!
Freedom for the individual.
there wasn't much about after the war.
When the first festivals started happening,
rationing was still in place - food rationing, petrol rationing.
You tend to forget this.
You know, the young people that had grown up during the war
had had a pretty frightening time.
This new generation in search of a taste of freedom
initially gathered in the nation's dance halls.
But their hunger for an escape from convention
led them out into the country in search of something different,
even a young Rod Stewart.
You couldn't have a rave-up in a dance hall.
You had to walk across the floor and ask a girl to have a waltz or something.
But if you were in a field,
you felt free.
The lawns of Palace House were given over to the sixth Beaulieu Jazz Festival.
It's the event at which the fans forget the conventional life, let themselves go and dress like crazy.
In 1956, an aristocrat by the name of Lord Montague
began to put on a yearly jazz festival at his home in Hampshire.
He had the facility of doing what he wanted to do at his own estate -
no neighbours with their innocence and so on.
And he fancied having a jazz do,
and he would have the ability of doing it.
And it was just a larger jazz concert.
They were a bit like the art-school dance taken to the country,
and people would dress weird.
It was the Chelsea arts ball decanted into a meadow.
It kind of shocked the locals and upset the sheep.
It became very, very successful.
And, sadly, sort of petered out
because of the inability of certain people to behave themselves
when they got a few pints into them.
In 1960, a mixture of youthful overenthusiasm, tribalism and cider
caused what would become known as the Battle of Beaulieu.
Britain was about to catch its first glimpse
of the anarchic potential of festival culture.
The point about the battle, if there was a battle, a genuine battle,
in Beaulieu, was between so-called trad fans and modern-jazz fans.
But the theory was that the Acker Bilk fans got annoyed cos a modern-jazz band was on,
and maybe they expected Acker to be on earlier, and he wasn't, or no-one told them.
Maybe they didn't know Acker was on later.
And they pushed and shoved, and they knocked down a television tower, a tower
holding lights for the television people filming it, you see?
What damage, in fact, do you think was done to BBC equipment?
-We've lost something like seven or eight microphones.
Vanished overnight, virtually.
Where they are, well, goodness only knows.
It really become quite impossible to go on satisfactorily broadcasting?
We had to come off the air five minutes early.
The Battle of Beaulieu, we called it.
And they all rushed the stage at one time and
got on a piano to get up onto the roof.
And the piano collapsed.
People were trying to lift it up, to get it level.
I said, "No, leave it, leave it, it's all right. I can manage like this."
So they eventually got it up with some bloke underneath it
with a couple of cracked ribs or something.
Lord Montague said to me, "Play them the blues to calm them down."
That wasn't going to do any good, but we played them blues.
It didn't make any difference. They were still leaping about the place.
I think you always have to remember that the Brits have always been
very strong on gangs.
One of the things I think festivals provided
was a chance for those people to met, the people in the gang.
It was just young people...
..going through a mild form of protest, basically,
that "We want our world".
# Oh when the saints
# Go marching in... #
While these two jazz tribes skirmished, a more serious political movement was gathering pace
as an increasingly politicised British youth took to the streets
in the early Sixties.
# Ban the bomb! Ban the bomb! Ban the bomb! Ban the bomb! #
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament marches, the Ban the Bomb marches, as they became dubbed,
they again were a bunch of kids going out for a weekend,
unsupervised, in the country,
but rather than partying they were saving the world.
We went on those marches because
they were huge social gatherings -
admittedly, all in a long queue.
But they were gatherings of people of the same mind who were
pretty determined that this was not going to go forward.
They were a festival on the march.
We marched from Aldermaston to London.
They were festivals of singing, they were festivals of idea,
they were a march for freedom.
The heady mix of youth, politics and music were
combining to create the rumblings of Britain's first countercultures.
But as the Sixties were revolving, so was a generation's musical taste, and nowhere was this more apparent
than at the National Jazz & Blues Festivals during the mid-Sixties.
It had its own earthy kind of feel, if you like, and the music was from a very broad church.
You had to be semiconscious not to realise that something was
changing, something was afoot.
There was an awful lot going on in the Sixties. I mean,
it was such a time of development, of change.
The jazz and the folk music was getting left behind.
Everything was sort of switching around.
It's interesting to see how you just look at how the bills changed,
you see how they sort of drifted from being jazz into jazz
and blues into being blues and into blues and rock and then into blues and rock and psychedelia.
But it wasn't just the music that was changing.
By 1967, duffel coats were being replaced by beads.
Pipes were out, flowers were in.
This was the Summer of Love, and the birth of the hippy was upon us.
The actual Summer of Love, being '67,
was probably when we in the bohemian world had finally married
popular song with folk music and revolutionary ideas.
The Flower People have their own taste in music, and their favourite
performers are not necessarily big names in the pop charts.
For them, the highlight of this festival
was a relatively unknown singer called Arthur Brown.
The hippy thing was,
particularly in the beginning, a movement towards innocence, towards
not feeling bound by duty, feeling that perhaps fun was a good element of life
and that maybe that was a better judge
than correctness or duty or anything else.
-Would you call yourself a hippy?
Would you claim Arthur Brown for your own.
I mean do you think he's one of you?
Most definitely, yes. Yes.
Um, he seems to speak for the hippies.
# Call out the instigators
# Because there's something in the air...#
It was just kind of a rebellion.
Everybody was still wearing bowler hats in those days, and Britain was very boring.
You know, the national dish was sort of pie and mash with sort of nasty liquor on it,
being served out of things that looked like public toilets.
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore comes along.
Now you can make fun of judges, you can make fun of the Queen and the police.
So it's like Victorian Britain
is finally being dismantled, Queen Victoria has finally gone.
There was a sort of division...
as it were, the pre-war generation, the people who wore suits,
you know, to the people who wear jeans.
MUSIC: "WHITE RABBIT" by Jefferson Airplane
The whole Haight Ashbury scene in San Francisco, I think it spilled over into this country,
and the alternative culture in America
became the popular culture in this country.
The hippy movement started, and LSD, which had been used originally
for creating better war,
became a tool for opening the heart,
the mind, or at least seeing the heart.
Then the music flowed from that place.
# What the Dormouse said
# Feed your head
# Feed your head... #
Turn on, tune in, drop out.
As the world suddenly changed from monochrome to technicolour,
Peter Jenner and Andrew King decided to put on a series of free concerts in Hyde Park in the late 60s.
With the like of Pink Floyd, Roy Harper and the Rolling Stones, the Hyde Park concerts
became a place for the emerging British counterculture to turn on, tune in and drop out.
# Nobody's got any money in the sun
# Oh, dear me, what a terrible drag... #
There's no question that the Hyde Park concerts
happened because we read about there being concerts in San Francisco, in Golden Gate Park.
Hyde Park was beautiful - right by the Serpentine,
and the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, T. Rex,
endless bands which played there -
and it was a very, very beautiful scene.
# ..All the folkie student population wearing rucksacks... #
That day in the Cockpit at Hyde Park was amazing.
I'd never played to that amount of people before.
There were 10,000 people there, which was amazing for that period.
It was the high noon of our lives.
# ..Than a Chinese wrestler's jockstrap cooked in chip fat
# On a greasy day... #
It was like a mushrooming moment
that went on seemingly forever.
Everything seemed to be bright and in the process of awakening.
If they're free, if they're put on by amateurs, then you don't have security.
You know, you don't have fences round, you don't know how many people are there.
No barriers, no security.
There were about three policemen.
Most of the free festivals were policed by Hell's Angels at the time.
Nobody needed the police force or anything like that.
And everybody looked after it well.
People were there for the afternoon.
They didn't have to be fed, they didn't have to be managed.
Money didn't have to be collected.
The press were climbing up the back of the stage to take pictures,
and the only security you had were Hell's Angels, who chained the press photographers to get them down.
In some of the later festivals,
particularly as it got to the Rolling Stones festival,
there were hundreds of thousands of people,
and you stood on the stage there, at those festivals, and you thought,
"This is unreal."
# Oh, yeah, yeah... #
When I went to the Stones, I went backstage,
and there was almost like a kind of royal garden party going on!
I don't know if there actually were tea and scones, but it felt as though there should be.
And it was incredibly nice, you know?
MUSIC: "I'M YOURS AND I'M HERS" by The Rolling Stones
# She's gotten bigger
# Somebody else's too... #
You know, the Stones show was just amazing.
I mean, there was amazing little kind of visual things,
like an entire oak tree just filled with people all the way up.
It was gorgeous. Nothing really mattered very much.
It was like a gathering of the clans, in a sense.
It was like, in a way, that's an idea of festival being about community
rather than about just going to a big concert in the open air.
This growing sense of a new society was perhaps most apparent
in the States at Woodstock festival in 1969.
The sheer volume of people wanting to attend forced the organisers to declare it a free event.
The government declared it a national disaster.
This template of a free festival would become hugely significant for the British hippies.
# By the time we got to Woodstock
# We were half a million strong
# And everywhere there was song... #
Definitely, Woodstock changed a lot of things.
There was a school of thought, which was
give the music to the people free
and sell the records afterwards in the shops.
Why charge young people who can't really afford it to hear something
that is of their own generation being generated by themselves?
Why charge them money to do it?
# ..We are stardust... #
The thing I think that we Brits learned from
first Monterey and later Woodstock is that all things were possible.
That gave the business big ideas, but it also brought,
it brought the very best of the rock'n'roll of the period
to an awful lot of people.
# Once upon a time You dressed so fine
# Threw the bums a dime in your prime
# Didn't you? #
Whilst free music was a lovely idea, the commercial potential
of festival culture was becoming increasingly apparent.
# ..You used to
# Laugh about... #
As Woodstock was unfolding, a group of young entrepreneurs from
the Isle of Wight were attempting to produce a commercial festival
that would be its British rival.
# Now you don't seem so proud... #
Our aim was to be business-like and put on a first-class event that
people would enjoy and that we could make money out of,
you know, we could make a living. We weren't looking to exploit it,
we were just trying to do a decent thing,
and we believed that if we could do a decent thing, then next year
people would want to come back and we could do it again and again.
The gigantic, three-day pop festival at Woodside Bay.
It marked the momentary re-appearance of Bob Zimmerman,
alias Dylan, after three years in seclusion.
# How does it feel? #
First, to get Dylan was just amazing.
I mean, it was absolutely staggering that we had that good fortune.
We made an offer that was appealing,
involving a holiday for Dylan and his family and a trip
over on the QE2 and all this sort of thing, and it chimed in with him
feeling that he wanted to get back to work.
And Dylan set sail on the QE2 on 15th August,
which is the Friday of the Woodstock festival.
Dylan should have been at Woodstock. He should have been the number one star at Woodstock.
I've heard it said here today by some of your fans that the new Bob Dylan is a bit of a square.
Is this true?
You'll have to ask the fans.
# ..Come on without
# Come on within
# You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
# Come on without
# Come on within
# You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
# Whoa, you know, I can do just like the rest
# You know I like my sugar sweet... #
We'd made a name for the Isle of Wight festival
as an international event of absolute supreme stature
by having the biggest name in the counterculture appear.
It was a bit like winning the lottery, almost.
It was that much of a long shot, and it happened.
The Isle of Wight Festival had been a financial success,
and as the Sixties gave way to a new decade,
in 1970 the Foulk brothers aimed for the stars
and managed to book half of them in the process.
An estimated 600,000 people took the ferry to the event of a lifetime.
Arriving for the Isle of Wight,
it was just like everywhere you looked there was
thousands and thousands of young people with backpacks,
sleeping bags, hundreds and hundreds of them just...
moving in waves towards this place. It was amazing.
I remember walking for miles to arrive there and then walking over this hill
and seeing 600,000 people in front of me
and realising all these other people loved the same music as me.
The island cannot cope with the quantity of people.
I mean, whether it's 150 or 50,000 bishops,
it still cannot cope with the quantity.
I want to keep the Isle of Wight the same as it was
when I was born here 75 years ago.
If you have a festival with all the stops pulled out,
kids running about naked, fucking in the bushes and doing every damn thing
that they feel inclined to do,
I don't know if that's particularly good for the body politic.
'Lord Baden-Powell must have been turning in his grave, but the camp fires helped
'many of them to lose their cool, together with the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
'throbbing its highly amplified message to the world.'
The Isle of Wight residents must have been terrified.
That's an invading army of 500,000 people.
Somebody might have had the odd flower nicked out of a garden,
a runner bean stolen or something,
but I don't think there was any trouble for the residents at all.
# Take a little dope
# And walk out in the air
# Stars are all connected to the brain... #
Inside the arena, a rippling mass of humanity got its rocks off
to the likes of Miles Davis, The Doors, Joni Mitchell and The Who.
I really wanted to see Jimi Hendrix, you know.
That was why I went there.
And he was absolutely amazing.
Absolutely out of this world. On another planet.
You know, Hendrix...
that was just blistering.
He put stuff together so perfectly off the top of his head, you know?
# Well, I stand up next to a mountain
# I chop it down with the edge of my hand... #
# ..Well, I stand up next to a mountain
# Chop it down with the edge of my hand... #
The bit that I do remember is a firework going up
at the end of Hendrix, when it looked like the stage was on fire,
and it went up into the roof of the stage,
and there was clouds of smoke billowing out.
And somebody's on the mic, saying,
"The stage is on fire, the stage is on fire.
"Can we have a fire appliance here? The stage is on fire."
Sort of this droning voice going on.
And my heart sank at that point. I thought, "Well, this is it.
"The stage is going to burn down. This is the end of it."
# This is the end Beautiful friend... #
Outside the perimeter fence, the number of disgruntled people
unwilling to pay entry was growing by the day.
As makeshift shantytowns emerged,
the area became known as Desolation Row.
Everybody had gone into these trees that were all overgrown
and higgledy-piggledy, and they built themselves little shelters in there.
So you had the place teeming with Hobbits that
were all living in the lane.
And in fact, you had a better view of the stage from the hill
than you did from the enclosure, where you had to pay.
So we put out a flyer about this, then all hell broke loose.
The hippy ideology of free music was about to come face to face
with the commercial reality of the Isle of Wight,
and the fence became a potent symbol of that divide.
You will not be allowed in without a ticket,
so please have a ticket. Have it ready to show the stewards.
There was this anarchic sort of feeling about the whole thing,
where people were saying, "Well, this is a rip-off.
"Tear the walls down. It should be free."
They weren't taking into account that perhaps the whole thing cost a lot of money to put on.
We're coming in the shadow of Woodstock here in 1970,
which had been declared free and had been thought to be an amazingly cool event,
because it was free, and that we were uncool because we weren't free.
So there was that comparison some would make,
including one of the people that spoke from the stage.
I've been to Woodstock, and I dug it very much.
I've been to about ten fucking festivals, and I love music.
I just think one thing -
this festival business is becoming a psychedelic concentration camp!
It was like a sort of a cattle market inside the walls, and then there were
all these French anarchists saying, "Tear down the walls!"
It really was like the barbarians attacking the gate.
It was somewhere between chaos, anarchy and Monty Python.
# No reason to get excited
# The thief he kindly spoke... #
We've got no money for the artists! What are we going to do?
I could see it from the stage.
You'd see it burning in the distance.
You've got to understand, it's, like, half a mile away.
But even when I finished a song, I could hear
the Celtic nations going at it.
I could tell. It was just like Braveheart or something.
On its last day, the festival was declared free,
and despite it being a triumph musically,
many left the Isle of Wight with a sour taste in their mouth.
# All along the watchtower... #
It was in the end destroyed in a sense by the anarchy thing,
and they blew it. In a sense,
the world changed after that. In my mind,
the Isle of Wight was the end of something rather than the beginning of something.
At the end of that festival, I was standing inside, having got inside,
in front of the main stage there in literally about two or three feet
of beer cans and kicking them around and thinking to myself,
"There's got to be a better way of doing a festival than this,"
because, basically, no-one was happy.
You know, the bands weren't happy, the management weren't happy,
the people weren't happy, and it was a clash of ideals.
# As gentle times... #
# ..Go rolling... #
As a new era dawned, an aristocratic hippy by the name of Andrew Kerr
had an idea that he hoped would reconnect festivals
with Britain's ancient, more spiritual past.
I was very keen that the thing should be peaceful
and it should be a spiritual revival. That's what I was after.
And because I saw the spirit in the crowd at the Isle of Wight,
let's reproduce it when the money isn't involved with it.
Do you see what I mean?
# Together in the sand... #
I think Andrew Kerr was the first who decided that
this was a sort of place for a gathering on a huge scale,
which should be free to everybody.
If you ever climb the Tor on a misty day and you find yourself
up in the clouds above the rest of the world, islands popping up
out of the sea, as it were, it's an extraordinary sight.
# ..Do send their distant call... #
If ever there was to be a sort of rebirth
of the spiritual nature of Britain,
then it should be at the spiritual heart of the country, in Glastonbury.
Having found the perfect location, it was suggested Andrew get in touch
with a local dairy farmer who had put on a festival at his farm
in Pilton the previous year.
He was a strange hippy, but he was quite a good-looking one,
and he was quite charming, and it didn't take much convincing.
I think we almost immediately got on, and I said,
"Look, I want to put on this festival.
"It's going to be free, all the bands are going to play for nothing,
"and it's going to be absolutely beautiful."
I mean, there was three or four of us that were involved with it, and it was quite a romantic idea.
Basically, Arabella came into some money,
and she virtually paid for it,
so the three of us, I suppose, financed it, really.
So it wasn't really free, it was just free
to the people that came to it.
And they really believed that they were going to change the world.
But they were pretty stoned, though, that's the thing.
I mentioned wandering around through the surrounding
cornfields before, and there's still one or two people doing it.
Probably they're all out of their heads, anyway, tripped out completely.
The thing about Glastonbury Fayre, really the very first one, was it was just fucking magical.
We came past the farm and over and looked down into the valley.
There was the Pyramid Stage, all lit up,
and Traffic just out there playing music.
# Let me in, baby I don't know what you got
# But you'd better take it easy Cos this place is hot
# And I'm so glad we made it
# So glad we made it
# You gotta gimme, gimme, gimme some lovin'... #
It was like, "Wow!" You know?
"Is this for real?" You know?
Cos this is what we wanted.
Turn the bass drum down a bit!
Glastonbury Fayre in 1971 was a free-festival experiment.
It was to be more than just a free concert in a field.
A uniquely British blend of spirituality, LSD and pop culture
combined to create something truly original.
The atmosphere was absolutely chaotic, it was just wonderful,
because there was no security,
there was no backstage or anything like that, no smart caravans
or anything like that. Completely haphazard.
But it worked.
People ring up and say, "Can we come and talk to you?
"We'd like to do such-and-such."
And we had healers and spiritual leaders
and ghost hunters and maze builders and every kind of walk of life.
# ..Something to make you so happy... #
The first Glastonbury Fayre had the most beautiful stage I've ever seen.
It was this pyramid built out of scaffolding and then covered
in polythene sheeting, which reflected the light,
and it was gorgeous. And it was very, very big.
And there were two guys, they had a piece of drain attached
to the scaffolding, and a large iron spike,
which they were about to drive with sledgehammers into the ground.
I suppose to tap in to the convergence of ley lines under the stage.
And one of them looked at the other and said,
"Of course, we might split the earth in half."
And one said, "Do you think so?" And he said, "Mm, maybe, I don't know."
"What the fuck." Then he hit it with a hammer and the earth didn't split in half.
But there was a moment when I thought, "This is going to be really interesting."
Somehow or another, in spite of all that sort of looniness that was going on,
it still happened, which is extraordinary.
# Oh, the heart that keeps on changing... #
Everybody was doing something. And to me, it suddenly clicked,
it was more like the bands that were doing it, all knew each other.
So there was a reason to do it for free.
In the audience there was an American with a cockerel on his shoulder.
He was known as Chicken Man.
And he'd saved it from the slaughterhouse.
I thought a lot of it was very weird.
It looked like a sort of a get together of intergalactic aliens
and sort of really weird looking people.
I wasn't really sure if I was hallucinating or not,
or if this was actually what was really there.
# Sometimes when I am feeling as big as the land
# With the velvet hill
# In the small of my back
# And my hands are playing the sand... #
It did have an air of innocence about it.
It had an air of exploration.
Nobody knew what was going to come from it.
It was a combination of ancient Druidism and modern music,
and confronting the modern world.
# ..Sometimes when I am feeling... #
Like any other family, the hippies can occasionally be seen taking afternoon tea.
The sandwiches and fruit cake are on offer most afternoons
at the home of Miss Christine, a determined lady of over 80.
She lives in Glastonbury and is a staunch defender of the hippies.
She feeds them, has them to stay and encourages them to take baths.
The village people were sort of very broad-minded, I think,
looking back at it now.
There were people walking about nude with top hats on
and knocking on people's doors in the village.
Really, it was quite horrendous.
But they did think it was funny.
It would be very nice to see, not just Glastonbury Fayre happen,
but lots of small festivals happening
with the same motive. You see, we can't tell
what good will come out of it until we try it.
At Glastonbury Fayre, some people felt they had found something special,
a glimpse of an entirely different kind of life.
# Please don't dominate the rap, Jack
# If you've got nothing new to say
# If you please, go back up to check
# This train's going to run today. #
Elsewhere in Britain, commercial festivals such as Wheeley and Bickershaw,
were attempting to pick up
where the Isle of Wight and Bath festivals had left off.
Bickershaw, Lancashire, a mining village on the road to Wigan Pier.
1,500 people, a pit, a pub and not much else.
A place where nothing ever happens.
Until May 1972, when the Bickershaw Pop Festival made it a mecca.
In terms of the festival then, are you going to be ready on time?
It looks as though you're not.
Well, what would convince you that we were?
If the fences were up, the stage was up, everything was ready.
What fences are not up?
They're gates that are not up. Fences are up.
The accusation that this isn't ready, if you don't know anything at all about festivals,
then you might make that statement.
If you know anything about festivals, then you'd say we're about up to date.
# My younger brother
# went to jail... #
But something wasn't quite right.
Amateur businessmen, poor organisation and often horrendous weather,
meant that commercial ventures like Bickershaw never quite established themselves in the early '70s.
But for those that had seen the light at the free-spirited
Glastonbury Fayre, festivals were now becoming less about entertainment,
and more about an alternative nomadic way of life.
The Sixties' hippy dream of a new society was becoming an alternative
reality for a growing number of people, who began to make a new life on the road.
# Leaves are falling all around
# Time I was on my way...
# Thanks to you, I'm much obliged
# For such a pleasant stay
# But now it's time for me to go... #
I think as a result of Glastonbury Fayre in 1971,
a great many people then thought that they had experienced some sort of life-changing situation,
and it prompted them to want to go and set up on their own,
and take over, if they could, common spaces,
what was left of them, and really rekindle the idea of communality, if you like.
I think that was the beginning of
the formation of alternative communities.
Certainly in the West Country, around Glastonbury, you found people
trying to live in yurts or living in caravans.
People starting to follow the festival trail.
Free festivals was a lifestyle thing that we wanted to develop
a way of living out of, rather than just the music thing.
We were like a whole generation on the move, all these people who,
you know, a lot of people would travel from festival to festival.
They basically lived at festivals.
They'd stay on afterwards and clean up after them.
As far as free festivals were concerned, we were the travelling festival.
When we turned up with vehicles and our families, got our stalls out and put them up, you know,
we traded with the local population.
A whole group of like-minded people who would try
to make a living at festivals by making stuff and selling things.
I remember walking in to one, and within 25 minutes I was in charge
of an organic stall.
And the guy didn't come back for two hours.
So I mean, you know, it was like that.
You just didn't have a...
Like, "I'm playing music."
You were part of all of it.
As the free festival movement gathered momentum in the early '70s,
this new alternative culture began looking for a spiritual home, and converged for a series of festivals
in the somewhat provocative surroundings of Windsor Great Park.
The spirit there was quite incredible, it really was.
It was just amazing. The whole feeling.
People were there and could hardly
believe this was happening in England.
And what's more, on the Queen's back door step!
I went down there with a couple of mates. We hitched down there with a little old army tent.
Eventually got to Windsor station, and as we left the railway station there was just a line of hippies,
all the way down through the town, off to the Great Park.
And there were joints going backwards and forwards.
You'd take a puff and pass it on.
As we arrived on the Great Park,
there were Hawkwind playing on the grass. It was just... It was like going home.
MUSIC: "Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear In Smoke)" by Hawkwind
# Sick of politicians, harassment and laws
# All we do is get screwed up by other people's flaws... #
At Windsor we had a chap who turned up with a briefcase.
Came up to me and said, "Do you stage manage?"
I said, "No, I'm just doing the lights. I don't know what a stage manager is actually."
And he said, "I've got this to give out." And I was going, "Oh, right."
You could see out across this great swathe of the audience at Windsor.
And I was thinking, hmm. Between numbers I said, "There's a chap here that's got some...
"if anybody would like something to get high on, just come to the front of the stage."
And there was a huge... People started getting up one by one and it just got mad.
We had to withdraw.
The singer pointed out to the crowd there was a drug squad officer walking through the crowd.
Again, we weren't prepared for the level of response.
About 500 people started moving towards this guy, who promptly legged it.
Pulled out his radio - what a giveaway -
Black Mariah pulled up on the road 200 yards away,
and I'd never seen anybody cross 200 yards faster in all my life, with 400 irate hippies chasing him!
I think Windsor set out to be a carnival festival, but also a political statement.
If you want to really get up the nose of the authorities, have a carnival in the Queen's back garden.
It was very funny, very amusing. But as usual, the pawns got hurt.
What had started out as a bit of fun quickly turned sour when, in 1974,
a bemused Government decided they could no longer ignore this growing movement.
Obviously somebody had decided they needed to show the hippies a lesson or two.
NEWSREEL: 'The police were among the fans before most of them knew it.
'When the young people wakened up to what was happening to them,
'most accepted the inevitable and left then.
'But a large minority resisted, first by forming percussion
'groups in front of unappreciative lines of policemen.'
NEWSREEL: 'There have been 1,002 other convictions.
'As a result, both the Berkshire County Council and the Maidenhead
'and Windsor Borough Council, took the view they had a duty
'to take all possible steps to prevent a recurrence of such a deplorable event.'
They moved in at dawn, and they were just waking people up, smashing down tents.
They were pretty angry, I would say.
They wanted to re-establish their authority.
Or perhaps the Queen had said, "Get those squatters out of my garden!"
So what happened after Windsor was that there was a negotiated deal.
It was obvious they realised that they had gone too far.
And they gave us this huge RAF base called Watchfield in 1975.
NEWSREEL: 'Meanwhile, in Watchfield village, Oxfordshire, the locals citizens prepare for a long siege.'
MUSIC: "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath
It's perhaps to be expected that the people of Watchfield, particularly
the older ones, don't like the idea of the festival one little bit.
Well, the general reaction is pure unadulerated shock and disgust.
It was a bit odd to see police wandering around, because
that was part of the deal - we had to have police on site.
I remember once somebody, some naked guy, standing in front of
three policemen, directing a hundred hippies holding hands, dancing around them in an anti-clockwise direction
to sort of take away all their bad vibes. I mean, it was all light-hearted really.
We actually played for something like seven hours that night, and there were maybe 20,000 people.
And they just did not stop.
It was an all-night party right through till dawn, till
the blisters on my fingers got too much to handle.
It felt a bit artificial -
probably because it was.
because it had had this sort of Government sanction and it had been allocated a spot,
this airfield, it didn't have quite the same feeling of spontaneity
as some of the other festivals. It felt a little odd.
At Watchfield, the freaks, mystics and nomads had been given space to do as they pleased.
But it was on the Government's terms, and not a particularly inspiring site.
The search continued for a spiritual home for the free festival movement.
Stonehenge was a bit of neutral territory.
And in a way that opened it up for the hippies to come and say, "Well, we lay claim to it."
And in a way the establishment couldn't argue with us, because they had no idea what Stonehenge was.
At that time Stonehenge was still just a pile of stones in
the middle of England that no-one actually cared very much about.
It doesn't belong to the Army. It certainly doesn't belong to...
the Ancient Order of Druids dating back to 1907.
It didn't belong to us either.
But we sort of had an Englishman's right to our prehistoric heritage of weirdness.
That's why Stonehenge is so important - it's there!
It shouldn't be there. What the hell is it?!
And then the sun rose above the horizon, a spark of light.
And I was feeling... I'd been up for about...
And I suddenly came alive.
I suddenly felt really energised.
And there were tears running down me face.
You know, I was completely amazed by the effects.
And everybody around me had these looks of wonder and joy on their faces as the sun came up.
It came a focus for people who were fairly extreme...
in their views.
People who thought that everything should be free,
and that society should be changed entirely.
The whole basis for society should be looked at.
When you're trying to create an alternative society,
you look back to a time when
maybe society wasn't so structured.
There's always been this sort of...
I suppose people harking back to the old days, or some sort of,
you know, trying to get in touch with their culture, do you know what I mean?
Trying to get in touch with something that's a bit older than
Tescos and whatever else is going around.
And I think there was just this general feeling that Stonehenge stood for something.
The Stonehenge festivals in the mid '70s were as much about community as they were about music.
People didn't go to see rock stars, but rather
to restore a spirit of freedom they couldn't find anywhere else.
The free festival movement had finally arrived.
To watch people arrive at Stonehenge Festival,
and to see them a week after they'd been there, to watch the change in their face, to watch
women just become beautiful - do you know what I mean?
And men just become handsome, all the stress and worry just falls off them
and you just see these people, you know, flowering.
I came across a marquee that held about 800 people.
And there was a troupe of Shakespeare players,
and they were just putting on Shakespeare's plays for free.
There were teepees, banners, funny old trucks all painted up.
You know, like marquees, stages, dogs running everywhere, kids running everywhere in packs.
They were really quite amazing events.
It was a very special time.
During the '70s, the free festival movement
had become a serious attempt at creating an alternative way of life.
By the late '70s, the society it had rejected was in meltdown.
A new generation was emerging at festivals such as Donington and Reading.
Wonder and LSD had been replaced by tension and speed.
The tone had shifted.
MUSIC: "If the Kids Are United" by Sham 69
# So let's all grab and let's all enjoy...
# If the kids are united... #
At Reading Festival,
in the mid- to late Seventies, there was always conflict.
That's when punk kicked off. It just had this energy - this vibrancy.
You knew something was changing.
And that is that counter-culture - stepping in again when...
change isn't coming quick enough for young people.
It really was the same type of people that made
the punk thing that made the hippy thing.
It's a different time, different drug.
As punk and heavy metal erupted into Britain's festivals in
the early 80s, even at a resurgent Glastonbury, hippy idealism was giving way to a more political
festival culture and suddenly everything looked very different.
We'd put a couple of festivals on - in the early 80s - 81 and 82 -
and Andrew and myself went round
to see Michael after the event and said, we're missing a trick here.
What we need really is the banner to rally under.
We were just anti-Tory really. We were on a crusade really to actually take on Maggie
and to fight the oppression,
and it was very effective.
Effectively, Thatcher's government
created from 1982 onwards an exiled population.
There was a culture of resistance that was threaded through
the free festivals,
the miners' strike, the riots in the cities,
they were all part of opposition to Margaret Thatcher.
We came together in that at places like Glastonbury Festival with
a strong Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament support.
So, to oppose nuclear weapons was to oppose Margaret Thatcher.
To do free gigs in fields,
that alone simply was to oppose Margaret Thatcher.
The growth we have seen in this country in the last five years
is the growth of unemployment - the growth of an uncaring society.
At the same time, the true growth...
In the old hippy days, it was all love, peace and flower power and
bells and things and mystics and cosmics - all that sort of thing.
But now it's more politically orientated insomuch as CND
and it's the same sort of concept and ideals sort of filtered through the years.
This has not only been a nation of money-makers and imperialists,
it's been a nation of inventors, of writers, a nation of theatre and
musicians - an alternative nation and it is this alternative nation which I can see in front of me now.
Festivals were reflecting and questioning Thatcher's new Britain.
Unemployment had reached record levels and anxiety reigned.
People were just leaving the cities in droves - young people with no hope of a job or anything.
Three guys would chuck 100 quid in a buy an old coach from the back of a coach company,
one of their old ones they'd retired - throw a few mattresses in and head off.
And so, what happened was that movement grew and grew and grew.
And, suddenly, instead of just the slightly better off hippies
making their arts fair up in Norfolk - like the Albion fair
and so forth - you drove a whole load of quite hard core working class people
from up north, onto the road.
In 1979, I think there were six vehicles at Stonehenge, you know,
and by 1984, there were thousands of people hitting the road.
More and more people appeared on the festival scenes, drinking.
The whole punk attitude.
Fuck everything, kind of thing, was quite prevalent amongst a growing group of younger
disenfranchised people, who had just given up on living in cities.
-We're just trying to live our lives, that's all.
-Yeah, we don't interfere with anyone else.
This world's supposed to be a common treasury for everybody to share -
not people to button up. Do you know what I mean?
No wonder people are starting to get sick.
These people are pushing our people too close.
And like, it's going to start to explode one of these days.
This whole thing is just a total farce.
Cities are going crazy, everybody's going crazy.
It's all because of this - they're trying to impose a police state.
# A lot of people won't get no supper tonight
# A lot of people won't get no justice tonight... #
I used to live in a squat and I always thought it would be great if I could save up enough to
-get hold of something I could own myself and drive about in it and call it my own home.
-Call it home.
There was a definite kind of tribalism going on.
The whole New Age travellers and New Age gypsies and the convoy.
There were lots of different little cults of people.
A lot of them were social casualties really.
A lot of them were drug casualties.
They were living outside the law really. They weren't...
completely independent of the system.
A lot of them were on the dole.
So, the authorities saw this movement as rather a threat.
The original hippy idealists were being joined on the road
by a new generation of post punk urban squatters.
This collective would become known as the Peace Convoy.
And as they arrived at Stonehenge festival in 1984, it seemed peace
and love had now fully surrendered to anger and resentment.
See these teeth! Put them in now, go on!
Kick them in now, man!
There were in excess of 100,000 people at Stonehenge.
As with any town that size, you're bound to have a few mischievous elements, shall we say?
Bikers started just mercilessly beating up any punks they could get their hands on.
It was like being in some sort of medieval nightmare.
It was as though the whole thing had hardened up.
The political thing had hardened as well.
It was a reflection of that.
# Welcome home
# You total stranger.
# Welcome back
# The coast is clear.
# Treat you here just like they treat you there. #
I mean, it was scary stuff. It was just wild. People just arrived and did what they wanted to do.
They set up stages, they sold drugs, they did whatever they wanted to do. It was quite scary.
It did look like Apocalypse Now.
There were helicopters flying around with lights and, you know, it was pretty ugly.
In '84, on the way off the site,
we saw a whole bunch of people trashing the police command unit, if you like.
At that point, I thought, you've just finished it.
The increasingly lawless Peace Convoy stood for everything
the establishment despised and in 1985 the tension would reach boiling point.
At one point, we were on our way to a festival up in Cumbria.
I think it was called Blue Moon.
The police were on their way to the miners' strike.
This huge flotilla of police went by and they all had banners in the back saying, "You're next."
It was pretty bloody obvious what was going to happen in Stonehenge '85 -
You could see it coming like a train.
The local chief constable had borrowed police from all over the country.
I'm not here to bargain with you.
I'm here to say something to you for you to consider.
Now, you don't have to make an answer now. You can get through to me.
We want to go to Stonehenge.
Well, the Stonehenge Festival, as you know, has been cancelled.
I'm hoping we'll get through the day
without too many people being injured.
Before the actual confrontation happened,
literally minutes before, and as it was happening,
there were instructions coming from senior police officers
to break skulls.
We just want to get off this field as peacefully and quietly as we can.
This lot, all these coppers, are just here for one reason, and that's to cause trouble.
I mean, I don't want to cause trouble.
I ain't going to cause trouble. I ain't got a stick or anything.
There weren't just riot police. There were special forces, there were soldiers.
They had large truncheons and they had their heavy shields and they were banging them
and moving slowly forward and it was surreal.
We were standing there filming this as it was happening.
I was thinking to myself, "I'm in another world."
Open the door, then!
I didn't do anything, mate. They smashed me windows.
They hit me on the head with truncheons!
Then they hit me when I was on the floor!
On the deck, on the deck!
On the deck!
You stay there, boy!
They then started using their truncheons to smash windows.
Hundreds of police officers, batons waving, smashing the window as this thing was still moving.
They brought it to a halt by standing in front. There were a lot of people in it.
It was their home, and they absolutely trashed it.
They just went in and smashed the windows, smashed the door down,
got inside, and all you could hear was screaming.
Someone help me! Help me!
What we, the ITN camera crew and myself as a reporter,
have seen in the last 30 minutes here on this field
has been some of the most brutal police treatment of people
that I've witnessed in my entire career as a journalist.
We're genuine people just like yourselves, and we need help right now.
Please. Help us.
All of you, help us. Stand by us.
Their convoy, in a way, had turned into its own worst enemy.
It had turned into a bit of a Babylon on wheels.
There were still a lot of good people in it
and there was a lot of hope, but there were ugly and greedy sides to it.
I don't know what would have happened if it hadn't been attacked.
I think it needed to change anyway. But it was a brutal way to change.
# I travelled to a mystical time-zone
# And I missed my bed and I soon came home
# A rush and a push and the land that we stand on is ours... #
With the Battle of the Beanfield, the establishment had crushed free festival culture.
The original dream of an alternative Utopian society now lay in tatters.
# A rush and a push and the land that we stand on is ours
# It has been before, so why can't it be now..? #
What was left of the convoy made their way to a place where they knew they could find some sanctuary.
A lot of people were really scared to deal with them,
so Michael ended up driving...
He got the call that they were leaving Stonehenge at 2am
and he was up all night waiting for them.
This is really quite a small village in the middle of the West Country.
So when all these trucks were arriving, people were really scared.
I was dealing with these people on my own, really.
I was just an ordinary Somerset farmer lad, really.
I'd never seen anything like it before.
And they were wild.
They were angry as well.
They were really tough times. People were really embittered after it.
People started living on sites with the wreckage of what they had left over.
But it was really the wreckage of their dream, which was what had been destroyed.
You say we're bad news. We're the good news.
You're so fucking unreliable.
All the work I've been doing for you all the way through...
You invited yourselves here.
I gave you 19, or however many tickets, to come on. I said we'd look after you well...
We gave you the best show you've had here for years.
We said we'd look after you well... I don't know what you expected.
We expected to not be out of pocket.
I've been running this show for 17 years, and I've been fair and reasonable all that time.
If I hadn't been, I wouldn't be here now. I'd be cut to pieces by now.
By the end of the '80s, with Glastonbury struggling with the times
and Reading facing bankruptcy, the outlook for British festivals was bleak.
MUSIC: "What Time Is Love?" by The KLF
But in and around the fringes of Britain's cities,
a new drug and a new generation would combine once again to reignite festival culture.
The whole 1980s acid house and free party stuff
was an actual reaction against the sort of Thatcherite idea,
or the enforced ideology that there was no society.
And I think that's where they made that big mistake, and their mistake created the void that we then filled.
The acid house came along and the ecstasy came along simultaneously, and they were the antidote.
Acid house quickly spread from the inner cities to their ring roads,
as the nation's youth jumped in their Fiesta XR2is,
dodged the police and put their hands in the air.
It was cat and mouse. What people loved about those was...you know,
the meetings, everyone getting together in car parks, and someone's bleep would go off
and he'd go "The party's here", and everyone would convoy down there.
Then another message - "No, it's here",
the police would run there and everyone would shoot off there.
I think people enjoyed that as much as the party.
Sometimes it was absolutely rubbish, and sometimes amazing.
I went to one M25 party that was in a farmer's tunnel that he used for his cattle
to get under the motorway, with a massive sound system and lights at one end
and everybody else at the other end.
It was like something out of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
CAR HORNS BEEP
But increasingly, the hunt for the rave's secret location would lead to nowhere
but a service station on the M25, where nobody knew what was going on.
What are you doing?
Waiting for someone to tell us where it is.
Isn't that an old story?
-Sounds familiar to me.
Well, apparently only one person knows where it is.
I think the culture of the M25
was people wanting to make bigger and bigger parties.
It was fantastic fun, and they wanted to make money as well.
There was that money-making element that made them grow,
but we found it was a lot of driving around and not much partying.
A lot of crooks got involved in it. A lot of heavy duty drug dealers got involved in it.
There were big marquees with state-of-the-art sound systems, and all this security with all these
pit-bulls all around it. They were right proper villains.
The rave scene quickly became expensive, unreliable and a bit seedy.
So a handful of sound systems ventured further afield in search of something different,
and in the process, forged an unlikely alliance.
We were going to things like Longstock, which had displaced Stonehenge.
As we got the sound system up and running, travellers would begin to appear out of the woodwork.
It just happened slowly.
I went to one festival and you could hear "Boom, boom, boom".
-It was keeping me up.
-I needed to be convinced.
-I thought "I don't like this".
-But suddenly, you see all the old guard listening to rave music.
It was just one of them moments of harmony.
Everyone just...you know, crusty travellers were putting on trainers and jumpsuits and baggy clothes.
It was a beautiful moment.
It had the power of the original Summer of Love.
I remember going to one of these kind of parties about 30 miles away from Stonehenge in the end.
On the edge, there was the start of what became Spiral Tribe,
just setting up a sound system next to what was a sort of travellers' festival. The travellers liked it.
The new blood people, the people into dance music, liked it,
and it was all working like a nice little thing.
It came together. We were bringing the music and the system.
They were providing the location and some other things, so, you know, it was a joint venture.
And it was this coming together of two outlaw gangs that briefly
reignited and reimagined the free festival scene in Britain.
The whole free festival and free party scene grew and grew
till you got to Castlemorton, where there was what, 60,000 to 100,000.
# In sweet harmony, in sweet harmony
# In sweet harmony... #
This impromptu festival at Castlemorton, Worcestershire,
in 1992, reached an unprecedented scale through word of mouth alone.
It was the pinnacle of the new underground,
and put the wind up the government all over again.
You had loads of vehicles everywhere.
You had double-deckers, your techno traveller types, your zippy ravers,
your crusties with dogs, your straight-up ravers with beanies and caps.
You had everyone there, and everyone was mingling. The party went straight through.
It started Friday, all day Saturday, all day Sunday to Monday and Tuesday.
And there was a naked man running about by Monday morning. There's bound to be a couple.
A friend said it was the Woodstock of our generation. She was probably right.
Scared the crap out of the government, because what could they do?
There wasn't a police force in the country that could deal with 40,000 people arriving on a place.
The Castlemorton thing was the straw that broke the camel's back.
How many days did it go on?
It was almost like sports coverage on the news. They kept saying, "And another day at Castlemorton..."
REPORTER: 'A week ago, the 20,000 travellers had sprawled all over the common
'at an illegal music festival, with beat music pounding out from numerous discos day and night'.
Why is it on Friday night, we have a man wielding a machete
in our orchard, chasing our lamb, shouting "meat"?
The police came down on them like a ton of bricks, and that was the start of the Criminal Justice Bill.
This summer at Castlemorton and other places saw outrageous
and unacceptable examples of the problems caused by New Age travellers and ravers.
There will be no soft option under the Criminal Justice Act.
Celebrate our multicultural society!
Celebrate our right to free assembly, and celebrate our right to party!
MUSIC: "Unfinished Sympathy" by Massive Attack.
The events at Castlemorton presented the government
with an opportunity to force through the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act,
a piece of legislation which outlawed open air
gatherings of more than ten people listening to "music characterised by a succession of repetitive beats".
Up to then, dance music had been run mostly by goodwill and happy amateurs.
All of sudden, that was a turning point where people
had to get serious and go "Right, I'm going professional now".
that's what the government can't deal with. Can't have that much chaos.
Can't have a situation where they can't control people, where people can just do what they want.
It's too much of a threat to them.
They bring the weight of the law on you, and then paint you as the demons that are, I don't know,
corrupting the youth or something, and then bring in new legislation to tighten down on all of us.
It was a period that the UK changed quite dramatically
from what it was to what it became.
MUSIC: "Born Slippy" by Underworld
Music was also changing in the mid '90s, as the underground went overground.
Indie bands turned into pop stars.
Dance music became mainstream.
And festivals reflected this change of mood, as they became fashionable, even cool.
But as they became ever more popular, Britain's festivals
were also being obliged to get serious about law and order.
Even at the traditionally free-spirited Glastonbury,
this new landscape of legislation was reshaping its future.
How many people heard this after last year's event, that music
was stopped, the stage had to be cleared because of severe crushing?
We are proposing to grant a licence for 100,500 people, knowing full well
that the dance tent last year was absolutely horrendous.
It's comical, really.
I think for the safety of people, we've got to go one way or the other.
We either reduce the numbers and make it safe, or we get
a licence for 180,000 people, knowing that this is probably
what's going to turn up, given fine weather.
# Karma police
# Arrest this girl
# Her Hitler hairdo Is making me feel ill
# And we have crashed her party... #
If our festival was going to survive,
then we had to work with the establishment,
because there was no way that fighting the establishment
would result in success.
# This is what you'll get when you mess with us... #
In 2002, Glastonbury Festival was required to erect a super fence in order to keep its licence.
The spirit of anarchy unleashed at the Isle of Wight back in 1970 now seemed symbolically contained.
The idea of a free festival was over.
No-one would get into Glastonbury for free any more.
It was becoming a bit of a monster, because it was very difficult to control.
So the police and the council said,
"Look, you've got to get to grips with this,
"because this is getting dangerous now".
So they determined to design a fence that couldn't be taken down, you see.
With stricter controls and tighter legislation,
festivals over the last decade have ceased to be seen as the open threat they once were to middle England.
There are hundreds and hundreds of festivals, and it's a big money-making thing.
It's a kind of, you know, we band people and put them through a gate
and they can have this, and then we shunt them from this fenced area to another,
guarded by a whole load of specially badged up semi-policemen.
MUSIC: "Yellow" by Coldplay
A surge of television coverage in the past ten years has served to domesticate festivals even further.
Now even the weather has become a national joke.
Almost 100,000 fans have defied the worst weather at the Glastonbury Festival since 1985.
Now it's a multi-million pound business, attracting top performers and an audience of over 100,000.
On the first day...
This coverage has kind of inculcated a generation with the idea
that what you do in summer is go to a rock festival somewhere.
You know, it's a rite of passage for us all now.
How old are you going to let your kids get to before you let them go to a festival on their own?
A lot of what we worked out by trial and error, ad hoc stupidity, magic,
whatever, in the early days, has been codified, changed,
made functional by the entertainment industry.
Everything gets co-opted by the mainstream.
That is what happens in our world. It's very sensitive.
What the advertisers and the marketers see is "What's happening? I want to jump on that.
"There's a bandwagon. Let me get on it".
And they will get on it and make you an offer you can't refuse.
As a result of big business and TV broadcasting moving in, the ideological battle
for the heart of Britain has faded away as music and big name acts
have returned to the forefront of the festival experience.
MUSIC: "Fire" by Kasabian
Obviously, the music scene has changed a lot.
Live music is really precious.
It's the one thing which is real.
You're in the field, you're looking at it, in a world where things
are increasingly online and communication is quite virtual.
Yes, you can experience the download,
but you can't download the experience, and that's what festivals give you.
They give you an experience you can't get anywhere else.
For some, the contemporary festival has become a place of weekend rebellion,
a corporate pastiche of its former self.
But perhaps the essence of the festival experience has never really changed.
We're all looking to be happy, and we're all looking to be part of the human family and to reaffirm that.
That's why people go to festivals. And that is something that can never be repressed.
I think people like to be together, you know,
in an environment where there's nothing to prove or nothing to gain.
You can just be yourself.
Why people go to festivals, the thing that really calls them, is spirit.
They are touched.
And sometimes that touch changes their life for ever.
# Sing along with the common people
# Sing along and it might just get you through
# Laugh along with the common people
# Laugh along, even though they're laughing at you
# And the stupid things that you do
# Because you think that poor is cool
# Want to live with common people like you
# Want to live with common people like you
# Want to live with common people like you... #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Continuing the critically acclaimed Britannia music series for BBC Four, this documentary tells the story of the emergence and evolution of the British music festival through the mavericks, dreamers and dropouts who have produced, enjoyed and sometimes fought for them over the last 50 years.
The film traces the ebb and flow of British festival culture from jazz beginnings at Beaulieu in the late 50s through to the Isle of Wight festivals at the end of the 60s, early Glastonbury and one-off commercial festivals like 1972's Bickershaw, the free festivals of the 70s and 80s and on through the extended rave at Castlemorton in 1992 to the contemporary resurgence in festivals like Glastonbury, Isle of Wight and Reading in the last decade.
Sam Bridger's film explores the central tension between the people's desire to come together, dance to the music and build temporary communities and the desire of the state, the councils and the locals to police these often unruly gatherings.
At the heart of the documentary is an ongoing argument about British freedom and shifts in the political, musical and cultural landscape set to a wonderful soundtrack of 50 years of great popular music which takes in trad jazz, Traffic, Roy Harper, the Grateful Dead, Hawkwind, Orbital and much more.
Featuring rare archive and interviews with Michael Eavis, Richard Thompson, Acker Bilk, Terry Reid, the Levellers, Billy Bragg, John Giddings, Melvin Benn, Roy Harper, Nik Turner, Peter Jenner, Orbital, amongst others.