The best-ever Glastonbury

Mud. Robbie Williams on stage with Oasis. More mud. The Ride of the Valkyries and Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Yet more mud. As the first acts prepare to go onstage at Glastonbury today, we ask 10 festival-goers for their most memorable experiences
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The Independent Culture

Glenn Tilbrook, singer with the Squeeze; 1971

I first went to Glastonbury in 1971 when I was just 13. My greatest memory is of camping next to the stage and waking up at four in the morning to watch David Bowie do a solo acoustic set. It was fantastic, really brilliant. Other names on the bill that year included Traffic, the Edgar Broughton Band, Quintessence and Terry Reid. I remember going down with a few friends in a van owned by an old hippie guy. It was my first festival and it was brilliant. I never came back to any other Glastonburys until 1994, by which time I had played at a lot of festivals with Squeeze. When I came back I was amazed that this fantastic memory I had as a teenage boy of a festival which was magical had somehow grown but retained almost exactly the same spirit.

Jo Whiley, presenting for Radio 1 and BBC2; 1982

Everyone remembers their first Glastonbury and it was probably the most special of all my times there. It was more than 20 years ago. I was in the sixth form [at the Campion School, Northampton] and I went with three mates. We took a little tent down and it was complete liberation, away from our parents. We got very, very drunk on the very strong cider they have at Glastonbury and I don't remember us actually seeing any bands (though I think Van Morrison and John Cooper Clarke were both playing that year). It rained an awful lot, our tent was slipping down the hill and at about 5am on the Sunday we just said "sod this" picked up our stuff and left. I distinctly remember cooking bacon butties on a little stove on the train platform before leaving for home.

Sir Peter Blake, artist; 1970s

I went to the first Glastonbury in 1970. I'd just moved to Somerset and we drove. The roads were full of aristocratic hippies on their way to Glastonbury in their caravans and horses and carts, so the roads were rather blocked. But the most exciting time was when I went with Ian Dury and the Blockheads. I taught him at the Walthamstow School of Art. The Blockheads just said come on the tour bus with us. It was pretty exotic on the bus - lot of joints being smoked, a certain amount of alcohol being consumed and music played loudly. It was a great set. "Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll" was most memorable; it was their anthem at that time. I stayed for their gig and came back; I haven't camped for 60 years, since I was a boy scout.

Annie Nightingale, DJ; 1990

Before 1990 I wasn't interested - I thought it was just a load of hippies. Then the Happy Mondays came and turned it into a dance scene. I remember that we were trying to drive through the gate at the backstage area and it was very churned up and muddy. The wheels of the car started spinning. It was in the worst possible place, where all the trucks and equipment were coming in. Stupidly, I wound down the window of the passenger seat to see what was happening and this mud from the spinning wheel went straight into my face. Me and my mates had half a backstage pass between eight of us but it didn't matter because the Happy Mondays had brought a colour copier and were printing off backstage passes. No one bothered in those days.

Guy Garvey, lead singer of Elbow; 2004

In 2002 we were on the Other Stage. I was looking at the crowd and thought it would be great to hear everybody sing with me. So in "Grace under Pressure" I made up a line: "We still believe in love so fuck you." I got the crowd to sing it. It was in the run-up to the Iraq war and it seemed like a fitting show of solidarity. But last year was the most memorable. I told Tom to grab as many people as he could and get them on the stage. I was playing guitar and singing at the same time, which takes a lot of concentration. When I turned around there were about 35 of our friends on stage with me. Elation doesn't come near it. I couldn't hear anything apart from my heart beating. It's got to be the highlight of my life, let alone Glastonbury.

Meg Mathews, ex-wife of Noel Gallagher; 1995

I've been to a few. My most memorable time was in 1995 when Oasis headlined Glastonbury for the second time and Robbie Williams got up on stage and started dancing with Liam. He was standing outside the stage dancing with us and then just got on. [This led to his expulsion from Take That]. It was just great. That Glastonbury, I kept wandering around the fields - I hadn't been to the green fields before. We stayed at the main hotel in Bristol. I would have liked to camp, but Glastonbury's still amazing without doing that. Oasis were on at 9pm and I arrived at 4pm. I didn't want to burn out before Oasis came on. You get exhausted if you're there watching bands all day so I came later and went home really late on the Sunday.

Phill Jupitus, presenting for BBC6 and BBC2; 1985

It's hard to forget my first year there. It was 1985 - the Style Council were playing, Ian Dury and New Model Army. It was one of those stupid wet ones. I was a poet at the time and I turned up for one of the gigs only to find there was no stage manager, no stage and I was supposed to perform on a beer crate. I didn't do it. I was new to the showbusiness and Glastonbury's DIY ethos hadn't permeated through to me! Word was that I would not be welcome back. Since then I've witnessed musical moments so amazing that I have to pinch myself when I'm standing there seeing Divine Comedy and Queens of the Stone Age and thinking "I'll never own this on CD; it will just exist in this one moment". But this year there'll be no John [Peel] and that will mark it out.

Emily Eavis, daughter of founder Michael Eavis; 1995

For me, the 1980s were very blurred because I was very little. You just get disparate memories, images and feelings and smells. The festival smell is so distinctive. It is a farm here and when you get to the end of May and around June I can tell the festival is here. But 1995 is the year I remember because it was the first year of freedom when I'd just finished my GCSEs and I was allowed to camp for the first time. I always used to wander around when I was little and get lost but that was the first time I had my freedom. And it was the first time I could really see why people enjoyed it so much. When I was a kid, I had mixed feelings about it. I found it a bit scary, this amazing onslaught of people, it used to really give me fear. But in 1995 I saw it in its amazing togetherness.

Sean Doran, artistic director, English National Opera; 2004

We performed Wagner's Valkyrie - that is the only time I've been to Glastonbury, but it was extraordinary. It was like two unlikely worlds that had come together and absolutely fused. We knew everyone would recognise the "Ride of the Valkyries", but there's the remaining 40 minutes of the duet between Brünnhilde and Wotan. But I realised that everybody was silent because they were concentrating on the two singers. It was one of the most exhilarating moments in my life in the arts. The Valkyries were star-struck that they were rock stars. I was dazed and so was Brünnhilde [Kathleen Broderick]. And then I realised I had the ultimate pass, so I sat on stage while Christy Moore played. He's a hero of mine. And for Morrissey. It was great.

David Heath, Liberal Democrat MP; 1971

I was about 16 or 17 and I went to the second ever Glastonbury in 1971. Then, the security consisted of stamping the back of our hands as you went past the farmer's gate. The first one was just in a field. I thought it was great. It was just a very pleasant, happy occasion, although I can't remember a single band except Melanie. I liked her because she was quirky and I remember buying her version of Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" afterwards. It wasn't quite the same as today. I had longish hair and undoubtedly flares. I went a few times after that, when it was just a morass of mud. I also went when I was leader of Somerset County Council, and a few years later when I was chairman of the police authority. It was fun going back when I was a little bit older.

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