Glastonbury Festival 1971

Glastonbury Fayre 1971

After a patchy start the year before, new faces arrived at Worthy Farm, bringing with them a mix of inspiration, practical skills and financial investment. Although the festival would again lose money and then become dormant for the most of the decade, the people behind the 1971 event created a legacy. One that would not only leave a permanent mark on the festival, but also change many of their own lives forever.

In September 1970, Andrew Kerr visited Michael Eavis with the idea of running a free festival at Worthy Farm the following year. 

Andrew Kerr had spent ten years as an assistant to Randolph Churchill, working on the biography of his father Winston. In contrast to this career work at the heart of the establishment, his outside interests weren't so conventional. In September 1970, after visiting the colossal Isle of White festival, he went to see Michael Eavis with the idea of running a free festival at Worthy Farm the following year. With Kerr and his compatriots willing to fund the event, Eavis saw a way of clawing back his losses from the previous year.

Kerr moved into the farmhouse shortly after. Around this time, his friend Arabella Churchill snubbed an invitation to take part in a high profile NATO function, railing against aggression with the backdrop of the Vietnam war. Her radical anti-establishment views caused controversy. She fled the media glare in London to join Andrew on Worthy Farm. Between them they put in thousands of pounds to get the festival off the ground.

Stage builder Bill Harkin brought a design for the main stage that would become iconic. A pyramid was built from steel kit parts and flimsy translucent panels, the idea for which had come to Harkin whilst meditating on the nearby Glastonbury Tor.

Tony Andrews built the sound system, a prototype of his legendary 'Turbosound'. Nic Roeg and David Puttnam came along to shoot the film 'Glastonbury Fayre'. Supermodel Jean Shrimpton turned up, along with actress Julie Christie and another model Dee Palmer. Photographer Paul Misso documented the event with stunning photography.

Compared with the previous year, the event, on the surface at least, looked like a success. 12,000 people, David Bowie on the bill, and a smattering of celebrities and media coverage. Behind the scenes though, the financial position was just as bad as the previous year.

Nonetheless, paths were being mapped for the future, with personal directions either radically changed or cemented for life.

Dee Palmer reassesed her life. "I'd been a fashion model until then... I dropped my profession completely after that". She later became markets manager, before becoming a partner with her husband in Bill Harkin Associates, producing stage designs for major events around the world.

Tony Andrews' Turbosound became a mainstay of the early rave scene, and he went on to set up Funktion One, still regarded as one the best sound system designers in the world. Tony can still be found at events like Glade festival, personally setting up each and every Funktion One installation to produce the best possible sound.

For Arabella Churchill though, it was probably the most life changing. "So I moved into the farmhouse in the late autumn of 1970 and basically that was the end of my straight life". Bella, as she was often called by the festival team, would dedicate the rest of her life to the event and to good causes, before her sad death in 2007.

So in 1971 the seeds were sown. Although there would now be hiatus of seven years, a loose team of technicians, artistocratic idealists, and a rather more down to earth Michael Eavis, had unwittingly laid a foundation.