Glastonbury

40 years on

inner city unit at the 2010 glastonbury festival

Inner City Unit play a special Nik Turner 40th Anniversary set at the Glastonbury Festival 2010

Now Nik remembers. It's all coming back to him.

1971. Rehearsing at Worthy Farm with Hawkwind (Thomas Crimble on bass, Dik Mik and Del Dettmar channelling weird wibbly-wobbly noises from space, Terry Ollis on drums, Dave Brock on guitar and vocals, and Nik on sax, flute and vocals), serenading the cows, boosting their milk quota, hanging out with Michael Evis, Arabella Churchill, Andrew Kerr, and all the beautiful people, making beautiful music, being shown round the site by Michael. Awesome!!?!

Next he remembers coming to the festival with the band's tepee, camped on the side of the hill overlooking the original Bill Harkin designed pyramid stage. By now Thomas was on the festival organisation crew. The Hawkwind that played was bassist Dave Anderson on guitar, as Dave Brock was excruciatingly ill and couldn't make it (Dave's not here man), Robert Calvert on vocals and swazzle, Dik Mik and Del, Terry Ollis (naked of course) and Nik, with Thomas helping out on bass. The whole festival was weird, wild and whacky. Everybody seemed to be experiencing strange mind-boggling realities on mind-warping substances, in touch with the infinite, turning on to the void and even further out there. Nik thought the whole festival was like some alien-invaded intergalactic carnival of extra-terrestrials and beings from all other dimensions, doing their most peculiar things. He remembers Hawkwind played their usual jaw-dropping explosive set. The Psychedelicosious Pink Fairies and their 2 naked drummers. Wow!!?! Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come and the Sacrificial Burning Crucifixes. Unggh!!?! Melanie's sweet ethereal angelic voice through the veil of Isis. Aaahh!!?! Davie Bowie's Spacey Oddities. Look!!?! Daevid Alien's resounding, reverberating Gonnngggg. Unngg!!?! Edgar Broughton outing the demons. Phaww!!?! Much much more. Nik's brain hurts. Free food, free love, free dom (check out dom in welsh). Those John Lennon etchings never got raffled to cover the costs of the festival. Doh!!?!

Fast forward to 1978. Michael caught in a convoy traffic-jam of people looking for a festival. The cops say, 'Hey Mickey, let them park on your land for a couple of days, ease the traffic, eh?' 'Sure,' says Mike, 'anything for a quiet life'. Wait a minute, something's wrong!!?! Doh!!?!

Nik gets an urgent phone call. 'There's a festival happening at Worthy Farm, we need your pyramid stage' (the one constructed for his Egyptian Sphynx Show). 'Yowser!!?! I'm on my way.' He arrives at the farm, erects the stage, just about where he'd camped last time, and it's all happening. Bands playing, DJ's spinning, Thomas Crimble's Wind f*ckers effing, Nik's Sphynx Spectacular Show enlightening, mystical rituals going on, spirituality all around. Andrew Kerr organising, with electric power courtesy of the coin meter in his caravan. Awesome!!?!

Chatting to Michael about making it a regular thing. Why not, get the original performers, Davie Bowie and the guys, have it on Summer Solstice, let the convoy go to Stonehenge. Sounds good. Fast forward to 1979. The BBC commissioned Nik to perform his 'Sphynx Spectacular Show' on his own pyramid stage at the Glastonbury Festival. They wanted to film his show for a programme about re-incarnation, which they were putting together in collaboration with the late Jeremy Sandford (of Cathy Come Home and Edna The Inebriate Woman fame, plus loads of books). He'd done newspaper articles about re-incarnation featuring Nik and Christmas Humphreys (the High Court judge) amongst others, and he'd joined Nik's Amazing Magical Travelling Freak Show, reading from his works, touring all the free festivals, with all the performers personifying the Egyptian Gods and enacting their stories. 'Which God are you? Here's the costume'. The Egyptian Book Of The Dead Sci-Fi Show.

The festival had it's own stage, but Nik set up his pyramid towards the green area. He remembers performing his Sphynx show in the afternoon, then being interviewed about re-incarnation ('I have been here before'). Then later that night, doing the first performance with his new band, composed partly of the Sphynx band, Inner City Unit. Rocking!!?! And then the next day playing with Gillie Smith's band on the main stage.

One time Nik Turner's Fantastic All Stars played in Mike's barn with Hank Wangford and a frightening bonfire.

Nik played many Glastofests, both inside and outside at the alternative 'fringe' festivals with his own bands and friends' bands on as many stages as possible, all-night with everyone welcome on stage, really wild. And circus shows with all his kids and members of the Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe, for the lovely Arabella. And then with Space Ritual in Avalon and Croissant Neuf, as well as putting up his stage at the Stonehenge Alternative Festival and playing on that with loads of bands, every year, when that was happening. Then the Alternative Alternative Festival moved from Stonehenge and became Lost Vagueness, then Shangri-La, and Trash City. Wow!!?! Nik played them all. And now Annie in Wonderland's Rabbit Hole, marking the 40th anniversary of Michael's Pilton Pop Festival, where Nik will perform with Space Ritual, representing the Glastonbury Festival of the '70's with Thomas, Terry and Mick Slattery (Hawkwind's original, original guitarist). Nik thinks he might be stuck in a time-warp-warp-warp!!?! And playing with Inner City Unit in Shangri-La. Ungghh!!?! Whatever next!!?! Wonderful stuff - bring it on.

For Nik, Glastonbury was always a very spiritual festival and he always had a great deal of respect for Michael, even when the festival got big, and even with the convoy conflict. Nik thinks Michael ultimately always did the right thing. Nik saw it as the acceptable face of commercial festivals, not perfect, perhaps, but an acceptable compromise, and benefiting just causes. Good health to Michael, may there be many more (festivals that is, there'll always be many more just causes).

One love.