Glastonbury Festival: Old photos from 50 years ago rewind the happy hippie vibe

Ron Reid’s extraordinary footage captures scenes that baffled some Somersetians but embraced the laid-back spirit of free festival audiences

As lucky ticket holders prepare for the monumental event that is Glastonbury Festival 2022, we transport you back to the simpler days of Worthy Farm in 1971 and the very first Pyramid Stage, in a unique collection of archive footage.

Never mind the multiple outfits, wet wipes and dry shampoo – in those days all you really needed was the clothes you got up in, a musical instrument, a sleeping bag and a whole lot of love …although the more organized brought a tent and a flippety slouch hat too.

Inspired photographer Ron Reid was on hand to capture this groundbreaking solstice gathering for five days in June, snapping photos that encapsulate the icy, joyful atmosphere, with major stage performances considered incidental.

Read more: All the latest news and advice ahead of Glastonbury 2022

Australian-born Ron, a resident snapper at London’s Marquee Club in the 70s and 80s, has always been an advocate of vegetarianism, ecology, sexual liberation and non-coercive spiritual values. He was also an engineer and helped prepare and maintain the first Rainbow Warrior for Greenpeace.

While fitting perfectly with the ethos of Glastonbury Fair, he was acutely aware that this easy-going hippie culture seemed strange and even threatening to some people, especially the neighbours. Knowing instinctively when to press the camera shutter, Ron’s portrait from the 1971 festival documents Glastonbury in its early days, but the seeds had been sown for the celebration that would last for another half-century.

Ron Reid died in 1997, leaving behind an archive of nearly 15,000 photos, many of which have never been published. The images shown here and many more are in a 36-page book titled Ron Reid – Glastonbury 1971 published by Cafe Royal Books (£6.50).

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