Robert Richards obituary | Glastonbury Festival

Robert Richards, who died of cancer aged 65, was an important figure in the history of the Glastonbury Festival. He worked for festival founder Michael Eavis for over 30 years and was producer of the 2006 film Glastonbury, directed by Julien Temple.

Robert made the film with the backing of Eavis’ personal savings and hired Temple to capture every moment of the festival as it happened in 2002 – spanning 2,000 hours of film. By then Glastonbury was facing something of a crisis, having suffered burglaries and severe overcrowding the previous year, and Eavis had been forced to put up a controversial ‘super-fence’ to keep intruders out. Although it took four years for the film to be released, it remains the defining record of the festival’s first half-century.

Born in Finsbury Park, North London, Robert was the son of Ann (née Platt) and Robert, a design engineer. While at Woodberry Down Comprehensive he played rugby for school, county and country. Eventually he decided against pursuing the sport, growing his hair long and hanging out at the Rainbow Theater in Finsbury Park to chat backstage with musicians including Eric Clapton and David Bowie.

He spent a year at the University of Bristol (1974-75) studying politics, philosophy and economics, but then dropped out, changing to do the same subject at City, University of London – and calling it a day after a year there too.

By then Robert had started making a series of underground films, all of which have since been lost except one – Krasny: An Introduction to Philosophical Thinking – recorded at the BFI in 1999. He also sold candles and, during a while, tea in Covent Garden.

It was a van of candles that took him to Glastonbury Festival in the early 1990s – he went there to sell them to punters but returned in later years to work for the festival in its information area, initially in the Green Fields section with CND. He later helped Melvin Benn obtain the festival license and began to work more closely with Eavis as Glastonbury grew into one of the biggest outdoor events in the world.

By then settled in Somerset, he also became involved in the growth of Somerset Film, a charity dedicated to nurturing new film talent; he was one of the founding trustees in 1999. In addition to his work with the festival, he has kept goats on a smallholding in Withypool on Exmoor, became a trustee of Glastonbury Abbey and more recently chairman from the Glastonbury Town Fund Board, which raised £24m for the township in 2021.

A shrewd negotiator, Robert has worked closely with the Eavis family and the core festival team to forge new partnerships and opportunities, including a long-standing media partnership with the Guardian which began in 1998 and continues to this day. .

Robert’s first marriage, to Victoria (née Thomas), ended in divorce in 2010. He is survived by his second wife, Ann-Marie (née Buckley), whom he married in 2011, his mother and his sister, Elizabeth.

Jan G. Gilbert