Yesterday (Saturday 4th February), at the Music Expo 2018 held at the Cheese and Grain in Frome, Somerset, Sarah and I had the good fortune to speak to the amazing Michael Eavis, who had taken the stage to speak about his life and times originating and for forty-eight years steering Glastonbury Festival, the world's largest and longest-running music festival at Pilton, Somerset. He appeared to an enthusiastic audience wearing his legendary shorts, and enthralling us with well-remembered anecdotes, punctuated with peals of laughter, belying his eighty-two years.
Afterwards, he generously talked to us at length. I reminded him that I had played with my band Squidd at the very first Glastonbury Festival, which then consisted of a stage atop a flatbed hay cart with tarpaulin draped over a primitive frame at the top and rear.
He went on to ask what I had been doing with my life. 'Album artwork, amongst other things' I said. At that point he twigged that the Matthews of Originn and Matthews the artist, was one and the same man - me! He was very complimentary of my work, saying I had done some great covers.
By this point, the stories started to flow, 'your Dad was a blacksmith at "Rocklands" in Paulton!' 'Yes', I replied. Furthermore, Mr Eavis went on to remind me that I lived next door to his mother. 'Yes', I said, 'we used to discuss vegetables over the garden wall!' I took the opportunity to tell him about my prize marrow! He then asked about Sarah, who he momentarily mistook as being my daughter! He was delighted to learn that we had married fifteen months earlier. He asked about my children Yendor and Elin, who at that point were supervising young Barkeley at our stand. All in all, Michael was a pleasure to meet, entertaining, interested, attentive and with an outstanding memory.
The Michael Eavis story is well documented, but why has he and the festival that has contributed so very much to world music, survived when others have passed away? My guess, is because this man is so genuine in his vision, so generous to charitable causes and he remembers his humble beginnings as a dairy farmer with a sort of child-like joy.
It was with great admiration that we watched Michael leave the Cheese and Grain in a Land Rover that looked so old, as to suggest it had been chiselled in one piece out of Somerset stone (or should i say "rock"?)
P.S. Here is an interesting piece from The Granary Club, written and compiled by Al Read. This passage was written by the late Terry Brace, my art partner at Plastic Dog, Bristol:
'I remember the phone ringing in the office and Al saying that a dairy farmer in Somerset had some crazy idea about running his own festival on his farmland. We drove down to see him, me anticipating a nice drive and a few beers at a country pub.
At Worthy Farm Al was charming and enthusiastic while I drank my tea respectfully and gazed out of the window. I thought to myself, "Nice chap. Not a chance in hell of his idea working out, though!"'
Some more photos from Music Expo 2018:
It seems that Michael and my friend Rich Lanham both have better memories than myself. Rich, bass player with Originn, has just reminded me that it was indeed Originn that played at the first Glastonbury Festival - not Squidd! Squidd must have played at a later date. He also recalls that we went on after T. Rex. Well, my head was quite fuzzy at the time (no comments please!) Steve Webb, lead guitarist with both Originn and Squidd, told me some time ago that we played support act to Deep Purple at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall. Unfortunately, I don't remember that either!!