An Elephant's Memory!

Rodney Matthews and Michael Eavis at Music Expo 2018

Michael Eavis on stage at Music Expo 2018

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. 

Rodney Matthews in his band Squidd at the first Glastonbury Festival
The audience consisted of (I thought), two hundred hippies seated in a field. 'There were five hundred', he corrected me.  He had a somewhat puzzled look on his face - perhaps because he was trying to recall my band or maybe he couldn't quite believe that I had played that first festival - however it soon disappeared at the mention of the words "Plastic Dog Agency" and my involvement with those guys - Al Read, Mike Tobin and Terry Brace, in Bristol.  Michael embarked upon a trip down memory lane, not only mentioning that he had booked his early bands from Plastic Dog, but going on to say 'there was a band called Originn, with a chap called Matthews in it.'  'That was me', I mumbled.

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:

Barkeley upfront in the van with Mum and Dad
The Matthews at their stand
Elin and Barkeley
Barkeley rockin' his first "wrist"band
 left to right: Barkeley riding upfront in the van with Mum and Dad (wearing his new seat belt); the Matthews at the stand; Elin and Barkeley; and Barkeley rockin' his first "wrist"band!



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!!


  • very much enjoyed reading this ,Rodney,sounds like it was a really good event .hope to see you all soon ,much love vivxx

    viv scawn
  • Enthralling memories Rodney. Well done. I met up with Michael some years back at the BBC Bristol club when a gathering was held for the leaving of BBC Radio Bristol’s ‘grams librarian’ who was also the secretary for CND (charity that received profits from Glastonbury festival). He waxed enthusiastically about Marsupilami who played at the first festival. I remember you playing support for Deep Purple at Wolverhampton. As your agent at the time I bagged a lift and watched the gig from the side of the stage. I enjoyed Richie Blackmore faking kicking seven bells out of his guitar which lay on the floor. From the front it looked real but from the side you could see his boot missing the guitar by a few inches and the massive crashing noises were coming from a roadie hitting an old battered but miked up guitar with a hammer hidden behind a row of Marshall speakers. Such fun.

    Al Read
  • Lovely story and memories,I know Al and Rich and was at Glasto mk 2 where I think Squidd played. Also love the artwork.

    Steve H- Jeans

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