Reading Festival 2009
"I guess we like the big screens. It's major fun being that big, being stared at by thousands of people!"
Karen O, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
" I haven't been more excited about a gig in a long time. It feels like the biggest we've ever done"
Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys
Every year the Reading Festival grows a little older and with this musically wiser. The festival has been going, in one shape or another since its conception as a Jazz event in 1961, a time when audio was in its ‘rock n roll infancy’; before the invention of music as we know it today and the time when the festival laid down its roots as the UK’s premier indie festival.
From the early Jazz ramblings of Chris Barber (one of the co-founders of the original Reading Festival), Johnny Dankworth and Humphrey Littleton, in the different location of Richmond, to Windsor, then Sunbury and eventually Reading, the festival has always been at the top of its game. Attracting thousands of music fans, critical of the bands performances and really there just to enjoy the best that the festival has to offer, the Reading Festival has been a stalwart in the world of outdoor music.
From the late 1960’s bands started to appear that are still revered as legends today; The Who, The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton, Small Faces, T Rex, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, all great bands, but all cast from the same ‘rock mould’.
It took the near destruction of the festival in 1988, a poor line up, poor weather and poorly attended, to see the Mean Fiddler organisation take the reins and steer the festival to the pinnacle of outdoor music that it is today, with its mix of indie/rock/punk/dance and every genre in between.
Looking back over the line-ups on the posters, who can forget the last UK appearance of Nirvana at the festival 1992, the onstage melt down of the Stone Roses (their last show together) in 1996 or the first triumphant appearance of Metallica in 1997? All landmark events at a festival which is chock full of memories, mostly good, but some pretty bad. Who remembers the shocking ‘braining’ of Brendan Urie of Panic At The Disco in 2006 or 50 Cent getting everything thrown at him including a deck chair? Some shocking moments, but all part of the history of a festival which has been raised on rock, from classic to indie, Reading has it all.
Reading Festival has and always will, lead the way in UK outdoor events of a similar ilk. Reading is a music festival designed by music fans, for music fans. When the line-up was released this year there were complaints that the ‘Sunday Rock Day’ had been ditched, but if you now look at the mainstage on Friday and the Radio One tent on Sunday, there are probably more rock & metal bands than any other year. The organisers listen to the fans and obviously take note of their comments, which is why the festival is probably the first one that most people attend and always will. Music for the people......
With this years festival having the debut headline appearances by Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead, I’m sure we will have some more classic performances to go down in the archives, for history sections of the future.
By Ian Carroll
Author of: The Reading Festival: Music, Mud and Mayhem
-The Official History
For signed copies of the book, please email: email@example.com