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Glastonbury: On the festival's 50th anniversary a Folkestone man recalls being banned by owner Michael Eavis

This weekend would have seen the legendary Glastonbury music festival in Somerset celebrate its 50th anniversary, but fears surrounding the spread of coronavirus forced it to be cancelled.

Over the years the weekend has gone from a music-obsessive's best-kept secret to a one-stop destination for the biggest acts on the planet - inviting the likes of Stormzy, Neil Diamond and Beyoncé.

The Pyramid Stage has hosted the likes of Radiohead, Adele and Lionel Richie
The Pyramid Stage has hosted the likes of Radiohead, Adele and Lionel Richie

But 28 years ago, one musician managed to get himself and his fellow band mates permanently outlawed, after a furious row with the organiser.

Les 'Fruitbat' Carter, who now lives in Folkestone, was waiting backstage in 1992 to headline the festival with his indie punk group Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine (Carter USM), when the preceding band Fishbone ran late with their set.

The now-61-year-old said: "By the time it came to our set we were 20 minutes short - when you headline a festival you plan it down to the nth second, so we lost a load of songs and were really disappointed.

"After we came off stage, I just had a blazing row with Mr Eavis, shouted at him, swore at him, I think I probably grabbed him by the collar.

"And then he just said 'right that's it, you're banned from Glastonbury forever'. And we even got it in writing later on."

Jim ‘Jim Bob’ Morrison and Les ‘Fruitbat’ Carter back in the day
Jim ‘Jim Bob’ Morrison and Les ‘Fruitbat’ Carter back in the day

The management team of the festival sent the letter banning Carter USM from ever playing again.

The ban came during a brief period of infamy in the national papers for Les, after rugby-tackling presenter Phillip Schofield to the ground during Smash Hits pop magazine’s Poll Winners Party, where Carter USM were booked to perform.

Looking back at the incident, Les said: "That was a long time ago - on that day he was very annoying, as was I probably.

"We have exchanged messages since and I think we are cool."

On Glastonbury, Les admitted his fury with Mr Eavis at the time also had a lot to do with how the atmosphere of the festival was changing.

Basil Brush shares a joke with the man behind the Glastonbury Festival - Michael Eavis - during an appearance in 2017
Basil Brush shares a joke with the man behind the Glastonbury Festival - Michael Eavis - during an appearance in 2017

He said: "It was the year Glastonbury stopped letting the travellers in for free and being a semi-hippie myself I was really upset about it, because they were a really important part of the festival.

"With the two things combined, I just got very cross.

"I wouldn't do that kind of thing nowadays but back then it was known that my tempter could fray quite easily."

The musician revealed that despite his 'life-long' ban sanctioned by Mr Eavis, he has returned to the festival since, under a different guise.

He said: "Yeah I have actually been back - because I was "Fruitbat" in Carter USM, but Les Carter is not banned...so I've been back twice."

Les with his band Abdoujaparov
Les with his band Abdoujaparov

Les performed at the festival with the band Ferocious Dog in 2015 and still doesn't know if Mr Eavis was aware he had managed to return.

He said: "I don't know how closely he follows that stuff now, because his daughter Emily does most of that nowadays.

"But there has been a lot of time since the incident, so I think I'm probably forgiven."

Les is not the only person who has lamented at Glastonbury's switch from hippie haven to mega-festival over the years.

Our very own business editor, Chris Britcher, fondly remembers a time before Glastonbury sold out its 135,000 tickets in just 34 minutes, as it did last October.

Glastonbury is famous the world over for its global headliners
Glastonbury is famous the world over for its global headliners

He said: "In 1992 I made my first of three back-to-back trips to the festival. Tickets cost about £50 for the weekend, and we had no problem securing them just a few weeks before the event. Nor the need to take out bank loans for the weekend. In fact touts were flogging tickets at the gate when we arrived.

"I suspect it was helped by the fact the 1990 event had ended with running battles between security guards and groups of new-age travellers, which ensured 1991 was a ‘rest year'.

"The events themselves were – in my memory at least – a haze of cheap cider, dodgy hashcakes, hot sun, smelly tents and as many bands as I could possibly feast my ears and eyes on. Bliss.

"A stroll around the far-flung areas of the site would almost certainly allow you to spot folk jumping the fences to gain access; while the toilets were just as appalling as all the warnings I had been given prior to departure.

"For the purposes of balance I should also point out the unfortunate first night of the 1993 event when thieves entered the large tent my mates and I were in and swiped all our bags (containing all our clothes) while we slept soundly. A search of the nearby area recovered one trainer. We hopped on, regardless.

"The Britpop explosion saw ‘our music’ claimed by the mainstream and tickets become increasingly expensive and hard to come by."

"Oh, and I think it rained once or twice, but not much.

"But 1994, the first year it was televised, was to be my last trip.

"The Britpop explosion saw ‘our music’ claimed by the mainstream and tickets become increasingly expensive and hard to come by, while life, as it has a way of doing, got in the way of a return."

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