A brief history of the Reading festival Click on posters and programme covers to see them bigger
The Festival starts with a small marquee at the National Jazz Festival at Richmond Athletic Ground in Surrey on August 26-27. Artists included Johnny Dankworth, Chris Barber, Dick Charlesworth, Mike Cotton, Tubby Hayes, Ken Colyer and the Clyde Valley Stompers.

Acts appearing include those mentioned above for 1961 and Huphrey Lyttleton and Kenny Ball.

R 'n' B makes its debut at the festival with the appearance of the Rolling Stones, Long John Baldry and Muddy Waters, along with the jazz stalwarts of the previous two years. The Stones are paid the princely sum of £30.

The Festival is now known as the National Jazz & Blues Festival, and the blues are starting to dominate the proceedings. Manfred Mann, the Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones all play, but this time round the Stones' fee has leapt to a massive £1000.

Headliners: The Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, The Animals
Weekend tickets: 20/-
(that's a Pound in old money)
John Lennon and George Harrison of the Beatles make an appearance backstage, while highlights on-stage include The Who, the Moody Blues and Spencer Davis. The neighbouring golf club lodges a complaint about inadequate camping facilities and the festival organisers decide to seek an alternative venue for the following year.

The festival's new home is the Royal Windsor Racecourse in Berkshire, and the Small Faces, Spencer Davis, the Who, the Yardbirds, Georgie Fame and Cream all play.

Headliners: Small Faces, Paul Jones, Cream
Donovan, the Move, Jeff Beck and Arthur Brown are among the year's highlights. Brown's trademark flaming helmet burns out of control and organiser Harold Pendleton's father-in-law douses the flames with a pint of beer.

The festival shifts to Kempton Park Racecourse in Surrey. The Nice, Jethro Tull, the Herd, Marmalade, Ten Years After and Tyrannosaurus Rex all share the bill with rock 'n' roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, whose fans pelt the Herd with coins and scaffolding.

Headliners: Pink Floyd, The Who, The Nice
Weekend tickets: £2 10/-
(that's a two and a half quid in old money)
Friday: 15 shillings. Saturday: 10 shillings. Sunday: £1.00
The festival moves to Plumpton Racecourse, near Lewes in Sussex and acts on the bill include Soft Machine, Chicken Shack, Yes, King Crimson and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

Weekend tickets: £2 10/-
Family, the Groundhogs, Cat Stevens, the Strawbs and Peter Green represent the old guard, while Deep Purple and Black Sabbath provide a taste of what the 1970s will offer.

Headliners: Arthur Brown, East of Eden, Colosseum
Weekend tickets: £2.00
The festival is already in its tenth year but this is the first to be held in Reading. Plus, it rains all weekend. The line-up includes Lindisfarne, Wishbone Ash, Medicine Head and Rory Gallagher - all big draws back in those days.

Headliners: Curved Air, The Faces, Ten years After
Weekend tickets: £2.00
Friday: £1.00. Saturday: £1.75. Sunday: £1.25
The festival, now known as the National Jazz, Blues, Folk and Blues Festival, goes ahead at Richfield Avenue, Reading and the top act is the mighty Ten Years After (shurely shome mishtake?). The sun is blazing and police while away spare hours arresting nude swimmers in the Thames. The line-up includes Johnny Otis, The Faces and Genesis. John Peel and Jerry Floyd are the comperes.

Headliners: Rory Gallagher, The Faces, Genesis
Weekend tickets: £4.40
Friday: £1.65. Saturday: £2.50. Sunday: £2.20
The Faces, Rory Gallagher, Commander Cody, Status Quo and Genesis are among the highlights. The first band kicks off at 4pm on Friday and it all finishes around midnight on Sunday. The festival sees plenty of nudity, decent weather and Keith Moon backstage. Organisers also claim that all festival food had been passed by Public Health inspectors and festival-goers buy food from outside stalls "at your own risk".

Weekend tickets: £5.50
Alex Harvey, 10cc, Focus, Steve Harley, Traffic and Procol Harum all turn up for those who'd paid a bargain £5.50 for a weekend ticket. Everything goes smoothly and there are a reported 150 toilets on site. Bet they were nice! The NME gets cynical and declares the festival as "institutionalised, predictable and... boring". So, a lot like the NME is today, then.

Headliners: Hawkwind, Yes, Wishbone Ash
Weekend tickets: £5.50
Friday: £2.00. Saturday: £3.00. Sunday: £3.00

Milk is 20p a pint for those that are too stupid to drink beer (lager was something exotic and foreign back then). It pours down. 25,000 people turn up to see UFO, 10cc, Procul Harem, Supertramp, Dr Feelgood, Lou Reed and Thin Lizzy. The halcyon days of hard rock at Reading have begun.

Headliners: Gong, Rory Gallagher, Osibisa
Weekend tickets: £6.95

20,000 punters see 30 bands over three days, including Manfred Mann, Van Der Graaf Generator, Mallard, Eddie And The Hot Rods and Manfred Mann's Earth Band - oh, joy! It rains again.

Headliners: Golden Earring, Thin Lizzy, Alex Harvey
Weekend tickets: £7.95

The night before the festival sees thunderstorms. Mud covers the entire site and the crowds are forced to witness Uriah Heep, The Rods and Ultravox, but respite comes via Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy and The Alex Harvey Band. The NME says the festival is "It's cold and it's wet and it's bloody miserable." So, still much like the NME, then.

Headliners: The Jam, Status Quo, Patti Smith
Weekend tickets: £8.95
Friday: £3.50. Saturday: £4.50. Sunday: £4.50

At last the event is known as the Reading Rock Festival, and punk makes its presence felt, in the form of Sham 69, Penetration, John Otway, the Tom Robinson Band and The Jam - singer Paul Weller smashes up his equipment on stage. Resisting the tide of change are The Pirates, Ian Gillan, Lindisfarne and Foreigner.

Headliners: The Police, Inner Circle, The Ramones
Weekend tickets: £10.95

August 24 - 26 sees Cheap Trick, Motorhead, The Police, Whitesnake, The Cure and Peter Gabriel all on the bill. Both the Undertones and Thin Lizzy pull out before the event. It rains again.

Weekend tickets: £12.50
Headliners: Rory Gallagher, UFO, Whitesnake

Things don't start well when five bands pull out of the original line-up. G-Force, Blizzard of Oz (Ozzy Osbourne's new band), Angel City, Wishbone Ash and The Q-Tips all cite reasons ranging from difficulty getting work permits to other commitments. Hmmm, not much of a loss there – except Ozzy, of course. Slade, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Whitesnake all manage to drag themselves along and Reading takes on a distinct rock feel. 30,000 come to headbang, drink until they can't stand up (hooray!) and throw stuff at the stage (double hooray!).

Headliners: Girlschool, Gillan, The Kinks
Reading settles into a rock groove with Girlschool, Gillan, Budgie, Trust and Rose Tattoo assaulting the punters ears, along with the Thompson Twins, Greg Lake and the Enid.

Headliners: Budgie, Iron Maiden, Michael Schenker
Weekend tickets: £15.50

Perhaps the definitive raawk Reading. Budgie, Iron Maiden and Michael Schenker were supported by top acts including Twisted Sister and Blackfoot, Marillion and lots of crappy metal bands no one has ever heard of since, which left more time for drinking, naturally.

Headliners: The Stranglers, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy
Weekend tickets: £15.95
Friday: £7.00. Saturday: £8.50. Sunday: £8.00

Perhaps as a result of the year before, this is billed as the last ever and sees Steel Pulse bottled off after 10 minutes by knuckle-dragging bikers. Big Country and the Stranglers close the Friday night. Saturday sees Black Sabbath (fronted by Ian Gillan) playing before an unfinished replica of Stonehenge - which is where Spinal Tap got the idea from. Sunday brings Hanoi Rocks pelted with bottles, but rising to the challenge and Thin Lizzy’s emotional farewell UK performance. The sun shines for three days.

The council reclaims the original site - to build poxy theme pubs, a hotel and a leisure centre for God's sake - and so there are two summers without a festival. The 1984 festival is re-arranged at Lilford Park in Northamptonshire, but, despite a full line-up being booked, the local council refuses the licence at the eleventh hour. Many of the bands transfer to that summer's infamous Nostell Priory festival. When Labour gain control of Reading council in '86, one of its manifesto commitments is to bring back the festival. Unbelievably, the politicians stick to their promise...

Headliners: Killing Joke, Hawkwind, Saxon
Weekend tickets: £17.75

Farmer Desmond Drayton grants use of his fields adjoining the original site and the Reading Festival returns. A patchy line-up includes The Mission, Doctor and the Medics, Killing Joke and Hawkwind. It's a chilly weekend.

Headliners: The Mission, Status Quo, Alice Cooper
Weekend tickets: £25.00
Friday: £10.00. Saturday: £12.50. Sunday: £12.50

It's the festival's 25th anniversary, and it all goes a bit Goth, with Fields Of The Nephilim, All About Eve and The Mission. The Fall and Zodiac Mindwarp play, too, with the old school represented by Status Quo, The Stranglers, Georgia Satellites, Magnum and Alice Cooper. Various Comic Strip stars turn up - along with Brian May - for a mercifully brief turn as Bad News.
Festival prices: Lager is £1.00 a pint, cider also £1.00. A two-litre bottle is £3.50, but you can buy two for just £6. A hamburger will set you back £1.20, fish and chips £1.50.

Headliners: Ramones, Starship, Squeeze
August 26 - 28 sees a mixed bag. The good: The Ramones, Iggy Pop, The Wonder Stuff. The bloody awful: Hothouse Flowers, Runrig, Deacon Blue and Roachford. Lemmy listens to the Ramones' set from underneath the stage. Meatloaf, who obviously knows what a festival crowd wants, asks: "Do you wanna hear some music or do you wanna be stupid and throw things?" He is engulfed by flying bottles and promptly leaves the stage, returns to try 'Bat Out Of Hell' but is again met by a hail of bottles. He gives up and fucks off. Much the same happens before Hothouse Flowers. Compere Janice Long says: "If you don't stop throwing bottles, the Hothouse Flowers aren't coming on.' The bottle fight intensifies. Security men are sent on stage with bin bags and the crowd are asked to chuck the bottles to them for collection. The hapless security staff are pelted off the stage. The last year of the truly great bottle fights.
Festival prices: Lager is £1.10 a pint, cider £1.10. A hamburger sets you back £1.40, fish and chips £1.60. Official T-shirts are £10.

Headliners: New Order, The Pogues, The Mission
Weekend tickets: £32.50

Three-day tickets cost £32.50, and the booking fee is just 50p extra. Single day tickets are £15 but sell out fast. This is also the first year Mean Fiddler are involved in Reading's promotion, marking the beginning of the descent into three days of sad indie shite. Bands this year include New Order, My Bloody Valentine, The House Of Love, Billy Bragg, The Wedding Present, New Model Army, The Pogues, Pop Will Eat Itself, Jesus Jones, Voice Of The Beehive and The Mission. The NME declares: "Some day all festivals will be made this way, everyone will love each other and there'll be no such thing as a bad pop group." So, miles wide of the mark again...
Festival prices: Lager is £1.40 a pint, cider £1.20. A two-litre bottle is £3.80, but you can buy two for a bargain £7. A cheeseburger sets you back £1.60, fish and chips £2.00.

Headliners: The Cramps, Inspiral Carpets, The Pixies
Bands include Mudhoney, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Faith No More, Stereo MCs, The Fall, Inspiral Carpets and the Pixies. Jane's Addiction fly all the way to Britain for the weekend only to pull out at the last minute due to "illness" (hmmm, that old chestnut). Sadly, there is no bottle throwing, but there's also no rain and Reading looks more like the indie kids' choice of festival, although Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall are spotted hanging out backstage.
Festival prices: Lager is £1.50 a pint, cider £1.50. A cheeseburger sets you back £1.70, fish and chips £2.00. Official T-shirts are £10.

Headliners: Iggy Pop, James, Sisters of Mercy
Weekend tickets: £40.00
Day tickets: £40 per day

30,000 people see 68 bands and 27 comedians with day tickets selling for £18. Festival FM broadcasts for the first time over the Reading weekend. Bands include Iggy Pop, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr, Carter USM, De La Soul, Blur, Mercury Rev and The Sisters Of Mercy. This is also the first year Reading has a comedy tent, christened by Sean Hughes and Jerry Sadowitz.
Festival prices: Lager is £1.80 a pint, cider £1.80. Official T-shirts are £8. There are no longer any official food prices. Advance tickets for the 1992 festival are available by post at £40.

Headliners: The Wonder Stuff, Public Enemy, Nirvana
Nirvana are headlining (after endless rumours of a no-show) and it rains like buggery on the Saturday night. Other acts include Suede, Ride, Pavement and Public Enemy. The comedy tent is closed down permanently due to the weather and the music tent is closed temporarily. Manic Street Preachers also don't have the best weekend. Nicky Wire smashes his guitar in two and hurls it into the crowd, hitting a security guard who needs 16 stitches. The band depart as soon as they leave the stage, even before getting paid. Stupid buggers.
Festival prices: Lager (Caslemaine) is £2.00 a pint, cider, bitter and Guinness are also £2.00. Hell, even shandy is £2.00, but for the serious drinker, there's good news - snakebite is just £2.00. Official T-shirts are £10 for black and white, coloured shirts are £12 and long-sleeved shirts £14. Advance tickets for the 1993 festival are available by post at £45.

Headliners: Porno for Pyros, The The, New Order
Weekend tickets: £49.00
Day tickets: £20.00 per day

Rage Against The Machine, Porno For Pyros, Kingmaker, Ozric Tentacles, The The, The Breeders, New Order and The Boo Radleys are among a disappointing line-up. Dinosaur Jr prove to be rock gods on the main stage and Blur headline the second stage playing 'Parklife' live for the first time. Jim Rose's Circus is banned by the council, Radiohead pull out because Thom Yorke has a sore throat. The Lemonheads' Evan Dando wears a dress. And pigtails. And suspenders.

Headliners: Cypress Hill, Primal Scream, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Weekend tickets: £55

A few months after Kurt Cobain tops himself, Hole play Reading as a "tribute" to him and their bassist Kristin Pfaff, who died from an accidental heroin overdose. Their set is, as ever, a pathetic shambles. It's followed by The Lemonheads' equally disastrous performance. Singer Evan Dando rants, rambles and looks as though he might be the next victim. Also underwhelming the crowds are The Verve, Pavement, Cypress Hill, Pulp, Radiohead, and a truly dismal Primal Scream. Jeff Buckley, Elastica and Shed Seven pull the crowds. The Manics play without Richey - get used to it, guys...

Headliners: Smashing Pumpkins, Bjork, Neil Young
Weekend tickets: £60.00

Britpop (sad indie shite by any other name) is all the rage so Gene, Menswear, Marion, Shed Seven, Echobelly, 60ft Dolls, Heavy Stereo, Ash, The Bluetones, My Life Story and Cast all play. They're joined by an American invasion including Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Hole and Mudhoney who all bore the crowd rigid, and it's left to Neil Young to provide the thrills - at least during the three songs where he's not backed by the leaden Pearl Jam. Bjork and Tricky provide some weirdness.

Headliners: The Prodigy, Black Grape, Stone Roses
Weekend tickets: £60.00

This is the year that will be remembered for the Stone Roses' awful performance, their first live gig since guitarist John Squire jumped ship. The Roses are well and truly over, thank goodness. The Prodigy, The Offspring, Rage Against The Machine, Sonic Youth, Garbage and Underworld also play. Mean Fiddler (back as promoters after two years' absence) are locked in fierce battles with the council who insist they pay for police, a rail strike is planned for the festival's first day and there are problems with forged tickets. But at least there's lager.

Headliners: Suede, Manic Street Preachers, Metallica
Weekend tickets: £70.00
Day tickets: £30.00 per day

James, Suede (with a guest appearance from Elastica's Justine Frischmann), The Lemonheads, Super Furry Animals, Embrace, a tedious Manics, Symposium, The Verve, Eels, Hurricane Number 1 and Snug represent the sad indie shite brigade. Marilyn Manson plays some dull glam rock, while Metallica open with a storming "So What" before playing too many slow songs. Bentley Rhythm Ace kick arse twice.

Headliners: Page and Plant, Beastie Boys, Garbage
Weekend tickets: £75. Single day tickets: £30

The Prodigy and The Beastie Boys have a tiff about the former's track, 'Smack My Bitch Up'. Symposium also make few friends among the main stage security when they try to smash up the gear. Ooh, what rebels. Security intervene and singer Ross Cummins receives a blow to the head which needs hospital treatment. Poor little lamb. Ash, Mansun, Super Furry Animals, Mogwai, Supergrass, Spiritualized, Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, New Order and Garbage all play, and none of them are any good. But none of them are anywhere near as bad as the noodling shite that is Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
Festival prices: Lager is £2.50 a pint. A portion of chips is £1.50.
Official T-shirts are £14.

Headliners: Charlatans, Blur, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Weekend tickets: £78. Single day tickets £30

Bizarrely, the most fuss this year is made over a sad, balding, middle-aged man in a dress. Ex-Dexy's Midnight Runners frontman Kevin Rowland precedes the release of his soon-to-flop solo album by shouting at the crowd and generally making a fool of himself. He wears a white silk mini-dress, sings Whitney Houston's 'The Greatest Love Of All' and is quickly bottled off. Elsewhere, Elastica, The Dandy Warhols, Echo & The Bunnymen, Catatonia, Blur and Red Hot Chili Peppers are all as dull as each other. The Chemical Brothers and The Charlatans, however, stand out from a mediocre bunch.

Headliners: Oasis, Pulp, Stereophonics
Weekend tickets: £80

Has-beens Oasis and Pulp headline the first two days with Stereophonics bringing the festival to a dismal close. There's a little rain and tickets are a whopping £80 (plus the obligatory booking fee) but that buys two songs by Daphne and Celeste and the chance to see the Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World - the Supersuckers. Plus Slipknot, Foo Fighters, Beck and a revitalised Primal Scream.

Headliners: Travis, Manic Street Preachers, Eminem
Weekend tickets: £80

The line-up looked - and was - weak at the top of the bill, but there was plenty to see in the early afternoon. It's sunny for the first two days before persistent rain sets in on Sunday. Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri appears naked, and Gary Numan's wig stays put, despite some furious - if geriatric - headbanging from the former electropop pioneer.
Festival prices: Lager is £2.70 a pint (Carling), £3.00 for Grolsch. Oddly, Carling is £2.50 from the festival bar outside the arena, but security won't allow it to be taken inside. Water - for them that wants it - is a crazy £1.50 for a tiny bottle. That's pricier than lager, and it doesn't get you drunk. Official T-shirts are £14, but a whopping £17 for the skinny fit girly ones.

If anyone has any programmes or memorabilia not featured here (or better versions of the small or ropey ones), please e-mail me good-sized 72dpi scans (400dpi wide if possible) and I'll put them on this page. Also, please let me know if you have any unwanted memorabilia etc as I'm interested in expanding my collection.

Also, if anyone can help with accurate ticket prices or food and drinks prices from any of the years, please e-mail me.

Poster for the fifth festival (1965)
Timetable for the 1967 festival
Poster for the 1968 festival
Ticket for the seventh festival (1968)
Programme for the 1968 festival
Advert for the 1969 festival
Advert for the 1970 festival
Advert for the 1971 festival
Cover of 1973 Reading LP, includes Faces, Status Quo and Rory Gallagher
Flyer for the 1975 festival
Advert for the 1975 festival
Logo for the 1976 festival
Advert for the 1976 festival
Official programme cover for the 1976 festival
Official programme cover for the 1977 festival. Mmm, tasteful...
Cover of the Reading Evening Post's 1977 festival souvenir edition
Advert for the 1978 festival
Cover of the 1978 festival programme
Cover of the 1979 festival programme
Poster for the 1980 festival
Programme cover for the 1980 festival
Programme cover for the 1982 festival
Cover of 1982 Reading album. Includes Marillion, Budgie etc
Programme cover for the 1983 festival
Cover of the Reading Evening Post's 1983 festival souvenir edition
Official 1983 festival shirt. Just check out that illustration!
Cover of the 1986 festival programme
Programme cover for the 1987 festival
Programme cover for the 1988 festival
Programme cover for the 1989 festival
Flyer for the 1989 festival
Programme cover for the 1990 festival
Programme cover for the 1991 festival
Programme cover for the 1992 festival
Programme cover for the 1993 festival
Programme cover for the 1994 festival
Programme cover for the 1995 festival
Programme cover for the 1996 festival
Programme cover for the 1997 festival
Ticket for the 1998 festival
Poster for the 1998 festival
Programme cover for the 1998 festival
Poster for the 1999 festival
Programme cover for the 1999 festival
Ticket for the 2000 festival
Programme cover for the 2000 festival
Ticket for the 2001 festival
Programme cover for the 2001 festival