The third day of the Glastonbury Music Festival featured Patti Smith bringing out the Dalai Lama for an early celebration of his birthday on July 6. She read him a poem and led the crowd in “Happy Birthday.” The punk rocker has had a long time interest in Buddhism. She has also performed at the yearly Tibet House Benefit Concert.
“We are grateful to him for all his love of humanity and making people aware of the importance of saving the planet,” Smith said.
The birthday celebration was only one part of the performance by the godmother of punk rock. She fell down during her first song, but got up, proclaimed herself to be a “f**king animal,” and tore the strings off her guitar. She also did classics such as “Redondo Beach” and “Gloria” (saying one of the Gs stood for Glastonbury), an updated version of “Land” from the 1975 album Horses. She ended the set with her cover of the Who’s “My Generation.” It was Smith’s first performance at the festival.
The performance wasn’t all good news; Smith announced at one point she was losing her voice. Still, she managed to perform for over an hour and produce a thrilling combination of mind and body protest music.
The Dalai Lama spoke briefly to the crowd about peace, the conflicts in the Middle East, and happiness. He even said he envied the musicians there, Patti Smith included, for their energy. For their part, the crowd gave him thunderous applause. He would later be seen at an economic forum held by the UK paper the Guardian.
While Patti Smith’s most famous artistic contribution is her music, she is also a poet and a photographer. She has published 11 volumes of poetry. Her 2010 book about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids, was awarded the National Book Award for nonfiction. Mapplethorpe took the photography that would be used for the cover of Horses.
June 29 was the last day of the festival, and besides Patti Smith, featured performances from the Who, Lionel Ritchie (whose performance followed that of Patti Smith), Belle and Sebastian, and the Chemical Brothers. Glastonbury has been a host of music festivals since the early 20th century, and the most famous of them has been conducted since 1970. Since it is held on farmland, the concertgoers usually camp out for the duration of the show. It is traditionally held on the last weekend in June. An estimated 100,000 people attended this year’s festival.
[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]