Unpleasantness reared its ugly head at Glastonbury 1989 - real, life-threatening unpleasantness in the shape of death threats against one of the headline acts. Suzanne Vega, then famous for hits such as Luka and Tom’s Diner arrived in the UK to find that herself and bassist Mike Visceglia had received two threatening phone calls – one at the band’s hotel, and one at the offices of their record company. The story was that someone could potentially start taking pot shots at the Pyramid Stage that night.
“They say this is where you earn your money, making decisions like these” Vega’s tour manager told Q, who was trying to negotiate the extra security backstage. “You ask me, there’s no sum of money could pay for a decision like that.”
But an understandably rattled Vega decided that the show must go on. “I can’t walk around to get any of the atmosphere,” she commented sadly, “You hardly expect to come to Glastonbury, of all places, and have to deal with something like this. But I’m a performer – I don’t think I could really live with myself if I didn’t do the show.”
“Scotland Yard told us we should play,” drummer Frank Vilardi recalls on his website. “They protected Mike offstage and gave Suzanne bullet proof armour. As for the rest of us - target practice!”
Wearing a bulletproof vest that was apparently three sizes too big for her, Vega’s performance passed off without incident, although it was shortened somewhat due to the midnight curfew. With the tour bus pulled up right by the stage, the Vega entourage was whisked away, flanked by police landrovers. Q salutes Suzanne’s bravery amid possibly the most adverse conditions at Glastonbury yet. A bit of rain pales in comparison.