After 19 years, and having orchestrated the appearance of over 2500 bands, Reading (and later Leeds) Festival maestro, Neil Pengelly, has “handed over the reigns” of the rock’s finest festival, and moved on from Festival Republic.
From Cyprus Hill to Kasabian, Pengelly has been at the heart of every major talent decision, and has shaped the face of Reading Festival. His prowess served to ensure huge national expansion and incredible legacy of ticket sales and smiling faces.
Pengelly worked at Festival Republic for four years (joining on April Fool’s Day 1990) before finally being given the reigns of Reading Festival in 1994. He had a tough act to follow, Nirvana 1992 had defined the festival, but Pengelly steered the Yellow and Black giant through everything from Grunge and Brit Pop to Strokesmania and the reunion craze to where it stands today: a pop culture institution that draws fans from across the world to a small farm in Reading. From 30,000 paying costumers to 140,000 across two venues, not bad huh?
This is sad but exciting moment for Reading fans, the festival will live in Pengelly’s shadow for at least one year as he stays on to help and advise in 2013, but from then on in it’ll be a new day. The festival will continue to be driven by the scenes and crazes of rock and indie, but there will be a new personality at the helm. Will they play it safe or will they take risks? Will they stomach the mishaps (Razorlight) to bring us the show stealing successes (Arcade Fire) – who knows, but we’ll find out shortly.
We’ll be celebrating Neil’s legacy by looking back at some of his biggest hits and most well meaning misses!