Glastonbury – World’s greatest oldest finest music festivalJune 16, 2018
Oh, Glasto – One of the greatest music festival on earth! Glastonbury music festival is one of the greatest on the planet! Starting in 1970, after more than 40 years of existence, it evolves each year and becomes bigger and better. Here are some flashbacks of its stellar growth and struggle over so many years!
How it all started
Glastonbury music festival started with some 1500 attendees, tickets priced just £1. Glastonbury now draws over 170,000 to Pilton in Somerset each summer for a celebration of music, art, and culture.
It was started by Michael Eavis who was a school dropout at 15 and after his father’s demise inherited some land and 60 cows. The idea to start the festival was inspired by a festival he attended in 1969 where Led Zeppelin performed in Bath. Over the years, though many performers performed in Glasto, but it had kept an inking toward its hippie and free music roots of the 70s.
The first Glastonbury music festival was in 1970, held just the day after Jimi Hendrix died. Originally called Glastonbury Fayre, it was costed £1 (with free milk included). As it galloped ahead, the third year of Glastonbury Fayre in 1978, wasn’t a planned event. It was more of word of mouth and people showed up, en route from Stone Henge as they heard a festival was set to take place. It was run by a caravan and a makeshift stage, there were no headline acts as such. In 1979, it had grown into a 3 day event. Eavis could raise funds for this by securing a bank loan against the deeds to his farm. Peter Gabriel was one of the headliners. However, unfortunately the festival was a huge financial loss and thus 1980 there was no Glastonbury. But it was back in 1981 with ‘proper management’. Branded with a new name, Glastonbury Music Festival, 1981 saw the arrival of a permanent Pyramid Stage, which when not used as a stage was a cowshed. Hawkwind were among the bands performing. 1982 was the year Glastonbury Festival was involved with the Mid-Somerset and Western Region ‘Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’. To deter an anti CND plane, Festival organiser Michael Eavis aimed a £70 firework at it, in order to chase it away. This year the festival had its first laser light show backed by Tubeway Army’s iconic ‘Are Friends Electric’. 1983 saw proper toilets for the first time! The first of Glastonbury’s Radio Station, Radio Avalon broadcast the three day festival. In 1990, theatre and arts were also introduced and the festival was re-titled ‘Glastonbury Festival for Contemporary Performing Arts’. 1995 was the Silver anniversary of Glastonbury and was worthy of some celebration. Tickets sold out faster than ever before – within four weeks of going on sale. The year 1998, was a muddy year of the many Glasto has had. But this time it gave rise to the sport of mud surfing. It was the biggest festival yet, with over 100,000 attendee’s, and 1000 acts over 17 stages which included Robbie Williams, Foo Fighters and Bob Dylan.
It was a sunny year in 1999! But this year Eavis’s wife, Jean had passed away from cancer. She was known as ‘Mother Glastonbury’. She was remembered with a fireworks display and a wicker structure.
2000 was the new millennium. It brought with it a host of new stages which included a new Pyramid Stage, (over 100ft tall), a left-wing political stage, Leftfield, and outdoor dance venue The Glade featured for the first time. Billy Bragg, who’s frequented the festival, played the Leftfield stage which opposes apathy and encourages left-wing politics with speakers and activist performers. However,
2003 is considered by many as the Best Glastonbury to date. Crime free, gatecrash free (relatively), rain-free, and with a cracking line up. Also over £1 million was raised for charitable causes. 2004 was also a year of history. This year saw the launch of the Unsigned performance competition, giving new bands the chance to perform at the festival. The festival screened the 2004 England vs Portugal European Cup match, and 65,000 people are estimated to have watched the game – more than who were at the stadium watching the game!
In 2008, the times were changing, new music styles had made their way to world audience. Jay-Z performed this time, and was received well. Though there were early criticisms that ‘rap didn’t have a place at Glastonbury. This was a rare year where tickets didn’t sell out within hours. However, a last-minute boost in the weather was followed by a surge in ticket sales to ensure a sellout festival. 2009 was a sad year, with the death of Michael Jackson. The entire festival paid homage to the King of Pop. Lily Allen performed wearing a white glove as a tribute.
2010 was the Happy 40th Glastonbury! To honour the anniversary of the festival, event organiser Michael Eavis joined Stevie Wonder on the Pyramid Stage to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. Eavis said: “It has been the best party for me of 2010. The weather, the full moon and last night a crowd of 100,000 people, every single one enjoying themselves.” Doctor Who actor Matt Smith joined Orbital on stage to play a remix of the TV show theme tune.
2013 was one of the biggest and best received years’ of Glasto’s new Millenium, a stellar bill saw performances from Mumford & Sons and The Rolling Stones – while Arctic Monkeys return to headline for a second time and kick off their AM campaign. It was a year of record in 2015. Tickets sold out in a record-smashing 26 minutes. Momentum gathered around rumours of Fleetwood Mac, Muse, AC/DC, Prince, Queen and more playing there. However, not everyone came.
In 2016, the Glastonbury was attended by around 175,000. The lineup was, as ever, extensive, with hundreds of acts performing across a huge range of stages spread across the 1,100-acre site. Muse, Adele and Coldplay were the big Pyramid Stage headliners.
The last was the 2017 edition. It started with an electrifying atmosphere on Friday, June 24th. With minutes of silence of the departed the London and Manchester tragedies. It had 77 stages and an extraordinary line up like Radiohead, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Major Lazar, Shaggy and many many more!!