The world’s #1 music festival missed its 50th anniversary celebration as Covid forced organizers Michael and Emily Eavis to cancel Glastonbury in 2020 and again in 2021.
Last year, the event could only be broadcast live.
When he returns to Worthy Farm next week with performances including youngest headliner Billie Eilish and veteran Sir Paul McCartney, father and daughter reflect on five decades of rock history since the very first event in 1970.
This Sunday in the BBC2 documentary Glastonbury: 50 and a Count, they join Billy, Ed Sheeran, Jay-Z, Stormzy, Noel Gallagher and more to discuss what makes this event so magical.
When 20-year-old American Billy is shown in a paper on display at Eavis Worthy’s farm in Somerset, she asks rolling fields, “Is this empty shit?”
But over the years, the sacred lawn has played host to some of the most iconic moments in music, and has also often been beaten within an inch of its life when heavy rain and high-booted fans turned it into a mud bath.
After refusing to climb the famous Glastonbury Tor hill, Billy says: “I don’t believe it – everything is empty there, man. There’s nothing there. Is that what all the fuss is about?”
But later she says of Glasto: “I didn’t know how important it was. You know, most festivals are like the same thing, but going to Glastonbury wasn’t like a normal festival.”
Eavis Sr. recalls an awkward conversation with his bank shortly after the opening of the festival.
He tells the document: “With only £1 per person, that didn’t even cover the show. My bank manager thought I was crazy. They told me, “Leave now while you’re still fine.”
“But they also believed in what I was doing, and I said, ‘No, I’m not leaving,’ and told them that I would take a few more years of risk until it worked.”
In the second year, David Bowie played and helped Glasto declare himself on the world map.
On footage discovered in 2000, Ziggy Stardust himself admits: “I spent the whole night at the Worthy Farmhouse with two singers, both very talented. We got high on our pumpkins.”
In an effort to keep up with the times, in 2008 the Eavises invited American rapper Jay-Z to head the Pyramid scene.
The movement was led by Emily, and now Michael admits that he had no idea who Jay-Z was. Emily says, “I wrote on the fridge, on a piece of paper, ‘JZ, double E’ – I wished Michael could say it because he kept saying ‘J-Zed’.”
But she adds: “A promoter who puts on gigs all over the world told me, ‘You totally screwed up. There will be fewer people. . . he won’t even reach the mixing console.”
But Jay-Z turned out to be exactly what was needed. Emily says: “It was like a change of energy, a changing of the guard. Jay-Z has opened doors for many, many artists that we didn’t have before.”
Following Stormzy, Kanye West and Dave, American rapper Kendrick Lamar will take the Pyramid stage and close this year’s festival on Sunday.
Praising Emily’s decision to break the mold with Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran, who headlined the festival in 2017, said: “If you don’t have someone like Billie Eilish or Stormzy as headliners, then you’re really, really out of touch with the world.” . what kids really want.
“That’s where Glastonbury succeeded – they kept their finger on the pulse and didn’t turn into a dinosaur festival.”
- Glastonbury: 50 years and counting, BBC2 this Sunday from 9pm.