For the last thirty-five years Glastonbury has been one of the highlights of the musical calendar. But how did it all begin and just what has happened in those thirty years? We bring you the highs and lows of each decade of Glastonbury's existence.
On 19 September 1970 Marc Bolan drove up to Michael Eavis's Somerset farm in his velvet-covered car, and lo! The first Glastonbury festival began. Over 1,500 people paid £1 to enjoy a heady mix of pop music, traditional harvest fairs and free milk but things soon changed. In 1971 the festival was already growing in stature and to accommodate a line up that included David Bowie, Hawkwind, Traffic and Joan Baez, the Pyramid Stage was built and a lot of rich hippies got in on the act. The sight of overpaid hippie actors trying to save the world with lentils obviously put Eavis off as the festival didn't run again until 1979 with Peter Gabriel headlining and 12,000 travellers paying £7 to get in.
The 1981 festival was held to raise funds for CND with a shiny new Pyramid Stage built from telegraph poles and Ministry Of Defence metal sheeting. It featured the likes of New Order and Aswad, freeing Glastonbury from the clutches of hippies and flautists. Sadly 1982 saw the start of a less welcome tradition - rain. As festival goers swarmed off for another year, Eavis spent his time fighting the local Mendip council for a license, eventually agreeing to limit the festival to 35,000 paying punters. 1984 was more positive, with The Smiths headlining (cue torrent of gladioli flung at the stage) and over the next few years Glastonbury grew into a premier European event. By 1989, the police were in on planning the event and also protecting Suzanne Vega, who played despite receiving death threats - probably from unemployed flautists.
Brilliant sets from Happy Mondays and The Cure kicked the '90s off a treat although the "Heaviest Glastonbury Ever" was marred by 235 arrests for looting. But hey, the sun came out for the next four years and The Velvet Underground played in 1992 and in 1994 Blur, Pulp and Oasis headlined to national hysteria. In '95 The Stone Roses dropped out, but the "Golden Era" of Glastonbury was in full swing; gone were the crusty dreads of the early-90s and on came Radiohead, Massive Attack and The Prodigy. A couple of festivals saw the return of the "Sodden Era", as the infamous two Years Of Mud (1997 and 1998) patented the new sport of mud surfing. R.E.M. and Manic Street Preachers ended the decade on a (legal) high, but there was trouble afoot...
Unfortunately, despite sterling performances from Moby, Pet Shop Boys, Travis, Badly Drawn Boy, Glasto virgins Coldplay and (inevitably) The Chemical Brothers, Glastonbury 2000 was plagued by record numbers of "fence-hoppers" meaning Mendip Council refused a licence for the event in 2001. Boo! Never mind, the grass had a chance to grow back and 2002's festival was the biggest and best ever, thanks to the daunting prospect of The Fence. Nice weather meant that Coldplay reigned supreme and The White Stripes kept their nice white trousers clean. 2003 was the biggest festival yet and saw R.E.M. roll out their greatest hits, while Radiohead triumphed again on the main stage, despite having to contend with fireworks elsewhere on the site detonating during their set. "That won't happen again," Mr Eavis assures us. 2004 saw Oasis and Muse play triumphant headline sets on the Pyramid Stage, while Paul McCartney embarrassed a nation with his comments on "Glastonburgers" and his odd dress sense. Morrissey visited for the first time in 20 years, while Orbital bowed out with an emotional set on the Other Stage. 2005 was the Year Of The Downpour - Friday morning saw torrential rain and floods that crippled some of the stages and saw many punters lose their tents in the deluge. Still, the sun came out for Brian Wilson, so that was alright. Chris Martin was visibly thrilled that Coldplay were headlining again on the Saturday, while Basement Jaxx nobly stepped in to cover for Kylie Minogue on the Sunday, who had to pull out because she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. And we hope she'll visit us one day...