From the first toilets and free milk to David Bowie, Muse and Coldplay
Andrew Trendell, Gigwise

13:50 23rd June 2016

And we're off - Glastonbury 2016 is go. It's going to be a weekend of mud, madness and musical magic, and anything could happen. One thing is certain: history will be made at Glastonbury, as usual. This is something we've learned in legend over the last 47 years.

Since its beginning in 1970, Glastonbury has steadily got bigger and bigger over the past four decades years to become the most iconic festival on the planet. Starting with just 1500 at tickets for just £1, Glasto now draws over 170,000 to Pilton in Somerset each summer for a celebration of music, art, and culture.

Somehow, even after demanding performances from some of the biggest and most seminal acts on the planet to perform across it's many stages, Glasto has kept an inkling of its hippie roots. The idea to start the festival was that of Michael Eavis, who owns Worthy Farm in Pilton, and was inspired by a festival he attended in 1969 where Led Zeppelin performed in Bath.

Glastonbury has changed a lot from the price to the size, but it's obviously got something that keeps people flocking to Somerset every year. As we look forward to next year's event, we have taken a look every event since 1970, and have pulled together weird and wonderful facts from every year.


1970: The first festival, and originally called Glastonbury Fayre. Costing £1 (with free milk included) Glastonbury 1970 was held the day after Jimi Hendrix died. Around 1500 people attended, and it was headlined by Tyrannosaurus Rex - stepping in for the Kinks who failed to show up.


1971: Back for a second year Glastonbury Fayre had Hawkwind and Traffic headlining, while David Bowie played his first, of three appearances (to date), on Worthy Farm.

1978: This, the third year of Glastonbury Fayre, wasn't planned per se. People showed up, en route from Stone Henge as they heard a festival was set to take place. After a discussion, it was decided that indeed, a festival would happen. It was powered by a caravan and a makeshift stage, there were no headline acts as such. 


1979: Grown to a three day event, Eavis raised 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'.

1981: Back with a new name, Glastonbury Festival, 1981 saw the arrival of a permanent Pyramid Stage, which when not used as a stage was a cow shed. Hawkwind were among the bands performing.

1982: This 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. There was also the festival's first laser light show was backed by backed Tubeway Army's iconic 'Are Friends Electric'.


1983: This was the first year of proper toilets! And the first of Glastonbury's Radio Station Radio Avalon broadcast the three day festival.
 

1984: This year The Smiths played, which led to uproar amongst those who attended, who questioned whether 'popular' bands should perform on the Pyramid Stage. They do look a little frightened in this photo from backstage, and Johnny Marr himself would later himself admit: "We were out of our depth." 


1985: The festival was now so big that it took over neighbouring land on Cockmill Farm, to add another 100 acres. It was also hit with seriously bad weather. However Michael Eavis, said he was pleased that "we have had the mud bath and proved we can still cope with the conditions." This is just as well, for there have been countless mud-filled years ever since.


1986: The Cure performed the Pyramid Stage, and also, in contrast, to show the spectrum of musical and artistic talents catered to by Glastonbury, it was the inaugural year of the classical tent curated by composer (and Daft Punk collaborator) John Williams.

1987: By now the festival was gathering a crowd of over 60,000 - huge compared to the 1,500 who attended the first, but who pale in comparison to over 170,000 who now attend.

1989: Suzanne Vega, who headlined the Friday night, played wearing a bulletproof vest, after death threats were directed at her and her bassist. Not that that deterred her, above she is pictured performing nearly two decades later - and will be back this year. 

1990: 20 years since the first festival and the festival had increased almost beyond all recognition. Now boasting theatre and arts as well as musical performers, the festival was re-titled 'Glastonbury Festival for Contemporary Performing Arts'. French theatre troupe Archaos performed atop the Pyramid Stage on both Friday and Saturday nights. The numbers attending topped 70,000, and security became noticeably tighter - for better or worse.

1992: The released line up had a slot named 'Special Guest' which provoked much curiosity. Tom Jones turned out to be the performer, and was apparently 'fantastic'. HURGH!

1993: Lenny Kravitz stepped in to the headline slot when confirmed performers Red Hot Chili Peppers failed to turn up.

1994: This year, the Pyramid Stage burned down, but a makeshift one was made so the festival could continue. The festival was broadcast by Channel 4, which only added to the festival's growing publicity. A dampner on this weekend was the festival's first fatality - a result of a drugs overdose. But the most memorable thing about 1994 was Manic Street Preachers performance, complete with bassist Nicky Wire's infamous 'joke', when he said "someone should build a bypass over this shithole." It didn't go down well. "It was supposed to be a joke," he said later. "As I was saying it I thought 'this is going to be really funny'. Then this deathly silence descended on the place." Glasto still loves the Manics, though - they've since headlined and will return for one of the most hotly-anticipated performances of 1994. 

1995: The Silver anniversary of Glastonbury was worthy of some celebration. Tickets sold out faster than ever before - within four weeks of going on sale, and Original performers Al Stewart and Keith Christmas returned to perform again. The festival expanded again - opening a Dance Stage which featured Massive Attack (who in later years headlined the festival), System 7 and Eat Static.


1997: This was deemed another 'year of mud' not that that deterred the enthusiastic crowds. This was also the year they introduced solar-heated showers, perfect for mud-splattered revellers.

1998: Yet another muddy year - although this 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.

1999: The sun came back! This year was held in the memory of Michael Eavis' wife Jean, who was known as 'Mother Glastonbury'. She was remembered with a fireworks display and a wicker structure. The line-up featured  Blondie, REM and Manic Street Preachers (who were allowed back after their haphazard comment years before - but caused a stir and upset Billy Bragg by bringing their own private toilets).

2000: The new millennium brought with it a host of new stages (and a ruined outer fence thanks to hoards of gatecrashers). The new stages 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. Most importantly, David Bowie's Pyramid Stage headline slot was arguably the greatest in Glastonbury history. Sadly, it would be his last. 

2002: To deter gatecrashers, who had been a problem for almost every festival so far, a steel fence was put up, letting only the 140,000 ticketed guests in. Among the music, arts, and general vibe of the festival a new venue Lost Vagueness brought a silver service restaurant, encouraging guests to add a Glastonbury spin on evening wear. Coldplay were one of the headling acts, and the crowd's gentle sing along almost brought a tear to Chris Martin's eye: "Best choir I ever heard in my life," he choked during the show.

 
2003: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. The Lost Vagueness, an off the wall venue which in amidst festival madness allowed for silver service dining and evening wear, facilitating ballroom dancing was growing in popularity too!

2004: 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. It wasn't all good news though. Despite Muse stepping up to the major leagues to headline the Pyramid Stage for the first time, their glorious set was marred by tragedy when drummer Dom Howard's father passed away shortly after seeing them.


2005:
Mud glorious mud again... Two months of rain in just hours caused floods that could have been a disaster, if not for the drainage system installed the previous year. Celebrating the Make Poverty History campaign, festival creator Michael Eavis, Bob Geldof, and Greenpeace took to the stage and declared: "This year, let's make poverty history and get clean energy for our future."


2007
: This year the festival expanded again, with Emily Eavis opening her own area, The Park Stage. The Who pulled out all the stops, and triumphantly closed the festival on the Sunday night.

2008: 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. Jay-Z performed, and was received well, despite early criticisms that 'rap didn't have a place at Glastonbury.'

2009: As the death of Michael Jackson broke, the entire festival paid homage to the King of Pop. Lily Allen performed wearing a white glove.

2010: 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.

2011: Like her husband Jay Z several years earlier, Beyonce defied her critics to pull off a truly historic headline performance on the Pyramid Stage - as did Queens Of The Stone Age on the Other Stage. The difference in opinions around the two sets caused a stir between BBC presenters Zane Lowe and Lauren Laverne - causing  a storm on Twitter and Lowe leaving early. Oh yeah, and loads of people were left disappointed by U2. 
 


2013: One of the biggest and best received years' of Glasto's new Millenium, a stellar bill sees headline 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 pretty triumphant, despite many critics of Alex Turner's new 'Elvis-style' bravado and 'American accent'. 


2014: Despite hopes and rumours of Prince, Foo Fighters, Fleetwood Mac and (optimistically) Daft Punk and David Bowie, the final Saturday night headliners joining Arcade Fire and Kasabian were revealed to be Metallica. It's drawn a fair whack of criticism and controversy due to their hard-rock nature, but now all eyes are on Metallica to see if they can prove the world wrong. 


2015: Tickets sold out in a record smashing 26 minutes. Momentum gathered around rumours of Fleetwood Mac, Muse, AC/DC, Prince, Queen and more headlining - however it has all fallen down to Foo Fighters, The Who and Kanye West - the latter sparked so much controversy that a petition was started to ban Yeezy from performing, attracting over 100,000 signatures. This was also the first year that Native American head dresses have been banned due to 'cultural apropriation and insensitivity'.


2016: A year of firsts, as Coldplay become the first band to headline the festival four times, Muse the first to have headlined each night over the years and Adele makes her major festival headline debut. The festival also mourns the loss of David Bowie and Lemmy with tributes built above the Pyramid and Other Stages, while a statue stands in Prince's honour in The Park. 

  • PJ Harvey: Finally, the chance to see The Hope Six Demolition Project - the album PJ Harvey recorded behind one-way glass as part of an art installation at Somerset House - performed live. She's already released a few bangers, particularly the catchy, controversial 'Community Of Hope', and there's more to come.

  • The Last Shadow Puppets: Bad Habits die hard, thank goodness, and so Alex Turner and Miles Kane's side-project is back after eight years away. Seeing the orchestral flourishes of their debut album, The Age Of The Understatement, live is sure to be a weekend highlight.

  • Adele: "For anyone who's gonna kick off and say I'm fucking boring," said Adele when she announced herself for Glastonbury partway through an O2 show, "you're more fucking boring for moaning about me headlining." Amen to that. There's plenty of other stuff going on if she's not for you.

  • Skepta: If grime was hierachical enough to have a leader, Skepta would be it. He's been instrumental (no pun intended) in forcing the genre into the mainstream over the past few years - a place it firmly deserves to be.

  • Jeff Lynne's ELO: The legends slot on Sunday afternoon has become somewhat iconic over the past few years, with the help of Dolly Parton and Lionel Richie - both of whom amassed the biggest crowd of the entire weekend. While ELO don't quite have the amount of sing-along hits as those two, this is still likely to be something special.

  • Lady Leshurr: This could very well be the surprise highlight of the whole festival. Lady Leshurr, who revels in tongue-in-cheek worldplay and jubilantly light-hearted diss tracks, has broken into the mainstream with the help of a couple of viral videos in her Queen's Speech series. Turn up and sing at the top of your lungs, "How can you talk my name when you ain't even brushed your teeth?"

  • The 1975: Say what you want about The 1975, but no-one could ever accuse Matt Healy of not giving his absolute all to every single live performance. If you liked their recent album, I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, then this performance is not one to miss.

  • Grimes: If you were at any of the shows of Grimes' recent UK tour, you'll know exactly why her set is likely to define Glastonbury. If you weren't, then you must rectify that mistake this June. You won't regret it.

  • Muse: This will make Muse the first band to have headlined every night of the festival - they played Saturday night in 2010 and Sunday over a decade ago in 2004. It's a somewhat meaningless honour, admittedly. More important is that a whole new bunch of fans will get to see them perform their anthemic classics, as well as tracks from their latest album, Drones.

  • Little Simz: At the grime rapper's album release show, she brought out Stormzy and Kano for a newly remixed version of 'Dead Body' and more than held her own next to them as the crowd went berzerk. Expect an infectious, frenetic Glastonbury slot in the same vein, and perhaps some more guest appearances.

  • LCD Soundsystem: The reunion no-one thought would ever happen - not least James Murphy himself - is not only happening, but it's happening all summer. This Glastonbury slot will surely be one of the most special comeback shows, though.

  • Savages: "Is it human to adore life?" asks Jehnny Beth on one of the best tracks of Savages' incredible second album. With music this good it is. Miss their Glastonbury set at your peril.

  • Coldplay: It took us a little while to connect with Coldplay's new album, A Head Full Of Dreams. But then we pictured that opening riff from 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' ringing out from the Pyramid Stage, and now we're on board. Question the band's coolness all you want, but you'll be singing along to their millions of hits come Sunday night at Glasto.

  • Ezra Furman: There's a reason why The Guardian referred to Furman as "the most compelling live act you can see right now," just like there's a reason his album, Perpetual Motion People, was Gigwise's album of 2015.

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Photo: WENN/Press