From the Rolling Stones to Coldplay via Jay-Z and Dolly Parton, Glastonbury Festival has played host to some of the world’s biggest artists during its 47-year tenure.
But while the line-up may have changed over the years, one figure has remained constant: Glastonbury’s founding father, Michael Eavis.
Dressed in trademark shorts and sandals, the Glastonbury founder made a long-anticipated return to BIMM Dublin recently for a Masterclass few will forget.
Interviewed by The Irish Times’ music critic and writer Jim Carroll, the 81-year-old head honcho – officially one of the coolest men on the planet – took some time out from Worthy Farm, to discuss the award-winning festival’s breathtaking history.
We heard how the Glastonbury Festival had grown from a small gathering of hippies and free-thinkers to the biggest festival in the world, following the closure of the nearby Stonehenge Free Festival.
“The festival made no money until its 12th year, and then we didn’t start to get big players until after 25 years. We waited 2-3 years for U2 to call back and 40 years for the Rolling Stones,” he told our packed audience of BIMM students and tutors.
Speaking with zest and tremendous passion, you can’t help but agree with Michael Eavis’ own admission that he has ‘the best job in the world’, which makes it all the more surprising that he was considering retirement in 2011. Fortunately, NME’s 1996 Godlike Genius came to his senses soon after and took the decision to carry on, bringing the magic of the festival to hundreds of thousands of revellers each year.
On the future of Glastonbury itself, Michael Eavis spoke of Carmageddon – a new venture which sees refurbished American cars fitted with sound systems for a new drive-in experience within the festival and 2019’s proposed Variety Bizarre bash.
On the subject of Live Nation buying up festivals, Michael Eavis made it clear as day that Glastonbury is ‘not for sale’, meaning all profits will continue to go to charitable causes.
Answering a student’s question about the safe and peaceful nature of Glastonbury and whether or not it had anything to do with charity, Michael Eavis – whose favourite acts include John Martin, Coldplay, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson – replied:
“If you treat people right, they’ll treat you right. They don’t get ripped off; there’s free buses to the festival, free programmes, firewood, etc. they respect what we do.”
After the masterclass, we caught up with BA1 Guitar students Luke Reddy and Jonathan Hayes, both of whom were full of praise for our very special guest.
“It was really good, really interesting and I learned a lot. He’s just a cool dude,” revealed Jonathan.
“I thought it was deadly hearing all those stories I’ve heard before from the actual man himself,” added Luke.
Warm, down to earth and inspiration, Michael Eavis has given the world so much over the years through Glastonbury Festival and his work for charity. It was an honour to welcome him back to BIMM Dublin for another insightful Masterclass.