Michael Eavis – Does Rock’n’Roll Kill Brain Cells?

Testing an old hippy’s memory after a lifetime of Glasto

At the first ever Glastonbury in September 1970, T-Rex stepped in at the last minute as headliners. Who was it who pulled out?
“The Kinks. Didn’t like Melody Maker’s headline: Kinks To Play Mini Festival. They didn’t like idea of a ‘mini festival’. They were offended by that, and I can’t blame them, ’cos ‘Lola’ was Number One at the time. So they produced four medical certificates to say they all had laryngitis, even the drummer! I thought this is how it is; rock’n’roll – and they’re all gonna be flakey!”

Which song did The Smiths open with at their 1984 Glastonbury performance?
“I went to Bristol University Students’ Union to see The Smiths the October before. The moment they came onstage I knew they were going be absolutely huge and so afterwards I asked them to do Glastonbury the following year. In those days, Glastonbury was just an old hippy festival, so when they went on, everyone started rushing up. Morrissey was beckoning people up onstage and, of course, there was no security. So they had to stop the set and only played for half an hour, so we actually lost the best set we would have ever had. I’m going to guess the first song was ‘Nowhere Fast’.”

Which artist’s 2007 song featured the lyric: “Give me a festival and I’ll be your Glastonbury star”.
“I’ve no idea actually.”
It was Amy Macdonald’s ‘Let’s Start A Band’

Who replaced The Stone Roses as Saturday night Pyramid Stage headliners in 1995?
“Pulp! The Stone Roses did the Pilton Party the year before. It was fantastic, we had the full set from them and they all turned up for that. God, I wished I’d filmed that. So then they pulled out and Jarvis Cocker stood there with Pulp, it really was an amazing success. It just worked. He’s an all-time hero.”
Correct – although the Roses actually played the Pilton Party in Sept ’95, the same year they should have played Glasto

How many times have the Levellers appeared at Glastonbury?
“God knows! Too many times, I would say! I had a bit of a barney with the singer once over the travellers’ convoy, he was slagging me off saying it was all my fault and that we didn’t get everybody in. He has apologised to me several times since, so I don’t hold it against him, but they’re always good for a laugh. People would always watch them whenever they played. Half a dozen times?”
Wrong, it’s been eight times so far

In 2005, which band’s (very inebriated) singer said to the Pyramid Stage crowd: “D’you wanna hear The Stone Roses? Well, you should have been here 15 years ago, you lazy bastards.”
“(Laughs) He’s terrific, he’s a great singer, I love his songs, Bobby Gillespie! One of my all-time favourites, Primal Scream. He was a bit drunk and was slagging everyone off, so security wanted to take him off. He was only being funny, but I had such a job trying to
get the security to leave him alone. I was pleading with them that he was a great chap. So he came offstage that night and went to an all-night party. He stayed right through ’til the early hours of the morning. But he’s a great chap, in my eyes he’s a real star.”

How much did a ticket to Glastonbury cost in 1987?
“Erm 20, 21 quid?”
Correct, it was £21

Which band in 1999 requested (and were given) their own personal backstage toilets?
“It’s not actually true, that story. It’s one of the girls backstage, they were being a bit protective of Manic Street Preachers, she might have been a Manics fan. She wanted them to feel a bit special, but they didn’t even know about it.”

Oasis made their first appearance on the NME Stage at Glastonbury in 1994. Can you name either the band who played immediately before them, or immediately after them?
“That was Oasis’ best ever set at Glastonbury. No-one knew who they were, so there was no ego or anything. They just got on with it and they were absolutely brilliant. It was around the time of Britpop, wasn’t it, so I’m guessing someone like Echobelly? It rings a bell.”
Correct, they played before; Credit To The Nation were on afterwards

The Pyramid Stage headliners are: Friday, Psychedelic Furs; Saturday, The Cure; Sunday, Level 42. What year is it?
“Definitely the ’80s! I’m going to say it was 1986.”

Result: 8/10
“That’s very good, I didn’t get that at school. I can remember most of the festivals individually. Did I think I’d still be organising Glastonbury after 40 years? No way!”