b. 17 October 1935, England. Dairy farmer Michael Eavis will forever be synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll via the use of his land at Worthy Farm, in the Vale of Avalon, for the UK’s premier rock event, the Glastonbury Festival. The idea originally came to him while watching the two-day Bath Blues Festival with Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa in a field in Shepton Mallet in the summer of 1970: ‘I fell in love with the idea of organising my own festival. It seemed romantic and a great way to spend mid-summer.’ The first Glastonbury Festival took place weeks later, with T. Rex headlining. 1, 500 fans attended. From the start Eavis remained committed to the 60s ideals that he had developed in his youth, and to this day continues to contribute 10% of Glastonbury’s gross receipts to charity. He has also limited music to 50% of activities on offer, which generally also include comedy, cabaret, theatre and environmental activism. The festival only became an annual event in 1982, with an eight-year gap between June 1971’s Glastonbury Fayre with David Bowie and Fairport Convention and 1979’s Year Of The Child benefit. It has continued to grow in prestige in the 80s and 90s, with many stellar artists agreeing to appear at a fraction of their usual fees in sympathy with the broadly philanthropic ethos of the festival. In keeping with this, and contrary to rumours, Eavis has profited little from the exercise, running the entire event from his farmhouse, and, in the early 90s, a small office space in Glastonbury. In 1995 the Festival sold out its 80, 000 ticket allocation within a week of going on sale, a tribute to both a unique event in the British music calendar and to Eavis’ continued enthusiasm and professionalism in organizing it. In 1996 Eavis announced that there would be no festival that year, stating that he wished to spend more time on his farm. He was back in the foreground in 1997 with what turned out to be the wettest and muddiest festival since Woodstock in 1969. Eavis managed to pursuade the local authorities not to cancel the three-day event, but many name bands were unable to perform. Eavis’ wife, Jean, who co-founded the festival, died from cancer on 16 May 1999.
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