Michael Eavis

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Michael Eavis
Michael Eavis in 2005
Born (1935-10-17) 17 October 1935 (age 78)
Occupation Farmer
Known for Glastonbury Festival founder

Athelstan Joseph Michael Eavis, CBE [1] (born 17 October 1935), is an English dairy farmer and the founder of the Glastonbury Festival, which takes place on his farm.

Personal life[edit]

His family hails from Dorset and, after his great grandfather walked the family dairy herd north, settled at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset. His father was a local Methodist preacher, while his mother was a school teacher. Eavis was educated at the fee-paying Wells Cathedral School, followed by the Thames Nautical Training College after which he joined the Union-Castle Line, which comprised part of the British Merchant Navy, as a trainee Midshipman. His plan was to spend 20 years at sea, returning with a pension to subsidise the income from the farm. After his father died in 1958, Eavis returned to inherit the family farm of 150 acres (61 ha) and 60 cows.[2][3]


Divorcing his first wife Ruth in 1964, with whom he had three children, in 1969 Eavis and his second wife Jean Hayball visited the Bath Festival of Blues. Inspired by seeing the performance of Led Zeppelin, they hosted the Pilton Pop Festival in 1970 and then a free festival, Glastonbury Fair was organised by Andrew Kerr the following year. This developed into the Glastonbury Festival as it is known today. Jean died in 1999; since then their daughter Emily has taken a more active role in running the event. In common with his mother and his second wife, Eavis remains a regular Methodist chapel-goer. Eavis has since married his third wife, Liz.

In 2010, the festival's 40th year, he appeared on the main stage at the Festival, with headline artist Stevie Wonder, to sing the chorus of the latter's "Happy Birthday".

Political activity[edit]

After recovering from stomach cancer, Eavis stood as a candidate for the Labour Party in the 1997 General Election in the Wells Constituency, polling 10,204 votes.[4] In 2004 however, he suggested that disillusioned Labour voters should switch their vote to the Green Party to protest at the Iraq War, though he returned to supporting the Labour Party in 2010.

In 2005 Eavis was quoted in The Guardian as being a supporter of hunting. "I don't hunt myself, but I support the people who want to hunt. With all that's going on in the world, it was outrageous to ban it."[5] In November 2006 he was appointed as President of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce and Industry.[6]

In June 2011, Eavis was quoted as lamenting the decline in political activity associated with the Glastonbury Festival.[7] Days later, however, a protest by Art Uncut at the Glastonbury Festival against U2's alleged hypocrisy on matters of taxation was stopped with force by festival security.[8]

Eavis was guest editor of the Western Daily Press newspaper on Glastonbury's 'fallow' weekend, 23 June 2012.[9]

Charitable work[edit]

He has apportioned profits from his Glastonbury Festival to support charitable causes, including local projects such as the restoration of the Tithe Barn, Pilton.[10][11] In November 2008, during an appearance on the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs, Eavis stated that the Festival could never lose its licence due to the contribution it makes to the local economy.[12]

In November 2009, Eavis starred in a short film to promote Somerset, commissioned by Inward Investment Agency Into Somerset.[13]

Honours and tributes[edit]

Eavis holds Honorary Degrees from the University of Bath (Doctor of Arts honoris causa, 2004)[14] and the University of Bristol (Master of Arts honoris causa, 2006).[15] Tony Blair awarded Eavis the CBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list.[16][1]

In May 2009, Eavis was nominated by Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "To be Ordinary Commanders of the Civil Division of the said Most Excellent Order". London Gazette (Supplement No. 1). 16 June 2007. p. 7. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Smith, David (2005-06-19). "Far-out man". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  3. ^ http.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk
  4. ^ "Wells Constituency". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Campbell, Duncan (30 April 2005). "Hunt is on for poll scalps but rural vote has other concerns". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ "Business News — Eavis for President". Mendip Times 2 (7): 8. December 2006. 
  7. ^ Davis, Rowenna (18 June 2011). "Glastonbury's radical roots will return, says Michael Eavis". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  8. ^ "Violent scenes break out in the crowd at U2’s long-awaited Glastonbury debut". The Telegraph (London). 24 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "Michael Eavis: Glastonbury Festival's year off is about rest, regeneration and action". This is Somerset. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Michael Eavis talks". BBC Somerset. BBC. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  11. ^ "12th Century Tithe Barn Restored with the Help of the Festival". Glastonbury Festival. 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  12. ^ "Glastonbury licence 'is assured'". BBC News. 30 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  13. ^ Somerset - where you and your business can grow - Into Somerset website
  14. ^ University of Bath - Public Relations - Internal news
  15. ^ Bristol University - Mr Michael Eavis
  16. ^ "Rushdie and Eavis lead honours". BBC News. 15 June 2007. 
  17. ^ "Time magazine Eavis Listing". Time magazine. 2009-04-30. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 

External links[edit]