Eavis was born in Dorset and grew up at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset. His father was a local Methodist preacher, and his mother, a school teacher. Eavis was educated at Wells Cathedral School, followed by the Thames Nautical Training College after which he joined the Union-Castle Line, part of the British Merchant Navy, as a trainee Midshipman. His plan was to spend twenty years at sea, and return with a pension to help subsidise the income from the family farm. After his father died in 1958, Eavis inherited the family farm of 150 acres (61 ha) and 60 cows. He worked at Mendip Colliery at Nettlebridge on the Somerset Coalfield for a couple of years to help supplement the income from the farm.
Eavis and his first wife Ruth had three children, but divorced in 1964. He next married Jean Hayball. In 1969, the couple visited the Bath Festival of Blues. Inspired by seeing the performance of Led Zeppelin, Eavis hosted the Pilton Pop Festival in 1970 and then a free festival, Glastonbury Fair was organised by Andrew Kerr the following year. The fair developed into the Glastonbury Festival. Jean died in 1999 and their daughter Emily has undertook an active role in running the event. In common with his mother and his second wife, Eavis remains a practising Methodist. Eavis has since married his third wife, Liz.
After recovering from stomach cancer, Eavis stood as a candidate for the Labour Party in the 1997 General Election in Wells, polling 10,204 votes. In 2004, however, he suggested that disillusioned Labour voters should switch their vote to the Green Party in 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." In 2006, he was appointed as President of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In 2011, Eavis was quoted as lamenting the decline in political activity associated with the Glastonbury Festival. 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.
He has apportioned profits from his Glastonbury Festival to support charitable causes, including local projects such as the restoration of the Tithe Barn, Pilton. 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.
Honours and tributes
Eavis holds Honorary Degrees from the University of Bath (Doctor of Arts honoris causa, 2004) and the University of Bristol (Master of Arts honoris causa, 2006). Tony Blair awarded Eavis the CBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list.
In 2009, Eavis was nominated by Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world. In 2012, Eavis was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from the University for the Creative Arts.
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- "Into Somerset Launches New Online Celebrity Film". Into Somerset. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
- "Michael Eavis - Honorary Graduates - December 2004". University of Bath. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
- "Bristol University | Public and Ceremonial Events Office | Honorary degrees". Bristol.ac.uk. 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "Rushdie and Eavis lead honours". BBC News. 15 June 2007.
- "Time magazine Eavis Listing". Time magazine. 2009-04-30. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
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