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Michael Eavis

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Michael Eavis
Eavis in June 2024
Athelstan Joseph Michael Eavis

(1935-10-17) 17 October 1935 (age 88)
Pilton, Somerset, England, UK
  • Farmer
  • businessman
Known forCo-creator of Glastonbury Festival
Children5, including Emily Eavis

Sir Athelstan Joseph Michael Eavis CBE[1][2] (born 17 October 1935) is an English dairy farmer and the co-creator of the Glastonbury Festival, which takes place at his farm in Pilton, Somerset.

Personal life


Eavis was born in Pilton, Somerset[3] on 17 October 1935,[4] and grew up at Worthy Farm in the village. His father was a Methodist local preacher, and his mother a school teacher. Eavis was educated at Wells Cathedral School, followed by the Thames Nautical Training College in Greenhithe, Kent, 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 when Eavis was 19, he inherited the family farm of 150 acres (61 ha) and 60 cows.[5] He worked at Mendip Colliery at Nettlebridge or New Rock colliery at Stratton-on-the-Fosse on the Somerset Coalfield for a couple of years to help supplement the income from the farm.[6][7]

Eavis and his first wife Ruth had three children, Juliet, Rebecca and Jane, but divorced in 1964.[5] He next married Jean Hayball, with whom he had a son, Patrick, and a daughter, Emily. Jean died of cancer in 1999, and Eavis has since married his third wife, Liz.[5] In common with his parents and second wife, Eavis remains a practising Methodist,[8] although he has also stated that he is "not really bothered" about the existence of God.[9] He is a teetotaler and does not smoke.[5]

Glastonbury Festival

Michael Eavis in 2005

In 1969, Eavis and his second wife Jean visited the Bath Festival of Blues. Inspired by seeing the performance of Led Zeppelin, Eavis hosted the Pilton Pop Folk & Blues Festival in 1970. The following year a free festival, Glastonbury Fayre, was organised by Andrew Kerr and associates. It later developed into Glastonbury Festival.[10]

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

Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Eavis together on the Pyramid Stage at the 2017 Glastonbury Festival

Eavis has credited a number of influences for his political views, including traditions of nonconformity in his family, as well as his time as a miner, during which he was a member of the National Union of Mineworkers.[6] During the early 1980s he was involved in establishing a local branch of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and subsequently agreed to make the Glastonbury Festival a fundraiser for CND, as it was from 1981 to 1987.[11][12]

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.[13] In 2004, however, he suggested that disillusioned Labour voters should switch their vote to the Green Party in protest at the Iraq War,[14] though he returned to supporting the Labour Party in 2010.[15]

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."[16] In 2006, he was appointed as President of the Somerset Chamber of commerce and Industry.[17]

In 2011, Eavis was quoted as lamenting the decline in political activity associated with the Glastonbury Festival.[18] He was guest editor of the Western Daily Press newspaper on Glastonbury's 'fallow' weekend, 23 June 2012.[19]

Eavis invited Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to appear at the 2017 festival, introducing the Run the Jewels' set. Eavis supported Corbyn's anti-nuclear and anti-austerity policies, saying "he's got something new and precious, and people are excited about it. He really is the hero of the hour."[20]

Charitable work


Eavis has apportioned profits from his Glastonbury Festival to support charitable causes, including local projects such as the restoration of the Tithe Barn, Pilton.[21][22] 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.[23]

In 2009, Eavis starred in a short film to promote Somerset, commissioned by Inward Investment Agency Into Somerset.[24]

Eavis served as vice-president (alongside Rebecca Pow MP) of Somerset Wildlife Trust until June 2018: he stepped down following an online petition criticising his support for badger culling. In response to the petition, Eavis claimed that signatories "probably live in Kensington" and had "never seen a badger".[25]

Honours and tributes

A pair of Eavis' wellington boots on display at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading

Eavis holds honorary degrees from the University of Bath (Doctor of Arts honoris causa, 2004)[26] and the University of Bristol (Master of Arts honoris causa, 2006).[27] In the 2007 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to music.[1][28] He was appointed Knight Bachelor in the 2024 New Year Honours for services to music and charity.[29]

In 2009 Eavis was nominated by Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.[30] In 2012, he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from the University for the Creative Arts.[31]

In 2015 train operator First Great Western named High Speed Train powercar 43026 Michael Eavis.[32] After this was withdrawn, 802013 was named after him in April 2019.[33]

He was awarded the Freedom of the Town of Glastonbury on 3 May 2022.[34]

In early 2024 Eavis was knighted at Windsor Castle, by the Princess Royal, for services to music and charity.[35]

See also



  1. ^ a b "No. 58358". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2007. p. 7.
  2. ^ Green, Alex (19 June 2022). "Michael and Emily Eavis: The father-daughter driving force behind Glastonbury". Yahoo News. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  3. ^ "Michael Eavis". Archived from the original on 10 December 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Michael Eavis News | Photos | Quotes | Video | Wiki - UPI.com". UPI. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d Smith, David (19 June 2005). "Far-out man". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
  6. ^ a b Benson, Richard (22 June 2014). "'Why haven't you booked me for the Pyramid stage?': Michael Eavis answers famous festivalgoers' questions". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  7. ^ Norbury, Suzanne (6 September 2016). "Glastonbury Festival's Michael Eavis joins former coal miners in Radstock". Somerset Live. Archived from the original on 7 September 2016. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  8. ^ McGrath, Nick (7 June 2013). "Michael Eavis: My family values". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  9. ^ Turner, Steve (22 July 2015). "Down on Jollity Farm". Third Way. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  10. ^ Williamson, Marcus (8 October 2014). "Andrew Kerr, writer and festival organiser: The man who helped make Glastonbury Festival a stunning success". The Independent. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  11. ^ Ihde, Erin (2015). "Do not panic: Hawkwind, the Cold War and "the imagination of disaster"". Cogent Arts & Humanities. 2 (1). doi:10.1080/23311983.2015.1024564.
  12. ^ Reilly, Nick (24 February 2020). "The CND wants to hear your memories of Glastonbury". NME. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Wells Constituency". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  14. ^ Yates, Victoria. "Michael Eavis". Leader Values. Archived from the original on 17 July 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  15. ^ Topping, Alexandra (30 April 2010). "Glastonbury 2010: Q&A with Michael Eavis". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  16. ^ Campbell, Duncan (30 April 2005). "Hunt is on for poll scalps but rural vote has other concerns". The Guardian.
  17. ^ "Business News – Eavis for President". Mendip Times. 2 (7): 8. December 2006.
  18. ^ Davis, Rowenna (18 June 2011). "Glastonbury's radical roots will return, says Michael Eavis". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  19. ^ "Michael Eavis: Glastonbury Festival's year off is about rest, regeneration and action". This is Somerset. Archived from the original on 26 June 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  20. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (16 June 2017). "Jeremy Corbyn to appear on Pyramid stage at Glastonbury festival 2017". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Michael Eavis talks". BBC Somerset. BBC. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  22. ^ "12th Century Tithe Barn Restored with the Help of the Festival". Glastonbury Festival. 29 April 2009. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  23. ^ "Glastonbury licence 'is assured'". BBC News. 30 November 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  24. ^ "Into Somerset Launches New Online Celebrity Film". Into Somerset. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  25. ^ "Glastonbury boss Eavis quits Somerset Wildlife Trust". BBC News. 22 June 2018.
  26. ^ "Michael Eavis – Honorary Graduates – December 2004". University of Bath. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  27. ^ "Bristol University | Public and Ceremonial Events Office | Honorary degrees". University of Bristol. 5 June 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  28. ^ "Rushdie and Eavis lead honours". BBC News. 15 June 2007.
  29. ^ "No. 64269". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2023. p. N2.
  30. ^ "Time magazine Eavis Listing". Time. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2009.
  31. ^ "UCA – News". Archived from the original on 19 May 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  32. ^ Train to Glastonbury named after festival founder Michael Eavis. NME, 23 April 2015
  33. ^ Wrong IET set at Castle Cary for Glastonbury event founder naming The Railway Magazine issue 1418, May 2019. Page 106
  34. ^ "Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis on getting the Freedom of the town". ITV News West Country. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  35. ^ "Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis to receive knighthood". www.bbc.com. Retrieved 29 May 2024.