Who are the organizers of the Glastonbury Festival, Michael and Emily Eavis?

June is Glastonbury month, and while there’s no real festival this year, we’re still in the mood to hear some of the big names in music here in Somerset.

From Live at Worthy Farm to the BBC’s Glastonbury Experience, there are still plenty of ways to get a taste of Glastonbury – with the hope that we can even make it to Pilton in person for a two-day festival in the fall.

Until then, we’re getting into the mood with a range of Glastonbury Festival content. But there are two people without whom there would be no Glastonbury: Michael and Emily Eavis.

Read more: 23 facts about Glastonbury organizer Emily Eavis

Michael Eavis has organized and overseen Glastonbury since its inception as a festival in 1970, first with his wife, Jean, and more recently with the couple’s daughter, Emily. Here we take a look at the pair and how they got to where they are now.

Who is Michael Eavis?

Michael Eavis was born in Pilton in 1935, the son of a local Methodist preacher and a teacher. He attended cathedral school in Wells, after which he joined the navy for four years and also spent time working as a miner. His plans to spend his life at sea were dashed, however, when his father died when Michael was just 19. Reluctantly, Eavis took over management of Worthy Farm and its 150 acres of land (and 60 cows).

Around the same time, Eavis married his first wife, Ruth. The couple had three children before divorcing in 1964.

It was with his second wife, Jean, that he created what was then called the Pilton Pop, Blues and Folk Festival; they had been inspired after watching Led Zeppelin at the 1970 Shepton Mallet Blues Festival. The couple also had two children together: Emily and Patrick, who became a GP in Bath. Jean sadly passed away from cancer in 1999.

The Glastonbury Festival grew rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s, and by 1998 official attendance exceeded 100,000.

Michael Eavis and then Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn on stage at Glastonbury 2017

In 1997, Eavis ran as the Labor candidate for Wells, coming third after the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. He and the festival have a long affinity with politics, primarily the left-wing variety, from his stint as a member of the National Union of Miners to the decade the event spent raising money for the Campaign. for nuclear disarmament. Eavis invited Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn to join him on the Pyramid Stage in 2017.

Eavis has also thrown his weight behind a number of charitable causes, although he was forced to resign as vice-chairman of the Somerset Wildlife Trust following criticism of his support for the badger cull.

Eavis holds honorary degrees in arts from the universities of Bath and Bristol and received a CBE for his services to music in 2007. He was even named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2009.

Eavis is married for the third time to Liz, whom he met at a medieval costume party in 2000 while dressed as a cardinal.

Who is Emily Eavis?

Emily Eavis is the daughter of Michael and Jean. She was born in 1979 and, like her father before her, grew up at Worthy Farm in Somerset and attended Wells Cathedral School. She really appeared on stage – the Pyramid stage, no less – in 1985, when, at the age of five, she sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as the Style Council was about to perform.

In 1997, Emily enrolled for a teaching degree at Goldsmiths University, but was forced to drop out to care for her mother after she fell ill. After Jean’s death in 1999, Emily began helping her father organize the Glastonbury Festival and in recent years has continued to play a more prominent role in this. Her husband, Nick Dewey, also works at the festival as head of music programming.

Emily Eavis with her father Michael, founder of the Glastonbury Festival
Emily Eavis with her father Michael, founder of the Glastonbury Festival

Emily is credited with diversifying the genres seen at Glastonbury from the festival’s traditional rock and pop acts. She helped book the festival’s first hip hop headliner, Jay Z, in 2008, for example, and featured a number of artists from the Middle East and Africa on the Pyramid Stage. She was crowned Godlike Genius at the NME Awards in 2020.

Emily took on much of her father’s politics. She has organized concerts to raise awareness of fair trade and to oppose the war in Iraq, and is a leading campaigner for the representation of women in the music industry. She was also credited with the festival’s decision to ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles from 2019.

With her husband Nick, Emily has two sons and a daughter, born in 2011, 2013 and 2016 respectively.

Jan G. Gilbert