Glastonbury to honour David Bowie and Prince

By Mark Savage
Music reporter

image copyrightPA
image captionDavid Bowie headlined the Pyramid Stage in 2000

Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage will be decorated with a giant lightning bolt in tribute to David Bowie, organiser Emily Eavis has told the BBC.

The metal sculpture, inspired by the sleeve for Bowie's Aladdin Sane album, will hang above acts like Coldplay and Adele when they play the stage in June.

The Park Stage will also host a performance of Philip Glass's Symphony No 4, based on Bowie's Heroes LP.

Eavis added plans were also taking shape for a Prince tribute.

The musician, who died last month at the age of 57, had long been rumoured as a potential headliner at the festival.

Eavis confirmed his appearance had been "close to happening for three years" and called his death "a huge loss to music".

'Not moving site'

Bowie did headline the festival in 2000, playing dozens of hits including Starman, Heroes, Let's Dance, China Girl and Life on Mars.

Footage from the show - which Eavis called "the best festival set I've ever seen" - is due to be screened around the site this year.

Eavis co-runs Glastonbury with her father, Michael, who established the event in 1970.

She played down reports the festival was moving away from its base at Worthy Farm, but confirmed plans for a separate festival in 2018 or 2019.

"It's going to be the whole team behind the Glastonbury Festival but it's not going to be called Glastonbury," she said, explaining the event would be a "visual feast" featuring "larger-scale installations, as well as music".

"The main thing to set straight is that Glastonbury Festival itself will always be at Worthy Farm."

Emily Eavis Q&A

image copyrightGlastonbury Festival
image captionEmily Eavis: 'Adele is such a huge deal for us'

It's eight weeks until the gates open. How are the preparations going?

Everybody's flat out. It's all hands to the pump. But it's looking to be a great festival, to be honest.

How will you be marking the deaths of David Bowie and Prince?

The pyramid stage is going to have a tribute to David Bowie - the Aladdin Sane lightning flash, in metal, which will be designed by Joe Rush.

And we're doing Philip Glass's Heroes Symphony on the Park Stage on Saturday night, which is going to be a really intimate tribute to Bowie. It's being conducted by Charles Hazlewood with members of the Paraorchestra. And we're going to do an incredible light show which will go on for the whole show and beyond, into the night.

We're also looking at a few Prince tributes. There's talk of late-night Prince parties and things.

Prince was close to playing the Pyramid Stage a couple of times. How does it feel to know that will never happen?

Oh, it's gutting to be honest. We were so shocked and sad. It's been so close to happening for the last three years. A couple of times it's been confirmed and then not happened. It's really disappointing that he hasn't played here but it's also, obviously, a huge loss to music because he was an incredible force. Just phenomenal. There was no-one else like him on the planet.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionAdele headlines the Pyramid Stage on Saturday, 25 June

Adele announced she was headlining Glastonbury live on stage at the O2. Did that take you by surprise?

I did think it might happen. We were told she would like to announce it from the stage - but we didn't know exactly when.

Getting Adele is such a huge deal for us. She's not doing any other festival in the world. We're really, really excited about that. It's just a huge coup.

She said in the past she was too nervous to play Glastonbury because of the size of the crowd. How much did you have to twist her arm?

Not at all! Like all performers, she needs a few nerves then she'll come on and smash it.

I went to see her show at the O2 and it was phenomenal. Her voice is just off the scale. You don't hear voices like that very often. It was amazing to see a whole arena completely struck by her voice. Then between each song, she was just so funny and it was like watching stand-up. It was so refreshing and brilliant and funny.

I have no doubt about her.

Coldplay have said their current album could be their last - so is this the last time we'll see them on the Pyramid Stage?

I hope not. They've got such a great history here. Every time they play, they have the whole field in their hand. So I'd like to hope they won't retire but I don't know what their plans are.

Have Muse applied for permission to send drones out over Worthy Farm?

Haha! We have been looking at drones, and unfortunately I don't think we can have them - for various reasons.

But to be honest, all three nights have really unique and majorly ambitious plans. Some of the ideas that are floating around at the moment are really massive. Things we haven't done before on the Pyramid Stage. Every night, people are going to get very contrasting but amazing experiences.

How will Jeremy Corbyn go down with the audience?

We've got a history of political speakers, of people arguing from all sides, so I think Jeremy Corbyn will go down well.

image captionThis photo, taken on Wednesday, 4 May, shows how Worthy Farm looks eight weeks before Glastonbury opens its doors

There have been rumours the festival is moving to a new location. What can you say about that?

The deal on the year off is we're planning a show - another event - somewhere nearby. It's either going to be in 2018 or 2019. It's going to be the whole team behind the Glastonbury Festival but it's not going to be called Glastonbury.

The idea [is to plan] an event which is more of a visual feast, something really spectacular, using all of these incredible creative people that we work with all year. That's an idea that really excites us.

So will it be more of an immersive experience than a music festival?

It will be a music festival predominantly but it will have other elements which we already do at Glastonbury. There'll be more, larger-scale installations, as well as music.

You know, we work with these artists all year, but we're always confined by the same hedgerows. The idea of doing it somewhere else, where you've got a huge, vast space is hugely exciting.

Last year, a meme went around where people deleted male artists from festival posters, leaving them almost completely blank. Glastonbury's line-up has always been more diverse - but this year's poster is almost 50% female. Did you work hard to achieve that?

Yeah, we try to keep it as equal as we can. There are so many stages across the site that you have to rely on the bookers across the site to consciously book women as well as men. Some are better than others but we do our best and it's really important that we represent both equally.

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