Four Decades Of Glastonbury?

Second-guessing who will be on the bill for Glastonbury Festival and then arguing about the lineup as soon as it’s announced are annual pastimes for UK festival-goers and it would have been a surprise if the event’s 40th birthday was any different.

In fact, the only difference is that the newspaper stories about the birthday are likely to start another discussion about whether the world’s most famous contemporary music festival has actually reached that age.

The first festival that local farmer and Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis staged on the site was in 1971, but it was called Pilton Festival.

It pulled 1,500 people for a lineup headed by T-Rex.

Eavis and his dairy herd welcomed them to his Worthy Farm site by making sure they each had a free pint of milk.

Eavis remained involved during the ’70s, when the event was occasionally run as Glastonbury Fayre. Toward the end of the decade there were also a couple of spontaneous events in the area put together by hippie travelers.

Eavis began running the current incarnation of what was officially named The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts in 1981, which arguably makes the event closer to 30 years old.

Even that’s in question, as the festival occasionally skips a year – usually one in five – when Eavis gives the farm and his Glastonbury staff time to recover.

As with most Glastonbury arguments, the one about its age is as nebulous as the one about the quality of the bill. The Independent has run a quick straw poll on what some well-known music industry figures think of this year’s June 25-27 lineup.

“It is the most staggering lineup, to match the 40-year reputation of the festival. I have been trying to get U2 to play at the festival since 1982, and Muse have never headlined Saturday here,” Eavis told the paper.

Comments on Facebook have ranged between those “over the moon” with the lineup and those who felt it was “the weakest since 1982.”

The other Glastonbury 2010 acts worth arguing about include Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Scissor Sisters, Faithless, Norah Jones, The Flaming Lips, Pet Shop Boys and Orbital.