The best Glastonbury myths, legends and stories

26 June 2020, 12:58

T-shirts at Glastonbury following the death of Michael Jackson in 2009
T-shirts at Glastonbury following the death of Michael Jackson in 2009. Picture: Rune Hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images

It's a magical place, that Glastonbury. As you can imagine, sometimes the legend is more interesting than the truth. Radio X looks at some classic Glasto tales.

  1. Was Michael Jackson actually dead?

    There was a WEIRD atmosphere in the early hours of the Friday morning at Glastobury 2009. News started to break that Michael Jackson, the King Of Pop, had died suddenly at his US home. There was much disbelief and scoffing from people who thought this was typical Glasto gossip and pure nonsense from overactive imaginations. Of course, it turned out to be true and the tributes started to flood in.

  2. The legend of the "poo lagoon"

    For many years, the endless stream of human excrement and waste water was decanted into a trucks and apparently decanted into a huge cess pit on Worthy Farm known as "The Lagoon". Writer and Glastonbury veteran Marc Leverton told Clash magazine that the shite was filtered before heading off to the nearest sewerage works and that many, many mobile phones were discovered, plus false teeth and even a false leg that was never claimed. That would have been an unfortunate day for one person. To cut down on the lorry traffic and be more environmentally friendly, organisers a new "Poo Pit" in 2010. One can only imagine what that looks like in your darkest nightmares.

    Glastonbury Music Festival 2005 - Day One
    Toilet trouble following the torrential downpour at Glastonbury 2005. Picture: Jim Dyson/Getty Images
  3. Manic Street Preachers and Toiletgate

    In 1999, the Manics brought their own portable toilet to the festival, which bore a sign saying: "These facilities are reserved exclusively for the Manic Street Preachers." Billy Bragg berated the band for their prissiness, but Nicky Wire retaliated later that summer when the band played T In The Park. Dedicating Tsunami to Bragg, he shouted: "I wouldn't want his dick pissing all ove my toilet for all the money in the f**king world. Get back to the army, you dickhead. And stop stealing Woody Guthrie's songs."

  4. Bez gets arrested

    Bez got arrested for "on suspicion of intent to supply drugs" on the Friday afternoon in 1998 and had to miss his DJ set with Joe Strummer on the Sunday as he'd been kicked off the site. Here's Bez, in happier times, doing his maraca thing with The Rapture on House Of Jealous Lovers, back in 2003.

  5. Joe Strummer defeats the mud

    1997 was one of the muddiest Glastonburies EVER. But man of the moment, the late Joe Strummer, rallied the festival-goers with a statement in the Glastonbury daily newspaper: "We ain't beaten, man. We will beat this deluge!" Radiohead went on to play a stunning headline set on the Saturday. Thanks, Joe.

  6. Mansun's sinking stage

    Further to the mud story of 1997, Chester's finest were due to perform on The Other Stage on the Sunday night, but a combination of sound problems and an apparently sinking stage meant that they didn't play a single note. They ran out of time and left the chaos to headliners The Bluetones. We couldn't find any video of this moment, so here's a clip from the following year which was almost as bad:

  7. Aliens (and other stuff)

    A freedom of information request a few years back revealed that between February 2007 and August 2011, Avon and Somerset Police received no fewer than 27 calls describing aliens in relation to Glastonbury. Some of the calls detailed how the caller was the "Son of God" on Earth and another claimed UFOs were causing their dog to draw pictures. Draw your own conclusions. But here's some 100% genuine footage:

Festival Quizzes

Festival names - are they real or not?

Is this the name of a real festival or not?

Glastonbury line-ups

Can you guess the year from the Glastonbury line-up?