Thursday, Apr. 30, 2009

Michael Eavis

I went to boarding school a short hop from Michael Eavis' farm, the bucolic setting of the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, or Glasto. It's the equivalent of living next to Yankee Stadium and saying, "One day, when I grow up, I'm going to play there." For three days each summer, Michael and his daughter Emily give up their lives as dairy farmers and set up a city purely around music. Anyone who's ever picked up a guitar dreams of playing Glastonbury. It's the biggest rock cathedral in the world.

Everyone wonders why this man and this festival are different. Firstly, Glastonbury is rooted in ancient history; legend has it that King Arthur was buried nearby. And when the festival sets up, 150,000 people flood in to form a very happy metropolis. But Michael, 73, is so good at tapping into the zeitgeist months before anyone else. You'll wonder, Why are the Kings of Leon headlining this year? Inevitably, six months later the Kings of Leon are the biggest thing going.

Michael is one of the people to whom I owe my life and career. Every year he does a thank-you for the surrounding village where the festival takes place. He asked Coldplay to play this little fete and picked us up at the airport. It was like being met by a friendly uncle. We were sitting in the back of his farm vehicle that smelled of cheese and cattle when he said, "Maybe you'd want to headline next year?" We spat out our drinks! It remains the biggest event in our band's life. It changed everything.

We've headlined other festivals, but Glastonbury is the only one that feels like — and is — a family event. It's also the only one where we received some handmade cheese as a thank-you.

Martin is the lead singer of Coldplay