Women at Glastonbury, A Timeline

The Glastonbury festival has roots firmly enmeshed with the counterculture. From its nascence as a tiny £1-per-ticket weekender in 1970 to its mid-90s dovetail with mainstream UK arts and culture, the event has persistently disrupted the status quo. But how has its long-felt hippie ethics treated its female performers? For a closer look, we've put together this timeline of the female performers at Glastonbury through the years. 

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Photo Credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images


1970-1989 Unfortunately, for all of women’s liberation happening throughout the 1970s, and the dominance of female-fronted acts and solo artists in the 1980s, women were sadly missing from the headliner list at Glastonbury. However, notable women performers included: Joan Baez, Kirsty MacColl and Emily Eavis, aged 5, who would grow up to become co-organiser of the festival, joining dad Michael Eavis in the role. Photo Credit: Vincent McEvoy/Redferns

1989 Suzanne Vega headlined the festival nearly 20 years after its inaugural event. And she performed under some serious duress, wearing a bulletproof vest after a stalker had sent death threats to her bass player. Elsewhere, Kim Deal could be heard playing with The Pixies, and Eddi Reader fronted Fairground Attraction. Photo Credit: Tim Hall/Redferns

1990 Sinead O’Connor headlined, performing her number one song, "Nothing Compares 2 U", alongside a whole setful of politically charged folk rock songs. Photo Credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns

1992 Shakespear’s Sister, riding high from their number one hit of "Stay", headlined. Elsewhere, Brix Smith Start’s melodies brought some light to The Fall, and Kim Deal performed once more, this time with her side project, The Breeders. Joan Armatrading and PJ Harvey also made their first appearances at Glastonbury.  Photo Credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns

1994 Coming from entirely different musical angles, both Björk (experimental Icelandic alt-pop) and M People (easy listening funk-pop) played the NME stage of the festival. Photo Credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images

1995 Beth Gibbons’ voice carried the performance of Portishead’s seminal album Dummy; Indigo Girls performed. Sadly, riot grrrl, the punk DIY movement taking the US by storm, never got much limelight at Worthy Farm, but Brit Pop’s biggest female fronted band, Elastica, got a look in at the NME stage.  Photo Credit: Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

1997 Nenah Cherry, Republica and Sheryl Crow all played the Pyramid stage, in a year that was mostly characterised by the overwhelming presence of mud.  Photo Credit: Peter Still/Redferns

1998 Tori Amos, Meredith Brooks, Catatonia and Kenickie all performed, the latter featuring a 16-year-old Lauren Laverne who would later go on to become BBC 6 Music’s highest-rated radio host and one of the BBC’s main Glastonbury presenters. Photo Credit: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

1999 Skunk Anansie headlined on Sunday, which is seriously big news owing to the fact lead singer Skin is a queer black woman who, incidentally, plays indie rock. She told the crowd: “I can’t believe we’re headlining the last Glastonbury of the 20th Century!” But in retrospect, it’s hard to believe it took so long for an act like hers to reach the headline slot. Meanwhile, Beth Orton and Irish folk-pop act The Corrs – made up of three sisters and a brother – performed. Debbie Harry also fronted Blondie’s comeback performance, while Nina Persson fronted the Swedish act, The Cardigans. Photo Credit: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

2000 Despite the likes of Britney and Christina riding high in the charts, 2000’s Glastonbury saw a lineup sadly devoid of many female acts. Notable appearances were made by Beth Orton, Elastica and Macy Gray. Photo Credit: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

2002 Women appeared in an eclectic range of acts this year - Meg White played garage-punk drums for The White Stripes, Shirley Manson’s Garbage did indie, Gwen Stefani fronted No Doubt’s ska-punk set, Nelly Furtado brought pop, Ani DiFranco performed her unique brand of punk-folk and Sister Bliss provided the techno beats for Faithless’s electronica.  Photo Credit: Martin Philbey/Redferns

2003 Once again, a quiet year for women, apart from Alison Goldfrapp’s glam-rock, Macy Gray’s alternative soul and The Raveonettes' surf-rock.  Photo Credit: Hayley Madden/Redferns

2004 Bonnie Raitt, Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse played the Jazz stage, 1970s legends Sister Sledge, Goldfrapp, PJ Harvey, and bands with female vocalists like The Black Eyed Peas (yep, Fergie played Glastonbury), The Subways and The Duke Spirit also performed.  Photo Credit: Jon Super/Redferns

2005 MIA made her debut, and Garbage, KT Tunstall, Martha Wainwright, The Kills (fronted by Alison Mosshart) and Jem all performed. Kylie Minogue was sadly missing – she was unable to perform her headline slot due to breast cancer treatment.  Photo Credit: Hayley Madden/Redferns

2007 In her first major slot at Glastonbury, Lily Allen demanded “silly dancing please” from the crowd. Elsewhere, Amy Winehouse, The Pipettes, Björk, The Long Blondes, Bat for Lashes, The Gossip, Sandi Thom, KT Tunstall and Emmy the Great all performed. Dame Shirley Bassey closed out Sunday night. Photo Credit: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

2008 Amy Winehouse performed "Free Nelson Mandela" to commemorate his 90th birthday. She also compelled the crowd to enjoy Jay Z’s headline slot after he received much criticism for being too Hip Hop to headline: “Let’s hear it for Jay Z. The man has got b******* to come here, and play the tunes you don’t even know you remember. Imagine if it was a c*** like Kanye West.” Kanye West responded with a brief blog reading: “This Just In…Amy Winehouse Hates Me!!! Now I’ve Really Made It!!! LOL!!!!” He later headlined in 2015. Other female performers include Kate Nash, The Gossip, The Subways, Martha Wainwright, Goldfrapp, Ida Maria, Duffy, Santigold, CSS, Laura Marling, The Kills, The Ting Tings, Emmy the Great, Crystal Castles, Sinead O’Connor, Katie Melua, Joan Baez and Suzanne Vega. Photo Credit: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

2009 Amadou & Mariam, Lily Allen, VV Brown, Regina Spektor, Gabriella Cilmi, The Ting Tings, Lady Gaga, Bat for Lashes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Metric, Micachu and the Shapes, Little Boots, Noisettes, Imelda May and Ladyhawke all played. Florence and the Machine made their debut, with front woman Florence Welch scaling the actual stage, shoeless, to sing to the adoring crowds. Photo Credit: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns

2010 Ellie Goulding, La Roux, Tegan and Sara, Marina and the Diamonds and The xx made their debuts at Glastonbury. Other female performers included Kate Nash, Corinne Bailey Rae, Norah Jones, Paloma Faith, Ana Matronic of Scissor Sisters and Imogen Heap. Photo Credit: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

2011 To a note-perfect performance, Beyoncé sang and danced her way through all her hits, pausing midway to exclaim: “A girl, a woman, has not headlined in 20 years, so this is history for me”. More powerful still, she later revealed that she was in the early stages of pregnancy with Blue Ivy during her performance! Elsewhere, Lady Gaga wore a contraption to spit fire from her breasts, Janelle Monáe walked her "Tightrope", Robyn, Lykke Li, Warpaint, Crystal Castles, Jessie J, Clare Maguire, Laura Marling, Rumer and Alice Gold played. Photo Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

2013 Portishead made a comeback, their influence heard in The xx’s set. Laura Mvula and Rokia Traoré, Rita Ora, Haim, Azealia Banks, Daughter, Amanda Palmer, Savages, The Staves, and Jessie Ware all popped up in a line-up showing the full spectrum of genres female performers can excel within - hip hop, soul, pop, breakbeat, surf-rock, folk and punk. Photo Credit: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns

2014 Dolly Parton wowed the early Sunday crowd, bringing her Southern charm to the West Country with a fiddle and a banjo or two. Her impromptu rap about the mud (to sounds of the crowd chanting “mud”) buried any allegation of lip-syncing. Other female performers included London Grammar, Lykke Li, Chvrches, Poliça, Courtney Barnett, Wolf Alice, Little Dragon, Clean Bandit, Warpaint, Pixies, Haim, Blondie, Lucy Rose, Ellie Goulding, Lily Allen, Kelis and Angel Haze.  Photo Credit: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

2015 Florence Welch overcame her own broken foot to step up to replace the Foo Fighters after frontman Dave Growl broke his own leg. This didn’t only make a lot of noise, but Florence + The Machine was the first female-fronted band since 2011 to headline the festival. And, bizarrely, the first British one since Skunk Annie in 1999! Other female-fronted acts included Charli XCX, Lianne La Havas, La Roux, Hinds, Ella Eyre, Azealia Banks, Mary J. Blige, Paloma Faith and the legendary Patti Smith. Photo Credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

2016 Adele is to headline Glastonbury’s Saturday night, and has shown defiance against any haters insisting that her popularity precludes her eligibility as a headliner, by saying: “I'm actually more excited than I was, because of all those rock and punk fans have been having a moan that I'm doing it, and I'm like: “‘You're going to get dragged along by your wife, so just deal with it.’” Oh, and this year, there's going to be a performance area run for and by people who identify as women. Photo Credit: Stefan Hoederath/Getty Images for September Management