Glastonbury tributes to Bowie, Prince and Lemmy revealed
A 50-piece orchestral performance, a DJ set and giant sculptures in honour of each of them among the plans
Full details of Glastonbury’s plans to commemorate David Bowie, Prince and Lemmy have been revealed, including sculptures in honour of each of them, a 50-piece orchestral performance and a DJ set.
The festival’s co-organiser, Emily Eavis, had previously hinted that the event would honour the three stars, who died in the last six months, giving the 177,000 crowd a chance to both mourn and celebrate.
Eavis has commissioned the counter-culture sculptor Joe Rush, who has created artworks for the Glastonbury site for years, to build a giant Ziggy Stardust lightening bolt across the top of the Pyramid stage, where bands including Coldplay and Adele will perform. It will be flanked by a giant set of silver wings and emblazoned, in the middle, with an open grey eye.
“It felt important to capture Bowie’s very particular eye, which was such a part of his look”, said Rush. “But I also really liked the idea of Bowie looking out and watching over the whole festival. And if we are going to have an eye in the pyramid, it should be Bowie’s eye.”
To commemorate Motörhead’s frontman Lemmy, who finally performed at Glastonbury last year before his death in December, Rush has built a vast structure for the Other stage. The sculpture will be a peace sign formed of spanners, adorned with an aluminium ace of spades, a v-twin engine and a vast set of shiny black ram’s horns.
In a fitting nod to Prince’s flamboyance, Rush has built a statue almost four metres tall for the Park area of the festival. It will take the form of a giant glittery hand carrying a purple crown with a white dove flying from the top.
He said: “People do need to have these places to come to, especially for an artist who has really affected or shaped their life, and pay tribute. Particularly at Glastonbury, where you have so many music fans gathered in one place, it feels important to give these artists the recognition of the fact that they are our heroes.”
There will also be musical tributes to Bowie and Prince over the weekend, the most ambitious of which will take place at midnight on Saturday, when a 50-piece orchestra dressed entirely in white will perform Philip Glass’s fourth symphony, which is based on Bowie’s album Heroes.
It is the first time a classical act has headlined a stage and the performance will be accompanied by a laser light show created by Chris Levine.
Charles Hazelwood, who will conduct the orchestra, said he had wanted to create a tribute to Bowie that was not mawkish but instead in the “spirit of the man himself”, while not simply putting on a tribute band playing old Bowie covers.
“Bowie was a massive fan of Glass’s and said on many occasions that he was one of his most important influences, so this seemed perfect,” he said. “If you look back to that amazing set that Bowie did in 2000, the standalone moment was when he sang Heroes. So there’s something so beautifully pertinent about bringing back not just the song, but the album re-imagined through Glass.”
He said Glass was very excited about the performance. “This is after all the other stages have fallen silent, so there will be a sense of a vigil, of a happening of a pilgrimage, of people flocking here to just absorb this moment, and I think it will be a really magical midnight experience,” Hazelgrove said.
The Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor, will pay tribute to Prince by playing a DJ set dedicated to the singer at the Block 9 stage on Friday night.
“I like the idea of it being somewhere that amongst everything that goes on at Glastonbury, this can be a moment where people come together to celebrate that legacy of music,” Taylor said.
“I found it quite hard initially when he died to listen to Prince because when you feel sad in that way, you expect to listen to sad sorrowful music, but there isn’t so much of that in Prince. But I think this set is a decent enough time after the event to be in a more party frame of mind.”
Taylor, a lifelong Prince fan, said his set would include some of his biggest tracks, such as Controversy, Raspberry Beret, Sign of the Times and Little Red Corvette, as well as obscurities such as an early demo of Irresistible Bitch and a track called Cloreen Bacon Skin.
“With Prince’s catalogue being so full of life and spark and energy, it feel like a nice way to celebrate him. It’s very joyous music, very passionate music,” he said.