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Glastonbury Co-Founder Andrew Kerr Dies

Matt Cardy, Getty Images

Andrew Kerr, who organized the Glastonbury Fair in 1971 and saw it grow into one of the U.K.’s most celebrated music festivals, has died at 81.

At the first Glastonbury, Kerr joined Michael Eavis and Arabella Churchill in welcoming Traffic, David Bowie and Hawkwind. The event, held at Pilton, Somerset, England, eventually played host to Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica (with no small amount of controversy), the Who, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart and Neil Young over the years — though Kerr would ultimately have a diminished managerial role after the mid-’80s.

“He had been ill for some time,” Eavis confirmed on Glastonbury’s website. Eavis had earlier sponsored 1970’s Pilton Pop Festival, a precursor to Glastonbury. “Andrew came to me in 1970 with ideas to run a free festival, and with the help of Arabella Churchill and others he raised the necessary funds,” Eavis added. “His charisma and charm dissolved any opposition to the festival and the Glastonbury we know now owes so much to his vision.”

Kerr, who died on Oct. 5, was credited with the placement of the festival’s well-known Pyramid Stage on a continuous line with Stonehenge. He returned to organize a Spirit of ’71 stage in honor of the event’s 40th anniversary in 2011, welcoming back a number of original performers. Nick Baker, in his 2008 book ‘Groovy Old Men,’ said Kerr’s “contribution to the British music scene is incontrovertibly huge. Without him there would be no Glastonbury Festival.”

The event remains a big draw today. In fact, on the very day Kerr died, all 135,000 tickets to Glastonbury’s 2015 edition sold out in just 25 minutes — despite the fact that no musical acts have yet been announced. The festival will be held, as always, around the summer solstice in June next year. Rumors of possible 2015 headliners have centered on resurgent legacy groups like AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac and Queen.

Next: See Rockers We've Lost In 2014

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