Glastonbury: The greatest Legends performances ever, ranked

19 June 2023, 11:13

Dolly Parton, David Bowie and Lionel Richie have performed at Glastonbury
Dolly Parton, David Bowie and Lionel Richie have performed at Glastonbury. Picture: Alamy

By Tom Eames

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Glastonbury Festival has become a staple of the music calendar, and arguably the biggest pop culture event of the summer.

The iconic venue welcomes visitors again after a couple of years away, and music-lovers can't wait to head to Worthy Farm (and hope to avoid the mud, but that's part of the fun, right?).

Each edition of Glastonbury throws up its surprises and memorable moments, and in particular, the coveted Legends Slot, when a music maestro returns to the stage, alongside other headlining icons.

We've gathered the very best legendary stars to have graced the Pyramid Stage, who brought a touch of class to the proceedings and wowed fans, young and old:

  1. James Brown (2004)

    James Brown - I Feel Good (Glastonbury 2004)

    Just two years before his death, the 71-year-old James Brown took to the stage for a crowd-pleasing set of funk classics.

    The Godfather of Soul didn't show any signs of slowing down, throwing some shapes as he rocked it out.

  2. Rod Stewart (2002)

    Rod Steward-Sailing(Glastonbury 2002)

    The early 2000s might have seen Rod Stewart focus on his big band covers albums, but when he graced Glastonbury in 2002 he reminded everyone of his rock icon status.

    Case and point: the giant singalong of 'Sailing'.

  3. Brian Wilson (2005)

    Brian Wilson - Good Vibrations (Glastonbury 2005)

    If you want to capture the essence of summer at a festival, you need the Beach Boys.

    Brian Wilson and his band performed a joyous set, with Brian's voice particularly great as he belted out 'Good Vibrations'.

  4. Shirley Bassey (2007)

    Shirley Bassey - Big Spender (Glastonbury 2007 Live)

    It doesn't matter how old you are or what music you play, the Glastonbury crowd will welcome you with open arms. Particularly if you're called Dame Shirley Bassey.

    The Welsh icon proved she still had some of the greatest vocal powers around with an incredibly fun setlist, backed by her big band.

  5. Jeff Lynne's ELO (2016)

    Jeff Lynne's ELO - Mr Blue Sky (Glastonbury 2016)

    Jeff Lynne brought his ELO experience to Worthy Farm in 2016, and it reminded everyone just how great the band were.

    'Mr Blue Sky' was made for moments like this as the "sun is shinin' in the sky".

  6. Tom Jones (2009)

    Tom Jones - Delilah (Glastonbury 2009).avi

    Want the crowd to sing along and have the best atmosphere possible? Get Tom Jones on to sing 'Delilah'.

    Sure, it's about a grisly murder, but think about all the "why, why why"'s!

  7. The Rolling Stones (2013)

    The Rolling Stones - Start Me Up (Sweet Summer Sun - Hyde Park)

    It's amazing that it took so long to get the Rolling Stones to headline Glastonbury, but it was worth the wait.

    Mick Jagger and the boys put on a brilliant night full of hits and moments that fans will never forget.

  8. Johnny Cash (1994)

    Johnny Cash (Glastonbury 1994) [03]. Ring of Fire

    Johnny Cash arugably kick-started what is known as the Legends Slot by appearing on the Pyramid Stage back in 1994.

    The Man in Black brought his iconic brand of country to Glastonbury, including 14 songs and a guest appearance from wife June Carter.

  9. Kenny Rogers (2013)

    Kenny Rodgers Glastonbury

    Nearly 20 years since Johnny Cash appeared on Glastonbury, another country superstar graced the stage for 2013's Legends Slot.

    Kenny Rogers was a real treat, and no doubt secured thousands of new fans that day.

  10. Dolly Parton (2014)

    Dolly Parton performs Jolene at Glastonbury - BBC

    Kenny must have told his good pal Dolly Parton that he had a ball at Glastonbury, as a year later it was the Queen of Country's turn.

    In her Legends Slot set, Dolly proved just why she's one of the best-loved and most talented singers of all time.

  11. Kylie Minogue (2019)

    Kylie Minogue - Spinning Around (Glastonbury 2019)

    Pop royalty was welcomed to Glastonbury in 2019, as Kylie Minogue graced the stage.

    Kylie had the crowd beaming as she played a set of her most famous pop nuggets, leaving everyone in a brilliant mood.

  12. Paul McCartney (2004)

    Paul McCartney - Hey Jude (Live Glastonbury 2004) (High Quality video) (HD)

    Paul McCartney became the first Beatle to headline Glastonbury in 2004, and he didn't disappoint.

    He sang a whopping 33 songs in his setlist, with all the Beatles songs you could ask for.

  13. Lionel Richie (2015)

    Lionel Richie - Dancing on the Ceiling (Glastonbury 2015)

    Another close confidant of Kenny Rogers, this time it was Commodores superstar Lionel Richie who took to the stage.

    Lionel was on absolute top form, giving fans all the hits on a brilliant summer's evening.

  14. Stevie Wonder (2010)

    Stevie Wonder @ Glastonbury 2010 - 2. Master Blastin (Jammin) & We Can Work It Out

    A music genius headed to Glastonbury in 2010, as Stevie Wonder burned through his epic back catalogue.

    Highlights included a tribute to Michael Jackson a year after his death, and a singalong of 'Happy Birthday' for Glastonbury's 40th.

  15. Barry Gibb (2017)

    Barry Gibb - Stayin' Alive (Glastonbury 2017)

    If you need someone to fill the Legends Slot who has nothing but bangers in their setlist, then Barry Gibb was the ultimate choice.

    The Bee Gees legend was on top form, and it was a pure joy to see him belt them out, even if he was without his brothers.

  16. Paul McCartney (2022)

    Paul McCartney - I've Got a Feeling (feat. John Lennon) (Glastonbury 2022)

    In his 80th, yes EIGHTIETH year, Sir Paul McCartney returned to Glastonbury for a truly memorable headline set.

    Proving just why he is quite possibly the greatest living rock star and music icon, Sir Paul treated fans to a fantastic show, showcasing his enviable back catalogue.

    There was even a John Lennon 'duet', and surprise appearances from Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen.

  17. David Bowie (2000)

    David Bowie - "Heroes" Glastonbury 2000

    David Bowie returned to the mainstream after a relatively low-key 1990s, with a supremely triumphant headline setlist in 2000.

    The rock legend performed many of his classic tracks, topped off with the emotional 'Heroes' that had a packed Worthy Farm in raptures.