Wurzels pull out of Glastonbury: 'We are not a sideshow'

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The venue could hardly have been more appropriate. For a West Country "scrumpy and western" band that has forged a 40-year career out of celebrating the rural way of life, the Wurzels would have felt right at home on stage at Glastonbury with its rolling countryside cider-swilling revellers.

But the band pulled out of Britain's most prestigious music festival after discovering that they had been given a slot on a bandstand rather than at one of the main stages at the event.

"Don't get me wrong," said the Wurzels' manager, Sil Wilcox, said. "We know our place. But [that] is not on a bandstand."

But Glastonbury founder and organiser Michael Eavis argued that the bandstand, which is a smaller stage showcasing mainly local performers, was a central location.

"We've offered them a fantastic slot," he said. "The bandstand is a great place to play. There are millions of people in that area, it's right next to the cider tent and only about 70 yards from the Pyramid Stage."

Organisers said the bandstand in question was at the confluence of three markets near the main Pyramid stage, close to a huge cider stall and is expected to draw an audience of 7,000.

A Glastonbury spokesman added: "We were surprised that they pulled out. We thought it was a real shame. It's not like they wouldn't be playing to anyone - 7,000 is a good crowd."

But Tommy Banner, the Wurzel's longest serving member and the band's accordion player, disagreed: "We were very disappointed to find out that we would be playing on a bandstand ... we don't want to be seen as a sideshow."

He said the band were also angry that their production team would not be allowed near the stage and that they would have so little time to set up ... we feel it would be unfair to the fans [and] jeopardise our performance."

Originally formed in 1966 under the name Adge Cutler and the Wurzels, the band was forced to shorten its name after Cutler was killed in a car crash in 1974. Best known for their 1976 hit "Combine Harvester", which briefly propelled them into the mainstream, the band have been churning out songs and playing gigs for more than 40 years.

The festival organisers were believed to have tried to find the Wurzels a spot on one of the larger stages, but planning for the festival, which opens to ticketholders on Wednesday, was too advanced for last-minute switches.