A brief history of Glastonbury’s Sunday Legends slot

From Dolly Parton to Kylie Minogue and Shirley Bassey, the Sunday Legends slot at Glastonbury sets the stage for some of the biggest and best moments at the iconic festival

Maddy Pigott
Tuesday 25 June 2024 11:32 BST
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Shania Twain confirms legends slot at Glastonbury in video message to fans

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Glastonbury’s Sunday Legends slot is one of the most prestigious sets in music. Every year, the seasoned pro of choice takes to the Pyramid Stage to unleash a thrilling performance of their biggest hits, often spanning decades.

For the perfect Legends Slot headliner, the artist needs to be known to the majority of Glastonbury-goers while also having that cultural heft beyond one or two recognisable songs.

It’s the home for long-established and beloved artists who are still going strong. But where did it all begin?

“Sunday Legend” is a relatively new expression for Glastonbury. For many years, the veteran performers would simply be in the same company as the newer artists on the Pyramid Stage.

There is great debate over who really launched this distinguished spot. Many argue that it was Johnny Cash’s performance in 1994. However, Welsh star Sir Tom Jones has also claimed that he was he who invented the gig with his show on the Pyramid Stage two years prior.

The coveted set officially began in 1998, when the late American jazz singer Tony Bennett took to the main stage on Sunday afternoon after Scouse Britpop group Space.

The 20-time Grammy Award-winner, who died last year, wowed his audience and set the standard for every act that has followed.

Tony Bennett performed on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 1998
Tony Bennett performed on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 1998 (PA)

In the 25 or so years since, there have been an array of unforgettable moments.

Perhaps one of the most famous “Legends” is Dame Shirley Bassey, who rocked up in her hot pink gown matched with personalised wellies singing Pink’s “Get the Party Started”. The wellies were a necessity for the 2007 performance, as it was named the wettest Glastonbury ever.

L-R: Kylie Minogue, Shirley Bassey and Dolly Parton performing in the Legends Slot on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival
L-R: Kylie Minogue, Shirley Bassey and Dolly Parton performing in the Legends Slot on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival (Getty)

Then, a decade ago, Dolly Parton provided a crowd of over 180,000 with a sublime country medley full of hits such as “Jolene” and “9 to 5”, dazzling her fans with the performance... and a rhinestone-covered outfit, of course.

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Lionel Ritchie had us at “Hello” for his spot in 2015. Who could forget the beaming smile of the Alabama-born crooner after he turned and realised just how many people had turned up to see him play? He rewarded fans with a set that left them grinning “All Night Long”.

Meanwhile, Kylie Minogue took to the stage in 2019, when she became the most-watched artist of the entire festival that year. Her triumphant performance was the epitome of camp pop perfection and was watched live by a staggering 3.9 million people.

The Australian icon was due to headline 14 years earlier, having to postpone the appearance due to her treatment for breast cancer. It made her 2019 show all the more special to her millions of fans.

Which means country-pop superstar Shania Twain has some big boots to fill as 2024’s Glastonbury Legend. She’s bound to bring the hits, with a back catalogue that includes classics such as “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” and “You’re Still The One”.

Shania Twain will take on the Legends Slot at Glastonbury 2024
Shania Twain will take on the Legends Slot at Glastonbury 2024 (Getty Images for Live Nation)

“The legends slot at GLASTONBURY 2024 - Another jewel in my crown!!” she wrote on Instagram when her performance was announced.

“I feel so honoured and so excited about this one! Thinking about what to wear already and tell me, what should we sing together?! Let’s make history this summer with this ultimate dream performance!”

Glastonbury Festival takes place between 26 to 30 June.

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