Gallagher: Jay-Z is wrong for Glastonbury

Arts Correspondent,Arifa Akbar
Tuesday 15 April 2008 00:00
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Noel Gallagher, the notoriously outspoken Oasis guitarist, criticised the organisers of the Glastonbury Festival yesterday for featuring the American rapper Jay-Z as a headlining act, declaring hip-hop "wrong" for the annual event.

Saying that the festival was "built on a tradition of guitar music", Gallagher said that the scheduled appearance of a rap star on the central Pyramid stage could be the reason why tickets for the summer festival had not yet sold out.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," he said. "If you start to break it then people aren't going to go. I'm sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance."

Gallagher added: "Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music and even when they throw the odd curveball in on a Sunday night you go 'Kylie Minogue?' I don't know about it. But I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It's wrong."

This year, there were 100,000 tickets sold for Glastonbury on the first day but in past years all tickets have sold out in a matter of hours. Oasis appeared as the headline act on the Pyramid Stage in 1995 and 2004.

The Somerset festival, which prides itself on its "inclusiveness", has showcased a dizzying range of musical acts since its inception in 1970, ranging from Al Green to Fat Boy Slim.

Writing in today's Independent Emily Eavis, co-organiser of the festival, defended the choice of musical acts following "hysteria in sections of the press", saying that, "Glastonbury must continue to evolve and develop".

She says: "Maybe what the critics have really revealed is something about attitudes that are still all too prevalent in Britain: an instinct to go back to base and play safe. An innate conservatism, a stifling reluctance to try something different.

"In the end, the hot air surrounding Jay-Z's performance will blow away."

Organisers also pointed out that the festival's nine other stages would undoubtedly cater for those who were not fans of the rapper, including acts such as the Verve, Kings of Leon, Leonard Cohen, Panic at the Disco, Goldfrapp and Jimmy Cliff.

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Jay-Z, aged 38, rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most financially successful urban acts in America of all time, and is sometimes referred to as the richest man in hip-hop. He is celebrated for blending street and popular musical styles and he is said to compose lyrics without the use of pen and paper. Five years ago, he announced his retirement from recording music to stunned fans but returned to the industry in 2006.

Kanya King, founder of the Mobo Awards, said Gallagher was wrong to criticise the festival's choice of headliner.

"Given that Glastonbury is trying to reach a younger audience and diversify then I think it's important that they embrace hip-hop. It seems only fitting that you should have a global superstar act like Jay-Z on the show. Glastonbury doesn't have that many hip-hop acts on the main stage, so maybe music lovers will get to see him and their opinions will change," she said.

Black and urban acts which have proved hugely popular in the past at Glastonbury have included Roots Manuva, the Marley family and Cypress Hill, who played the Pyramid stage in 2000. Last year, the East London rapper Dizzee Rascal played with the Sheffield-based guitarist band, Arctic Monkeys. He is set to headline the Park stage this summer.

The decision to hand Jay-Z the headline slot at this year's Glastonbury had already been the subject of criticism prior to Gallagher's remarks.

Glastonbury's co-organiser, Emily Eavis, confirmed thatJay-Z would be playing the festival despite speculation that he was considering pulling out, and she added that the lack of sell-out ticket sales could be down to the consistently appalling weather over the past few years.

Eavis said the festival always attracted criticism for its headliners, but added: "We have a responsibility to do something a bit different." The full line-up will be announced on 1 May.

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