IT will celebrate its 20th anniversary this summer, sells out every year and has attracted some of music's biggest players to party in Scotland since 1994.

So it's hard to imagine organisers were left downcast following T in the Park's very first outing in Strathclyde Country Park in 1994, when some of the day's most influential musicians – including Pulp, Blur, Bjork and Rage Against the Machine – took to the stage at Strathclyde Country Park in Lanarkshire.

Around 35,000 fans had gathered for Scotland's first full-scale festival of its kind for more than 16 years, but for Geoff Ellis, now chief executive of DF Concerts and Events, and his crew, the show had left them on a low.

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"We lost money on it, and we wondered whether, with that kind of line-up, were we ever going to be able to do more [audience] numbers," recalls Mr Ellis.

"What gave us most encouragement was a review in The Herald on the Monday morning. The writer asked, 'Please can we do it again next year?' and that gave us a real lift in the office, because we were a bit down on the Monday morning, having put all of our efforts and everything on the line. I've always remembered that quote."

Two decades on and the festival is more than four times the size of the original festival, which was held at Strathclyde Country Park until it shifted to a larger site at Balado, in Perthshire, in 1997.

Global acts such as Lady Gaga, Kings Of Leon, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jay-Z, The Who, Green Day, REM, Oasis, Coldplay, Eminem and Radiohead have all played there. The festival has also nurtured many new bands. Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody has described it as "the best festival in the world", with Mr Ellis describing the passion of the audience as "pretty phenomenal".

Asked what it has taken for T in the Park to remain so popular, Mr Ellis said: "We've had steady growth over the years. We've never tried to grow too quickly.

"The television exposure has helped, too. Increasing the spend on artists has also had an impact – we've tried to push the boat out with a very strong line-up across all the stages."

For the 20th anniversary show, the long weekend of July 12 to 14 will see 85,000 fans each day being entertained by acts that – so far – include Mumford & Sons, Rihanna, The Killers and Emile Sande. More top-flight names will be announced in the coming months.

T in the Park has never tried to mimic other big players on the festival circuit, such as Reading or Glastonbury.

Indeed, following in the footsteps of Glastonbury has never been of interest to organisers, with more music, and less adornments, the essence of the party.

Prior to the first event, The Herald asked Stuart Clumpas, of DF Concerts, about media comparisons between the nascent Scots festival and Glastonbury.

"We proceed with a caution that is based on realism," Mr Clumpas said. "We're not trying to re-create Glastonbury. Our event is completely music-led. It's not, as Glastonbury is in some respects, an all-night jamboree where live music is practically incidental."

On the absence of big names such as U2, Mr Clumpas said at the time: "We've deliberately avoided big names.

"The whole concept is for T in the Park to be a festival existing from year to year ... and if it hangs on one headliner, you lose continuity. We've gone for acts who are pretty big without being stadium acts just yet."

The festival, which came about when concert promoters DF Concerts and MCD joined with Tennent's Lager, a keen supporter of the live music scene in Scotland, and has sold out every year since 1997.

Since then, its importance to Scotland is undeniable.

Last March, T in the Park said its overall worth to Scotland in 2011, in terms of combined economic and media impact, was estimated at more than £40 million, compared with the previous assessed figure of £18m in 2005.

And with its economic impact on Scotland now sitting close to £10m every year, let the good times continue to roll.