Woodstock Music Festival Concludes

Woodstock Music Festival Concludes


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On August 17, 1969, the grooviest event in music history–the Woodstock Music & Art Fair–draws to a close after three days of peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll in upstate New York.

Conceived as “Three Days of Peace and Music,” Woodstock was a product of a partnership between John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang. Their idea was to make enough money from the event to build a recording studio near the arty New York town of Woodstock. When they couldn’t find an appropriate venue in the town itself, the promoters decided to hold the festival on a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York—some 50 miles from Woodstock—owned by Max Yasgur.

READ MORE: The 8 Most Memorable Performances at Woodstock

By the time the weekend of the festival arrived, the group had sold a total of 186,000 tickets and expected no more than 200,000 people to show up. By Friday night, however, thousands of eager early arrivals were pushing against the entrance gates. Fearing they could not control the crowds, the promoters made the decision to open the concert to everyone, free of charge. Close to half a million people attended Woodstock, jamming the roads around Bethel with eight miles of traffic.

Soaked by rain and wallowing in the muddy mess of Yasgur’s fields, young fans best described as “hippies” euphorically took in the performances of acts like Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Who performed in the early morning hours of August 17, with Roger Daltrey belting out “See Me, Feel Me,” from the now-classic album Tommy just as the sun began to rise. The most memorable moment of the concert for many fans was the closing performance by Jimi Hendrix, who gave a rambling, rocking solo guitar performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

READ MORE: 5 Reasons Why Woodstock '69 Became Legendary

With not enough bathroom facilities and first-aid tents to accommodate such a huge crowd, many described the atmosphere at the festival as chaotic. There were surprisingly few episodes of violence, though one teenager was accidentally run over and killed by a tractor and another died from a drug overdose. A number of musicians performed songs expressing their opposition to the Vietnam War, a sentiment that was enthusiastically shared by the vast majority of the audience. Later, the term “Woodstock Nation” would be used as a general term to describe the youth counterculture of the 1960s.

A 25th anniversary celebration of Woodstock took place in 1994 in Saugerties, New York. Known as Woodstock II, the concert featured Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills and Nash as well as newer acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Green Day. Held over another rainy, muddy weekend, the event drew an estimated 300,000 people. A major 50th anniversary festival was planned for 2019, but never came to fruition.

READ MORE: How a Music Festival That Should've Been a Disaster Became Iconic Instead


Woodstock - The Biggest Music Festival in History

The Woodstock Festival was a three-day pop and rock concert that turned out to be the most popular music event in history. It became a symbol of the hippie movement of the 1960s.

Four young men organized the festival. The original idea was to stage a concert that would raise enough money to build a recording studio for young musicians at Woodstock, New York.

At first many things went wrong. People didn't want any hippies and drug addicts coming to the original location. About 2 months before the concert a new site had to be found.

Luckily, the organizers found a 600 acre large dairy farm in Bethel, New York, where the concert could take place. Because the venue had to be changed not everything was finished in time.

The organizers expected about 50,000 people, but as the date came nearer it became clear that far more people wanted to be at the event. A few days before the festival began hundreds of thousands of pop and rock fans were on their way to Woodstock. There were not enough gates where tickets were checked and fans made holes in the fences, so lots of people just walked in. About 300,000 to 500,000 people were at the concert.

Hippies at Woodstock - Derek Redmond and Paul Campbell

The event caused a giant traffic jam. Thousands simply left their cars parked on roads and highways and walked to the site.

On Friday, August 15, 1969 the festival officially started. Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie and other folk artists performed. On Saturday Santana, Janis Joplin, The Who and others starred on stage.

Most people started leaving on Sunday. When Jimi Hendrix was the last musician on the stage only about 25,000 fans were still present.

During the whole festival people took drugs, had sex and lay around naked. The rain turned the whole place into one big muddy site. Nevertheless Woodstock was a big success, even though the organizers were faced with a debt of over a million dollars. A short time later a film about the festival became a big hit.


Michael Pettersen

Fascinated by music, sound, and audio technology since building a crystal radio set as a child, Michael Pettersen is the Director of Corporate History. Employed by Shure Incorporated since 1976, he is a contributing author to the 1,550 page reference tome "Handbook for Sound Engineers" as well as the sole author of numerous pro audio technical papers. In his personal life, Michael is a professional musician, published composer of choral arrangements, co-author of a biography about jazz guitarist Freddie Green, and a notorious raconteur.


Woodstock Music Festival concludes

On August 17, 1969, the grooviest event in music history–the Woodstock Music & Art Fair–draws to a close after three days of peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll in upstate New York.

Conceived as “Three Days of Peace and Music,” Woodstock was a product of a partnership between John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang. Their idea was to make enough money from the event to build a recording studio near the arty New York town of Woodstock. When they couldn’t find an appropriate venue in the town itself, the promoters decided to hold the festival on a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York—some 50 miles from Woodstock—owned by Max Yasgur.

By the time the weekend of the festival arrived, the group had sold a total of 186,000 tickets and expected no more than 200,000 people to show up. By Friday night, however, thousands of eager early arrivals were pushing against the entrance gates. Fearing they could not control the crowds, the promoters made the decision to open the concert to everyone, free of charge. Close to half a million people attended Woodstock, jamming the roads around Bethel with eight miles of traffic.

Soaked by rain and wallowing in the muddy mess of Yasgur’s fields, young fans best described as “hippies” euphorically took in the performances of acts like Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Who performed in the early morning hours of August 17, with Roger Daltrey belting out “See Me, Feel Me,” from the now-classic album Tommy just as the sun began to rise. The most memorable moment of the concert for many fans was the closing performance by Jimi Hendrix, who gave a rambling, rocking solo guitar performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

With not enough bathroom facilities and first-aid tents to accommodate such a huge crowd, many described the atmosphere at the festival as chaotic. There were surprisingly few episodes of violence, though one teenager was accidentally run over and killed by a tractor and another died from a drug overdose. A number of musicians performed songs expressing their opposition to the Vietnam War, a sentiment that was enthusiastically shared by the vast majority of the audience. Later, the term “Woodstock Nation” would be used as a general term to describe the youth counterculture of the 1960s.

A 25th anniversary celebration of Woodstock took place in 1994 in Saugerties, New York. Known as Woodstock II, the concert featured Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills and Nash as well as newer acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Green Day. Held over another rainy, muddy weekend, the event drew an estimated 300,000 people. A major 50th anniversary festival was planned for 2019, but never came to fruition.


Things Go Very Wrong

The first of many things to go wrong with the Woodstock Festival was the location. No matter how the young men and their lawyers spun it, the citizens of Wallkill did not want a bunch of "drugged-out hippies" descending on their town. After much wrangling, the town of Wallkill passed a statute on July 2, 1969, that effectively banned the concert from their vicinity.

Everyone involved with Woodstock panicked. Stores refused to sell any more tickets and the negotiations with the musicians got shaky. Only a month-and-a-half before the festival was set to open, a new location had to be found. Luckily, in mid-July, before too many people began demanding refunds for their pre-purchased tickets, Max Yasgur offered up his 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York as a festival site.

As lucky as the organizers were to have found a new location, the last-minute change of venue seriously set the festival timeline back. New contracts to rent the dairy farm and surrounding areas had to be drawn up and permits had to be acquired from the town. Construction of the stage, a performers' pavilion, parking lots, concession stands, and a children's playground all got a late start and were barely finished on schedule for the event. Some things—including ticket booths and gates—were not finished in time, with staggering unforeseen consequences.


Contents

Woodstock was initiated through the efforts of Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts. [13] [14] Roberts and Rosenman financed the project. [13] Lang had some experience as a promoter, having co-organized the Miami Pop Festival on the East Coast the prior year, where an estimated 25,000 people attended the two-day event.

Early in 1969, Roberts and Rosenman were New York City entrepreneurs, in the process of building Media Sound, a large audio recording studio complex in Manhattan. Lang and Kornfeld's lawyer, Miles Lourie, who had done legal work on the Media Sound project, suggested that they contact Roberts and Rosenman about financing a similar, but much smaller, studio Kornfeld and Lang hoped to build in Woodstock, New York. Unpersuaded by this Studio-in-the-Woods proposal, Roberts and Rosenman counter-proposed a concert featuring the kind of artists known to frequent the Woodstock area (such as Bob Dylan and The Band). Kornfeld and Lang agreed to the new plan, and Woodstock Ventures was formed in January 1969. [13] [ page needed ] The company offices were located in an oddly decorated floor of 47 West 57th Street in Manhattan. Burt Cohen, and his design group, Curtain Call Productions, oversaw the psychedelic transformation of the office. [15] [ page needed ]

From the start, there were differences in approach among the four: Roberts was disciplined and knew what was needed for the venture to succeed, while the laid-back Lang saw Woodstock as a new, "relaxed" way of bringing entrepreneurs together. [16] [ page needed ] When Lang was unable to find a site for the concert, Roberts and Rosenman, growing increasingly concerned, took to the road and eventually came up with a venue. Similar differences about financial discipline made Roberts and Rosenman wonder whether to pull the plug or to continue pumping money into the project. [16] [ page needed ]

In April 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival became the first act to sign a contract for the event, agreeing to play for $10,000 (equivalent to $71,000 in 2020 [17] ). [18] The promoters had experienced difficulty landing big-name groups prior to Creedence committing to play. Creedence drummer Doug Clifford later commented, "Once Creedence signed, everyone else jumped in line and all the other big acts came on." Given their 3 a.m. start time and omission from the Woodstock film (at Creedence frontman John Fogerty's insistence), Creedence members have expressed bitterness over their experiences regarding the festival. [19]

Woodstock was conceived as a profit-making venture. It became a "free concert" when circumstances prevented the organizers from installing fences and ticket booths before opening day. [13] [ page needed ] Tickets for the three-day event cost $18 in advance and $24 at the gate (equivalent to about $130 and $170 today [17] ). Ticket sales were limited to record stores in the greater New York City area, or by mail via a post office box at the Radio City Station Post Office located in Midtown Manhattan. Around 186,000 advance tickets were sold. [20] The organizers had originally anticipated approximately 50,000 festival-goers would turn up. [13] [ page needed ]

Selection of the venue Edit

In his 2007 book Taking Woodstock, Elliot Tiber relates that he offered to host the event on his 15-acre (650,000 sq ft 61,000 m 2 ) motel grounds, and had a permit for such an event. He claims to have introduced the promoters to dairy farmer Max Yasgur. [24] [ page needed ] Lang, however, disputes Tiber's account and says that Tiber introduced him to a realtor, who drove him to Yasgur's farm without Tiber. Sam Yasgur, Max's son, agrees with Lang's account. [25] Yasgur's land formed a natural bowl sloping down to Filippini Pond on the land's north side. The stage would be set up at the bottom of the hill with Filippini Pond forming a backdrop. The pond would become a popular skinny dipping destination. Ironically, Filippini was the only landowner who refused to sign a lease for the use of his property. [13] [ page needed ]

The organizers once again told Bethel authorities they expected no more than 50,000 people. [ citation needed ]

Despite resident opposition and signs proclaiming, "Buy No Milk. Stop Max's Hippy Music Festival", [26] Bethel Town Attorney Frederick W. V. Schadt, building inspector Donald Clark and Town Supervisor Daniel Amatucci approved the festival permits. Nonetheless, the Bethel Town Board refused to issue the permits formally. [27] Clark was ordered to post stop-work orders. [28] Rosenman recalls meeting Don Clark and discussing with him how unethical it was for him to withhold permits which had already been authorized, and which he had in his pocket. At the end of the meeting, Inspector Clark gave him the permits. [13] [ page needed ] The Stop Work Order was lifted, and the festival could proceed pending backing by the Department of Health and Agriculture, and removal of all structures by September 1, 1969. [29]

The late change in venue did not give the festival organizers enough time to prepare. At a meeting three days before the event, Rosenman was asked by the construction foremen to choose between (a) completing the fencing and ticket booths (without which Roberts and Rosenman would be facing almost certain bankruptcy after the festival) or (b) trying to complete the stage (without which it would be a weekend of half a million concert-goers with no concert to hold their attention.) The next morning, on Wednesday, it became clear that option (a) had disappeared. Overnight, 50,000 "early birds" had arrived and had planted themselves in front of the half-finished stage. For the rest of the weekend, concert-goers simply walked onto the site, with or without tickets. Though the festival left Roberts and Rosenman close to financial ruin, their ownership of the film and recording rights turned their finances around when the Academy Award winning documentary film Woodstock was released in March 1970. [13] [ page needed ]

The influx of attendees to the rural concert site in Bethel created a massive traffic jam. The town of Bethel did not enforce its codes, fearing chaos as the crowd flowed to the site. [30] Eventually, radio and television descriptions of the traffic jams discouraged people from setting off to the festival. [31] [32] Arlo Guthrie made an announcement that was included in the film saying that the New York State Thruway was closed, [33] although the director of the Woodstock museum said that this closure never occurred. [34] To add to the problems and difficulty in dealing with the large crowds, recent rains had caused muddy roads and fields. The facilities were not equipped to provide sanitation or first aid for the number of people attending hundreds of thousands found themselves in a struggle against bad weather, food shortages, and poor sanitation. [35]

On the morning of Sunday, August 17, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller called festival organizer John P. Roberts and told him that he was thinking of ordering 10,000 National Guard troops to the festival, but Roberts persuaded him not to. Sullivan County declared a state of emergency. [31] During the festival, personnel from nearby Stewart Air Force Base helped ensure order and air-lifted performers in and out of the concert site. [21] : 225

Jimi Hendrix was the last to perform at the festival, and he took the stage at 8:30 Monday morning due to delays caused by the rain. The audience had peaked at an estimated 450,000 during the festival but was reduced to about 30,000 by that point many of them merely waited to catch a glimpse of him, then left during his performance. [36]

Hendrix and his new band Gypsy Sun and Rainbows were introduced as The Experience, but he corrected this and added: "You could call us a Band of Gypsies". [37] : 270 They performed a two-hour set, including his psychedelic rendition of the national anthem. The song became "part of the sixties Zeitgeist" as it was captured in the Woodstock film. [37] : 272

The festival was remarkably peaceful given the number of people and the conditions involved, although there were two recorded fatalities, one from insulin usage and another caused when a tractor ran over someone sleeping in a nearby hayfield. There also were two births recorded at the event, one in a car caught in traffic and another in a hospital after an airlift by helicopter there were four miscarriages. [38] Over the course of the three days, there were 742 drug overdoses. [39]

Max Yasgur owned the site of the event, and he spoke of how nearly half a million people spent the three days with music and peace on their minds. He stated, "If we join them, we can turn those adversities that are the problems of America today into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future." [16] [ page needed ]

Sound Edit

Sound for the concert was engineered by sound engineer Bill Hanley. "It worked very well," he says of the event. "I built special speaker columns on the hills and had 16 loudspeaker arrays in a square platform going up to the hill on 70-foot [21 m] towers. We set it up for 150,000 to 200,000 people. Of course, 500,000 showed up." [40] ALTEC designed marine plywood cabinets that weighed half a ton apiece and stood 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, almost 4 feet (1.2 m) deep, and 3 feet (0.91 m) wide. Each of these enclosures carried four 15-inch (380 mm) JBL D140 loudspeakers. The tweeters consisted of 4×2-Cell & 2×10-Cell Altec Horns. Behind the stage were three transformers providing 2,000 amperes of current to power the amplification setup. [41] [ page needed ] For many years this system was collectively referred to as the Woodstock Bins. [42]

Lighting Edit

Lighting for the concert was engineered by lighting designer and technical director E.H. Beresford "Chip" Monck. Monck was hired to plan and build the staging and lighting, ten weeks of work for which he was paid $7,000 (equivalent to $49,000 today). Much of his plan had to be scrapped when the promoters were not allowed to use the original location in Wallkill, New York. The stage roof that was constructed in the shorter time available was not able to support the lighting that had been rented, which wound up sitting unused underneath the stage. The only light on the stage was from spotlights. [43]

Monck used twelve 1300 Watt Super Trouper-follow spots rigged on four towers around the stage. The follow spots weighed 600 pounds (270 kg) each and were operated by spotlight operators who had to climb up on the top of the 60-foot-high (18 m) lighting towers. [44]

Monck also was drafted just before the concert started as the master of ceremonies when Michael Lang noticed he had forgotten to hire one. He can be heard and seen in recordings of Woodstock making the stage announcements, including requests to "stay off the towers" and the warning about the "brown acid". [43]

Performing artists Edit

Thirty-two acts performed over the course of the four days: [45]

Friday, August 15 – Saturday, August 16
Artist Time Notes
Richie Havens 5:07 pm – 5:54 pm Was moved up to the opening performance slot after Sweetwater were stopped by police en route to the festival and other artists were delayed on the freeway.
Satchidananda Saraswati 7:10 pm – 7:20 pm Gave the opening speech/invocation for the festival. [46]
Sweetwater 7:30 pm – 8:10 pm
Bert Sommer 8:30 pm – 9:15 pm Received the festival's first standing ovation after his performance of Simon and Garfunkel's "America”.
Tim Hardin 9:20 pm – 9:45 pm
Ravi Shankar 10:20 pm – 10:35 pm Played through the rain.
Melanie 11:00 pm – 11:20 pm Sent onstage for an unscheduled performance after the Incredible String Band declined to perform during the rainstorm. Called back for two encores.
Arlo Guthrie 11:55 pm – 12:25 am
Joan Baez 12:55 am – 2:00 am Was six months pregnant at the time.
Saturday, August 16 – Sunday, August 17
Artist Time Notes
Quill 12:30 pm – 12:45 pm
Country Joe McDonald 1:20 pm – 1:30 pm Brought in for an unscheduled emergency solo performance when Santana were not yet ready to take the stage. Joe performed again with The Fish the following day.
Santana 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
John Sebastian 3:30 pm – 3:55 pm Sebastian was not on the bill, but rather was attending the festival, and was recruited to perform while the promoters waited for many of the scheduled performers to arrive.
Keef Hartley Band 4:45 pm – 5:30 pm
The Incredible String Band 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm Originally slated to perform on the first day following Ravi Shankar declined to perform during the rainstorm and were moved to the second day.
Canned Heat 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Mountain 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm This performance was only their third gig as a band [47]
Grateful Dead 10:30 pm – 12:05 am Their set ended after a fifty-minute version of "Turn On Your Love Light".
Creedence Clearwater Revival 12:30 am – 1:20 am
Janis Joplin with The Kozmic Blues Band [48] 2:00 am – 3:00 am
Sly and the Family Stone 3:30 am – 4:20 am
The Who 5:00 am – 6:05 am Briefly interrupted by Abbie Hoffman. [49]
Jefferson Airplane 8:00 am – 9:40 am Joined onstage on piano by Nicky Hopkins.
Sunday, August 17 – Monday, August 18
Artist Time Notes
Joe Cocker and The Grease Band 2:00 pm – 3:25 pm Played "With a Little Help From My Friends". [50] After Joe Cocker's set, a thunderstorm disrupted the events for several hours.
Country Joe and the Fish 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm Country Joe McDonald's second performance.
Ten Years After 8:15 pm – 9:15 pm
The Band 10:00 pm – 10:50 pm Called back for an encore.
Johnny Winter Midnight – 1:05 am Winter's brother, Edgar Winter, is featured on three songs. Called back for an encore.
Blood, Sweat & Tears 1:30 am – 2:30 am
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 3:00 am – 4:14 am An acoustic and electric set were played. Neil Young skipped most of the acoustic set.
Paul Butterfield Blues Band 6:00 am – 6:45 am
Sha Na Na 7:30 am – 8:00 am
Jimi Hendrix / Gypsy Sun & Rainbows 9:00 am – 11:10 am Performed to a considerably smaller crowd of fewer than 200,000 people. [51]

Declined invitations or missed connections Edit

    were in talks with Woodstock Ventures to perform at the festival, but only under the condition as long as the Plastic Ono Band would be able to play, their request was denied. However, four songs by the Beatles were played during the festival by such artists like Richie Havens, Joe Cocker, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. [52] disbanded prior to Woodstock. "I deliberately broke the group up before Woodstock," Beck said. "I didn't want it to be preserved." Beck's piano player Nicky Hopkins performed with Jefferson Airplane. [53] agreed to appear at the Woodstock festival, according to a 2011 interview with percussionist Joe Lala. Their manager did not want them to go and said, "There's only one road in and it's going to be raining, you don't want to be there". The band instead took a gig at Binghamton. [54] were invited but chose not to participate, believing that Woodstock would be no different from any of the other music festivals that summer. There were also concerns about money. Bassist John York later said, "We had no idea what it was going to be. We were burned out and tired of the festival scene." [55] had initially been signed to play at Woodstock, but they had a contract with concert promoter Bill Graham which allowed him to move their concerts at the Fillmore West. He rescheduled some of their dates to August 17, thus forcing them to back out of the concert. Graham did so to ensure that Santana would take their slot at the festival, as he managed them as well. [56] were considered but canceled at the last moment. According to guitarist Robby Krieger, they turned it down because they thought that it would be a "second class repeat of Monterey Pop Festival" and later regretted that decision. [57] lived in the town of Woodstock but was never in serious negotiation to appear. Instead, he signed in mid-July to play the Isle of Wight Festival of Music on August 31. He intended to travel to England on Queen Elizabeth 2 on August 15, the day that the Woodstock Festival started, but his son was injured by a cabin door and the family disembarked. Dylan and his wife Sara flew to England the following week. The Band accompanied him in his Isle of Wight appearance. [58] was asked to perform and declined. [59] They did play at the Isle of Wight Festival a week later. were invited to perform and declined. [60] was booked to appear, and is listed on the Woodstock poster for a Sunday performance, but could not perform because they were stuck at LaGuardia Airport. [61] According to Production Coordinator John Morris, "They sent me a telegram saying, 'We will arrive at LaGuardia. You will have helicopters pick us up. We will fly straight to the show. We will perform immediately, and then we will be flown out.' And I picked up the phone and called Western Union . And [my telegram] said: 'For reasons I can't go into / Until you are here / Clarifying your situation / Knowing you are having problems / You will have to find / Other transportation / Unless you plan not to come.'" [62] claimed to have declined an invitation. James stated: "We could have just kicked ourselves. We were in Hawaii, and my secretary called and said, 'Yeah, listen, there's this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.' That's how it was put to me. So we passed, and we realized what we'd missed a couple of days later." [63] also declined. According to Ian Anderson, he knew that it would be a big event but he did not want to go because he did not like hippies and had other concerns, including inappropriate nudity, heavy drinking, and drug use. [64] were asked to perform. Their manager Peter Grant stated: "I said no because at Woodstock we'd have just been another band on the bill." [65] declined to perform at Woodstock. [66] declined an invitation, in part due to turmoil within the band. [59] declined because they thought that the festival would be a minor event, and they had a higher paying gig elsewhere. [59] was originally slated to perform but cancelled at the urging of her manager to avoid missing a scheduled appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. She would later compose the song "Woodstock" inspired by what she saw on television. [67][68] were included on the original Wallkill poster as performers, but they backed out after being booked in Paris the same weekend. [59] were offered a chance to perform at the festival, but their manager turned it down for a concert at a Los Angeles school gymnasium. [69] were invited but refused because Woodstock fell at the end of a long tour and also coincided with the due date of guitarist Robin Trower's baby. [70] were invited to play but declined because they were in the middle of recording a new album. [71] turned down an invitation to play because they played at one of the Woodstock Sound-Outs the year before and it did not go well. [72] was asked to close the festival with "Happy Trails" but he declined. [73] were invited but declined because Mick Jagger was in Australia filming Ned Kelly, and Keith Richards' girlfriend Anita Pallenberg had just given birth to their son Marlon. [74] declined the invitation, as they were working on their new album. [75] also declined an invitation to play, as they already had shows planned and wanted to play those instead, not knowing how big Woodstock would be. [76] declined an invitation because they didn't think Woodstock would be that big of a deal. http://blues.gr/profiles/blogs/interview-gene-gunnels-drummer-strawberry-alarm-clock were invited to play Woodstock and appear on American Bandstand, but Rick Evans was injured by a drunk driver in a crash. [77] was then with The Mothers of Invention he said, "A lot of mud at Woodstock . We were invited to play there, we turned it down." [59]

Media coverage Edit

Very few reporters from outside the immediate area were on the scene. During the first few days of the festival, national media coverage emphasized the problems. Front-page headlines in the Daily News read "Traffic Uptight at Hippiefest" and "Hippies Mired in a Sea of Mud". The New York Times ran an editorial titled "Nightmare in the Catskills", which read in part, "The dreams of marijuana and rock music that drew 300,000 fans and hippies to the Catskills had little more sanity than the impulses that drive the lemmings to march to their deaths in the sea. They ended in a nightmare of mud and stagnation . What kind of culture is it that can produce so colossal a mess?" [78] Coverage became more positive by the end of the festival, in part because the parents of concertgoers called the media and told them, based on their children's phone calls, that their reporting was misleading. [31] [79] [ page needed ]

The New York Times covered the prelude to the festival and the move from Wallkill to Bethel. [26] Barnard Collier, who reported from the event for The New York Times, asserts that he was pressured by on-duty editors at the paper to write a misleadingly negative article about the event. According to Collier, this led to acrimonious discussions and his threat to refuse to write the article until the paper's executive editor, James Reston, agreed to let him write the article as he saw fit. The eventual article dealt with issues of traffic jams and minor lawbreaking, but went on to emphasize cooperation, generosity, and the good nature of the festival goers. [31] [79] [ page needed ] When the festival was over, Collier wrote another article about the exodus of fans from the festival site and the lack of violence at the event. The chief medical officer for the event and several local residents were quoted as praising the festival goers. [38] [80]

Middletown, New York's Times Herald-Record, the only local daily newspaper, editorialized against the law that banned the festival from Wallkill. During the festival a rare Saturday edition was published. The paper had the only phone line running out of the site, and it used a motorcyclist to get stories and pictures from the impassable crowd to the newspaper's office 35 miles (56 km) away in Middletown. [22] [81] [82] [83]

Films Edit

The documentary film Woodstock, directed by Michael Wadleigh and edited by a crew headed by Thelma Schoonmaker, was released in March 1970. Artie Kornfeld (one of the promoters of the festival) went to Fred Weintraub, an executive at Warner Bros., and asked for money to film the festival. Artie had been turned down everywhere else, but against the express wishes of other Warner Bros. executives, Weintraub put his job on the line and gave Kornfeld $100,000 (equivalent to $710,000 today) to make the film. Woodstock helped to save Warner Bros at a time when the company was on the verge of going out of business. The book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls details the making of the film.

Wadleigh rounded up a crew of about 100 from the New York film scene. With no money to pay the crew, he agreed to a double-or-nothing scheme, in which the crew would receive double pay if the film succeeded and nothing if it bombed. Wadleigh strove to make the film as much about the hippies as the music, listening to their feelings about compelling events contemporaneous with the festival (such as the Vietnam War), as well as the views of the townspeople. [84]

Woodstock received the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. [85] In 1996, the film was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry. In 1994, Woodstock: The Director's Cut was released and expanded to include Janis Joplin as well as additional performances by Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and Canned Heat not seen in the original version of the film. In 2009, the expanded 40th Anniversary Edition was released on DVD. This release marks the film's first availability on Blu-ray.

Another film on Woodstock named Taking Woodstock was produced in 2009 by Taiwanese American filmmaker Ang Lee. [86] Lee practically rented out the entire town of New Lebanon, New York, to shoot the film. He was initially concerned with angering the locals, but they ended up being very welcoming and willing to help with the film. [87] The movie is based on Elliot Tiber, played by Demetri Martin, and his role in bringing Woodstock to Bethel, New York. The film also stars Jonathan Groff as Michael Lang, Daniel Eric Gold as Joel Rosenman, and Henry Goodman and Imelda Staunton as Jake and Sonia Teichberg. [88]

Albums Edit

Soundtrack albums and 25th anniversary releases Edit

Two soundtrack albums were released. The first, Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, was a 3-LP (later 2-CD) album containing a sampling of one or two songs by most of the acts who performed. A year later, Woodstock 2 was released as a 2-LP album. Both albums included recordings of stage announcements (many by Production Coordinator John Morris, e.g., "[We're told] that the brown acid is not specifically too good", "Hey, if you think really hard, maybe we can stop this rain") and crowd noises (i.e., the rain chant) between songs. In August 1994, a third album, Woodstock Diary was released.

Tracks from all three albums, as well as numerous additional, previously unreleased performances from the festival (but not the stage announcements and crowd noises) were reissued by Atlantic, also in August 1994, as a 4-CD box set titled Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music.

An album titled Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock was also released in August 1994, featuring only selected recordings of Jimi Hendrix at the festival.

30th anniversary releases Edit

In July 1999, MCA Records released Live at Woodstock, a double-disc recording (longer than Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock) featuring nearly every song of Hendrix's performance, omitting just two pieces that were sung by his rhythm guitarist Larry Lee.

40th anniversary releases Edit

In June 2009, complete performances from Woodstock by Santana, Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, and Johnny Winter were released separately by Legacy/SME Records, and were also collected in a box set titled The Woodstock Experience.

In August 2009, Rhino/Atlantic Records issued a 6-CD box set titled Woodstock 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm, which included further musical performances as well as stage announcements and other ancillary material. [89]

In October 2009, Joe Cocker released Live at Woodstock, a live album of his entire Woodstock set. The album contains eleven tracks, ten of which were previously unreleased.

50th anniversary releases Edit

On 2 August 2019, the Rhino label released Woodstock – Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive, a 38-CD, 36-hour, 432-song completists' audio box set of nearly every note played at the original 1969 Woodstock festival (including 276 songs that were previously unreleased), a "CD collection [co-produced for Rhino by archivist Andy Zax] that lays the '69 fest out in chronological order, from the first stage announcements to muddy farewells." The only things missing from this 38-CD edition are two Jimi Hendrix songs that his estate did not believe were up to the required standard and some of Sha Na Na's music that missed being captured on tape. Due to various production and warehousing issues, the release of the box set was delayed dramatically, causing massive backlash and dissatisfaction towards Rhino and Warner Music. More condensed versions—an album on 10 CDs, and an album on either 3 CDs or 5 LPs—were also released. The full version was limited to a run of only 1,969 copies. [90] [91] [92] [93]

In the years immediately following the festival, Woodstock co-producers John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, along with Robert Pilpel, wrote Making Woodstock, a book about the goings-on behind the scenes during the production of the Woodstock Festival.

Max Yasgur refused to rent out his farm for a 1970 revival of the festival, saying, "As far as I know, I'm going back to running a dairy farm." Yasgur died in 1973. [95]

Bethel voters did not re-elect Supervisor Amatucci in an election held in November 1969 because of his role in bringing the festival to the town, and the upset attributed to some residents. [96] Although accounts vary, the loss was only by a very small margin of between six and fifty votes. [97] New York State and the Town of Bethel also passed mass gathering laws designed to prevent any more festivals from occurring.

In 1984, at the original festival site, land owners Louis Nicky and June Gelish put up a monument marker with plaques called "Peace and Music" by a local sculptor from nearby Bloomingburg, Wayne C. Saward. [98]

Attempts were made to prevent people from visiting the site. Its owners spread chicken manure, and during one anniversary, tractors and state police cars formed roadblocks. Twenty thousand people gathered at the site in 1989 during an impromptu 20th anniversary celebration. In 1997 a community group put up a welcoming sign for visitors. Unlike Bethel, the town of Woodstock made several efforts to capitalize on its connection. Bethel's stance eventually changed and the town began to embrace the festival. Efforts were undertaken to forge a link between Bethel and Woodstock. [99]

Approximately 80 lawsuits were filed against Woodstock Ventures, primarily by farmers in the area. The movie financed settlements and paid off the $1.4 million of debt (equivalent to $9.9 million today) Roberts and Rosenman had incurred from the festival. [31]

Woodstock site today Edit

In 1984, a plaque was placed at the original site commemorating the festival. [100] The field and the stage area remain preserved in their rural setting and the fields of the Yasgur farm are still visited by people of all generations. [101]

In 1996, the site of the concert and 1,400 acres (2.2 sq mi 5.7 km 2 ) surrounding was purchased by cable television pioneer Alan Gerry for the purpose of creating the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. [102] The Center opened on July 1, 2006, with a performance by the New York Philharmonic. [103] On August 13, 2006, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performed before 16,000 fans at the new Center—37 years after their historic performance at Woodstock. [104]

The Museum at Bethel Woods opened on June 2, 2008. [105] The Museum contains film and interactive displays, text panels, and artifacts that explore the unique experience of the Woodstock festival, its significance as the culminating event of a decade of radical cultural transformation, and the legacy of the Sixties and Woodstock today. [105]

Richie Havens' ashes were scattered across the site on August 18, 2013. [106]

In late 2016 New York's State Historic Preservation Office applied to the National Park Service to have 600 acres (0.94 sq mi 2.4 km 2 ) including the site of the festival and adjacent areas used for campgrounds, all of which still appear mostly as they did in 1969 as they were not redeveloped when Bethel Woods was built, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [107]

Woodstock 40th anniversary Edit

There was worldwide media interest in the 40th anniversary of Woodstock in 2009. [108] A number of activities to commemorate the festival took place around the world. On August 15, at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts overlooking the original site, the largest assembly of Woodstock performing alumni since the original 1969 festival performed in an eight-hour concert in front of a sold-out crowd. Hosted by Country Joe McDonald, the concert featured Big Brother and the Holding Company performing Janis Joplin's hits (she actually appeared with the Kozmic Blues Band at Woodstock, although that band did feature former Big Brother guitarist Sam Andrew), Canned Heat, Ten Years After, Jefferson Starship, Mountain, and the headliners, The Levon Helm Band. At Woodstock, Levon Helm played drums and was one of the lead vocalists with The Band. Paul Kantner was the only member of the 1969 Jefferson Airplane lineup to appear with Jefferson Starship. Tom Constanten, who played keyboard with the Grateful Dead at Woodstock, joined Jefferson Starship on stage for several numbers. Jocko Marcellino from Sha Na Na also appeared, backed up by Canned Heat. [109] Richie Havens, who opened the Woodstock festival in 1969, appeared at a separate event the previous night. [110] Crosby, Stills & Nash and Arlo Guthrie also marked the anniversary with live performances at Bethel earlier in August 2009.

Another event occurred in Hawkhurst, Kent (UK), at a Summer of Love party, with acts including two of the participants at the original Woodstock, Barry Melton of Country Joe and the Fish and Robin Williamson of The Incredible String Band, plus Santana and Grateful Dead cover bands. [111] On August 14 and 15, 2009, a 40th anniversary tribute concert was held in Woodstock, Illinois, and was the only festival to receive the official blessing of the "Father of Woodstock", Artie Kornfeld. [112] Kornfeld later made an appearance in Woodstock with the event's promoters.

Also in 2009, Michael Lang and Holly George-Warren published The Road to Woodstock, which describes Lang's involvement in the creation of the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival, and includes personal stories and quotes from central figures involved in the event.

Woodstock 50th anniversary Edit

In May 2014, Michael Lang, one of the producers and organizers of the original Woodstock event, revealed plans for a possible 50th anniversary concert in 2019 and that he was exploring various locations. Reports in late 2018 confirmed the plans for a concurrent 50th Anniversary event on the original site to be operated by the Bethel Woods Centre for the Arts. The scheduled date for the "Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival: Celebrating the golden anniversary at the historic site of the 1969 Woodstock festival" was August 16–18, 2019. Partners in the event are Live Nation and INVNT. Bethel Woods described the festival as a "pan-generational music, culture and community event" (including some live performances and talks by) "leading futurists and retro-tech experts".

Michael Lang told a reporter that he also had "definite plans" for a 50th anniversary concert that would "hopefully encourage people to get involved with our lives on the planet" with a goal of re-capturing the "history and essence of what Woodstock was". [113]

On January 9, 2019, Lang announced that the official Woodstock 50th anniversary festival would take place on August 16–18, 2019, in Watkins Glen, NY. [114]

On March 19, 2019, the proposed line-up for Woodstock 50 was announced. This included some artists who performed at the original Woodstock festival in 1969: John Fogerty (from Creedence Clearwater Revival), Carlos Santana (as Santana), David Crosby (from Crosby, Stills & Nash), Melanie, John Sebastian, Country Joe McDonald, three Grateful Dead members (as Dead & Company), Canned Heat, and Hot Tuna (containing members of Jefferson Airplane). [115] The event was to take place at Watkins Glen International, the race track in Watkins Glen, New York, the site in 1973 for the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen which drew an estimated 600,000 people.

On April 29, 2019, it was announced that Woodstock 50 had been cancelled by investors (Dentsu Aegis Network), who had lost faith in its preparations. The producers "vehemently" denied any cancellation, with Michael Lang telling The New York Times that investors have no such prerogative. [116] [117] After a lawsuit with original financiers, the Woodstock 50 team then announced that it had received help from Oppenheimer & Co. for financing so that the three-day event can continue to take place in August despite the original financiers pulling out.

On July 31, 2019, NPR reported that the concert had finally been cancelled. [118] [119] The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts did organize of weekend of "low-key" concerts. [120]

Local economic impact Edit

Woodstock still acts as an economic engine for the local economy. A Bethel Woods report from 2018 indicates that $560.82 million of spending has been generated in New York. With 2.9 million visitors since 2006 and 214,405 visitors in 2018, an equivalent of 172 full-time jobs exist as a result, which includes direct wages of $5.1 million from Bethel Woods in Sullivan County. [121]

As one of the biggest music festivals of all time and a cultural touchstone for the late 1960s, Woodstock has been referenced in many different ways in popular culture. The phrase "the Woodstock generation" became part of the common lexicon. [122] Tributes and parodies of the festival began almost as soon as the final chords sounded. Cartoonist Charles Schulz named his recurring Peanuts bird character – which began appearing in 1966 but was still unnamed – Woodstock in tribute to the festival. [123] In April 1970, Mad magazine published a poem by Frank Jacobs and illustrated by Sergio Aragonés titled "I Remember, I Remember The Wondrous Woodstock Music Fair" that parodies the traffic jams and the challenges of getting close enough to actually hear the music. [124] Keith Robertson's 1970 children's book Henry Reed's Big Show has the title character attempting to emulate the success of the festival by mounting his own concert at his uncle's farm.

Melanie Safka's 1970 song, "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)", recalls the experience of both her Woodstock performance and her participation in the 1969 Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam.

Joni Mitchell's 1970 song, "Woodstock", was written while she viewed news coverage of the festival and, lamenting her decision not to perform there, described it instead.

In 1973, the stage show National Lampoon's Lemmings portrayed the "Woodchuck" festival, featuring parodies of many Woodstock performers. [125]

Time magazine named "The Who at Woodstock – 1969" to the magazine's "Top 10 Music-Festival Moments" list on March 18, 2010. [126]

A Walk on the Moon is a 1999 film set partially at the Woodstock festival.

In 2005, Argentine writer Edgar Brau published Woodstock, a long poem commemorating the festival. An English translation of the poem was published in January 2007 by Words Without Borders. [127]

Taking Woodstock is a 2009 film by director Ang Lee that dramatizes how the festival came together.

In 2017, the singer Lana Del Rey released a song, "Coachella – Woodstock in My Mind," in order to show her worries about the tensions between North Korea and the United States while she was at Coachella, expressing nostalgia by using the Woodstock festival as a symbol of peace. [128]

In August 2019, the United States Postal Service released a Forever stamp commemorating Woodstock's 50th anniversary. [129] The stamp was designed by Antonio Alcalá, Art Director of the USPS and was first issued at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on 8 August 2019. [130] The museum was hosting Play it Loud, an exhibit co-organized with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame consisting of vintage rock and roll instruments, posters, and costumes. [131] Attending the ceremony were Woodstock producers Michael Lang and Joel Rosenman. The ceremony began with a "stirring" electric guitar performance of The Star Spangled Banner by "Captain" Kirk Douglas of the Roots—"reminiscent" of Jimi Hendrix's performance at original festival. [132]


The Trail

On this day in 1969, the grooviest event in music history–the Woodstock Music Festival–draws to a close after three days of peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll in upstate New York.

Conceived as “Three Days of Peace and Music,” Woodstock was a product of a partnership between John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang. Their idea was to make enough money from the event to build a recording studio near the arty New York town of Woodstock. When they couldn’t find an appropriate venue in the town itself, the promoters decided to hold the festival on a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York–some 50 miles from Woodstock–owned by Max Yasgur.

By the time the weekend of the festival arrived, the group had sold a total of 186,000 tickets and expected no more than 200,000 people to show up. By Friday night, however, thousands of eager early arrivals were pushing against the entrance gates. Fearing they could not control the crowds, the promoters made the decision to open the concert to everyone, free of charge. Close to half a million people attended Woodstock, jamming the roads around Bethel with eight miles of traffic.

Soaked by rain and wallowing in the muddy mess of Yasgur’s fields, young fans best described as “hippies” euphorically took in the performances of acts like Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Who performed in the early morning hours of August 17, with Roger Daltrey belting out “See Me, Feel Me,” from the now-classic album Tommy just as the sun began to rise. The most memorable moment of the concert for many fans was the closing performance by Jimi Hendrix, who gave a rambling, rocking solo guitar performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

With not enough bathroom facilities and first-aid tents to accommodate such a huge crowd, many described the atmosphere at the festival as chaotic. There were surprisingly few episodes of violence, though one teenager was accidentally run over and killed by a tractor and another died from a drug overdose. A number of musicians performed songs expressing their opposition to the Vietnam War, a sentiment that was enthusiastically shared by the vast majority of the audience. Later, the term “Woodstock Nation” would be used as a general term to describe the youth counterculture of the 1960s.

1790 – The capital city of the U.S. moved to Philadelphia from New York City.

1807 – Robert Fulton’s “North River Steam Boat” (known as the “Clermont”) began heading up New York’s Hudson River on its successful round-trip to Albany.

1815 – Napoleon began serving his exile when he arrived at the island of St. Helena.

1877 – F.P. Cahill became the first person to be killed by “Billy the Kid.”

1903 – Joseph Pulitzer donated a million dollars to Columbia University. This started the Pulitzer Prizes in his name.

1943 – The Allied conquest of Sicily was completed as U.S. and British forces entered Messina.

1945 – The nationalists of Indonesia declared their independence from the Netherlands.

1960 – The Beatles began their first engagement away from England.

1962 – 18-year-old Peter Fechter was killed by East German border guards when he attempted to cross the Berlin Wall into the western sector.

1968 – Deep Purple’s “Hush” was released.

1969 – Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast killing 248 people.

1977 – Florists Transworld Delivery (FTD) reported that in one day the number of orders for flowers to be delivered to Graceland had surpassed the number for any other event in the company’s history.

1986 – 42 people were beaten or stabbed at a Run D.M.C. concert in Long Beach, CA.

1987 – Rudolph Hess died after apparently committing suicide. Hess was the last member of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle.

2002 – In Santa Rosa, CA, the Charles M. Schulz Museum opened to the public.

Dakota (Sioux) uprising begins

Minnesota erupts in violence as desperate Dakota Indians attack white settlements along the Minnesota River. The Dakota were eventually overwhelmed by the U.S. military six weeks later.

The Dakota Indians were more commonly referred to as the Sioux, a derogatory name derived from part of a French word meaning “little snake.” They were composed of four bands, and lived on temporary reservations in southwestern Minnesota. For two decades, the Dakota were poorly treated by the Federal government, local traders, and settlers. They saw their hunting lands whittled down, and provisions promised by the government rarely arrived. Worse yet, a wave of white settlers surrounded them.

The summer of 1862 was particularly hard on the Dakota. Cutworms destroyed much of their corn crops, and many families faced starvation. Dakota leaders were frustrated by attempts to convince traders to extend credit to tribal members and alleviate the suffering. On August 17, four young Dakota warriors were returning from an unsuccessful hunt when they stopped to steal some eggs from a white settlement. The youths soon picked a quarrel with the hen’s owner, and the encounter turned tragic when the Dakotas killed five members of the family. Sensing that they would be attacked, Dakota leaders determined that war was at hand and seized the initiative. Led by Taoyateduta (also known as Little Crow), the Dakota attacked local agencies and the settlement of New Ulm. Over 500 white settlers lost their lives along with about 150 Sioux warriors.

President Lincoln dispatched General John Pope, fresh from his defeat at the Battle of Second Bull Run, to organize the Military Department of the Northwest. Some Dakota fled to North Dakota, but more than 2,000 were rounded up and over 300 warriors were sentenced to death. President Lincoln commuted most of their sentences, but on December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were executed at Mankato, Minnesota. It was the largest mass execution in American history.

Carlson’s Raiders land on Makin Island

On this day in 1942, Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson and a force of Marine raiders come ashore Makin Island, in the west Pacific Ocean, occupied by the Japanese. What began as a diversionary tactic almost ended in disaster for the Americans.

Two American submarines, the Argonaut and the Nautilus, approached Makin Island, an atoll in the Gilbert Islands, which had been seized by the Japanese on December 9, 1941. The subs unloaded 122 Marines, one of two new raider battalions. Their leader was Lt. Col. Evans Carlson, a former lecturer on postrevolutionary China. Their mission was to assault the Japanese-occupied Makin Island as a diversionary tactic, keeping the Japanese troops “busy” so they would not be able to reinforce troops currently under assault by Americans on Guadalcanal Island.

Carlson’s “Raiders” landed quietly, unobserved, coming ashore on inflatable rafts powered by outboard motors. Suddenly, one of the Marines’ rifles went off, alerting the Japanese, who unleashed enormous firepower: grenades, flamethrowers, and machine guns. The subs gave some cover by firing their deck guns, but by night the Marines had to begin withdrawing from the island. Some Marines drowned when their rafts overturned about 100 made it back to the subs. Carlson and a handful of his men stayed behind to sabotage a Japanese gas dump and to seize documents. They then made for the submarines too. When all was said and done, seven Marines drowned, 14 were killed by Japanese gunfire, and nine were captured and beheaded.

Carlson went on to fight with the U.S. forces on Guadalcanal. He was a source of controversy having been sent as a U.S. observer with Mao’s Army in 1937, he developed a great respect for the “spiritual strength” of the communist forces and even advocated their guerrilla-style tactics. He remained an avid fan of the Chinese communists even after the war.

*My Uncle Ernie may have been one of these guys.

East Germans kill man trying to cross Berlin Wall

East German guards gun down a young man trying to escape across the Berlin Wall into West Berlin and leave him to bleed to death. It was one of the ugliest incidents to take place at one of the ugliest symbols of the Cold War.

The 1962 incident occurred almost a year to the day that construction began on the Berlin Wall. In August 1961, East Berlin authorities began stringing barbed wire across the boundary between East and West Berlin. In just a matter of days, a concrete block wall was under construction, complete with guard towers. In the months that followed, more barbed wire, machine guns, searchlights, guard posts, dogs, mines, and concrete barriers were set up, completely separating the two halves of the city. American officials condemned the communist action, but did nothing to halt construction of the wall.

On August 17, 1962, two young men from East Berlin attempted to scramble to freedom across the wall. One was successful in climbing the last barbed wire fence and, though suffering numerous cuts, made it safely to West Berlin. While horrified West German guards watched, the second young man was shot by machine guns on the East Berlin side. He fell but managed to stand up again, reach the wall, and begin to climb over. More shots rang out. The young man was hit in the back, screamed, and fell backwards off of the wall. For nearly an hour, he lay bleeding to death and crying for help. West German guards threw bandages to the man, and an angry crowd of West Berlin citizens screamed at the East German security men who seemed content to let the young man die. He finally did die, and East German guards scurried to where he lay and removed his body.

During the history of the Berlin Wall (1961 to 1989), nearly 80 people were killed trying to cross from East to West Berlin. East German officials always claimed that the wall was erected to protect the communist regime from the pernicious influences of Western capitalism and culture. In the nearly 30 years that the wall existed, however, no one was ever shot trying to enter East Berlin.


A Brief History Of The Woodstock Music Festival

When two New York City lawyers approached two New York City financiers with the idea of building a “studio-in-the-woods” in a small town in Ulster County called Woodstock, they were unconvinced. Roberts and Rosenman instead suggested a concert featuring musicians who frequented the area. It seemed a simple idea, but the end result would shake the pillars of Rock ‘n Roll music, and subsequently define a generation. We take a closer look at the Woodstock music festival of 1969.

A curious ad placed by financiers John Roberts and Joel Rosenman in the New York Times reading, “Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions” became an unsuspecting springboard for what would be one of the world’s most famous music festivals. The two entrepreneurs had just completed building Media Sound – a studio complex in Manhattan – and were seeking a new venture. This obscure advertisement drew the attention of lawyers Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld, and a year later, these four men would collaborate to form Woodstock Ventures. Their office, a setting far removed from the rustic backdrop where the concert would eventually commence, was located in Midtown Manhattan at 47 West 57th Street.

Even at its outset, Woodstock had all the makings of more than a concert. It was a chance for a generation, during a time of civil upheaval and unrest in America, to bring their case for peace and love through music to the forefront. It was an opportunity for a generation of youth who felt an ever-widening divide between themselves and their government to have their voices heard.

Woodstock was originally billed as ‘An Aquarian Exposition: Three Days of Peace and Music’, and there seemed no better-suited title for such an event. Those three days would consequently become four, and what was initially expected to draw 50,000 attendees quickly ballooned to 200,000, even before a finalized location for the event could be secured. Ticket sellers scurried to meet the demand. The original location was Wallkill, New York, and its residents immediately mounted a fierce resistance to the proposal. They vehemently opposed any concept that would bring tens of thousands of ‘hippies’ to their tiny community.

Residents of Wallkill were able to swing the pendulum in their favor by citing the portable toilets to be used would not meet town codes. The concert, scheduled to have 32 of the most popular musical groups, almost never came to fruition. Had it been so, all four of its planners would have found themselves in financial ruin. Luckily, one day they received a call from Max Yasur, owner of a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, who was willing to offer his land as a possible site for the event.

Residents of Bethel were equally unhinged – they even sought to organize a boycott by refusing to buy milk from Yasur’s farm. This time, Woodstock Ventures would not be denied. The scooped-out dairy farm was finally approved by New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, who initially wanted to use the National Guard for crowd and traffic control. John Roberts persuaded the governor against this idea. However, with the expected gridlock on the New York State Thruway, Rockefeller offered personnel from Stewart Air Force Base to airlift performers in and out of the concert area.

The booking of Creedence Clearwater Revival attracted the likes of other eventual rock legends The Who, The Band, Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin with the Kozmic Blues Band to name a few. The concert reached a pinnacle when Jimi Hendrix took the stage, and played his iconic rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The concert that almost never came to pass would eventually be listed in Rolling Stone Magazine as one the 50 greatest moment in the history of Rock ‘n Roll. Though Woodstock Ventures found itself in over $100,000 in debt after numerous lawsuits, they had originally proposed the idea as a money-making opportunity it gave something more in return to a growing movement. For during one of the most turbulent times in the nation’s history, a generation and its music was equally outspoken and defined.


Woodstock 1969

The events that led up to the legendary Woodstock 1969 festival were destined to happen. The organization overcame many barriers and many fateful occurrences lined up its fruition. Here is a brief overview of the legendary Woodstock 1969 festival and the impact it had on music, American culture, and the world.

Woodstock was the pop culture music event of the decade and arguably to this day the single most profound event in the history of music. Acts from all around the world met at Max Yasgur ‘s Farm in Bethel, NY on August 15-18, 1969 for a celebration of peace and music. What began as a paid event drew so many viewers from across the world that the fences were torn down and it became a free concert open to the public. 500,000 youthful individuals gathered peacefully at Woodstock 1969 creating the largest gathering of human beings in one place in history. Woodstock 1969 defined an entire generation and its effects on music and American culture can still be felt today.

Woodstock 󈨉 featured one of the most prolific musical lineups in history including such icons as Jimi Hendrix , Janis Joplin , Joe Cocker , Santana , and The Who . Fans got a taste of a variety of music styles which came together in perfect harmony. The crowd at Woodstock in 1969, which reached near a half a million people sent a message to the world that individuals could come together peacefully to celebrate peace and music.

Such an extravagant event warranted the production of an academy award winning documentary of Woodstock 1969 and a number of popular Woodstock film and album releases. The Woodstock 1969 poster has come to be one of the most famous images in American culture as well as a symbol of peace. Hollywood movies are still being made to celebrate the event such as Taking Woodstock, the story of Elliot Tiber .

The music at Woodstock in 1969 embodied extraordinary popular acts from all over the world. Legendary performances by such music icons as Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez , Joe Cocker, Santana, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin are still considered landmarks in music history. Woodstock in 1969 was also among the last performances of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin who are seen as some of the best in their respective fields. The entire psychedelic music vein became popularized at Woodstock 69 and still influences bands of all ages to this day.

Hippie is a term that has not diminished in popularity or as a subculture to this day. The youth of the 1960’s all came together with similar ideals and became the most popular counterculture archetype. The hippie culture shook the foundation of conformity to its core, reports of attempts to disperse the half a million individuals have been surfacing ever since the event. Individuals able to organize in that magnitude for a common interest was something that those in power were absolutely terrified of and had every right to be. Had Woodstock 1969’s focus turned from music to revolution, the world would be an entirely different place today.

After Woodstock 1969, the name “Woodstock” became a very profitable brand name. The concert was initially designed as a money making endeavor. Woodstock Ventures ended up going far into the basement monetarily after the concert, but eventually recovered and became the corporate enterprise that it is known as today. The recent installments have been seen as corporatized disasters however, the impact of the initial event is still so profound to this day that anything with the Woodstock brand tacked onto it draws a large amount of attention. Woodstock 1969 has since been a household name and integrated into mainstream American living.


Woodstock Music Festival Site

1984 Woodstock Monument, looking southeast over Main Concert Field

Photograph by Wade Lawrence, courtesy of New York State Historic Preservation Office

The National Register Woodstock Music Festival site commemorates a three-day music festival that took place on August 15, 1969 - August 18, 1969, on nearly 300 acres of rolling farmland in rural Sullivan County, NY.

Listed on February 28, 2017, Woodstock is nationally significant, under Social History and Performing Arts/Music, as one of the most important cultural and social events of the second half of the twentieth century. The festival was the definitive expression of the musical, cultural, and political idealism of the 1960s and was recognized almost immediately as a watershed event in the transformation of American culture.

The summer of 1969 was marked by three extraordinary cultural events: in June, the Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of the struggle for civil rights by lesbian and gay Americans in July, the Apollo moon landing awed Americans and provided the entire country with a dose of optimism and in August, the Woodstock Music Festival, where a gathering of approximately 450,000 people, on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm, became a symbol of fellowship and faith of a generation.

The 1960s was the decade where the baby boom generation formally broke with the past and established its own cultural references. This generation, born after World War II, was shaped by the major themes of America’s post-war history: prosperity, affluence, the decentralization of cities and the shift to suburban living, the promise of higher education, and the security of a world at peace. However, what fostered this lifestyle also allowed this generation to see the stark contrast of their lives with the lives of those who did not enjoy the same advantages and instilled in its members a strong sense of responsibility. Consequently, they were troubled by poverty and injustice and were eager to work towards civil rights, lesbian and gay rights, the elimination of poverty, ending the Vietnam War, women’s rights, and universal voting rights. By the late 1960s, a strong counterculture had emerged that challenged some of the moral and political foundations of the establishment.

Over three days, the festival featured thirty-two individual performers, folk singers, blues, and rock and roll bands who played to an audience that was estimated at more than 450,000. Tickets to the event were $6.00 per day. Some of the most well-known and well-regarded performers of the era included African-American folksinger, Richie Havens, who opened the concert and played until he was out of material. He then improvised the song “Freedom,” which became one of the festival’s signature events. Other performers included Joan Baez, the Grateful Dead, Country Joe McDonald, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, the Who, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. One standout performer and Woodstock’s last performer, was Jimi Hendrix, who played a now epic rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Woodstock was the largest and most memorable of dozens of outdoor music festivals that took place between 1967 and 1969, an era that began with the widely publicized Monterey Pops Concert, Monterey, California, on June 16-18, 1967, and ended tragically, with a concert at the Altamont Racetrack, Altamont, California, on December 6, 1969, just three months after Woodstock.

Woodstock remains a symbol of what was thought possible. The long-lasting impact of the festival on American life is attested to by the fact that the Woodstock and its aftermath helped shape the world views, social consciences, and musical tastes of thousands of people who are now in leadership roles in every segment of American life.


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Joni Mitchell composed the song based on what she had heard from her then-boyfriend Graham Nash about the Woodstock Music and Art Festival. She had not been there herself, since a manager had told her that it would, instead, be more advantageous for her to appear on The Dick Cavett Show. She composed it in a hotel room in New York City, watching televised reports of the festival. "The deprivation of not being able to go provided me with an intense angle on Woodstock," she told an interviewer shortly after the event. [2] David Crosby, interviewed for the documentary Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind, stated that Mitchell had captured the feeling and importance of the Woodstock festival better than anyone who had actually been there. [3]

The lyrics tell a story about a spiritual journey to Max Yasgur's farm, the place of the festival, and make prominent use of sacred imagery, comparing the festival site with the Garden of Eden ("and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden"). The saga commences with the narrator's encounter of a fellow traveler ("Well, I came upon a child of God, he was walking along the road") and concludes at their ultimate destination ("by the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong"). There are also references to the horrific "mutual assured destruction" of the Cold War ("bombers riding shotgun in the sky. ") contrasted against the peaceful intent of the festival goers (". turning into butterflies above our nation"). [4] [5]

Joni Mitchell Edit

Prior to its release on any album, Mitchell performed "Woodstock" at the 1969 Big Sur Folk Festival, one month after Woodstock. The solo performance can be seen in the festival concert film Celebration at Big Sur, released in 1971. Mitchell had not yet developed her distaste for large festival gigs. [6] Released on Mitchell's third album Ladies of the Canyon in March 1970, "Woodstock" served as the B-side for that album's single "Big Yellow Taxi". Mitchell re-recorded "Woodstock" for her two live albums, Miles of Aisles and Shadows and Light. The original track was included on the 1996 compilation Hits. Mitchell's original version featured a stark and haunting arrangement – a solo vocal, multi-tracked backing vocals, and a tremoloed Wurlitzer electric piano, all performed by Mitchell. [ citation needed ]

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Edit

About the same time that Ladies of the Canyon appeared, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's upbeat hard rock arrangement was released as the lead single from their 1970 Déjà Vu album. This version opens with a lead guitar riff played by Neil Young, [ citation needed ] who also plays the solo. Stephen Stills sings the lead vocal with backing harmonies from David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Young. The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young version of "Woodstock" is also notable for the stop-start instrument patterns, just prior to the "We are stardust, we are golden. " chorus. [4]

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had learned the song from Mitchell herself, who was Nash's girlfriend at the time, but the band's version introduced major changes in tone. Jimi Hendrix was involved early in the song's development, and a recording taped on 30 September 1969, half a year before the album came out, with Hendrix playing bass and overdubbing guitar was released in 2018 on the album Both Sides of the Sky. Sound engineer Eddie Kramer stated that with Jimi ". helping the song along, it sounds like Crosby, Stills & Hendrix". [7] The final version had Stephen Stills singing a slightly rearranged version of Mitchell's lyrics which put the line, "we are billion year old carbon" — which only appeared in her final chorus — into each of the first three choruses. Then that line was replaced with "we are caught in the devil's bargain" in the last chorus, which was also in Mitchell's final chorus.

"Woodstock" was one of the few Déjà Vu tracks where Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young all performed their parts in the same session. Later the original lead vocal by Stephen Stills was partly replaced with a later vocal recorded by Stills, who recalled: "I replaced one and a half verses that were excruciatingly out of tune." Neil Young disagreed, saying that "the track was magic. Then later on [Crosby, Stills & Nash] were in the studio nitpicking [with the result that] Stephen erased the vocal and put another one on that wasn't nearly as good." [8]

The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young version of "Woodstock" peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1970 and #3 in Canada. [9] A different recording of "Woodstock" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was played under the closing credits of the documentary film Woodstock released March 1970.

Personnel Edit

Matthews Southern Comfort Edit

"Woodstock" became an international hit in 1970 and 1971 through a recording by Matthews Southern Comfort. The group performed "Woodstock" on the Live in Concert program broadcast live by BBC Radio 1 on 28 June 1970 – frontman Iain Matthews would recall that the group required an additional song for their set on the scheduled radio session, and that the choice of "Woodstock" was his own suggestion, Matthews having just become familiar with the Joni Mitchell version as he had purchased her Ladies of the Canyon album earlier that week. [10] Due to the positive response to that song, the BBC contacted Matthews's label, Uni Records. According to Matthews, the label "had no idea what the [BBC] were talking about and contacted my management, who asked me about it. Uni suggested that we record the song and add it to the newly recorded Matthews Southern Comfort album, Later That Same Year. I declined to mess with the completed album, but agreed to have them release the song as a single." [10]

According to Matthews his band's BBC Radio performance of "Woodstock" echoed the Joni Mitchell original: however for their studio recording of the song – made at the Willesden Green studio Morgan Sound – the band radically customized the song's arrangement. [11] Matthews would later admit to unease upon eventually meeting Joni Mitchell because he had changed the melody – (Ian Matthews quote:)"I couldn't reach [her] high notes" [11] – but Mitchell replied that she preferred his arrangement. [11] Matthews Southern Comfort bassist Andy Leigh would recall: "We took [the song] apart and reassembled it and we knew we had something. We were an album band. We didn't do singles." In fact, Uni had issued one single off each of the first two of the three Matthews Southern Comfort albums. "But we knew this [track] . was something special." [12]

MCA Records, Uni's parent company, agreed to release Matthews Southern Comfort's version of "Woodstock" only if the Crosby Stills Nash & Young version failed to chart in the United Kingdom when that proved to be the case, MCA (Andy Leigh quote:) "reluctantly released ours because of that agreement but they wouldn't spend a penny on promotion . But our managers, who were excellent, hired a PR, a songplugger. Tony Blackburn, who had the breakfast show on Radio 1, played 'Woodstock' and kept playing it and other DJs started doing the same." [12] Matthews would recall that once Tony Blackburn made "Woodstock" by Matthews Southern Comfort his record of the week, "it began to sell 30,000 copies a day, eventually going from #10 to #1 in a week." [10]

Issued on 24 July 1970, "Woodstock" debuted on the UK Top 50 on 26 September 1970 and reached #1 on 31 October 1970 remaining there for two additional weeks: a #2 hit in Ireland, "Woodstock" also had widespread success on the European continent, charting in Austria (#15), Denmark (#9), Finland (#23), Germany (#27), the Netherlands (#17), Norway (#2), Poland (#2), and Sweden (#2). In early 1971, the track also reached #3 in South Africa, #4 in New Zealand, [13] and was a minor hit in Australia (#55).

In November 1970, "Woodstock" by Matthews Southern Comfort had its US single release on the group's regular US label, Decca Records, another MCA affiliate. Initially the single's US release had only marginal impact, with "Woodstock" by Matthews Southern Comfort spending six weeks on the 101–150 singles chart in Record World in December 1970 – January 1971 and then dropping off having peaked at #110. [14] However upon "Woodstock's" January 1970 single release in Canada – where a 30% Canadian Content radio airplay quota was being phased in – the track received airplay at least partially because of its Canadian authorship, [15] and assisted by airplay on Canadian radio stations with US listeners – notably CKLW, the Windsor ON station credited with the track's Canadian "breakout" [16] - "Woodstock" accrued newfound US interest, debuting on the Billboard Hot 100 dated 6 March 1971 at #83 to rise to a #23 Hot 100 that May. In Canada "Woodstock" reached a #5 peak on the RPM 100 singles chart. [17]

But by the time of the North American success of Matthews Southern Comfort's "Woodstock", the band was no more: an October 1970 shake-up at MCA Records (UK) had resulted in Matthews Southern Comfort splitting with MCA – with the resultant cancellation of a US tour set to begin that November, the month of "Woodstock's" US single release [18] – and in December 1970 Matthews had abruptly quit. Matthews would attribute his departure to the demands incumbent on his band's success with "Woodstock:" (Ian Matthews quote:)"It created all this peripheral stuff that took up my time. What would've been time learning to be a songwriter, it became time spent doing interviews, photographs, tours and appearances" [19] "It all came to a head after a dreadful soundcheck at Birmingham town hall. I left the building, walked down to the station, got on a train home and locked my door for a week." [20] Matthews' debut solo album If You Saw Thro' My Eyes was a Vertigo Records release of 1 May 1971 [21] while his former co-members – as Southern Comfort – would have three Harvest Records album releases before disbanding in 1972. [22]

In the UK, "Woodstock" would be the final single release by Matthews Southern Comfort – who had had two precedent non-charting UK singles – and "Woodstock" would remain Matthews' sole UK charting single: although previously a member of Fairport Convention Matthews had not been featured on their one charting single: "Si tu dois partir", and Matthews would never rank in the UK charts as a solo artist. In other territories two further tracks were issued as singles from the third and final Matthews Southern Comfort album Later That Same Year – which outside the British Isles included "Woodstock" – : "Mare, Take Me Home" and "Tell Me Why" both of which just made the Billboard Hot 100 at respectively #96 and #98, while "Mare, Take Me Home" peaked at #86 in Canada (Matthews Southern Comfort had a total of four US single releases, having had one non-charting US single: "Colorado Springs Eternal", in April 1970). Iain Matthews – as Ian Matthews – would as a solo act place three singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and also the Canadian charts, one of which: the November 1978 release "Shake It", would become a major hit, reaching a Billboard Hot 100 peak of #13 in April 1979, also reaching #6 in Canada.

Despite his issues with "Woodstock's" success in 1970, Iain Matthews would state in 2017: "Any kind of success in this business takes me by surprise. 'Woodstock' was the first and most exciting. It's still opening new doors to this day." [23]


Watch the video: Woodstock Live Music Festival