This article is about the 1969 music festival. For other uses, see Woodstock (disambiguation).
, Arnold Skolnick (who designed the logo) says that the dove on the guitar was actually designed to resemble a catbird (and it was originally perched on a flute).
White Lake, New York,
(site of original festival)
Original festival held in 1969; namesake events held in 1979, 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2009.
Michael Lang, John P. Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld
scheduled: August 15-17, 1969, but ran over to August 18
Rock and folk, including blues-rock, folk rock, jazz fusion, hard rock, latin rock, and psychedelic rock styles.
The Woodstock Festivals
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair--informally, the Woodstock Festival or simply Woodstock--was a music festival, billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music". It was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre (240 ha; 0.94 sq mi) dairy farm in the Catskills near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, New York, from August 15 to August 18, 1969. Bethel, in Sullivan County, is 43 miles (69 km) southwest of the town of Woodstock, New York, in adjoining Ulster County.
During the sometimes rainy weekend, 32 acts performed outdoors before an audience of 400,000 young people. It is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history. Rolling Stone listed it as one of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll.
The festival is also widely considered to be the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation.
The event was captured in the 1970 documentary movie Woodstock, an accompanying soundtrack album, and Joni Mitchell's song "Woodstock", which commemorated the event and became a major hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
1 Planning and preparation
1.1 Selection of the venue,
1.2 Free concert,
2 The festival
2.2 Performing artists,
2.3 Declined invitations and missed connections,
2.4 Media coverage,
5.1 Woodstock site today,
5.2 Woodstock 40th anniversary,
5.3 Cultural references,
7 See also,
9 Further reading,
10 External links,
Planning and preparation:
Woodstock was initiated through the efforts of Michael Lang, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, and Artie Kornfeld. Roberts and Rosenman financed the project. Lang had experience as a promoter and had already organized the largest festival on the East Coast at the time, the Miami Pop Festival, where an estimated 100,000 people attended the two-day event. Roberts and Rosenman placed the following advertisement in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal under the name of Challenge International, Ltd.: "Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions."
Lang and Kornfeld noticed the ad, and the four got together originally to discuss a retreat-like recording studio in Woodstock. The idea evolved into an outdoor music and arts festival, although even that was initially envisioned on a smaller scale, perhaps featuring some big-name artists who lived in the Woodstock area (such as Bob Dylan and The Band). 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. There were further doubts over the venture, as Roberts wondered whether to consolidate his losses and pull the plug, or to continue pumping his own finances into the project.
In April 1969, newly minted superstars Creedence Clearwater Revival became the first act to sign a contract for the event, agreeing to play for $10,000. 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 3:00 a.m. start time and omission (at Creedence frontman John Fogerty's insistence) from the Woodstock film, Creedence members have expressed bitterness over their experiences at the famed festival.
Woodstock was designed as a profit-making venture, aptly titled "Woodstock Ventures". It famously became a "free concert" only after the event drew hundreds of thousands more patrons than the organizers had prepared for. Tickets for the three-day event cost $18 in advance and $24 at the gate (equivalent to $114.60 and $152.80 in 2013). 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, and the organizers anticipated approximately 200,000 festival-goers would turn up.
Selection of the venue:
Woodstock was originally scheduled to take place in the 300-acre (120 ha) Mills Industrial Park (41°28′39″N 74°21′49″W / 41.477525°N 74.36358°W / 41.477525; -74.36358 (Mills Industrial Park)) in the town of Wallkill, New York, which Woodstock Ventures had leased for $10,000 in the Spring of 1969. Town officials were assured that no more than 50,000 would attend. Town residents immediately opposed the project. In early July, the Town Board passed a law requiring a permit for any gathering over 5,000 people. On July 15, 1969, the Wallkill Zoning Board of Appeals officially banned the concert on the basis that the planned portable toilets would not meet town code. Reports of the ban, however, turned out to be a publicity bonanza for the festival.
In his 2007 book Taking Woodstock, Elliot Tiber offered to host the event on his 15 acres (6.1 ha) motel grounds, and had a permit for such an event. He claims to have introduced the promoters to dairy farmer Max Yasgur. 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. 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.
The organizers once again told Bethel authorities they expected no more than 50,000 people.
Despite resident opposition and signs proclaiming, "Buy No Milk. Stop Max's Hippy Music Festival", Bethel Town Attorney Frederick W. V. Schadt and building inspector Donald Clark approved the permits, but the Bethel Town Board refused to issue them formally. Clark was ordered to post stop-work orders.
The late change in venue did not give the festival organizers enough time to prepare. At a meeting three days before the event, organizers felt they had two choices: One option was to improve the fencing and security, which might have resulted in violence; the other involved putting all their resources into completing the stage, which would cause Woodstock Ventures to take a financial hit. The crowd, which was arriving in greater numbers and earlier than anticipated, made the decision for them: The fence was cut the night before the concert.
The influx of attendees to the rural concert site in Bethel created a massive traffic jam. Fearing chaos as thousands began descending on the community, Bethel did not enforce its codes. Eventually, announcements on radio stations as far away as WNEW-FM in Manhattan and descriptions of the traffic jams on television news discouraged people from setting off to the festival.Arlo Guthrie made an announcement that was included in the film saying that the New York State Thruway was closed. The director of the Woodstock museum discussed below said this never occurred. 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.
On the morning of Sunday, August 17, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller called festival organizer John Roberts and told him he was thinking of ordering 10,000 New York State National Guard troops to the festival. Roberts was successful in persuading Rockefeller not to do this. Sullivan County declared a state of emergency. During the festival, personnel from nearby Stewart Air Force Base assisted in helping to ensure order and airlifting performers in and out of the concert venue.
Jimi Hendrix was the last act to perform at the festival. Because of the rain delays that Sunday, when Hendrix finally took the stage it was 8:30 Monday morning. The audience, which had peaked at an estimated 400,000 during the festival, was now reduced to about 30,000 by that point; many of whom merely waited to catch a glimpse of Hendrix before leaving during his performance.
Hendrix and his band (The Experience) performed a two-hour set. His psychedelic rendition of the U.S. national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" occurred about ⁄4 into their set (after which he segued into "Purple Haze"). The song would become "part of the sixties Zeitgeist" as it was captured forever in the Woodstock film; Hendrix's image performing this number wearing a blue-beaded white leather jacket with fringe and a red head scarf, has since been regarded as a defining moment of the 1960s.
We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn ... there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.
And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: A quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, 'Don't worry about it, John. We're with you.' I played the rest of the show for that guy.
--John Fogerty recalling Creedence Clearwater Revival's 3:30 am start time at Woodstock
Although the festival was remarkably peaceful given the number of people and the conditions involved, there were two recorded fatalities: one from what was believed to be a heroin overdose, and another caused in an accident when a tractor ran over an attendee 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) and four miscarriages. Oral testimony in the film supports the overdose and run-over deaths and at least one birth, along with many logistical headaches.
Yet, in tune with the idealistic hopes of the 1960s, Woodstock satisfied most attendees. There was a sense of social harmony, which, with the quality of music, and the overwhelming mass of people, many sporting bohemian dress, behavior, and attitudes helped to make it one of the enduring events of the century.
After the concert, Max Yasgur, who owned the site of the event, saw it as a victory of peace and love. He spoke of how nearly half a million people filled with potential for disaster, riot, looting, and catastrophe 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..."
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 feet (21 m) towers. We set it up for 150,000 to 200,000 people. Of course, 500,000 showed up."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. For many years this system was collectively referred to as the Woodstock Bins.
Main article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_performances_and_events_at_Woodstock_Festival
Thirty-two acts performed over the course of the four days:
Friday, August 15 - Saturday, August 16
5:07 pm - 7:00 pm
7:10 pm - 7:20 pm
Gave the opening speech/invocation for the festival
7:30 pm - 8:10 pm
8:20 pm - 9:15 pm
9:20 pm - 9:45 pm
10:00 pm - 10:35 pm
Played through the rain
10:50 pm - 11:20 pm
11:55 pm - 12:25 am
12:55 am - 2:00 am
Was six months pregnant at the time
Saturday, August 16 - Sunday, August 17
12:15 pm - 12:45 pm
Country Joe McDonald
1:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Joe later performs with Country Joe and the Fish
2:00 pm - 2:45 pm
3:30 pm - 3:55 pm
Was not on the bill. He was a festival attendee and was recruited to perform while the promoters were waiting for many of the performers to arrive.
Keef Hartley Band
4:45 pm - 5:30 pm
The Incredible String Band
6:00 pm - 6:30 pm
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
9:00 pm - 10:00 pm
10:30 pm - 12:05 am
their set was cut short after the stage amps overloaded during "Turn On Your Love Light"
Creedence Clearwater Revival
12:30 am - 1:20 am
Janis Joplin with The Kozmic Blues Band
2:00 am - 3:00 am
Sly & the Family Stone
3:30 am - 4:20 am
5:00 am - 6:05 am
Briefly interrupted by Abbie Hoffman
8:00 am - 9:40 am
Joined onstage by former Jeff Beck Group piano player Nicky Hopkins.
Sunday, August 17 - Monday, August 18
Joe Cocker and The Grease Band
2:00 pm - 3:25 pm
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
10:00 pm - 10:50 pm
12:00 am - 1:05 am
Winter's brother, Edgar Winter, is featured on three songs.
Blood, Sweat & Tears
1:30 am - 2:30 am
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
3:00 am - 4:00 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 200,000 people or less
Declined invitations and missed connections:
Bob Dylan, in whose "backyard" the festival was held, was never in serious negotiation. Instead, Dylan signed in mid-July to play the Isle of Wight Festival of Music, on August 31. Dylan set sail for England on Queen Elizabeth 2 on August 15, the day the Woodstock Festival started. His son was injured by a cabin door and the family disembarked. Dylan, with his wife Sara, flew to England the following week. Dylan had been unhappy about the number of hippies piling up outside his house in the nearby town of Woodstock.,
The Beatles/John Lennon: There are two scenarios as to why The Beatles did not perform. The first is that promoters contacted John Lennon to discuss a Beatles performance at Woodstock, and Lennon said that the Beatles would not play unless there was also a spot at the festival for Yoko Ono's Plastic Ono Band, whereupon he was turned down. The website claims the more likely explanation is that Lennon wanted to play but his entry into the United States from Canada was blocked by President Richard Nixon. The Beatles were, in any case, on the verge of disbanding. Also, they had not performed any live concerts since August 1966, three full years before the festival (not including their impromptu rooftop concert given on January 30, 1969 a few months before).,
The Jeff Beck Group: Jeff Beck disbanded the group prior to Woodstock. "I deliberately broke the group up before Woodstock", Beck said. "I didn't want it to be preserved." Interestingly, it was to have been the first time that Beck would perform with Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice. Also, Beck's piano player Nicky Hopkins performed with Jefferson Airplane.,
The Doors were considered as a potential performing band but canceled at the last moment. According to guitarist Robby Krieger, they turned it down because they thought it would be a "second class repeat of Monterey Pop Festival" and later regretted that decision.,
Led Zeppelin was asked to perform, their manager Peter Grant stated: "We were asked to do Woodstock and Atlantic were very keen, and so was our U.S. promoter, Frank Barsalona. I said no because at Woodstock we'd have just been another band on the bill." However, the group did play the first Atlanta International Pop Festival on July 5, as one of 22 bands at the two-day event. Woodstock weekend, Zeppelin performed south of the festival at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in New Jersey. Their only time out taken was to attend Elvis Presley's show at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, on August 12.,
The Byrds were invited, but chose not to participate, figuring Woodstock to be no different from any of the other music festivals that summer. There were also concerns about money. As bassist John York remembers: "We were flying to a gig and Roger McGuinn came up to us and said that a guy was putting on a festival in upstate New York. But at that point they weren't paying all of the bands. He asked us if we wanted to do it and we said, 'No'. We had no idea what it was going to be. We were burned out and tired of the festival scene. ... So all of us said, 'No, we want a rest' and missed the best festival of all.",
Chicago, at the time still known as the Chicago Transit Authority, had initially been signed on to play at Woodstock. However, they had a contract with concert promoter Bill Graham, which allowed him to move Chicago's concerts at the Fillmore West. He rescheduled some of their dates to August 17, thus forcing the band to back out of the concert. Graham did so to ensure that Santana, which he managed at the time, would take their slot at the festival. According to singer and bassist Peter Cetera, "We were sort of peeved at him for pulling that one.",
Tommy James and the Shondells declined an invitation. Lead singer Tommy James stated later: "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.",
The Moody Blues were included on the original Wallkill poster as performers, but decided to back out after being booked in Paris the same weekend.,
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, according to the Class of the 20th Century U.S. television special, is quoted as saying "A lot of mud at Woodstock ... We were invited to play there, we turned it down.',
Arthur Lee and Love declined the invitation, but Mojo Magazine later described inner turmoil within the band which caused their absence at the Woodstock festival.,
Free was asked to perform and declined.,
Mind Garage declined because they thought the festival would be no huge deal and they had a higher paying gig elsewhere.,
Spirit 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.,
Joni Mitchell was originally slated to perform, but canceled at the urging of her manager to avoid missing a scheduled appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.,
Lighthouse declined to perform at Woodstock.,
Roy Rogers was asked by Lang to close the festival with Happy Trails but he declined.,
Procol Harum was 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.,
Jethro Tull also declined. According to frontman Ian Anderson, he knew it would be a big event but he did not want to go because he did not like hippies and other concerns including inappropriate nudity and the money being right.,
Iron Butterfly was billed for Sunday on the poster circa Walkill, but could not perform because they were stuck at an airport.,
It's a Beautiful Day almost were invited to the festival. When Michael Lang was negotiating with Bill Graham to get the Grateful Dead to appear, Graham insisted Lang put one of two acts that he managed on the bill. Lang then listened to a tape of both It's a Beautiful day and the other band and liked them so much that he couldn't decide so he flipped a coin and It's a Beautiful Day lost. The band that won was Santana, who became stars overnight.,
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". 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.
The New York Times covered the prelude to the festival and the move from Wallkill to Bethel. Barnard Collier, who reported from the event for the 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. 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.
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.
Main article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodstock_(film)
The documentary film Woodstock, directed by Michael Wadleigh and edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese, was released in 1970. Artie Kornfeld (one of the promoters of the festival) came to Fred Weintraub, an executive at Warner Bros., and asked for money to film the festival. Previously, 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 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.
Woodstock received the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. The film has been deemed culturally significant by the United States Library of Congress. 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 disc.
Another film on Woodstock named Taking Woodstock was produced in 2009 by Taiwanese American filmmaker Ang Lee.