The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was an event held at Max Yasgur’s 600 acre (2.4 km²) dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, New York from August 15 to August 18, 1969. For many, it exemplified the counterculture of the 1960s and the “hippie era.” Many of the best-known musicians of the time appeared during the rainy weekend, captured in a successful 1970 movie, Woodstock. Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock,” which memorialized the event, became a major hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Though attempts have been made over the years to recreate the festival, the original Woodstock festival of 1969 has proven to be unique and legendary.
Woodstock has been idealized in the American popular culture as the culmination of the hippie movement. – What started as a paid event ended being free with over 500,000 attendees or flower children. Although the festival was remarkably peaceful given the number of people and conditions involved, the reality was less than perfect. Woodstock did have some crime and other misbehavior, as well as a fatality from a drug overdose, an accidental death caused by an occupied sleeping bag being run over by a tractor and one participant died from falling off a scaffold. There were also three miscarriages and two births recorded at the event and colossal logistical headaches. Furthermore, because Woodstock was not intended for such a large crowd, there were not enough resources such as portable toilets and first-aid tents. As a matter of fact the original plan for holding the festival in Wallkill, NY was scrapped because the town officially banned it on the grounds that the planned portable toilets wouldn’t meet town code. Maybe they would have preferred full bathroom suites.
There was some profiteering in the sale of “electric Kool-Aid.”
Woodstock began as a profit-making venture; it only became a free festival after it became obvious that the concert was drawing hundreds of thousands more people than the organizers had prepared for, and that the fence had been torn down by eager, unticketed arrivals. Tickets for the event (sold in 1969) cost US $18 to buy a ticket in advance (which would be US$95.58 in 2005 with inflation factored in) and $24 to buy a ticket at the gate for all three days. 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.
Yet, in tune with the idealistic hopes of the 1960s, Woodstock satisfied most attendees. Especially memorable were the sense of social harmony, the quality of music, and the overwhelming mass of people, many sporting bohemian dress, behavior, and attitudes
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Performers and Schedule of Events
|The Jeff Beck Group was scheduled to perform at Woodstock, but failed to make an appearance due to the band’s break-up the week before.
Iron Butterfly was stuck at an airport, and their manager demanded helicopters and special arrangements just for them. They were wired back and told, as impolitely as Western Union would allow, “to get lost”, but in other ‘words’.
Joni Mitchell was slated to perform but her agent informed her that it was more important that she appear on “The Dick Cavett Show” on Monday, with its national audience, rather than “sit around in a field with 500 people.” Ironically, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Jefferson Airplane (who both performed at the festival) also made it to the show. She wrote and recorded the song “Woodstock” that was also a major hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and was recorded by Richie Havens on his 2004 album Grace of the Sun.
Canadian band Lighthouse was originally scheduled to play at Woodstock, but in the end they decided not to, fearing that it would be a bad scene. Later, several members of the group would say that they regretted the decision.
Mind Garage declined for various reasons but one of the primary reasons is that the band had agreed to a paid gig in Cleveland. Had they known that many of their friends were playing at this concert they would have attended. Read the entire story by clicking here.
|The promoters contacted John Lennon, requesting for The Beatles to perform. Lennon said that he couldn’t get the Beatles, but offered to play with his Plastic Ono Band. The promoters turned this down.
The Doors were considered as a potential performing band, but cancelled at the last moment. Contrary to popular belief that this was related in some fashion to lead singer Jim Morrison’s arrest for indecent exposure while performing earlier that year, the cancellation was most likely due to Morrison’s known and vocal distaste for performing in large outdoor venues. There also was a widely spread legend that Morrison, in a fit of paranoia, was fearful that someone would take a shot at him while he was onstage Drummer John Densmore attended and can be seen on the side of the stage during Joe Cocker’s set.
Led Zeppelin were asked to perform, their manager Peter Grant stating “We were asked to do Woodstock and Atlantic were very keen, and so was our US promoter, Frank Barcelona. I said no because at Woodstock we’d have just been another band on the bill.” “Led Zeppelin: The Concert Files”, Lewis & Pallett, 1997, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0.7119.5307.4
Jethro Tull refused to perform, claiming that it wouldn’t be a big deal.
The Moody Blues for unknown reasons declined to perform. They later regretted not performing. They were however promoted as being a performer on the third day on early posters that stated the site being Wallkill.
Tommy James and the Shondells declined an invitation to perform at Woodstock, which they later regretted. 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 Clarence White-era Byrds were given an opportunity to play, but refused to do so after a melee during their performance at the Atlanta Pop Festival earlier that summer.
Paul Revere & The Raiders declined to perform. They later regretted.
Bob Dylan was in negotiations to play, however he had to pull out as his son was taken ill. He also was unhappy about the number of the hippies piling up outside his house near the originally planned site. He would go on to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival two weeks later.
Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention Quote: “A lot of mud at Woodstock. We were invited to play there, we turned it down” – FZ. Citation: “Class of the 20th Century,” U.S. network television special in serial format, circa 1995.
Ny Times Article
In Memory of Woodstock ” A Birth of a Generation”
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