Happy Woodstock Day
What do you get when you put 500 thousand kids on a farm, add some of the top performing acts in the world and add rain? History.
It was on this date in 1969 that the Woodstock Music Festival and Art Fair opened and it was “more than just a moment in time. It was a way of being in the world.”
Max Yasgur either really regrets opening his farm to 500 thousand hippies or thought it was the best decision he has ever made.
Half a million people came together for three days and got to witness the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Crosby Stills Nash, Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead. The day before the festival started, producers recalled that 60 thousand people had already set up camp and by the day of, the roads into Bethel, NY were so jammed, performers had to be choppered in. Those that declined the invite include: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Chicago, Frank Zappa and Free. Roy Rogers was asked to close the festival and sing Happy Trails, but he also declined.
The Academy Award winning documentary Woodstock is pretty much the definitive film to watch if you want to know anything about the concert and if you want to go deeper, the book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls chronicles the making of the film and tells the story about how Fred Weintraub put his job on the line and lent Artie Kornfeld 100 thousand dollars to make the film and saved Warner Brothers in the process. Two sound track albums have been released as well as two albums featuring Jimi Hendrix’s performance. The first has just six select recordings, but the second, Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock is the one to get. It features almost every song he performed. Awesome. Just awesome.
Seeing as how the first Woodstock was so successful, organizers asked to do it again in 1970 and Max said no way. He passed away in 1973 and his son now runs the farm, but a commemorative plaque now marks the site where the concert was held. Later attempts to relive the magic haven’t been quite as successful and I’m hoping they just leave it alone.