On August 17th of 1969 The Woodstock Music Festival closed in epic fashion. The three days of peace, love and rock and roll concluded in a dairy farmer’s backyard in upstate New York. Three unknown promoters strung together the most epic music festival in the history of rock and roll.
John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang came together to put some of the greatest acts of all time in one place for an epic musical journey. Their entire goal was to make enough money to build an exclusive recording studio in their nearby town of Woodstock, New York. Since the town of Woodstock ended up making a huge issue with the zoning for the Woodstock festival they had to move it to the nearby town of Bethel, New York to a dairy farmer’s land. Max Yasgur was gracious to let the festival organizers use his land but had no idea that nearly 500,000 revelers would descend onto his usually quiet farm.
The organizers claimed they had only released 186,000 tickets and thought only 200,000 people would show up. With a line up including Jimi Hendricks, The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin and more, it’s absolutely ridiculous to assume that people wouldn’t show up.
It rained throughout the festival and this ended up destroying the land of Yasgur who didn’t anticipate 500,000 people running around on Acid. Drugs were and still are prevalent at all music festivals. 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 and many others made fans go absolutely nuts on the Bethel farmland. The Who performed in the early morning light August 17, and it was a beautiful sight to see Roger Daltrey belting out “See Me, Feel Me,” from the now-classic album Tommy just as the sun began to rise. Could you imagine being at a concert like that? This was also the festival where Jimi Hendrix made history by delivering and incredibly rousing and fire-laden rendition of the National Anthem to hundreds of thousands of fans who had taken up issues with the American government as a part of the counter-cultural movement and civil unrest of the mid-60’s.
The atmosphere was ridiculously chaotic scene because the crowds were so over-capacitated. With nearly triple the attendance anticipated, there weren’t enough food vendors, bathrooms or places for people to camp. There weren’t many episodes of violence at the festival although over the course of three days there were two deaths. One person was accidentally killed by a tractor and another concert-goer died of a drug overdose. A lot of the musicians on the bill expressed their disgust for the Vietnam War and later the youth counter-culture was referred to as “Woodstock Nation” through the 1960’s even though the title did not really endure.
On the 25th anniversary of the concert, Woodstock ’94 took place in Saugerties New York. The concert featured a couple of the original perfumers including Neil Young and Bob Dylan but was characterized by the chaotic mud fight during Green Day’s set and was a definite muddy weekend just like the original festival that drew 300,000 attendees.