|Genre||Folk and rock |
(blues rock, folk rock, hard rock, jazz fusion, latin, psychedelic, progressive)
|Dates||August 15–17, 1969 (scheduled)|
August 15–18, 1969 (actual)
|Location(s)||Bethel, New York|
|Years active||1969 (50 years ago)|
|Founded by||Artie Kornfeld|
John P. Roberts
Woodstock was a music festival held August 15–18, 1969, on Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, New York, 40 miles (65 km) southwest of Woodstock. Billed as "an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music" and alternatively referred to as the Woodstock Rock Festival, it attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors despite sporadic rain.
The festival has become widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history as well as a defining event for the counterculture generation. The event's significance was reinforced by a 1970 documentary film, an accompanying soundtrack album, and a song written by Joni Mitchell that became a major hit for both Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Matthews Southern Comfort. Music events bearing the Woodstock name have been planned for anniversaries including the tenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth, thirtieth, fortieth, and fiftieth. In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine listed it as number 19 of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll. In 2017 the festival site became listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Planning and preparation
Woodstock was initiated through the efforts of Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts. Roberts and Rosenman financed the project. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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 $70,000 in 2019). 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.
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. Tickets for the three-day event cost $18 in advance and $24 at the gate (equivalent to about $130 and $170 today). 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. The organizers had originally anticipated approximately 50,000 festival-goers would turn up.
Selection of the venue
The original venue plan was for the festival to take place in Wallkill, New York, possibly near the proposed recording studio site owned by Alexander Tapooz. After local residents quickly shot down that idea, Lang and Kornfeld thought they had found another possible location in Saugerties, New York. But they had misunderstood, as the landowner's attorney made clear, in a brief meeting with Roberts and Rosenman. Growing alarmed at the lack of progress, Roberts and Rosenman took over the search for a venue, and discovered the 300-acre (0.47 sq mi; 1.2 km2) Mills Industrial Park ( ) in the town of Wallkill, New York, which Woodstock Ventures leased for $10,000 (equivalent to $70,000 today) 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. The conditions upon which a permit would be issued made it impossible for the promoters to continue construction at the Wallkill site. Reports of the ban, however, turned out to be a publicity bonanza for the festival.
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 m2) 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. Ironically, Filippini was the only landowner who refused to sign a lease for the use of his property.
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, building inspector Donald Clark and Town Supervisor Daniel Amatucci approved the festival permits. Nonetheless, the Bethel Town Board refused to issue the permits formally. Clark was ordered to post stop-work orders. 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. 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.
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.
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. Eventually, radio and television descriptions of the traffic jams 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, although the director of the Woodstock museum said that this closure 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 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. During the festival, personnel from nearby Stewart Air Force Base helped ensure order and air-lifted performers in and out of the concert site.
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.
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".: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.: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.
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."
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." 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.
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.
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.
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".
Thirty-two acts performed over the course of the four days:
|Richie Havens||5:07 pm – 7:00 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.|
|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||11:20 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.|
|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|
|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||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.|
|Jefferson Airplane||8:00 am – 9:40 am||Joined onstage on piano by Nicky Hopkins.|
|Joe Cocker and The Grease Band||2:00 pm – 3:25 pm||Played "With a Little Help From My Friends". 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 – 4:00 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 fewer than 200,000 people.|
Declined invitations or missed connections
- The Jeff Beck Group 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.
- Blues Image 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.
- The Byrds 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."
- Chicago 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.
- The Doors 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.
- Bob Dylan 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.
- Free was asked to perform and declined. They did play at the Isle of Wight Festival a week later.
- The Guess Who were invited to perform and declined.
- Iron Butterfly 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. 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.'"
- Tommy James and the Shondells 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."
- Jethro Tull 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.
- Led Zeppelin 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."
- Lighthouse declined to perform at Woodstock.
- Arthur Lee and Love declined an invitation, in part due to turmoil within the band.
- Mind Garage declined because they thought that the festival would be a minor event, and they had a higher paying gig elsewhere.
- Joni Mitchell was originally slated to perform but cancelled at the urging of her manager to avoid missing a scheduled appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.
- The Moody Blues were included on the original Wallkill poster as performers, but they backed out after being booked in Paris the same weekend.
- Procol Harum 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.
- The Rascals were invited to play but declined because they were in the middle of recording a new album.
- Raven 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.
- Roy Rogers was asked to close the festival with "Happy Trails" but he declined.
- The Rolling Stones 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.
- Simon & Garfunkel declined the invitation, as they were working on their new album.
- 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.
- Frank Zappa 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."
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?" 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 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.
The documentary film Woodstock, directed by Michael Wadleigh and edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese, 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 $700,000 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.
Woodstock received the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. 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. 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. 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.
Soundtrack albums and 25th anniversary releases
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
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
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.
50th anniversary releases
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.
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.
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. Although accounts vary, the loss was only by a very small margin of between six and fifty votes. 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.
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.
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 $9.8 million today) Roberts and Rosenman had incurred from the festival.
Woodstock site today
In 1984, a plaque was placed at the original site commemorating the festival. 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.
In 1996, the site of the concert and 1,400 acres (2.2 sq mi; 5.7 km2) surrounding was purchased by cable television pioneer Alan Gerry for the purpose of creating the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. The Center opened on July 1, 2006, with a performance by the New York Philharmonic. 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.
The Museum at Bethel Woods opened on June 2, 2008. 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.
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 km2) 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.
Woodstock 40th anniversary
There was worldwide media interest in the 40th anniversary of Woodstock in 2009. 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. Richie Havens, who opened the Woodstock festival in 1969, appeared at a separate event the previous night. 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. 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. 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
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".
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). 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. 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.
Local economic impact
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.
In popular culture
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. 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. 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. 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.
A Walk on the Moon is a 1999 film set partially at the Woodstock festival.
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 reminding the Woodstock festival as a symbol of peace.
In August 2019, the United States Postal Service released a Forever stamp commemorating Woodstock's 50th anniversary. 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. 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. 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.
Opening ceremony at Woodstock. Swami Satchidananda giving the opening speech
Joe Cocker and the Grease Band performing at Woodstock
Richie Havens performing at Woodstock
- Harlem Cultural Festival, sometimes called the "Black Woodstock"
- List of historic music festivals
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Sullivan County, New York
- Przystanek Woodstock (Woodstock Festival Poland)
- Sunbury Pop Festival
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Woodstock Music Festival.|
- Woodstock Festival Gallery—Exclusive photos from professional photographer Elliott Landy
- Elliott Landy's Woodstock Vision—multimedia CD-ROM of Landy's work
- woodstockwhisperer.info—Woodstock-Blogger Jim Shelley was a visitor and amateur photographer at the Woodstock festival site 1969
- Woodstock at Curlie
- Kirkpatrick, Rob (August 5, 2009). "Pot, Skinny-Dipping, and Freedom Rock: Woodstock and the Year of the Outdoor Music Festival". PopMatters.
- "Michael Lang. The man behind the most important Music Festival in the History, Woodstock 1969". La Escuela Superior de Audio y Acústica.
- Artie Kornfeld Interview—NAMM Oral History Library (2017)