50 years after the iconic Woodstock era and the cultural spirit, iconic fashion and influence of the music still remain like age-old wine, getting better as time passes. Woodstock was more than just a festival; It was a cultural milestone that shows, in every way possible, the free-spiritedness of the youth at the time, the search for personal expression and self-expression. Continue reading to enjoy a journey back in time.
1. Activate Your Relaxation Mode
People sleeping in an unusual place, free and unhindered were not an uncommon sight back then. Being an outdoor event, you would find people camped outside, sleeping in camping tents. And some others, like this man in this picture, slept between cars. He needed to catch some Zs.
Looking at this now, in today's world, this is risky, but back then, it was safe. This cowboy was not bothered one bit. Moreover, where were the cars going? They came to the festival; they would be staying in the same position for a while.
2. The Destination Was Difficult To Get To
It was a normal thing in those days to see millions of people stuck in traffic, all trying to get to the venue in New York town, Bethel. The crazy standstill traffic meant many people had to get to the venue on foot. As a result, the road was closed, causing many people to get stuck on their way, unable to get to the road of the festival. One time, Arlo Guthrie announced on stage, “The New York thruway is closed, man.”
The thruway was actually opened on the day of the festival, but it took concerted efforts from the police to keep people safe. Two exits—Newburgh and Harriman—were closed to keep the massive throng of people from gaining access into the festival ground. There would have been a stampede.
3. Jimmy Hendrix
Fans of the Woodstock festival waited with gated breath for three days for Jimmy Hendrix’s performance. His star-spangled Banner performance is now a symbol of the festival. Although he had to change band members during the festival (his band broke up, and so he had to get together a new band in the middle of the festival), he still gave the audience a great show.
"Gypsy suns and Rainbows" was formed at the festival and had their first performance at the festival. Such was the spirit of Woodstock.
4. Janis Joplin
Getting paid $7500 to perform was no mean feat. Janis Joplin thrilled the Woodstock fans with her popular "piece of my heart." She also performed other songs which received massive cheers and reception from the Woodstock crowd.
She was flown to the venue of the festival by Helicopter. She encouraged her band members to play and perform like it was just another gig. She loved the atmosphere at Woodstock that after her performance, she stayed back to celebrate with the attendees for the rest of the festival.
5. John Sebastian
Although an unscheduled performance, Sebastian's performance was memorable. He hadn't come to the festival to the festival to perform was there as a spectator. But when the organizers needed somebody to play the acoustic guitar, he was called upon, and he delivered.
Three songs from his unreleased album and two other songs were all he needed to get the crowd going with excitement and love for him.
6. Group Of Hippies
This festival was expected to host about 200,000 people from across the country.
However, contrary to the expectations of the organisations, almost half a million music fans were in attendance.
7. All Expectations Were Surpassed
Woodstock, a summer art colony, regularly visited by musicians, did not work out because the locals rejected the offer after being told of the number of people that would attend. The earliest plan of WallKill, New York, also didn't work. The organizers finally settled for farm Bethel. Even with the careful and top-notch preparations to accommodate a little more than 50,000 people, 400,000 attended the festival.
So massive was the crowd, exceeding by far the expectations of all, that governor Rockerfella thought of sending out the National Guard to help control the crowd. Sullivan County declared a state of emergency.
8. From Young To Old
At Woodstock, everybody is one. There are no discriminations against age or race or gender or sexuality; every attendee is 0one. This young one in this picture looks excited to here.
There was openness and non-discriminatory at the festival that babies were allowed in. Some other babies were given birth to during the event.
9. Sri Swami Satchidananda
400,000 people heard the famous spiritual leader, Sri Swami, give the opening speech of the festival.
He said that sound energy, its power, were more powerful than atomic vibrations and that sound energy controlled the universe.
10. Flower Child
One of the beautiful things about Woodstock was the diversity in the fashion style. “Hippiedom,” daisies, and tye-dye fashion were prominent features at Woodstock.
Also, many teenagers found it a great place to curl into a cuddle with their boyfriends, enjoying the music and freedom. This and more symbolized what music festivals were made of in the 1960s.
11. The Mystery And Magical Tour
The empty caravans and painted buses that were scattered all over the place were perfect for a getaway and privacy.
It’s left to you how you want to spend your time.
There were a host of things to buy from the shops scattered all over the place. Tye-dye shirt, a prominent feature of the festival was readily available in shops.
Should you forget to bring a shirt, the shops have got you covered. There was more. There were drug paraphernalia, crafts, and different styles of clothing.
13. Another Sleeping Arrangement
All the fun and drugs and music can leave you exhausted. If there are no buses to sleep in, the middle of parked cars or caravans to lay your head, motorcycles were readily available to sleep on.
Odd sleeping spot is a must-find at Woodstock. If you find none, you’re not in Woodstock.
14. Which Path Would You Choose?
There are two main “paths” that lead to interesting places. There is the “groovy way” and "Gentle path high way."
While groovy might just lead you to a house filled with afros and bell-bottom jeans folks, Gentle path high might lead to a countryside way that's covered in lush green. The prospect of going through and to "Groovy path" is so exciting.
15. The Beat Of The Drum
The festival could take credit for birthing the informal gathering of people to make music: American drum circle. The drum circle evolved into “jam session.” At the festivals you would often find people, gathered in circles, making music out of anything. Musical instruments were made of anything one’s hand found.
Everybody jammed to the music they created with family, friends, and strangers. You could be walking past, see a group of people “jamming” and then join them. It was a musical community.
16. Going Up The Sound Tower
According to Bill Hanley, the sound engineer in charge of sound at Woodstock, special column speakers were built and had arrays on high towers. Although the sound was set up to entertain 150,000 people, there were over 400,000 attendees; still the sound was great. It didn't in any way reduce the quality of the sound and the experience the attendees had.
1969 was an awesome time in musical and cultural history. The joy of seeing people, beads around their neck, moving their bodies to the music, the freedom and self-expression on full display; beads of sweat dripping off them as their bodies mix and blend into a beautiful symphony; such is rare to find these days.
17. Families Bonding And Living The History Together
This dad here would surely be awarded the coolest dad in the world. My dad did not allow me to partake in psychedelic school buses neither did he take me to music festivals.
This family is taking time away from music and drinks to enjoy some time together as a family. The relaxation is gleefully written in their eyes as they sit on their sleeping bags, having a wonderful time as they sip on their 7up.
The festival promised its attendees an opportunity to escape from the restrictions imposed by society. It delivered on this in all fronts, from the dressing to the music. It was an opportunity for people to widen their sights and embrace new ideas.
One of the attendees, Annie Birch, told Huffington Post: " It was a truly life-altering experience and one that changed the world."
19. Carlos Santana
The crowd at Woodstock was ecstatic with joy when Santana and his band performed. Santana later said, in an interview with the Rolling Stone Magazine, "So I say, 'hey, I think I'll take some psychedelics, and by the time I'm coming down, it'll be time to go on stage, and I'll feel fine.' But when I was peaking around two o'clock, somebody said, 'If you don't go right now, you're not gonna go on.'”
These moments, with bassist David Brown and guitarist Carlos Santana playing, are memories that staunch music lovers and musicians would never forget in a hurry. It is spiritual.
20. Massive Love, Togetherness And A Sense Of Sharing
Due to the massive attendance that far surpassed the expected number, the food was not enough for festival attendees. But fortunately, the spirit of sharing and family that epitomizes the Woodstock festival was present.
People share food with strangers while others offered to share food with other families and festival goers who did not have enough.
21. Thank You For The Music
The performances of The Who and Credence Clearwater Revival are what dreams of musical experiences are made of.
We wish we could re-live this moment all the rest of our lives.
22. Friends That I Can Always Count On
What is the essence of life without having loved ones and true friends that are always there for you?
Most especially when you are all having fun and laughing joyfully together during an experience of a life-time together.
23. The Roof Is Rocked By Hippies
Psychedelic vans are groovy ways to move around, but at festivals like Woodstock, they were more. Sitting atop them while you revel in the music gave you a more unobstructed view of the things happening around.
They were also more comfortable "sleeping rooms" compared to motorbikes and cars. In addition, you looked hippie when you come on a psychedelic bus. People even envy your hippie style.
24. Fashion Style
There are no dress codes for music festivals. It is an expression of self and freedom, so anything that does that goes. Although tye-dye cloths with beads on the neck are one of the favored dressing styles, still there are no boundaries. Well, we are unsure what the skull on the stick is trying to say, but it must be saying something…we hope.
When you are under the influence of psychedelic drugs, you are wont to give meanings, more profound than the ordinary, to things.
25. Hugs Are Free
A gifted photographer caught this couple, as the sun was sliding behind the horizon, cuddling under a blanket. Many other people needed the warmth of cuddles that day. They were scattered all over the festival ground. The sleeping arrangements at Woodstock are merely amazing!
For three days, on 15th August 1969, 400,000 people celebrated music, love, and peace in a beautiful atmosphere. Then there was the brilliance of musicians like Jimmy Hendrix, The Who, Credence Clearwater, Santana, Joan Baez and a host of other musicians made this an unforgettable moment in the lives of all that attended.
The people who came for the event made camps of their own as they came prepared to stay for the upcoming festival until the day it ends.
The event usually takes place from August 15th to August 17th.
27. The Rain Won’t Stop Our Shine
The festival was held in August, and there was rain, but the concert-goers were too engrossed in the fun to be discouraged by the mud.
According to Lang, one of the organizers, in his book, "The Road to Woodstock," he mentioned that, “rain simply meant it was a good time to meet new people."
28. The Weather During The Concert
Despite the weather which forced people to stay under tents and cluster together under the drizzling skies. People still wanted to have fun.
The music was the uniting factor of the day, and everyone wanted to have a feel of it, regardless of the weather.
29. Let The Music Speak To Us
The goal of the festival was to unite people through music, a platform to promote peace with songs.
The open field was the perfect viewing spot as the crowd watched some of the greatest musicians of the time give electrifying performances. Swami Satchidanada gave the opening performance of the festival on August 15.
30. Building Friendships
The festival was also an opportunity for different people across the country to meet and create new relationships.
In accordance with the theme of the carnival — Peace, Love, and Rock 'n Roll, the carnival was a melting point of sort for strangers from different cultural backgrounds, many left there with new friends in their circle.
31. The Freedom To Self-expression
The 1960s was a significant decade in America history. This was the decade during which President Lyndon B. Johnson made the decision to send American troops to Vietnam.
The Woodstock festival was an opportunity for people to express their opinions against the war. The festival was a peace-promoting event, and people used the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the war.
32. Its Impact On Future Festivals
While Woodstock festival has is no longer hosted, its influence on various musical events remains and it can be seen in the efforts people make to recreate the 1970s styles in their ensembles.
A musical festival influenced by Woodstock is the Coachella.
33. A festival That Is Spirit Filled
The event lived up to its billing as well as its theme of peace, love and rock 'n roll.
The atmosphere was extraordinary and definitely cannot be recreated, which explains while it is still remembered to this day.
34. Remembering The Good Old Woodstock Days
Over the years, several attempts have been made to re-enact the Woodstock experience. There was Woodstock festival recreation in 1994 to celebrate the anniversary of the first festival.
Also in 2009, the 40th-anniversary concert was held.
35. All Road Lead to Woodstock
The number of people who attended the festival in 1969 must have been a huge surprise to the organizers. It goes without saying that it surpassed their wildest imaginations.
You can imagine the look of surprise on onlookers faces when they saw people trooping in their thousands to a musical festival, with lines of Vans and Sedans on the road.
36. Getting The Best View
Due to the large crowd at the concert, there were lots of cars, vans, and buses parked around which were used for the transportation of the concert-goers.
These vehicles, however, served other purposes as well; some of the attendees took advantage of them to give themselves a better view of the stage.
37. Powerful lineup
One of the main reasons that can be attributed to the large crowd at the festival was the lineup of artists.
Many A-list artists of the era performed at the festival and the opportunity to watch the live performance of living legends such as Carlos Santana and David Brown is one that can't be turned down.
38. An Almost Priceless experience
The cost of tickets for the concert was $18 in advance or $24 at the entrance. The quality of the show was far above the prices of the tickets for the event.
One can only imagine how much such a show will cost today.
39. Sense of New Beginning And Belonging
The event was not just about the music; there were a plethora of activities such selling and buying of art, making new friends, etc.
One of the attendees, Howard Loberfeld, who was 15 at the time, told Today.com, he "noticed a lot of music, a lot of fun and a lot of community."
40. Media Shower Of Craziness
The event also achieved a high level of publicity due to the media attention on it. Most of this attention were negatives as the media reported instances of drug abuse, nudity, and even few deaths which sent those at home into panic mode.
However, attendees at the event claimed the actual situation of things was better and safer than what was reported by the media. One of the attendees claimed that while there were people selling acid, pot, and hash, he didn't see heroin, cocaine or anything similar.
41. Sad Events at Woodstock
One of the organizers, Lang wrote in his book that three deaths occurred at the event. These deaths were caused by drug overdose and car accidents as was the case of 17-year-old Raymond R. Mizzak who was run over by a tractor.
Due to the rain at the time of the event, the mud made things more dangerous for those sleeping on the ground.
42. It’s All About Peace, Love, And Happiness
In accordance with the theme of the event, despite the large crowd in attendance, criminal activity was as at bare minimum and no violent crimes or burglaries were reported.
However, a small handful of drug charges were handed out.
43. We Can’t Forget Woodstock; Remembrance
There were lots of good reviews by those in attendance at the festival, and some of these statements were collected from those who were there in 1969 and put up on The official Woodstock website:
“My friend Bob and I drove through mobs of traffic on Friday to park within a few miles of the festival grounds,” a statement from John Bowman read. “We trekked to the venue by foot. By the time we made it, the fences were down, our tickets were unnecessary, and the music was on. But what stopped us in our tracks was the massive size of the crowd, with all its energy and makeshift madness. Through thirst, hunger, rain, and song, we bonded as one huge organism. Three days later, after Jimi brought those of us who stayed to a rousing finale, we drove home to lives that would never be the same again.”
44. Playing At Woodstock; Santana
The Woodstock experience was not just wonderful and amazing for the music fans alone; many of the musicians who performed there also consider it one of their fondest memories. According to the legendary Carlos Santana when speaking with Billboard:
“It was like witnessing an ocean of hair, teeth, eyes, and hands. If you closed your eyes, you could forget the impact of seeing a moving ocean of flesh. Then you could just feel the sound, which had a different kind of reverberation when it bounced off the people and came back at you … I remember seeing Jerry Garcia; as soon as we landed, he was already playing his guitar on the hill with this beautiful, blissful smile on his face.”
45. How Much Was Each Artist Paid
1969 was a time when a dollar bill still had all its value, before the economic depressions and recessions set in, and this reflected on what each artist took home after the event. According to Consequence of Sound, Jimi Hendrix who earned $18,000 was the highest-paid artist of the festival.
There were others who earned much less, such as Joan Baez who made $10,000, The Grateful Dead who made $2,500 and Joe Cocker who earned $1,375.
46. How The Name “Woodstock” Came About
This is a question anyone could ask, why is the festival called Woodstock when it was held in Bethel. The reason for this is not farfetched.
Organizers had initially hoped to host the festival in Woodstock, New York but could not find the appropriate space there. So they settled on a dairy farm about 40 miles away in Bethel, New York. But the original name, Woodstock stuck.
47. 50 Years Since Woodstock
2019 marks the 50th year since one of the most culturally significant festivals took place. The event will be remembered for many years to come not only for the great music it offered in abundance but for the message as well.
The site of the festival, Max Yasgur’s dairy farm is now the Bethel Woods Center for The Arts and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.
48. The Differences As Compared With Today’s Music Industry
A lot of significant changes have taken place in the music industry since the Woodstock days and now.
For instance, one of the changes is in how much artists get to perform nowadays, while Jimi Hendrix made just $18,000 in 1969, Beyonce likely made about $4 million for her Coachella performance in 2018.
49. Woodstock Vs. Coachella
While Woodstock might have inspired Coachella, there remains a wide gap between the two. Far back in 1969, about half a million people attended Woodstock, with the impact of such a large and unexpected crowd felt in the stress on the facilities.
In 2018 however, around 125,000 people attended Coachella according to HelloGiggles, and even that starts to feel a bit crowded!
50. Is Coachella The New Woodstock?
The simple answer to this is NO. While Coachella is currently one of the biggest and most prestigious music festivals in the United States today, it is still far behind Woodstock.
We can only hope that in some years, it will reach the level of significance which Woodstock achieved back in 1969, but it is safe to say it is not there yet.
51. Gone, But Will Always Be Remembered.
While it has been 50 years since this music festival held, it remains significant today as if it was held yesterday.
What can be seen from this is the lasting impression Woodstock left on America and the message which the organizers wanted to pass across — peace and love go great together with good music.