Woodstock At 50

Woodstock At 50
Woodstock, one of the most iconic musical events in Rock & Roll history took place August 15th through 18th, 1969 in Bethel, New York. Organizers Artie Kornfeld, Michael Lang, John Roberts and Joel Roseman initially billed the event as “Three Days of Peace and Music” and expected no more than 50,000 people to attend the concert located on the rural 600 acre dairy farm owned by Max Yasgur. Needless to say, history would remember things quite differently.

The expected attendance of 50,000 soon became a crowd of over 400,000, jamming the roads in and around the area. Bad weather, food shortages, sanitation and lack of first aid also added to some of the issues plaguing the event.

The show, however, went on and included several classic rock’s icons. Richie Havens performed the opening spot the first day, Friday, August 15th, and was followed by such acts as Sweetwater, Bert Sommer, Tim Hardin, Ravi Shankar, and Melanie. Arlo Guthrie would play until the morning hours of Saturday, August 16th, followed by a pregnant Joan Baez.

Quill would to take the stage the following afternoon, followed by County Joe McDonald, Santana, John Sebastian, Keef Hartley Band, The Incredible String Band, Canned Heat and Mountain. The Grateful Dead would take the stage that evening at 10:30pm and play until midnight, followed by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, and Sly and the Family Stone. The Who would take the stage at 5:00am on Sunday, August 17th and were followed by Jefferson Airplane who played from 8:00am until 9:40am.

Joe Cocker and the Grease Band would start the music again in the afternoon, followed by Country Joe and the Fish, Ten Years After, The Band, and Johnny Winter. Blood, Sweat and Tears would take the stage at 1:30 am on Monday, August 18th and were followed by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at 3:00am. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Sha Na Na performed earlier in the morning. Jimi Hendrix took the stage at 9:00am with Gypsy Sun and the Rainbows where he performed his iconic rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner”. He would then close the show with “Hey Joe” during his encore.

Several notable acts had supposedly declined invitations to perform at Woodstock, including Simon & Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, The Byrds, The Doors, Joni Mitchell and Jethro Tull.

After the excitement of four musical days, the town of Bethel tried to get back to normal. Although other forms of Woodstock have tried to recreate the magic of the original, none have returned to the first site of Max Yasgur’s dairy form. The site is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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