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 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. Here is a clip of Janis Joplin performing:
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. Here is his live performance as well as a very short clip of Jimi Hendrix on "The Dick Cavett Show":
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.
Press the Cool Button to be notified of new Blog of Fame posts.