History of Woodstock: 50 Years Ago

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August 15 marks the 50th anniversary of the “3-days of Peace & Music” held in 1969 at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, New York, southwest of the village of Woodstock.

I’d like to share with you what it was like to be there — the music, the crowds the atmosphere, the sense of history, what it was like to hear Jimi Hendrix electrically reinterpret the national anthem, to experience the frenetic exuberance of The Who define a new youth anthem with for , what it was like to hear the newly formed supergroup Crosby Stills, Nash & Young say “This is only the second time we’ve performed in front of people, we’re scared s***less!” and to describe to you what it was like to participate in “peace, love, and rock & roll.”

I’d like to do this, but I wasn’t there. However, I do remember it when it occurred. And of course, everyone saw the 1970 (Documentary) movie — edited by a young Martin Scorsese.

Fifty years ago almost half a million Baby Boomers attended one of the defining moments of American Post-Modernism. While The Beatles may have introduced it earlier in the ’60s, Woodstock pulled together many of the distinctively American voices. This music festival was called “an Aquarian Exposition” though it now may feel more like the “dawning of the of Aquarius.”

Here were the performers, 32 different acts performed over the course of the four days, from Friday to the morning of Monday — with :

Friday, August 15

  • Richie Havens
  • Swami Satchidananda — gave the invocation for the festival
  • Sweetwater
  • The Incredible String Band
  • Bert Sommer
  • Tim Hardin
  • Ravi Shankar
  • Melanie
  • Arlo Guthrie
  • Joan Baez

Saturday, August 16

  • Quill — forty-minute set of four songs
  • Keef Hartley Band
  • Country Joe McDonald
  • John Sebastian
  • Sha-Na-Naas
  • Santana
  • Canned Heat
  • Mountain
  • Grateful Dead
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Janis Joplin with The Kozmic Blues Band
  • Sly & the Family Stone
  • The Who began at 4 AM, kicking off a 25-song set including songs from their rock opera
  • Jefferson Airplane

Sunday, August 17 to Monday, August 18

  • Joe Cocker and The Grease Band
  • Country Joe and the Fish
  • Ten Years After
  • The Band
  • Blood, Sweat & Tears
  • Johnny Winter featuring his brother, Edgar Winter
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Neil Young
  • Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  • Sha-Na-Na
  • Jimi Hendrix

UPDATE: Here’s a story on the 40th-anniversary reunion at Woodstock. Woodstock 50, intended to begin tomorrow, was canceled.

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
www.billpetro.com

Silicon Valley Tech Exec: Cloud, Data Storage, Automation. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, andpop culture. Blog: http://billpetro.com

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