Transport Yourself Back to Woodstock's Magic
Before Coachella and Lollapalooza, there was Woodstock. In August 1969, half a million people gathered on a New York dairy farm to listen to 32 celebrated musical acts perform for four days.
Widely recognized as one of the greatest American cultural events of all time, Woodstock was a legendary milestone in musical history. Photographs from the weekend of love allow people all over the world to envision the magic of the four-day experience.
Getting the Show on the Road
The Woodstock festival was set to run from August 15 through August 17, 1969, but more than 60,000 people arrived on the grounds days before to set up camp. Congested roads made some artists, like Sweetwater, run late and forced some artists to arrive by helicopter.
A Couple to Make You Rethink Your Relationship Goals
Although they were scheduled to headline the night before, Jefferson Airplane ended up performing on Sunday morning and again on the final day of the festival. The band offered a serenade to those who were waking up from a weekend of exciting fun.
Imagine Having an Advantage Over John Lennon!
Woodstock fish-eye photos are rare, but this group was able to successfully capture a moment of care-free happiness in the grass. While these guests were probably able to participate in a fair share of the festivities, some musicians weren't able to secure a spot.
A Blonde Truly Having More Fun
The legacy and thrill of Woodstock surprised many and led celebrities like Jim Morrison to regret not attending. German model Veruschka von Lehndorff couldn't say the same, but she was seen dancing in true festival fashion.
Facing the Music, One Note at a Time
Don't forget Woodstock was always meant to be about the music. With legendary acts like Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, Santana and Jimi Hendrix sharing the stage, it's no surprise that attendees had the time of their lives in the sea of music.
I Wanna Rock ‘n' Roll (and Party) All Night
When the music faded and the lights dimmed, people were in no hurry to settle down for the night. Festival attendees were down to keep the party going, even after the headliners had played well into the night and turned in.
Peace and Quiet at Last (for Two Hours)
With no hotel anywhere near and thousands of people unwilling to give up their camping spots, sleep was a rarity at Woodstock. Between noon on Saturday and noon on Monday — the core times for the festival — there was reportedly only two hours of silence. Even then, the silence wasn’t complete, as drum circles were common.
Falling in Love to Guitar Played by Carlos Santana
San Francisco-based Santana solidified their reputation as one of the greatest Woodstock acts in 1969. Unknown before their performance, they became impossible to forget after taking the stage. At the time, they only had one self-titled album that was released shortly before the festival in August.
All Roads (and Traffic) Lead to Woodstock
In the beginning, it was supposed to be "a weekend in the country." The concert was originally advertised as "An Aquarian Exposition, Three Days of Peace and Music" in Bethel, New York, 50 miles from Woodstock’s final destination. The name that became associated with the festival came from the group that promoted it.
Stage Fright? A Magical Woodstock Performance
After Sri Swami Satchidananda on day one, Tim Hardin performed and was seen making notes and writing new lyrics, as some hoped. Hardin was known to suffer from wild stage fright and struggled with addiction.
Boho and Leather and Fur, Oh My!
With half a million people in attendance, Woodstock wasn’t big on personal space. Although a sense of caution surrounds events with large crowds, Woodstock was a special weekend that astounded law enforcement. Not one act of violence occurred in the four days, cementing the motto of peace and love.
The Pearl and the Festival That Is Her Oyster
Janis Joplin, also known as "The Pearl," was overcome with happiness upon seeing the crowds that gathered at her stage. At first, she believed the festival to be "just another gig," but she changed her mind and ended up staying until the end. Her performance rocked the stage on Saturday night.
Jefferson Airplane & Their Trusty Helicopter
Jefferson Airplane was another act who flew in by helicopter, conveniently timing their entrance to arrive prior to their set time. The group was so in sync that they truly embodied the essence of the festival. They participated in the festival as much as the fans and listened to music during their downtime.
Peace to All Who Enter Here!
Despite massive crowds and no personal space, festival goers were still genuinely happy to be there. Peace signs were a staple in photos and represented the positive energy that surrounded the space. In the mid-1960s, Woodstock represented counterculture in its purest form, acting against the tension and political divide that was occurring in the United States.
A Family-Friendly Affair
Not many people picture Woodstock as a family-friendly event. Away from the packed crowds, however, people of all ages listened to the music brought to them from every corner of the world. Children were gifted with experiences and stories that affected them the rest of their lives.
Glitz and Glamour — and a Little Something for the Kiddos
One of the more interesting displays at Woodstock happened on the free stage, with Ken Babbs in the crowd, and wasn’t by a musical act. The puppet show was an event where performers were allowed to display anything, including jester and reptile puppets.
Music as the Food of Life
Communal living wasn’t a foreign concept in the 1960s and 1970s. Woodstock went through extreme food shortages, but in the true spirit of the festival, people bonded over shared plates, and stands were set up that allowed everyone to grab a piece of the pie.
A Weekend of Love with Just a Hint of Danger
When it came to organizing half a million people and keeping volatile situations under control, Woodstock security wasn't exactly tight, and the massive crowds made working security a bit tough. Climbing scaffolding was an issue, as people were willing to risk anything for a better view.
A Place Where All Were Welcome
The festival originally had a ticket cap of 100,000. Promoters grew worried, not because they were afraid they wouldn't sell out, but because demand far exceeded the projected numbers. Tens of thousands of people showed up days prior to the event. Although it cost $2.5 million to organize, the festival only made about $1.5 million.
Feeding Half a Million Is Even Harder Than It Sounds
Hot summer days and festivals equal a lot of hungry people. The lack of food caused disruptions at times, and people were lucky to grab a plate at the makeshift tents. The festival was a mass promotion of peace and anti-war, but the U.S. Army saved the day when it flew in supplies to feed the hungry festival attendees.
Food Wasn't the Only Thing on the Choppers
Lavender shirts at Woodstock were beaming lights of hope and healing for those who were having a bit too much fun. Makeshift tents housed volunteers who treated many types of ailments, most of which were related to drug use.
Grab a Newspaper to Break Up the Partying
Although most of their time was spent immersed in music, some people took breaks to read newspapers and keep up with the outside world. Some headlines read "Traffic Uptight at Hippiefest" and "Hippies Mired in Sea of Mud."
The Incredible Mascot That Appeared First in Line
The flying pig emblem, as shown on clothing and other signs, was a symbol of the anti-war movement. "Pigasus" was a presidential nominee in 1968 and often showed up throughout the festival.
In the Heat of the Moment (or the Car)
With the unimaginable traffic standstills on the way to the festival, it's no wonder that many cars were left abandoned along the roads. Some people chose to hitchhike and didn't mind the poor conditions, such as crammed into the tight space of an open trunk.
They Say Legends Never Die — But It Was Close
The Grateful Dead's performance was met with disappointment, as their set consisted of only five songs but lasted a boring 90 minutes. Equipment malfunctions created long breaks between songs, and the audience wasn’t happy.
Music That Literally Made the World Go ‘Round
Although it was originally meant to minimize wait times between bands, the revolving stage setup was a disaster. The English pop group The Incredible String Band was photographed performing on it. The band ended up being one of the few to successfully utilize it.
One Governor's Near Costly Mistake
It might be difficult to imagine the sea of fans and the amount of space they took up on a dairy farm. The population of the festival was comparable to the third largest city in New York, which worried government officials.
Going Far Out to Make a Statement
One of the most photographed people at Woodstock was a woman whose name wasn’t even recorded. The strikingly beautiful blonde made a statement with her lack of undergarments and handmade-looking clothing. Her style truly encapsulated the era.
The “Almost” Headline That Never Was
Ravi Shankar only performed three songs during his set at Woodstock, as he was unconvinced by the peaceful theme of the festival and the young kids in the audience. He exposed the divide between Hare Krishna and the hippies, almost as much as being out in the rain did.
Some Like It Dirty, Others Like It Muddy
While the stragglers who got stuck in traffic managed to save themselves from the thick mud that engulfed the campgrounds, those who stayed with their cars were trapped in the miles of lonely vehicles. It’s believed that more than 1 million people never made it to the festival because of the traffic jam.