Imagine combining over 30 of today’s most influential artistes into a large concert for thousands of people, over a three or day weekend. It doesn’t sound outlandish today, due to festivals such as Lollapalooza and Coachella but such festivals during the 1960’s, were practically unheard of. The initial idea was to have a festival that would be called “Woodstock Music and Art Fair; An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace and Music”. The fair, more commonly known simply as “Woodstock” was slated to be a small scale controlled concert to generate revenue. This would prove otherwise as the artistes drew with them large crowds of followers, most of which were hippies. As ticket sales soared, estimated attendance was near 200,000 but was later found to be double that; the festival’s peak attendance was about 400,000.
The festival which would go on to be named as one of the most pivotal moments in Rock and Roll history was not shy of its problems. Initial hindrances stemmed from the securing of a suitable location due to mass crowd permits and sanitation regulations, as well as heavy resistance from residents. Despite all the hurdles, the final resting place of the festival fell amongst the 600 acre dairy farm of New Yorker Max Yasgur, near its namesake of Woodstock, New York. Other obstacles included the procurement of performers who were famous enough to draw in a crowd as well as feel the musically hungry souls of the critical audience. Coming off of their newly found success, the first group to join the line-up was Creedance Clearwater Revival, and with that many other acts followed suite. A total of 33 artistes performed over the length of the four day festival and the line-up included:
Country Joe Mc Donald
Creedance Water Revival
Janis Joplin with the Kozmic Blues Band
Jimi Hendrix/ Gypsy Sun & Rainbows
Keef Hartley Band
Sha Na Na
Ten Years After
From the rock and roll to the funk and soul which was belted out day after day, the crowd was kept in a constant state of euphoria as each performer brought something that the other did not. The easy going, fun and summery atmosphere added a serene feel to what was an extremely packed event. Hippies dressed in the original bohemian chic apparel or admirers dressed in muscle tees of their favourite performers provided a new wave of dress which had just began in the United States. Since the original Woodstock, five namesake events have been held with the biggest being in 2009 to commemorate the 40th anniversary and a number of acts from the original festival graced the stage. The legacy of Woodstock has been cemented not only into the surroundings of it birth place, but also into the minds of all those who attended and performed. Thanks to technology, many are able to experience the wonder that was Woodstock ’69 more than 45 years afterwards, through the production of numerous documentaries dedicated to preserving the memory of such a highly memorable event.