One of the most famous occasions of the 1960s was the Woodstock Music Festival, which took place in August of that year. The Woodstock event, which was originally billed as “3 Days of Peace and Music,” has endured far longer than its creators could have anticipated it would fifty years ago. Its tale has been repeated so frequently that it is essentially considered common knowledge.
The Location of Woodstock Wasn’t Revealed to the Performers until the Very Last Minute.
Chaos ruled among the organizers and potential artists even before Woodstock began. In “Woodstock: The Oral History,” festival organizer Michael Lang claims that he and his colleagues were adamant about organizing the festival in the upstate New York hamlet of Woodstock. Even yet, finding someone with a location there to hold the event proved to be more difficult than anticipated.
Even Getting There Was a Difficult Adventure.
The mayhem of the festival began immediately away for many of the Woodstock acts. As Kevin Hillstrom writes in “Defining Moments: Woodstock,” the musicians were greatly hampered by the terrible traffic jams that blocked the highways leading to the Woodstock venue. Although the event was supposed to commence on Friday, concertgoers began pouring in and around Woodstock as early as Thursday. Almost none of the artists actually made it to the festival grounds before it began.
Woodstock Performers Were Hard to Schedule.
The musicians’ inability to get to Woodstock on time due to the severe traffic congestion was a complete farce of the intended schedule. According to Kevin Hillstrom’s “Defining Moments: Woodstock,” the opening act’s equipment was late and didn’t arrive on time, thus a different act had to be substituted, which resulted in a later start.
The Day Was Saved by Richie Havens.
Richie Havens was one of the most enduring performers at Woodstock. Despite the fact that black folksinger Havens started the Woodstock festivities with one of the finest performances of the whole weekend, which was capped off with his magnificent rendition of the song “Freedom,” Havens wasn’t originally meant to do so. According to Kevin Hillstrom’s “Defining Moments: Woodstock,” Michael Lang originally planned the band Sweetwater as the festival’s opening act. Lang instead went to Havens to get things going when they were unable to show up on time.
A Number of Woodstock Performers Were Under the Influence.
Given that Woodstock occurred during the height of the hippie movement in the 1960s, it goes without saying that there was a lot of drug usage there. However, most people are unaware of the extent of the excess on the performers’ end. Almost every drink in the backstage area was laced with LSD, including the ice cubes, The Who vocalist Roger Daltrey recalled in his memoirs “Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite.” When Daltrey sipped a cup of tea, he unintentionally consumed some, and he was still floating when he took the stage at 5:30 a.m. in the morning.
Things Were Dangerous Due to the Weather.
Even while Woodstock’s outstanding music and ambiance that August weekend in 1969 are indisputable classics, the event was also notorious for the weather. On Friday night, rain storm issues began, which led to scheduled postponements and cancellations. The enormous speaker towers and the stage itself began to wobble in response to the wind. Soon after, lightning struck, necessitating a quick evacuation of all electronic apparatus from the stage. According to the Grateful Dead’s “Searching for the Sound,” written by bassist Phil Lesh, the artists during that night’s famed Woodstock concert frequently received electric shocks from their instruments and microphones. Backstage, individuals started yelling about the stage collapsing in on itself as the wind kicked up once again.
The Number of Female Performers at Woodstock Was Underrepresented.
It’s reasonable to argue that Woodstock was a very male-dominated gathering when viewed 50 years later. Less than a third of the more than 30 acts that were scheduled to play comprised women. The ladies of Woodstock still put up some of the most enduring performances of the whole weekend despite the fact that they were underrepresented.
The Size of the Crowd Was Terrifying.
The almost 500,000-person crowd at Woodstock was the largest of the performers’ professional careers for the majority of them. Even Woodstock brought new difficulties because of the enormous crowd size, despite the fact that many of them had by that point become sophisticated veterans of the rock ‘n’ roll touring industry.
For Woodstock Players, Cash Was King.
Even while Woodstock is now considered one of the most significant musical events of the 1960s, its significance at the time was far less obvious. Kevin Hillstrom claims in his book “Defining Moments: Woodstock” that in order to get musicians to play, the Woodstock organizers paid them twice as much as was normal. Due to their ability to make substantial sums of money from their appearances, The Who and Jimi Hendrix received two of the highest prizes.
Not Every Performer Scheduled to Appear at Woodstock Showed Up.
It’s a marvel that Woodstock was able to run as well as it did give the commotion and craziness of the day. The organizers had a lot on their plate right away since they found themselves in charge of the health and safety of about 500,000 hungry, thirsty, and primarily inebriated hippies. While most of the festival’s problems were minor, not every artist had a positive experience, and several of them never even made it to Woodstock.
Performers Resisted Being Filmed.
Wadleigh and Meurice prioritized filming certain songs from each singer due to their shortage of film. Even though they attempted to negotiate a probable set list with a few of the bands, once they took the stage, everything fell through. The artists’ willingness to be filmed was another problem because of it. Early in their performance, The Who’s Pete Townsend physically left the Wadleigh stage; it was only by chance that their legendary rendition of “See Me, Feel Me” was recorded.
Not All Woodstock Performers Played Nicely.
The organizers of Woodstock advertised it as “3 Days of Peace and Music,” and while that slogan mostly came true, there were some tense moments. Anti-war demonstrators, civil rights campaigners, and young people seeking to experience the music and camaraderie of the time all attended Woodstock. They did not all agree with each other.
Abbie Hoffman, a well-known anti-war activist, entered the stage halfway through The Who’s performance and began discussing the Vietnam War and John Sinclair’s recent marijuana possession arrest. Townsend had previously issued a warning to leave the platform after the Wadleigh kick, even if he didn’t necessarily disagree with Hoffman’s comments. Townsend struck Hoffman with his Gibson guitar as soon as he stood up and began ranting, knocking him off the stage. Although it didn’t quite convey the calm message that the event’s planners had in mind, it did free up the stage so that The Who could continue to terrorize the estimated 400,000 spectators.