Trivia / Wood Stock

  • Academy Award: The movie won the Best Documentary Feature laurel in 1970.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Wavy Gravy did not say "don't take the brown acid." It was Chip Monck who made the announcement, and it actually went:
    To get back to the warning that Iíve received, you might take it with however many grains of salt you wish, that the brown acid that is circulating around us is not specifically too good. It's suggested that you do stay away from that. Of course itís your own trip, so be my guest.
    • Wavy came on a minute later to explain that the brown acid wasn't poisoned, it just wasn't very good. Erowid contributor OC Rocker said the brown acid was ''too'' good; it was so smooth you didn't realize you were tripping, you'd take a little more... A Hog Farm medic said both could have been true as there were actually several batches of acid with a brown color. Neil Young remembered brown acid being offered to the musicians backstage.
  • Demand Overload: Woodstock was provisioned for less than 50,000, but they sold 100,000 tickets. Then 400,000 more people showed up. The promoters begged the locals to make sandwiches so the concertgoers wouldn't starve and the U.S. National Guard airlifted food in.
    • On the original album, you can hear an announcement by coordinator Wavy Gravy about a hamburger guy who had his stand burn down the night before. This wasn't vandalism. His stove overheated and caught fire. Food for Love, the official concession, turned out to be a cult who jacked the prices way up — and did get their stand burned down on purpose.
  • Doing It for the Art: The original '69 festival stuck to it's message of peace and love, with cooperation from locals and the American armed forced, all of whom pitched in when the festival was oversold. The crowd famously made light of the many shortcomings, such as late acts and bad weather, and the bands all sang songs of change and optimism, if they didn't outright rock!
  • Franchise Killer: Woodstock 99.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Unlike the original, however, Woodstock '99 was sponsored by banks and web services, a big reason everything was infamously overpriced.
  • Troubled Production: The original festival was actually better planned than legend has it, but there were some foretaste of the later disasters:
    • Michael Lang, who with his partners at Woodstock Ventures wasn't trying to create the defining experience of a generation, just make enough money to build a recording studio, got the idea from some of the small folk-rock concerts held in fields around Woodstock, NY, where he was living at the time. The original plan was to hold a modest, one-day event in them with about 25,000 fans expected in those fields. Lang had helped organize and promote the Miami Pop Festival, one of many that led up to Woodstock and had for the most part pleasantly surprised observers for the low amount of violence and general tidiness kept by attendees.
    • However, the owner of the farm outside Woodstock that Lang had hoped to site the festival at made it clear he had no intention of renting the land to Woodstock Ventures. The promoters began booking acts anyway, as they needed to do so months in advance. A new site was tentatively secured at a former farm in the town of Wallkill, NY, outside Middletown, but vociferous local opposition, including death threats against the landowners, ended those plans. But by this point they were expecting at least 100,000 attendees over a multi-day event, so canceling wasn't an option.
    • With just three months to go before the festival, Max Yasgur agreed to lease the promoters some of his dairy farmlands near Bethel, NY, some distance from Woodstock. They had to plan the site and set it up in much less time than they had expected to. Due to unclear jurisdiction, they didn't receive formal approval from the Bethel town planning boardnote  until just a month before the festival date.
    • Only one caterer, Food for Love, was willing to provide food. They insisted on keeping all their profits, threatened to pull out the week of the festival, and served up offerings so unappetizing and overpriced that the generally peaceful hippies who attended the festival actually tried to burn some of their stands down. If it had not been for the Hog Farm, the Wavy Gravy-led New Mexico commune that had arrived a few weeks earlier to help prepare the site and run a kitchen, the food shortages at the festival would have been much worse.
    • That week was when things really did start to go haywire. Attendees, about 25,000, not all of them with tickets, started arriving and setting up tents six or seven days beforehand ... before the spaces designed for them had been finished, or the festival site fenced off as originally intended. Thus, on the first day, with all those people there literally tearing down the fences that had been set up to get in, the promoters basically kissed their likelihood of any profit goodbye by declaring the concert free ... thus attracting even more people to it, up to 300,000.
    • That larger-than-expected crowd was the source of many of the festival's problems. Abandoned/parked cars effectively blocked the roads to the site, and the traffic even forced New York State to close a few Thruway exits. Sanitation also became problematic as not only had no one expected so many people and thus not planned for them in that department, no one had had any good idea how many portable toilets to provide, and even if they had it was hard to get a hold of even the ones they did decide to have.
    • Water, at least, was not a problem as one of the nearby ponds had been tapped for it and provided abundantly during the festival. However, they got more than they bargained for as the last two days of the festival were beset by torrential storms that aggravated the existing issues and forced the promoters to shuffle the lineup around almost constantly. The Grateful Dead especially suffered from the effects of the rain as their lighting and sound were subpar; some of the band also got electric shcoks.note  A turntable underneath the main stage, meant to allow one act to play while the next one was setting up, also failed, exacerbating these issues. (Richie Havens wasn't supposed to open the show, but since he was there and Sweetwater was not, he was asked to; after he'd run out of his planned material he improvised "Freedom" right there on stage; it became one of his signature songs)
    • Legal wrangling over the film and recording rights also ensured that those records of the event are incomplete. Creedence Clearwater Revival gave what many people present considered to be one of the best sets of the festival, but since John Fogarty didn't think so, he refused to allow them to be filmed or recorded. Neil Young had just joined forces with Crosby, Stills & Nash, but refused to give permission for filming. The Grateful Dead hated their performance and declined its inclusion in either the film or album. Pete Townshend had no issues with the film or the album, but was horribly cynical about the whole "peace, love and music" thing, at one point coldcocking Abbie Hoffman off the stage when he came on to berate the crowd about its perceived political detachment. The Band also did well by the crowd, but didn't let their performance be used in the album or movie because their manager thought they weren't getting paid enough.
  • What Could Have Been: Acts who missed, declined or were unable to perform at the first Woodstock when the offer was made include Led Zeppelinnote , The Beatlesnote , John Lennonnote , The Moody Bluesnote , The Byrdsnote  Tommy James And The Shondellsnote , Spiritnote , Iron Butterfly note  Jethro Tullnote , The Beach Boys, Joni Mitchellnote , The Rolling Stonesnote , The Doorsnote , Bob Dylannote , Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Jeff Beck Group note , Chicago note , Love note , Procul Harum note  and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention note . Roy Rogers was to have concluded the festival by singing "Happy Trails", but declined.
    • One artist who wasn't supposed to play was John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful. He was sitting backstage taking LSD with friends and was asked to perform to fill in a gap between scheduled performers who hadn't arrived yet. His voice is the first one you hear on the original Woodstock record album, with his gentle ballad "I Had A Dream".
    • Many people came because they heard rumors the Beatles would reunite and/or that Bob Dylan would play (the name Woodstock came from Woodstock Ventures, the company that financed the festival, but since Dylan's home — near the originally planned site — was in the town of Woodstock, everybody naturally thought...). A few months later, Dylan left his Woodstock home for good saying it was constantly surrounded by "druggies".

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