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Useful Notes / Woodstock

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"Three days of peace, love and music."

In the Summer of '69, a couple of extremely rich young men wanted to create something they could invest in related to entertainment, art and creativity. After initially planning a TV series and an artists' colony, they decided to hold an outdoor festival in a field, with a few big-name acts. After a long fight to secure a venue, they made a deal with dairy farmer Max Yasgur for the use of his 600-acre property in Bethel, New York. The festival, held on the weekend of August 1517, 1969, was called the Woodstock Music & Art Fair.

Originally tickets were sold by mail and through magazine ads, with plans to sell more at the door. Over 100,000 tickets were sold, but people started arriving several days early, before the fence and ticket gates were completed; faced with the choice between completing the stage and completing the fence, the promoters decided to get the stage in order and call it a free concert. With such an open invitation in place, over 500,000 people are believed to have shown up. Then it got worse.

In many ways, Woodstock was a giant catastrophe. The various artists couldn't get to the concert site and had to be flown in. Food and other facilities were ostensibly planned for 50,000 (even though the aforementioned 100,000 tickets had been sold), but city councilmen and others recognized that the provisions weren't even sufficient for that number, leading to the National Guard airlifting in food and water by helicopter. There was lots of rain and a giant thunderstorm struck, shutting things down for hours, and two people accidentally died.note 

But, at the same time, the festival was heralded for its sense of peace and community. The crowd was so well-behaved over the three days that even mainstream media like The New York Times and Time magazine praised the event for being so orderly. People were getting along and showing love to each other. And, of course, the roster of musical artists was impressive, featuring the likes of The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joe Cocker, Santana, The Band, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joan Baez, Ravi Shankar, and Sha Na Na to name a few.

The festival was filmed and turned into the documentary of the same name, which proved to be so big a box-office hit that its earnings more than paid off the losses from the festival itself. In addition to the original three-record vinyl album and the followup two-record set Woodstock Two, there have been several CD box sets, multiple DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film (the latest version is 2014's, which presents all the footage in HD and includes interviews, radio coverage and art), and the independent, unauthorized Woodstock Complete project.

In August 2019, Back to the Garden, an authorized complete version of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair, was released on Rhino Records. The product of painstaking research and audio production, it had 38 audio discs plus a Blu-ray of the film and cost $800.

The festival's original location is currently home to the nonprofit Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. When visiting, be sure to check out its honest-to-goodness Woodstock Museum, which provides an in-depth look at the '60s counterculture that birthed the festival, as well as the events leading up to it.

Woodstock performers (in order of appearance):

  • Friday night (mostly folk-oriented acts to ease the crowd into the festival)
    • Richie Havensnote 
    • Sweetwaternote 
    • Bert Sommernote 
    • Tim Hardinnote 
    • Ravi Shankar
    • Melanienote 
    • Arlo Guthrie
    • Joan Baez
  • Saturday afternoon/night into Sunday morning (mainly a showcase for big-name acts from San Francisco)
    • Quillnote 
    • Country Joe McDonaldnote 
    • Santana
    • John Sebastian
    • The Keef Hartley Bandnote 
    • The Incredible String Band note 
    • Canned Heatnote 
    • Mountainnote 
    • The Grateful Dead
    • Creedence Clearwater Revival
    • Janis Joplin
    • Sly and the Family Stone
    • The Who
    • Jefferson Airplane
  • Sunday afternoon/night into Monday morning (a mix of headliners and acts who got moved after the schedule was reshuffled)
    • Joe Cocker
    • Country Joe & The Fishnote 
    • Ten Years Afternote 
    • The Band
    • Johnny Winternote 
    • Blood, Sweat & Tearsnote 
    • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
    • The Paul Butterfield Blues Bandnote 
    • Sha Na Na
    • Jimi Hendrix

References to Woodstock in fiction:

Comic Books

  • One story in a Fantastic Four annual has the Human Torch pulled into the past to encounter some of the Long-Lived superhumans of the ClanDestine, who are attending Woodstock at the time.


  • The 2009 film Taking Woodstock tells a fictionalized version of the story behind the concert.
  • A Walk on the Moon is set in the summer of 1969, against the backdrop of the moon-landing and Woodstock.

Newspaper Comics

  • Woodstock, the bird in Peanuts, was named after the festival.

Live-Action TV

Western Animation

  • In the Animaniacs short "Woodstock Slappy", Slappy Squirrel and her nephew Skippy go to spend a quiet weekend in a tree in the country in 1969, not knowing that it's on the Woodstock concert site. Awoken by the cacophony, an incredibly-annoyed Slappy tries to end the concert, memorably getting into an extended Who's on First? argument with Skippy over the names of The Who, The Band and Yes (who Skippy kept pointing out weren't even at the festival). Besides The Who, it also features No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of Joe Cocker, Country Joe McDonald and Melanie (and a very brief appearance of a Jimi Hendrix caricature).
  • My Little Pony: Make Your Mark: The eponymous music festival in "Bridlewoodstock" is a reference to the real-life Woodstock concert.

"If you remember Woodstock, you weren't there."