On August 15, 1969, the mythical Woodstock Festival began, probably the most influential event in the history of music. 3 days of music, love, and freedom, which became the formative social event of an entire generation.
The festival took place on a 600-acre farm (about 2,400 dunams) owned by the Jewish farmer Max Yasgur. The farm was located in Bethel, about 80 miles north of New York City.
The festival was attended by more than 400,000 spectators.
It featured the best artists of the era, including Jimi Hendrix, "Crosby Stills Nash & Young", "Santana", "The Who", "Creedence Clearwater Revival", "The Grateful Dead", Janis Joplin, "The Band", "Jefferson Airplane", "Blood Sweat and Tears", Joe Cocker and more.
During the festival, there were 3 deaths, 2 births, and four miscarriages.
This founding event began on the initiative of several people with a vision. Michael Lang (who organized the biggest East Coast festival at the time, the Miami Pop Festival), John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, and Artie Kornfeld.
Roberts and Rosenman were the ones who brought the money. They placed an advertisement in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal that read: "Young men with unlimited capital" looking for "legitimate and interesting...business proposals". Lang and Kornfeld responded and the four came together and began rolling out an idea to set up a recording studio in the Upstate New York area, where many folk and rock artists lived. In order to promote the studio's publicity, they decided to organize a concert in the area, and from here it all started.
They began inviting renowned bands to the festival, and once those bands agreed, there was a demand from many other artists to attend the event as well. This created a list of musicians who filled three days of performances.
The name "Woodstock Festival" stemmed from the fact that the organizers intended to hold it in Woodstock, New York, but when authorities learned the scope and nature of the planned festival, they revoked the permits required for its existence, and organizers were forced to transfer it to Max Yasgur's farm.
The four organizers targeted an audience of 50,000 to 100,000 people, but already two days before the festival, it was clear that a much larger audience was expected than planned. Huge traffic jams began to form in the area as many people abandoned their vehicles on the side of the road and made a pilgrimage of many kilometers to the festival area. Eventually close to 500,000 people attended the event.
The huge traffic jams also affected some of the artists who were supposed to perform at the festival and the organizers were forced to fly a large part of them by helicopter to the festival grounds.
The weather also did not help the festival goers. Heavy rains fell on the site and forced the suspension or postponement of some of the performances, as well as the disconnection of the amplification and lighting systems to prevent a disaster.
The infrastructure and services were also insufficient and did not suit such a huge crowd, and in the end, helicopters dropped water and food into the heart of the festival.
Despite the above, the festival passed without any special incidents, with love, peace, and brotherhood between the participants. No fights broke out and no crimes were recorded.
The one who got to finish the series of performances at the festival was Jimi Hendrix who, among other things, was responsible for the alternative and mythological performance of the American anthem.
The list of artists who didn't perform at the festival included some big names such as "the Rolling Stone" who could not perform because Mick Jagger shot a film in Australia, "the Beatles" whose inner relations were not good at the time, "the Doors" that performed at the Monterey Festival two years earlier and feared the current festival would not surpass the previous one. And more.
Johnny Mitchell wrote a song about the festival called "Woodstock" even though she did not perform at it. The song was released with a performance of "Crosby, Stills and Nash" at the festival. Mitchell, who was scheduled to be hosted that weekend on a TV show, preferred not to enter the congested area for fear of not being able to get to the TV show on time.
Over the years several attempts have been made to recreate the festival, among others, in 1994 on the 25th anniversary, but none of the attempts succeeded in reaching the climax of the original event.
In 2019, an event was to be held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the festival, but in light of a sparse and "thin" list of artists who agreed to perform, it was canceled.