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Remembering Woodstock On Its 50 Year Anniversary

50 years ago today, The Woodstock Festival took place in White Lake, NY.  It was an event that transformed the youth culture and established the Music Festival template that continues to this very day. 

Woodstock: The Event

Original poster design for The Woodstock Festival

From Wikipedia: "Woodstock was initiated through the efforts of Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts. Roberts and Rosenman financed the project. Lang had some experience as a promoter, having co-organized a festival on the East Coast the prior year, the Miami Pop Festival, where an estimated 25,000 people attended the two-day event.  Early in 1969, Roberts and Rosenman were New York City entrepreneurs, in the process of building Media Sound, a large audio recording studio complex in Manhattan. Lang and Kornfeld's lawyer, Miles Lourie, who had done legal work on the Media Sound project, suggested that they contact Roberts and Rosenman about financing a similar, but much smaller, studio Kornfeld and Lang hoped to build in Woodstock, New York. Unpersuaded by this Studio-in-the-Woods proposal, Roberts and Rosenman counter-proposed a concert featuring the kind of artists known to frequent the Woodstock area (such as Bob Dylan and The Band). Kornfeld and Lang agreed to the new plan, and Woodstock Ventures was formed in January 1969. The company offices were located in an oddly decorated floor of 47 West 57th Street in Manhattan. Burt Cohen, and his design group, Curtain Call Productions, oversaw the psychedelic transformation of the office.  From the start, there were differences in approach among the four: Roberts was disciplined and knew what was needed for the venture to succeed, while the laid-back Lang saw Woodstock as a new, "relaxed" way of bringing entrepreneurs together. When Lang was unable to find a site for the concert, Roberts and Rosenman, growing increasingly concerned, took to the road and eventually came up with a venue. Similar differences about financial discipline made Roberts and Rosenman wonder whether to pull the plug or to continue pumping money into the project."


The dove perched on a guitar neck in the famous poster announcing 'Three Days of Peace and Music' is really a catbird, an American perching bird known for its catlike calls.  Woodstock Ventures commissioned the house artist at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East, to design the poster for the Woodstock Festival. His highly stylized, floral, intricate poster featured a fully nude woman surrounded by cherubs, hearts, and arrows — and no space for the names of the bands. Local shop owners refused to display the poster, and the promoters wanted something different, so they commissioned a new design from Madison Avenue ad guy Arnold Skolnick. Skolnick’s poster, a simplified design featuring a white dove perched on a guitar neck, against a bright red background. Skolnick’s tag line, “Three Days of Peace and Music,” became the rallying cry for the festival, and his “dove and guitar” became instantly, internationally recognizable.


Max Yasgur

Festival Organizer Michael Lang & Max Yasgur

After the Festival organizers plans for the original site of the festival fell through they managed to find a local dairy farmer named Maz Yasgur who agreed to stage the Woodstock Festival on his farmland.  Yasgur appeared on stage during the festival and gave a sincere speech  which instantly turned him into a counterculture hero.  After Woodstock, Yasgur was sued by his neighbors for property damage caused by the fans. His property also sustained extensive damages, and less than a year after the festival, he received a $50,000 settlement.

The Festival organizers told the authorities they expected 50,000, while selling 186,000 tickets in advance (costing six dollars for each day) and planning for 200,000. In the end 500,000 attended. Another million had to turn back because of traffic. It was originally advertised as A Weekend in the Country.  About two dozen ticket booths should have been in place to charge $24 admission, but they were never installed because of the crush of festival-goers. Attempts to get people to pay were abandoned on day one, the fences were torn down and Woodstock was declared a free event. 


Actor and country singer Roy Rogers  -  billed as King of the Cowboys for his western movies  -  was asked to close the show, singing his trademark song, Happy Trails To You. But Rogers' manager vetoed it, and years later Rogers admitted: 'I would have been booed off stage by all those goddam hippies.'

Woodstock: The Tech Staff

Chip Monck - Stage Announcer - Lighting Designer

The revolving stage was designed to minimize wait-times, turning when one act finished with the equipment in place for the next one. But it could not support the weight of so many people on the side of the stage watching the performances, and the wheels fell off.

From the blog: "Monck went to work assembling four towers — 40 feet by 8 feet by 16 feet — for the spotlights. The scaffolding was to stand on planks embedded in the ground. His crew started trenching between the stage area and all of the individual towers for intercom and power. “It was about a food below grade, which meant we were completely safe,” he said. The electrical wiring was strung inside mining cable. Despite safety concerns, Monck said the cable was bullet-proof. “It was absolutely impossible to break into in order to cause electrical damage to either persons or things.”

From "The thing that you’re most famous for is MCing Woodstock. How did that come about? Your company was lighting the gig?  Yes, lighting and half-production management with Chris Langhart. All the lines of the demarcation were discarded because anyone that said they could do this or do that–didn’t. Anyone that promised you something didn’t come through because they’d rather go off behind a bush and get high. So, the festival was chaotic from the get-go?  Oh, by all means. We’re moving site, and we have ten to 12 days to build. Impossible....Michael Lang tapped me on the shoulder Friday morning and said, ‘We need a little help. We’ve forgotten to hire an MC, so… you’re it. And the first thing we want you to do is to get them (the audience) to move back a bit; they’re too close to the front of the stage.’ So, you jumped on the microphone?  Right. And I said, ‘Okay, folks, I’m terribly sorry, but you need to move back, otherwise when the rest of the audience arrive, you will be pushed right up against the front of the stage and you will spend three days with your nose against the plywood. So, pick yourselves up and we’re going to take ten giant steps backwards.’ And everyone started to do what I asked.



Bill Hanley (Woodstock Soundman)

From "Early on, Hanley and most of the promoters were expecting between 150,000 to 200,000 people. For the event, he and his crew prepared and built specially designed speaker columns powered by over 10,000 watts of McIntosh tube power amplifiers located below the stage. According to Hanley, We built two speaker towers each of which had two levels containing its own speaker cluster. The highest one was 70 feet high to accommodate the audience in the middle of the field and high up on the hill. The lowest one, at 20 feet, was for the audience nearest to the stage. There were four cabinets arrayed on both towers on each level, which had about 32 woofers each. This unique and logical design pushed the music into the ears of the audience without much slapback...Hanley and his crew custom designed the HSI 410 (Hanley Sound Inc.) speaker cabinets out of marine grade plywood. For the upper stacks, two bass bins were strategically positioned with high frequency horns on top. This was no easy task, especially as each pair measured 6x4x7 feet, and weighed close to 1,000 pounds. These four upper bins came loaded with four 15-inch JBL D-130 drivers. The four lower bins contained four 15-inch JBL D140 drivers for additional bass. Hanley recalls, “The high frequencies were handled by model 1003B 5×2 Altec multi-cell horns (300 Hz min frequency) and my custom-built 2×2 horns, all with Altec 290 compression drivers.  Perched above the audience, approximately 75 ft. stage left into the field, Hanley (and a rotation of engineers) mixed the event on a modest platform constructed of plywood and scaffolding. Known in the industry for their performance and quality, the engineer’s microphone (and mixers) of choice for the event were Shure, We used about 20 Shure Unidyne SM545 microphones which were modified. I also used four modified Shure M67’s with input pads, two Shure Audio Masters for EQ, an Altec 1567A tube mixer and four Teletronix LA2A tube limiters between the mixers and the power amplifiers. Below the stage, we had over 20 McIntosh MC3500 series 350-watt RMS high-fidelity tube amplifiers. From this location, a sound crew of around 12 were able to execute the applied science of sound reinforcement with very few hiccups.  Live concert recording was also in a phase of infancy. It was Hanley, and engineers Lee Osborne and Eddie Kramer, who were responsible for recording the event in a trailer backstage. According to Woodstock head of production and emcee John Morris, Hanley’s involvement was significant, covering not just sound but other essential production elements like crowd control, miking, amplification, power distribution and large speaker system deployment. “Bill put everything together; this is why he always had a soldering iron — during Woodstock and after. He literally made the pieces and put the pieces together to make the sound work, and it got bigger and bigger at Woodstock. Bill made it possible for people miles away to hear.”


Woodstock: The Performers & Their Performance Fees

1. Jimi Hendrix – $18,000  

1.  Message To Love 
2.  Getting My Heart Back Together Again 
3.  Spanish Castle Magic 
4.  Red House 
5.  Master Mind 
6.  Here Comes Your Lover Man 
7.  Foxy Lady 
8.  Beginning 
9.  Izabella 
10.  Gypsy Woman 
11.  Fire 
12.  Voodoo Child (Slight Return) / Stepping Stone 
13.  Star Spangled Banner 
14.  Purple Haze 
15.  Woodstock Improvisation / Villanova Junction 
16.  Hey Joe

2. Blood, Sweat and Tears – $15,000  

1. More And More 
2. Just One Smile 
3. Somethin' Comin' On 
4. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know 
5. Spinning Wheel 
6. Sometimes In Winter 
7. Smiling Phases 
8. God Bless The Child 
9. And When I Die 
10. You've Made Me So Very Happy

3. Joan Baez – $10,000 

1. Oh Happy Day 
2. The Last Thing On My Mind 
3. I Shall Be Released 
4. Joe Hill 
5. Sweet Sir Galahad 
6. Hickory Wind 
7. Drug Store Truck Driving Man 
8. One Day At A Time 
9. Take Me Back To The Sweet Sunny South 
10. Warm and Tender Love 
11. Swing Low Sweet Chariot 
12. We Shall Overcome

4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – $10,000  

1.  Born On The Bayou 
2.  Green River 
3.  Ninety-Nine And A Half 
4.  Commotion 
5.  Bootleg 
6.  Bad Moon Rising 
7.  Proud Mary 
8.  I Put A Spell On You 
9.  Night Time Is The Right Time 
10. Keep On Choogin’ 
11. Suzy Q

5. The Band – $7,500  

1. Chest Fever 
2. Don't Do It 
3. Tears Of Rage 
4. We Can Talk 
5. Long Black Veil 
6. Don't Ya Tell Henry 
7. Ain't No More Cane 
8. This Wheels On Fire 
9. I Shall Be Released 
10. The Weight 
11. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever

  6. Janis Joplin - $7,500

1.  Raise Your Hand 
2.  As Good As You’ve Been To This World 
3.  To Love Somebody 
4.  Summertime 
5.  Try (Just A Little Bit Harder) 
6.  Kosmic Blues 
7.  Can’t Turn You Loose 
8.  Work Me Lord 
9.  Piece Of My Heart 
10. Ball and Chain

7. Jefferson Airplane – $7,500  

1. The Other Side of This Life 
2. Somebody to Love 
3. 3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds 
4. Won't You Try / Saturday Afternoon 
5. Eskimo Blue Day 
6. Plastic Fantastic Lover 
7. Wooden Ships 
8. Uncle Sam Blues 
9. Volunteers 
10. The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil 
11. Come Back Baby 
12. White Rabbit 
13. The House at Pooneil Corners

8. Sly and the Family Stone – $7,000  

1.  M’Lady 
2.  Sing A Simple Song 
3.  You Can Make It If You Try 
4.  Stand! 
5.  Love City 
6.  Dance To The Music 
7.  Music Lover 
8.  I Want To Take You Higher



9. Canned Heat – $6,500  

1.  I’m Her Man 
2.  Going Up the Country 
3.  A Change Is Gonna Come 
4.  Leaving This Town 
5.  The Bear Talks 
6.  Let’s Work Together 
7.  Too Many Drivers at the Wheel 
8.  I Know My Baby 
9.  Woodstock Boogie 
10.  On the Road Again

10. The Who – $6,250  

1.  Heaven And Hell 
2.  I Can’t Explain 
3.  It’s A Boy 
4.  1921 
5.  Amazing Journey 
6.  Sparks 
7.  Eyesight To The Blind 
8.  Cristmas 
9.  Tommie Can You Hear Me 
10.  Acid Queen 
11.  Pinball Wizard 
12.  Abbie Hoffmann Incident 
13.  Fiddle About 
14.  There’s A Doctor I’ve Found 
15.  Go To The Mirror Boy 
16.  Smash The Mirror 
17.  I’m Free 
18.  Tommy’s Holiday Camp 
19.  We’re Not Gonna Take It 
20.  See Me Feel Me 
21.  Summertime Blues 
22.  Shakin’ All Over 
23.  My Generation 
24.  Naked Eye



11. Richie Havens – $6,000  

1.  Minstrel From Gault 
2.  High Flyin’ Bird 
3.  I Can’t Make It Anymore 
4.  With A Little Help 
5.  Strawberry Fields For Ever 
6.  Hey Jude 
7.  I Had A Woman 
8.  Handsome Johnny 
9.  Freedom

12. Arlo Guthrie – $5,000 

1. Coming into Los Angeles 
2. Wheel of Fortune 
3. Walking Down the Line 
4. The Story Of Moses 
5. Oh Mary, Don't You Weep 
6. Every Hand in the Land 
7. Amazing Grace

 13. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – $5,000  

 (Set One - Acoustic) 
1. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes 
2. Blackbird 
3. Helplessly Hoping 
4. Guinnevere 
5. Marrakesh Express 
6. 4 + 20 
  (Set Two - Electric / with Neil Young) 
7. Mr Soul 
8. I'm Wonderin' 
9. You Don't Have To Cry 
10. Pre-road Downs 
11. Long Time Gone 
12. Bluebird Revisited 
13. Sea Of Madness 
14. Wooden Ships 
15. Find The Cost Of Freedom 
16. 49 bye-byes

14. Ravi Shankar – $4,500  

1.  Raga Puriya-Dhanashri / Gat In Sawarital 
2.  Tabla Solo In Jhaptal 
3.  Raga Manj Kmahaj / Alap Jor / Dhun In Kaharwa Tal / Medium & Fast Gat In Teental

15. Johnny Winter – $3,750  

1. Mama, Talk To Your Daughter 
2. Leland Mississippi Blues 
3. Mean Town Blues 
5. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now 
6. I Can't Stand It (with Edgar Winter) 
7. Tobacco Road (with Edgar Winter) 
8. Tell The Truth (with Edgar Winter) 
9. Johnny B. Goode

16. Ten Years After – $3,250  

1.  Good Morning Little Schoolgirl 
2.  I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes 
3.  I May Be Wrong, But I Won’t Be Wrong Always 
4.  I’m Going Home

17. Country Joe and the Fish – $2,500  

1.  I Find Myself Missing You 
2.  Rockin’ All Around The World 
3.  Flyin’ High All Over The World 
4.  Seen A Rocket 
5.  Fish Cheer / I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixing-To-Die-Rag


18. Grateful Dead – $2,500  

1.  St. Stephen 
2.  Mama Tried 
3.  Dark Star / High Time 
4.  Turn On Your Lovelight

19. The Incredible String Band – $2,250  

1. Invocation 
2. The Letter 
3. Gather 'Round 
4. This Moment 
5. Come With Me 
6. When You Find Out Who You Are

20. Mountain – $2,000  

1.  Blood Of The Sun 
2.  Stormy Monday 
3.  Theme From An Imaginary Western 
4.  Long Red 
5.  For Yasgur’s Farm 
6.  You And Me 
7.  Waiting To Take You Away 
8.  Dreams Of Milk And Honey 
9.  Blind Man 
10.  Blue Suede Shoes 
11.  Southbound Train



21. Tim Hardin – $2,000  

1. (How Can We) Hang on to a Dream 
2. Once-Touched By Flame 
3. If I Were a Carpenter 
4. Reason to Believe 
5. You Upset the Grace of Living When You Lie 
6. Speak Like a Child 
7. Snow White Lady 
8. Blues on My Ceiling 
9. Simple Song of Freedom 
10. Misty Roses

22. Joe Cocker – $1,375  

1. Rockhouse 
2. Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring 
3. Dear Landlord 
4. Something's Coming On 
5. Do I Still Figure In Your Life 
6. Feelin' Alright 
7. Just Like A Woman 
8. Let's Go Get Stoned 
9. I Don't Need No Doctor 
10. I Shall Be Released 
11. Hitchcock Railway 
12. Something To Say 
13. With A Little Help From My Friends

23. Sweetwater – $1,250  

1.  Motherless Child 
2.  Look Out 
3.  For Pete’s Sake 
4.  Day Song 
5.  What’s Wrong 
6.  Crystal Spider 
7.  Two Worlds 
8.  Why Oh Why

24. John B. Sebastian – $1,000  

1.   How Have You Been 
2.  Rainbows All Over Your Blues 
3.  I Had A Dream 
4.  Darlin’ Be Home Soon 
5.  Younger Generation

25. Melanie – $750  

1. Close to It All 
2. Momma Momma 
3. Beautiful People 
4. Animal Crackers 
5. Mr. Tambourine Man 
6. Tuning My Guitar 
7. Birthday of the Sun

26. Santana – $750  

1.  Persuasion 
2.  Savor 
3.  Soul Sacrifice 
4.  Fried Neckbones



27. Sha Na Na – $700  

1. Get A Job 
2. Come Go With Me 
3. Silhouettes 
4. Teen Angel 
5. (Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame 
6. Wipe Out 
7. Book Of Love 
8. Teenager in Love 
9. Little Darlin' 
10. At The Hop 
11. Duke Of Earl 
12. Get A Job (Reprise)

28. Keef Hartley Band – $500  

1. Spanish Fly 
2. She's Gone 
3. Too Much Thinking 
4. Believe In You 
5. Halfbreed Medley: Sinnin' For You, Leaving Trunk, Just To Cry, Sinnin' For You

29. Quill – $375  

1. They Live the Life 
2.  That’s How I Eat 
3.  Driftin’ 
4.  Waitin’ For You

30. Paul Butterfield Blues Band - ?  

1. Born Under A Bad Sign 
2. No Amount Of Loving 
3. Driftin' And Driftin' 
4. Morning Sunrise 
5. All In A Day 
6. Love March 
7. Everything's Gonna Be Alright

31. Bert Sommer - ? 

1.  Jennifer 
2.  The Road To Travel 
3.  I wondered where you’d be 
4.  She’s Gone 
5.  Things Are Going My Way 
6.  And When It’s Over 
7.  Jeanette 
8.  America (first standing ovation at Woodstock) 
9.  A Note That Read 
10.  Smile

Bert Sommer - Woodstock's Forgotten Man

Woodstock: The Film

Michael Wadleigh (Director)

From Wikipedia: "n 1969, Wadleigh undertook the monumental task of documenting the Woodstock Music Festival. Seven editors are credited, including Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, and Wadleigh. He arrived on the site in Bethel, New York on August 15, with over a thousand reels of film and a crew of several camera operators. The finished product was said to have consisted of about 120 miles of footage which, over the next months, was edited down to 184 minutes. Warner Bros., the film's primary financial backer, released it on March 26, 1970. The film, which reportedly cost $600,000 to produce, earned over $50 million in the United States and more millions from foreign rentals, but due to a complicated arrangement with Warner Bros., Wadleigh received only a small percentage of the profits. Woodstock stands as a milestone in the documentary film field, receiving an Academy Award for Documentary Feature at the 1971 ceremony."

From the IMDB site: "The four-hour film “Woodstock” won the Best Documentary Oscar in 1970. Since then, it has been re-released several times with added concert footage and extras. The film was directed by Michael Wadleigh, who tapped young filmmaker Martin Scorsese to be an assistant director and film editor Thelma Schoonmaker to be supervising editor. Scorsese and Schoonmaker have remained a director/editor team to this day, and Woodstock was their first film together.  The two= and three-panel screen presentations seen throughout much of the movie were innovations born of necessity on the part of its creators and a film editor named Martin Scorsese. With so much footage shot, and the studio's unwillingness to expand the length of the released film's running time, it was decided that a way must be found to maximize the amount of footage that could be used. Because of the wide-screen aspect of the release, it was realized that the multi-panel format could be used most effectively to not only include as much film footage as possible, but to also have concert footage and crowd reaction shots together on the same screen. The filmmakers believed it was important to show the viewing public just what a monumental event the Woodstock festival had unintentionally become. This method also allowed them to show many behind-the-scene activities that showed all the hard work put in by the production staff and crew, another important detail that the concert's producers thought was very important for the public to see as they had always contended that without the efforts of the entire production staff, this event could have easily degenerated into a disaster.  Warner Bros. did not want to release the film theatrically at first, because several other concert documentaries had failed badly in releases before that time, but did a release anyway; there was so little money involved that one executive said they could have cut up the film and sold it for bookmarks if they needed to.  The filmmakers and distributor were sued by the man who was interviewed while cleaning the Port-O-San portable latrines, on the grounds of mental anguish, embarrassment, public ridicule, and invasion of privacy."


Woodstock: The Legacy

A Woodstock Moment - 40 Years Later

Photographer Burk Uzzle: From Woodstock To Wilson

There have been four attempts to recreate the festival on different sites: in 1979, 1989, 1994, and the disastrous 1999 festival, which was shut down amid riots and violence.


Bethel Woods Center for the Arts opened in 2006 at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The historic hill on which the festival audience sat and enjoyed three days of music has been preserved, and Bethel Woods beautiful outdoor concert pavilion and museum campus is situated on the hill overlooking the festival field. The Pavilion hosts outdoor concerts in the summer months, and the Museum is open from April through December.


Woodstock 50


This Time magazine article sums up the haphazard efforts of a group of promoters

(which included Michael Lang, one of the promoters of the original Woodstock event)

to try and stage a 50th Anniversary Woodstock event.

It's a different world now and it was much harder to "get back to the garden"

Woodstock 50: Inside The Final Days



Unseen Woodstock Photographs 

Archaeologists Discover Woodstock Really Did Take On A Life Of Its Own

1969 Articles About The Woodstock Festival

Surviving Woodstock

Rediscovered: The Original Stage From The 1969 Woodstock Festival

Woodstock Performers: Where Are They Now?












This post first appeared on Rock & Roll Is A State Of Mind, please read the originial post: here

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Remembering Woodstock On Its 50 Year Anniversary


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