Woodstock was all about peace and love and fashion. Fashion trends spanning from bohemian, to hippie, and everything in between, shaped fashion for decades to come. Over 30 performances by iconic musicians made people come from near and far to be a part of this spectacle. Woodstock completely changed the lives of everyone who was there to witness it.
Arts & Crafts
Woodstock wasn't just about music - it was called the Music & Art Fair Festival. The incredible festival was a place for people to come together and express themselves through music and art. This woman was the ultimate example of bohemian fashion with a dainty leather crop top, festive headband, and bracelets.
She seems to have sat down on the grass to create some art. It looks like a tapestry of some sort. Maybe she gave away her beautiful creations to others attending the festival or maybe she was planning on selling them. We will never know, but what we do know is her style was spot on.
Peace and Bubbles
It seems so amazing that almost 500,000 people traveled to Woodstock to get a taste of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Most of the attendees hung out at the festival with a friend or group of friends, and it seemed that others wanted to experience the magic of Woodstock on their own and savor it all quietly.
In this iconic photo of a young woman named Jackie Barg - she is seen sitting at the festival alone. She is having so much fun blowing bubbles all by herself while waiting anxiously for the next musician to start performing! No better way to pass the time alone than by entertaining others with bubbles.
Food for Love
The people who came to Woodstock were all about unity. They loved to share their belongings and supplies with all of the other Woodstock attendees. Sharing was extremely important to the people at Woodstock. This photo captures the true essence of unity, with this free spirit cooking meals for the festival-goers at Woodstock.
The number of people that came to Woodstock surpassed the number anyone could have imagined. Because of this, there was a severe shortage of food and other important necessities. People had a hard time giving up their spots and they did not want to have to make their way through the huge crowds (and sometimes mud and rain) to get nourishment, so they set up shop where ever they were so that they could feed everyone.
The festival was put on at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm. No one expected that over 400,000 people would attend the festival. This oversight resulted in traffic backups and not nearly enough space inside for all of the people.
This man, like so many other people who came to Woodstock, resorted to using his car as a bed because it was far too hot to sleep anywhere else. Some people were lucky enough to have supplies and built tents and forts with sleeping bags. Space was extremely limited on the ground, which meant most people had to find their vehicles. The next problem was actually finding their cars… The traffic was so severe that some people could not even get to their vehicles.
Rocking with Jimi Hendrix
There were over 30 musicians set to perform on the stage at Woodstock. Jimi Hendrix was one of them. He headlined the festival - and only performed for about 30,000 attendees. Unfortunately, since he was last, most people had already gone home due to unfavorable weather conditions, such as rain and extreme heat.
Jimi Hendrix earned the most money out of anyone who performed at Woodstock. He walked away with $18,000. The performance lasted for two amazing hours. It has been said that this performance at Woodstock went down in history for him and his band Gypsy Sun and Rainbows.
Wrapped Up in Love
1969 was a difficult time for a lot of people. It was a political era in which people struggled a lot. Woodstock gave people a glimmer of hope during a hard time. For that reason, this iconic photo became the most memorable. These two love birds are now several decades older. Bobbi Kelly and Nick Ercoline were dating at the time of Woodstock, and they quickly became Woodstock icons. The lovers stand there, experiencing a beautiful sunrise, and it just speaks volumes.
The couple represented so much to so many. What the two felt in this photo, everyone else around them seemed to feel as well. A photographer from Magnum took this candid shot, which they will forever treasure since Bobbi and Nick eventually got married and had children together. At the time of the photo, Jefferson Airplane was performing, and the couple was enjoying the moment, taking in the music and the experience.
Sway Your Hair Like You Don’t Care
Woodstock was not advertised as a music festival per se. It was said it was marketed as a weekend in the country, which makes sense since it was on a farm. It was a span of days filled with 32 hit musicians performing. Non-Stop partying, arts and crafts, peace and love, and 60's fashion. There had never been anything like it.
In this photo, a girl with the iconic hippie hair of that time period is partying and dancing to the music. Everyone who attended Woodstock was convinced that music was the way to bring peace and love to the world. Luckily for us, we get to experience the magic thanks to the photographers at the festival who captured every moment.
Hanging with The Pearl
Nobody really knew how big Woodstock was going to be. Not even Janis Joplin a.k.a. the pearl. She found out about the festival just a couple of days prior. Thankfully, she did not have another commitment, and she and her band said yes to the performance. When she told her band they had a gig, she did not make it a big deal because she did not know how big of a deal it really was. It was not until they arrived and saw the number of people in the crowd that they realized what a big thing this was.
Janis Joplin was among the performers who performed on day two of Woodstock. She was also one of the biggest stars to perform. Despite her star status, Janis and her band did not leave after their iconic performance. They stayed at the festival until the end, to experience it all.
The Who’s Who
People all over knew about Woodstock. There was a huge hype surrounding it before it even happened. So it is no surprise that celebrities were among the crowd attending Woodstock. They wanted to be a part of the action just as much as everyone else. One celebrity, in particular, a German model named Veruschka von Lehndorff, is pictured here enjoying the festival.
Von Lehndorff was a popular model and actress around this time period. Originally from Russia, she studied art in Hamburg and was later discovered in Florence, by a photographer named Ugo Mulas, at a very young age. This was the first step toward her rise to international fame, after becoming a full-time model. Some years later, she met Eileen Ford, head of the famous Ford Modeling Agency, in Paris.
Woodstock was a place where everyone was welcome and accepted. It did not matter what gender you were, what race you were, or even your age. This photograph encapsulates that message. We do not know how old the girl in this photograph is, but she is definitely one of the younger attendees. You can tell from the photo just how fun it was for everyone who was able to attend. The memories that she created at such a young age at this Festival will stick with her forever.
It may come as a complete surprise to you, but there were also a handful of births that happened during Woodstock. There are two records of children being born during the festival. In one instance, the child was born at a nearby hospital, after the mother went into labor at the festival. She had to be moved to the hospital by helicopter, and the child was born when she got there. Another child was born in a car, while they were stuck in traffic on their way to Woodstock.
Tie-Dye for the Win!
Janis Joplin introduced the tie-dye craze that came to characterize a decade. She, Joe Cocker, and John Sebastian, an interesting character who tie-dyed his underwear, played at Woodstock covered in garments full of colorful swirls.
Everyone attending Woodstock would agree that tie-dye was all the rage. There were vendors all over the farm selling tie-dye clothing and memorabilia to the concertgoers. Thankfully, if you did not own anything from this fashion trend, you could certainly get it while you were at the festival and fit right in! This trend did not end at Woodstock. It lasted for years to come.
Follow the Groovy Brick Road
No matter what path you chose at Woodstock, you were surely in for a memorable time and a crazy adventure. These signs are so awesome. We love how they are nailed to the trees. How cool would it be to have a copy of these signs hanging up around our houses? I bet people who attended Woodstock would love to have bought something like this as a souvenir.
if you took the path titled groovy way, you would probably find all of the iconic hippie fashion, such as flared jeans and Afro hairstyles. These styles were not just seen in passing at Woodstock, they were also staples in the 70s and disco fashion. If you took the path titled gentle, you would be in good company, hanging with souls who were a little more spiritual. You would probably be practicing yoga and wearing Bohemian dresses.
When Life Gives You Instruments, Make Music!
Woodstock spanned over the course of three days. There were 32 performers. Over the course of the three days, of course, there were a few breaks between performances. While one performer broke down their set and another one would put up theirs, people in the audience decided to make music of their own. They did not want the music to end.
In this photo, we see a couple of people putting on their own little musical show. Everyone is dancing to the beat these people are playing. There is a guy playing the drums and a woman playing her flute. They must have known that there were going to be breaks, and so they brought instruments of their own. Look at the drummer's eyes, you can almost feel his passion.
Legendary rocker Tim Hardin performed on day one of Woodstock. He played a couple of songs with his band, but then performed one song solo. He ditched the band to sing a solo rendition of “If I Were a Carpenter.” Even though this performance was iconic, he was only paid $2,000. He did not make as much as other musicians at Woodstock.
This photograph is incredible. The photographer caught him in a candid moment off stage. We have got to wonder what hit was being written right here! If only the photographer had captured the lyrics he was writing down at the time.
The Queen of Boho
The people who attended Woodstock loved to experiment with wild and crazy outfits and accessories. The girl pictured here is covered in accessories. She is showing us true bohemian fashion. The addition of flowers in her hair and other jewelry really took this look to the next level.
These flower children weren't trying to make a fashion statement, and yet their aesthetic went on to influence generations of festival-attending youths to come.
Hail the Almighty Rain Makers!
Woodstock took place in the hottest month of summer, and because of the crowded conditions and the far higher turnout than was expected, water was hard to come by. People were beginning to worry about the lack of water, and they decided they had to take matters into their own hands.
Soon enough, it began to pour and Woodstock turned into a complete wet mess, with mud and water everywhere. I guess it is true what they say, be careful what you wish for. The muddy conditions made it really hard for people to enjoy the rest of the festival.
A Muddy Business
In the span of three days, Woodstock saw so much variation in the weather. It went from hot, muggy, and humid to severe rain, flooding, and mud. It was good that they got some rain, unfortunately, it was bad for the musicians and caused some technical problems. But of course, that did not stop the 32 musicians from performing.
As you can see in this capture, people did not seem to mind all of the problems that came with the severe weather. The people in this photo had to dry out all of their rain-soaked belongings. Pretty sure they were not going to get any sleep anyway.
Whenever you have a large group of people in one place, you have to worry about the potential of violence, and of course, the people in charge of Woodstock had valid concerns. Thankfully though, this was not the case with Woodstock. The only things that people preached over the span of three days were peace, love, freedom, happiness, and unity.
This photograph really encapsulates the essence of Woodstock. You can see everyone with their hands in the air listening to music together, happy and smiling. It really is as if nothing else matters. They do not seem to have a care in the world, and they are all united as one.
Rocking the Daisies
Hippies, often called flower children, used colorful, vibrant clothing, covered with flowers; they wore flowers in their hair and passed them around to the public. They used flowers as symbols of peace, love, unity, and happiness, and this is how they got to be known as flower children. They really were all about spreading peace and joy.
The couple photographed here is radiating peace and happiness. There has been nothing else like Woodstock and there never will be again. This is a feeling that cannot be recreated. Many other bands were invited to Woodstock and couldn't make it. Unfortunately, they will forever regret turning down this opportunity. Of course, they did not know how big it was going to be. No one did.
While people may have taken the time to seek out the details of their outfits, such as the layered beaded necklaces and the leather accessories or excessive jewelry, they really didn't seem to pay much attention to their hair. The girls tended to keep their hair straight and long, and some even had bangs, but that was the extent of it. You could see burly beards or afros among the men.
Embroidered blouses and layered necklaces, ready to be paired with low-slung bell bottoms, made this girl the perfect subject for a snap. It looks like she spent a lot of time perfectly curating her accessories for her Woodstock Style.
The number of people, along with the extreme heat and rain, made the conditions unfavorable for the festival goers. Beating the heat and sleeping outside on top of their vans seemed like the best option for these Woodstock attendees.
This photograph documents an incredible moment in Woodstock's history. People literally had to camp out on top of and inside of their vehicles. They never anticipated the number of people that actually attended. Traffic was literally at a standstill, there was a point where you could not get in or out of the festival. Additionally, the crowds made the 3-day festival drag on to last for 4 days.
Despite all of the incredible performances happening at Woodstock, photographers were also able to photograph many special moments between people in the audience.
This couple is fashion at its finest. The guy pictured is showing a minimal take on Woodstock fashion, wearing only denim cut-offs. He styled his hair into an Afro, which was extremely common around the festival. The woman pictured has her icy blonde hair parted right in the middle and styled with a slight wave, which is likely from all of the rain they experienced. Her dress is long and flowy, in perfect Bohemian fashion. The fringe detail on the bottom is a lovely touch.
One Big, Happy Family
Everyone was family at Woodstock. It was not unusual to see groups of people sitting together in the fields enjoying the music. It did not matter if these people knew each other or came together, they were all family. Adults and children were all welcome.
There were not many publications allowed in the festival to document the event. Rolling Stone magazine was given full access throughout the festival, and they were one of the only people to get that clearance. This photograph was taken by Baron Wolman, who was a photographer at Rolling Stone. Since it was such a popular magazine, it was easy for him to get snaps like this, as people were eager to be photographed by the magazine.
A Celestial Sound
The kickoff to the Woodstock Festival was just as amazing as the festival itself. First, Richie Havens performed. This was then followed by an incredible speech by Sri Swami Satchidananda. He shared an uplifting and inspiring message with the group.
“My Beloved Brothers and Sisters, we can just feel the vibes. Music is a celestial sound, and it is the sound that controls the whole universe, not atomic vibrations. Sound energy, sound power, is much, much greater than any other power in this world. And, one thing I would very much wish you all to remember is that with sound, we can make—and at the same time, break.”
The Faces Behind the Magic
Woodstock took place in New York State. However, it was not actually in the town of Woodstock. It was held in a town called Bethel. The reason why it was called Woodstock was not because of the location, but because the people who financed the festival were from a company by the name of Woodstock ventures.
The place where the festival actually took place was a dairy farm owned by Max Yasgur. He was a farmer who graciously allowed Woodstock Ventures to put on the festival on his land. Sadly, he got a lot of pushback from the community about his graciousness. People in his neighborhood went as far as to sue him. He died in 1973, shortly after Woodstock.
How could you not smile during a time like Woodstock? This happy couple must have been so excited for what was to come. Maybe they were most excited for Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix- or one of the other 30 musicians scheduled to perform. They exude beauty and are icons of bohemian fashion.
The lady pictured is perfectly dressed in Woodstock fashion. Wearing a peasant blouse was very common among the concertgoers, and hers is perfect in those colorful stripes. Her partner, while not wearing a shirt, decided to accessorize with various necklaces. This was also a very common look around the festival.
Some Morning Yoga
Sri Swami Satchidananda led a yoga class every morning. It looks like he had no problem drawing a crowd to join him in the spiritual workout. They used this time to connect and relax while there were no musical performances.
We love the variety of yoga poses that the group is doing. It is showing that they are practicing together, yet still doing their own flow. Everyone seems to be having a great time together. Yoga is really a practice of peace and love, and that is exactly what the people at Woodstock wanted to promote, so it is no surprise that it was practiced all over the fields.
Nobody expected that almost half a million people would attend Woodstock. The traffic getting in and out of the festival was absolutely brutal. People were stuck in traffic and could not get in to see the bands perform, so they decided to get out of the car and find other ways to get there.
Some people decided to hitchhike or walk. People would do whatever it took to get to the festival, and nothing could stop them. This picture speaks volumes. It seems like the couple here got stuck in the traffic jam.
Woodstock ventures, which organized the festival, sold nearly 100,000 tickets prior to the first day of the festival. Almost half a million people attended Woodstock, so you do the math. Over 300,000 people decided to come to Woodstock, even though they did not have a ticket for the monumental event.
Nobody knew it was going to be such a huge deal, and the organizers were definitely not ready for such a huge turnout. People started getting to the festival two days before it even started. There were so many people that it was absolutely impossible to control the situation, and that is when Woodstock became free!
Peace & Love
At such a huge event, one can only imagine how hard it was to see the bands perform. Either you were too far back, or not tall enough to see over the people in front of you. This photo captures the feeling!
This photo is quintessential Woodstock. You can see by their face how much they're enjoying the music, and you can almost feel the joy they are exuding.
The Woodstock festival lasted three days, and during that time, the audience of half a million people truly promoted the concepts of peace and love. There was not a single incidence of violence during the entirety of the festival. Well, there was one incident, but it came from a band member, not from the peaceful audience. It occurred on-stage, as Abbie Hoffman tried to jump onto the stage during a break in The Who’s set.
Hoffman took the mic and began a semi-coherent rant about freeing John Sinclair from jail, when Pete Townshend turned, yelled at Hoffman to get off “my stage,” and hit him on the head with his guitar. Hoffman hobbled off the stage, and the angry members of The Who finished their set.
In the Zone
You would think that most people would attend a music festival to hear and enjoy the music. But that was not always the case. It seems a lot of people came to Woodstock to simply be around other people and play their own instruments. By doing so, they were able to entertain the other concert-goers between sets.
Photographed here is a hippie, complete with long hair and a beard. He got himself on a top platform, the perfect place to play his guitar between sets. He seems completely content being in his own world, playing his own music, while waiting for the entertainment to begin.
A Weekend to Remember
Aside from the 32 incredible performances happening at Woodstock, there was also a ton of time to just relax and hang out with your friends around the farm.
This photograph is a great example of that. People seem to be completely content sitting in the forest. They are enjoying the Great Outdoors and enjoying the company of others. The clothing hanging in the trees is amazing to see in this photo. Maybe they were drying them from the rain, or maybe they were making makeshift tents to sleep in. Nobody seems to mind the fact that they are wet and covered in mud, they are just having a good time.
A Different Perspective
Okay, this photograph is truly incredible. This guy is definitely making a statement reading his book while up in the sky. It is unclear what he is doing up there. Maybe it is his way of getting on someone's shoulders to get a better view... And it looks like he would have the best view in the house from up there.
Hopefully, he did not fall from his perch and hurt himself. Hopefully, he got some reading done while waiting for the bands to play, and hopefully, he got a great view of it all. Either way, we are sure he had a memorable time at the festival.
This amazing action shot shows just how fun Woodstock really was. There were tons of crazy happenings going on all over Woodstock. This is just one of them. Crowd surfing happened the entire time.
People loved to get thrown and surf the crowds, all in hopes of getting a little bit closer to the stage for a better look at their favorite musician.
Dancing in the Rain
The people in attendance at Woodstock did not let rain or mud, or any of the other severe weather conditions ruin their time. It does not matter that the festival was lacking basic luxuries. People literally let their hair down, rolled up their sleeves, and danced in the rain.
The people captured in this epic photograph seemed so happy. They weren’t going to let a little bit of rain ruin their time. A few of them are even wearing plastic ponchos, which means they were prepared for the rain! The ponchos may not have been in Woodstock fashion, but they sure were functional when the downpour started.
An Obstacle Course
Woodstock became free for many reasons. For one, they did not realize it was going to be such a huge event, and it was literally impossible for them to control the crowds. Also, they did not have much security. People came in through fences and climbed all over the equipment and other things around the farm.
Surprisingly, with such a huge event, there was no violence. Unfortunately, however, two deaths were reported. It was reported that someone died from a drug overdose. Another death was a freak accident where the person was accidentally hit by a tractor. While both of those instances are extremely sad, it is amazing that there were only two reports out of over 400,000 people.
“The Free Stage”
There was a school bus used by the Hog Farmers near the “Free Stage”, which was basically a space where artists and attendees would jam and perform open mic numbers. In the photo above, some men are hanging out near the school bus. When the weather started to change and a storm began, a huge crowd started chanting in unison, “No rain, no rain, no rain”.
After just three hours, five inches of rain had fallen and turned everything into a swamp. Joan Baez even started singing “We Shall Overcome”!
Festival-Goers Hugging at 'The Greatest Peaceful Event'
Bethel became the third-largest city in the state of New York for one weekend, after an approximate 500,000 people were at the farm at one time. Of course, no one involved with the Woodstock festival ever expected such a high amount of people to attend, and as a result, there were food and water shortages, among many other issues. In fact, the situation came to such a point that the NY governor at the time, Nelson Rockefeller, officially declared it a disaster area.
Despite there being more than 5,000 medical emergencies at the festival, people still took care of each other and tried to help in any way possible. Even if it was through support and affection, like these three people hugging so happily.
People Played with Suspended Gongs at the “Free Stage”
The Free stage we mentioned earlier wasn’t only for jamming and mic performances, it was a free, open space where people could go and do all sorts of activities, like a Hippie Disneyland of sorts, complete with drugs, massages, free hugs, and all sorts of instruments laying around. In the photo below, you can see people playing with some hanging gongs near the Free Stage.
Of course, what was Disneyland for some, was hell for others. Famous Indian sitar player, Ravi Shankar, attended the festival and recalled it as something “terrifying”. Shankar said he didn’t have a good time, and the crowds of thousands of mud-covered people reminded him of water buffaloes in India, instead of free spirits listening to transcendent music.
Even Tractors Served as Resting Spots
At Woodstock, any place was fair game when it came to resting.
There were so many people everywhere and so much going on all the time, that finding a resting place was imperative. And that could be anything, even the farm tractors!
A Very Unique Festival Program
One of the special things about Woodstock was that, since it was the first festival of its kind, it was not dominated by merchandise. Unlike today, where merchandise is a huge part of the event; everywhere there are shirts and souvenirs.
Woodstock only had its original programs which, together with the staff’s t-shirts and jackets with the Woodstock logo, are now worth thousands of dollars, since they’re the only remaining souvenirs.
There Were Many Children at the Festival, But Probably No Babies Were Born There
It is said that four babies were born at the festival, but it remains unclear. One singer said on stage, “Some cat’s old lady just had a baby, a kid destined to be far out!”. Also, a medic later reported that a mother-to-be was flown to a hospital and another had her baby in the car, stuck in traffic!
Eliot Tiber, who appears in Taking Woodstock, said a woman had a baby at his family’s hotel next to the festival.
Rain, Traffic, and Electrocution Weren’t an Issue for Artists or Attendees
Performers and people at Woodstock felt they were part of something so unique that it was going to take a lot to ruin the experience. Intense rain, heavy traffic, or even the risk of electrocution didn’t scare these people. In fact, The Grateful Dead, a band from California, played on stage during heavy rain and flooding, standing in water up to their ankles. Considering they were surrounded by amplifiers, instruments, microphones, and things that required a big amount of electricity, this was extremely dangerous.
The band even said they felt electricity shocks when they touched their guitars and held the mics. But, they did it anyway, along with many other bands, including Alvin Lee (from Ten Years After), who said, “Oh come on. If I get electrocuted at Woodstock, we’ll sell a lot of records.”
3 Deaths and Not Enough Bathrooms
Considering the number of people that attended the festival (more than 500,000), it’s surprising there were only three fatal accidents at Woodstock. Two people overdosed, and one, only 17 years old, died after a tractor ran over him while he was sleeping in a sleeping bag.
Another big issue was the shortage of toilets. Since no one expected such a huge turnout, festival staff only set up 600 toilets, and it wasn’t nearly enough. Basically, there was one toilet for every 650 people.
A Stage and a Crowd That Could Be Watched From Every Angle
One of the most amazing things about musicians is that they get to connect with thousands of people through their music. They get to get on a stage and look at a crowd of thousands of faces staring back at them. At Woodstock, performers weren’t only greeted with this incredible feeling, but they looked back at a unique crowd of people covered in mud, dancing, playing music, and running around; they basically got to play for a human wonderland.
The Incredible String Band, a folk quartet from Scotland, said, "It was incredibly high and three out of the four of us had vertigo. Little flimsy dresses on the girls, acoustic guitars out of tune, the drums damp from the tent, it was like playing off the Forth Bridge to this sea of people cooking beans in the mud." They said their performance at Woodstock was something they would never forget.
Martin Scorsese Edited an Oscar-Winning Documentary About the Festival
Artie Kornfeld, the festival organizer and mastermind behind Woodstock, thought it would be a good idea to film the festival and do a documentary on the whole event. Kornfeld had made an agreement with Warner Bros Studios to come and film the whole festival. At the time, Martin Scorsese had just graduated from NYU film school and he was recruited as one of the editors for the film.
Over the course of three days, they shot 120 miles of footage, which Scorsese and a team of others managed to cut down into a three-hour film. The documentary won an Academy Award and made huge profits, which Scorsese and the team of filmmakers barely saw.
Woodstock Was an Anti-War Festival That Received Help From the Military
Woodstock happened at a time when the U.S. got involved in the Vietnam War, and, not surprisingly, since Woodstock was all about music and peace, its attendees were strongly against the war. The photo below shows a man driving a Mustang covered with anti-war messages, like “war is not healthy”.
The ironic thing was that, if it wouldn’t have been for the U.S. army, people would have had a very hard time at the festival. It was the army that airlifted medical supplies, food, and artists, to keep the festival going. The festival organizers said to the attendees, "They are with us man, they are not against us. Forty-five doctors or more are here without pay because they dig what this is into."
People Could Buy a Blue Jean for $5 and a Stand Was Set on Fire
The hippie mentality didn’t keep people from doing business at the festival. People sold everything from food, clothing, and a variety of items. The couple in this photo sold jeans, tops, hats, shirts, and more for just $5.
Food was also sold for nearly nothing until at one point, one food stand ran out of burgers and raised the price of each hamburger from 25 cents to $1. People got angry at what they considered a “capitalist” move that wasn’t keeping with the tone of the festival. Chaos ensued and people finally set the stand on fire.
Most People Missed Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner”
This photo, showing two men in a van painted with the American flag, depicts how, even though hippies were against the “system” and certainly the government, they still loved their country and were very patriotic. And one of the festival’s most patriotic moments was when Jimi Hendrix played his magnificent version of the U.S. anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
Since Hendrix was one of the main performances of the festival, he was scheduled to play last, but after changes in programming, Hendrix’s set was postponed an entire day. By that time, most of the people had left, so only a few heard Hendrix’s legendary performance.
The Hippies Left a Mess Behind
You would expect that a festival that’s all about peace and love and nature would attract people that cared for the environment. But this wasn’t the case with Woodstock, in fact, by looking at the photo below, we can get a clear picture of how people left the place. The land and the entire town of Bethel were left in such a mess, that even after the land owner, Yasgur, was approached the following year about another festival, he immediately refused. The townspeople even came up with a law forbidding another festival to take place.
Woodstock’s 25th anniversary, in 1994, took place about 10 miles from Bethel, in a town in New York called Saugerties. More than 550,000 people attended. Again, a much higher number than the organizers expected. Five years later, another Woodstock was held in Rome, New York, and there were a number of reports of violence, sexual assaults, and fires.
A Girl and Her Pet Monkey
This is an amazing photo of a girl posing next to her pet monkey. Since Woodstock was all about peace and love and respect for all living things, it’s not surprising some people came with their animals.
Many people brought their dogs to the festival, but this girl went a step further and decided to bring her pet monkey with her.
Bob Dylan Did Not Perform at the Festival
Not many know that the original idea was to build a recording studio in Woodstock, New York. A group of people invested in the project, which was getting famous for its artistic projects and brilliant musicians, such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and more.
As it turned out, the investors had a change of heart and decided to have a massive concert instead. They chose the name Woodstock because of its connection to Bob Dylan. Ironically enough, he didn’t even perform at the festival. Apparently, one of his kids got very sick at the last moment and he couldn’t attend.
Performers Had to Be Flown In Because They Couldn’t Get Past Traffic
The festival’s first scheduled performer was the band, Sweetwater, but they were stuck in traffic and didn’t make it on time. In order to get things going, Richie Havens started playing, and he played for hours. At one point, after running out of his own songs, he started to play Beatles covers and even made up a song that later became known as a sort of Woodstock anthem, called “Freedom”.
The festival organizers had to fly in performers on a helicopter in order to finally give Havens a break!
Joni Mitchell and The Rolling Stones Didn’t Attend, but Santana Did
Santana was one of the many legendary performers that attended Woodstock. However, there were many other famous musicians that the organizers tried to get to perform, but they opted out. For example, Joni Mitchell, who was a hippie movement icon of the time, was convinced by her manager not to attend because she was scheduled to perform on a TV show shortly after.
Funny enough, also attending the TV show were Stephen Stills and the late David Crosby, of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, who did perform at Woodstock. And for those of you asking what she based her iconic “Woodstock” song on, it was about her boyfriend’s experiences at the festival. The Rolling Stones were another huge band that didn’t make it to Woodstock. Mick Jagger was filming a movie at the time, and Keith Richards and his wife had just had a baby.
A Spiritual Opening Ceremony
The photo below shows the Indian religious teacher, Satchidananda Saraswati, conducting the opening ceremony at the festival. In a way to set the tone of this momentous event, he was also instrumental in bringing Eastern philosophies to the West.
It was a beautiful way to open such a special event, and Saraswati inspired the hundred thousand-plus crowd to chant in unison and be captivated by his words.
Here we have another view of just how big and expansive the crowd was at the opening ceremony. Swami Satchidananda first came to America in 1966; Yoga was mostly unknown here.
Health food stores only contained bottles of vitamin supplements and photos of bodybuilders. When people heard of the word yogi, they thought of a popular cartoon. All this changed when Swami Satchidananda arrived, and since his appearance at Woodstock, his ideas and teachings slowly seeped throughout America.
Waiting for the Bus
Like all music festivals, Woodstock showcased the younger generation wearing the new styles — from bell bottoms and crop tops to knit dresses. Here we see a group as they wait for a bus to take them to the festival grounds.
Fashions of the era represented youth, from the colorful outfits that reflected vibrant optimism and expressed a romantic yearning for an equal society.
On August 13, two days before the festival's start, there were already traffic jams caused by the exodus of people making their way to the festival grounds in an attempt to get there early and grab a spot before it gets too crowded.
Woodstock's organizers had prepared for a crowd of 150,000, but by the second day of the festival, somewhere between 400,000 to 500,000 had already descended upon Max Yasgur's dairy farm.
Despite the logistical nightmares and unexpected crowds, Woodstock went off relatively hitch-free. There were barely any reported crimes, and surprisingly not nearly as many fatalities as most skeptics were expecting.
The counterculture mantra of love and peace won out with an audience that almost reached half a million and it brought people together from all over the country.
The Impact Thereafter
Thanks to all the coverage in the media, Woodstock had an impact far beyond its actual borders. Following Woodstock, an eponymous documentary film, the year was released to critical acclaim and distribution across the United States.
It really felt like it was a time for social and cultural change, mainly due to population demographics. According to the US Census Bureau, 36% of the US population was under 18 in 1960. A youth movement was underway.
The Era of Woodstock
Likewise, Woodstock's photos that circulated painted a picture to those on the outside of what it felt like to be there, and at this festival that was quickly becoming symbolic of the 'Woodstock generation.'
To an entire generation, Woodstock comprised the central tenets of the 1960s cultural revolution. Fifty years afterward, the legend of "3 Days of Peace & Music" lives on.
A group of journalists worked amid the chaos of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. However, initial coverage of the Woodstock event portrayed it as a disaster. However, a young generation of journalists saw the event differently.
As they returned to their newsrooms across America, the reporters and editors struggled to characterize the era-changing events that had occurred over the weekend.
Many were carrying sleeping bags and tents, canned food and guitars, dressed in beads, leather, bandanas, and long gowns, the young people spoke of sleeping out under the stars and possible riots.
Impromptu shelters as we see here were common; as this man unwinds in the grass hut he built for the weekend.
Bringing Yoga to the West
As one of the great Yoga masters to bring the classical Yoga tradition to the West in the 1960s, Sri Swami Satchidananda taught Yoga postures and meditation.
He also introduced students to a vegetarian diet and a more compassionate lifestyle; these concepts influenced a generation and spawned a growing Yoga culture.
A New Nation
Despite the rain and the traffic jams, the mud, hunger and thirst, and beyond the confusion, a new nation had emerged into the glare provided by the moving photos we see.
At the festival, thousands were able to do things that would ordinarily be considered rebellious regarding whatever current sociological theory one might want to embrace. Swimming, canoeing, or running around scantily clad, believe it or not, stay up all night.
Coming of Age
Attendees even climbed up the sound tower to see the stage. The festival's overall panorama wove together elements drawn from their experiences and the artistry of the performances.
An article featured in The Rolling Stone magazine also explored the cultural implications of Woodstock on a personal level, it discussed how Woodstock represented a coming of age of personal freedom.
From makeshift shelters to food stalls, festival attendees got creative in the absence of adequate facilities. The attendees endured the discomforts to relish in a lifestyle that was an expression of their independence.
While newspapers across the US continued to focus on the concert as a disaster area, network television news programs were quick to pick up on Woodstock's message.
As hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life invaded a rural resort area that was unprepared to accommodate them all. Here we see young people eating outside the food tent at Woodstock.
Somehow, by nature of old-fashioned kindness and caring, people came together, in harmony and with good intentions, and all of them learned from the experience.
Defining Its Own Culture
Woodstock proved to be a milestone in coverage of the music scene and the broader media investigation of social and economic issues that affect younger citizens. After the Woodstock weekend, rock music and other matters concerning the American experience were no longer oddities.
In the aftermath of the festival, it was clear that the future had arrived when hundreds of thousands of people were part of a place that defined its own culture for three days.
The downpour of rain threatened the festival and delayed several performances while drenching the grounds and the attendees. Here, we see pictured men soaked while having fun in the mud.
The ground on which two or three hundred thousand kids were sitting was begging to be turned back into the mud, and it got its wish, and it couldn't have mattered less to anyone.
A handful of prominent bands spurned invitations to perform at Woodstock. The Byrds were invited but declined to play. Said bassist John York, "By that time we had no idea what it was going to be. We were tired of the festival scene... So all of us said, 'No, we want a rest' and missed the best festival of all."
The Doors also declined an invitation to perform at Woodstock, supposing it would be a "second class repeat of Monterey Pop Festival." Guitarist Robby Krieger said it was one of his biggest regrets as a musician.
Influential Musical Performances
Many of the festival's acts were forced to perform during the rain that troubled the proceedings. Here we see Ravi Shankar as he played the sitar during his performance on a Friday night.
Ravi was an Indian musician, composer, and founder of the National Orchestra of India; he was also influential in spurring Western appreciation of Indian music.
Still, the festival represented a moment in which a generation of young people attained a critical mass for three days in a rural New York field. As such, it had a far-reaching impact and could be interpreted to pose a threat to society.
By focusing on negative, threatening images, such as the widespread use of illegal substances and deteriorating public safety, media coverage tended to reinforce the establishment's social order while also raising disturbing questions about Woodstock attendees' mindset and marginalizing the young generation's political standing.
Two festival-goers rest between sets while reading a newspaper. With few places to catch a good rest, many Woodstock attendees had to make do with what they had, which was often just a blanket under the stars.
After the festival, many felt as if they were but fragments of their former selves; with such an eye-opening and remarkable experience, many left with a newfound sense of self.
It’s estimated that almost half a million people made the trek to a dairy farm in rural Bethel, New York for the infamous Woodstock Music and Arts Fair. With so many people traveling in the same direction, it’s no surprise that the traffic soon came to a standstill.
Tired of waiting in stop-and-go traffic going towards the fairgrounds, this group of young people decided to take a bit of a lunch break with this roadside picnic. Judging by their relaxed expressions, we’re sure they preferred to be sitting by the road instead of inside a stuffy car.
A Pensive Moment
Though the Woodstock Music Festival is largely remembered as a positive and peaceful moment in music history and of the ‘60s, it wasn’t always fun.
The promoters of the concert originally thought that only 50,000 people would attend. Ultimately, that number swelled to close to half a million! So many people and rainy bad weather made for an extremely muddy and less-than-sanitary situation. We’re not sure exactly why this woman, named Pat McLean from nearby Massachusetts, looks like she has something heavy on her mind. Perhaps she regrets attending the infamous festival?
Get on Your Walking Shoes
With thousands of fans making the pilgrimage to Max Yasgur’s dairy farm (the site of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair), those traveling by car soon found themselves stuck in unbearable traffic due to closed roads.
At a certain point, many fans (like the people in this photo) simply parked their cars and chose to walk to the festival. Soon, thousands of concertgoers were making the trip to the farm on foot. This person looks like he’s ready to join these adventurous fans, at least, as soon as he wakes up from his nap!
Though known more for music, the Woodstock Music Festival was originally envisioned as a place to debut different mediums of art and was billed as “An Aquarian Experience: 3 Days of Peace and Music'' by promoters.
One of the most memorable installations in the concert was a photo exhibit by acclaimed photographer and filmmaker, Ralph Ackerman. Ackerman’s coverage of the Woodstock festival has been displayed in countless films and photo exhibitions. If you’ve seen an image from this memorable concert (including this one!), there’s a good chance Ralph Ackerman was behind the camera!
A Memorable Movement
With his unique style and voice, it’s no wonder that musician Sly Stone was asked to perform at the 1969 Woodstock festival. His band, Sly and the Family Stone was known for their diversity featuring people of different ethnicities and men and women equally rocking out.
With hits like “Dance to the Music” and “Everyday People,” the band was one of the most anticipated acts to perform at Woodstock. While this performance propelled Sly and the Family Stone to international fame, it, unfortunately, led to the band's disbandment and substance issues for Sly.
The Man Behind the Festival
While images of Woodstock’s attendees have become common in the media, little is known about the men who helped organize and bring the idea of this infamous festival to life.
One of the event’s co-creators and organizers was Michael Lang. Lang got his start organizing festivals for artists like Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa before joining forces with other music executives to come up with the Woodstock Music and Art Fair held in 1969. Lang later said that his event “offered an environment for people to express their better selves if you will.”
“Father of Woodstock”
A musical genius who helped make the dream of Woodstock a reality is Artie Kornfeld. Kornfeld, a musician and talented songwriter himself, helped produce the 1969 Woodstock festival.
Known as the “Father of Woodstock,” Kornfeld was passionate about the counterculture festival and what it meant for that moment in history. Kornfeld once said, “Never did I think that what started as an idealistic conversation among friends would become part of history.” He has since spent decades traveling the country giving lectures on the social movements and counterculture that inspired Woodstock.
A Place for Animal Rights
With messages of peace, love, and acceptance amongst humans, it’s no surprise that attendees of the Woodstock Music Festival would want to extend that kindness to animals as well.
Though vegetarianism and the support of animal rights were nowhere as popular or visible as it is today, this brave man decided to bring attention to a cause that he deeply believed in. Many believe that the roots of vegetarianism and other health food movements have their roots in the counterculture and human rights movements of the ‘60s.
Though Roger Daltrey of the rock band, The Who, was better known for swinging his microphone around on stage, in this picture, it's his outfit that’s doing most of the moving. Wearing a spectacularly fringed costume, Daltrey and his band belted out the ‘60s anthem “My Generation.”
Joined by guitarist Peter Townshend, the two rocked on in front of a crowd of thousands. In later years, Daltrey would admit that the experience was actually pretty bad due to the traffic to get to the festival, the copious amount of illicit substances everywhere, and the general poor planning.
Considering that the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair was held on the 600-acre dairy farm of Max Yasgur, it’s no surprise that there would be a tractor or two hanging around the rural landscape and many attendees eager to go for a joyride on the farm staple.
Unfortunately, not every tractor ride ended in smiles. One unfortunate attendee was accidentally run over after tractor drivers were called in to help clear the mountains of garbage left by attendees. The 17-year-old teen, named Raymond Mizsak, became one of several Woodstock revelers that lost their lives in the festival.
Stars With Stage fright
Looking at this photo of folk singer Richie Havens, you would never think that the iconic artist was actually suffering from a particularly bad bout of stage fright.
It turns out that Havens had no idea that he would be the first musical act to perform at the famous festival after several other acts got stuck in the never-ending traffic leading to the concert grounds. Havens decided to play as many songs as he knew before playing a moving rendition of his song “Freedom/Motherless Child” which quickly set the tone for the festival.
A Quiet Moment Backstage
While things had taken a far messier and wild turn for Woodstock’s attendees, backstage was considerably cleaner and more organized. Away from the mud-soaked concertgoers and the long lines for the bathroom, artist Richie Havens and others were photographed taking a relaxing break between performances.
After playing for two hours and 45 minutes instead of the intended 40 minutes, it’s no wonder he needed to just decompress a bit! We love how even the shirts worn by the concert’s staff members are emblazoned with artist Arnold Skolnick’s original bird and guitar design.
Guided by Gurus
During the 1960s, more and more people began exploring different cultures and religions, particularly those associated with South Asia. Not only were many people traveling to places like India and Nepal, but yoga, meditation, and chanting were becoming popular as well.
Guru Swami Satchidananda was asked to make the opening statement and share a prayer about love and peace before the festival began. In his speech, Satchidananda praised the power of music and the power of Woodstock saying “The entire world is going to know what the American youth can do to humanity."
Lost in the Drumming
For many attendees of the Woodstock Music Festival, the event was a place where they could express their inner artistic and musical passions. It’s not uncommon to see footage or pictures of people so enraptured and caught up in the beats and rhythms around them that they couldn't help but move their bodies.
Dressed in what looks like simply a loin cloth, this man beats his drum furiously as revelers dance to his powerful beats. We're sure that this drum circle was just one of many that took place during the festival’s three-day span.
Free Dancing on the Free Stages
Though the Woodstock music festival was known for hosting some of the biggest acts of the 1960s like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, there were others who vied to perform alongside those music greats.
On the fairgrounds were open areas called “free stages” where smaller acts, like this band, could perform. With a small and low stage lit by warm string lights, this group put on an intimate performance that clearly had the crowd moving and dancing — especially this man who looks particularly motivated to dance to this band’s music!
While the 1969 Woodstock music festival was known for more debaucherous activities including the heavy and common use of illicit substances, there were some attendees who simply wanted to go to be part of a larger social movement.
This innocent young man was photographed in a bus on his way to the concert held on Max Yasgur’s farm. Presumably stuck in the infamously awful traffic caused by thousands of drivers heading to the festival, he pulled out a bubble wand to blow the camera some bubbles as he and his fellow concertgoers waited on the clogged roads.
Though the Woodstock music festival is known primarily today for its many iconic musical performances, the gathering was actually originally planned to include a variety of different creative and artistic endeavors.
The lines for people wanting to attend this puppet show weren’t as long as those standing in line to watch Janis Joplin. However, we’re sure that this little show proved for a refreshingly simple and enjoyable source of entertainment for the many children who attended the festival with their parents. (Even if many people would find this puppet a bit creepy today!)
Taking a Breather
During the year of the Woodstock festival (1969), the country was full of tension due to the growing counterculture movement, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War. It's no wonder that this man just wanted to lie down in the grass and forget about everything.
This image captures how some young people felt overwhelmed by the seismic societal changes and how many just wanted to escape into nature or a more simple lifestyle. We’re sure he was one of many just in that field staring up at the clouds moving about this historical moment in time.
Exploring New Instruments
In addition to the many established and famous musical acts that took the stage during the Woodstock music festival, there were many other smaller artists wanting to also play their music.
This photograph shows a woman strumming a stringed musical instrument known as a zither. A popular instrument used in some of the most iconic songs of the decade, the zither enjoyed a wave of popularity in the 1960s, particularly in the music of artists like John Sebastian. Perhaps this woman is just warming up for a performance later on in the day.
On the Woodstock Express
When many think of the counterculture movement during the 1960s, many of us think of the iconic Volkswagen Microbus and bands like the Grateful Dead cruising the streets in these small buses painted with designs like peace signs and flowers.
Though the bus in this picture looks like a repurposed school bus, we’re sure it fulfilled the same needs as the microbus. With its spacious interior, we wouldn’t be surprised if many concertgoers traveled to Woodstock in this hand-painted vehicle and probably spent the night in its roomy and artistically designed interior.
That’s One Way to Get Around
With hundreds of cars making their way down narrow country roads to Max Yunger’s farm for the Woodstock Music Festival, it’s no wonder that people were forced to get a bit creative when it came to transportation.
Rather than sit in hours of traffic, these men decided to take matters into their own hands. This photograph shows a group of men huddled together in what appears to be a toy tractor/lawnmower hybrid as they attempt to drive the off-road vehicle to the famous festival. Clearly, taking safety precautions was not on the mind of these reckless young men!
Solemn, Yet Stylish Look
One of the best parts about coming across a color photograph of this era is getting an up-close look at the hairstyles and fashion that were in style. Both the man and the woman are sporting long hair that was typical of the time for those involved in the counterculture or “hippie” movement.
As expected, the woman isn’t wearing a stitch of makeup yet looks completely radiant. While we can’t see what she's wearing under that thick blanket, we’re willing to bet that she’s also rocking some tie-dye clothing like her beau!
With traffic coming to practically a standstill for many drivers hoping to reach the rural farmland where the Woodstock music festival was held, eager concertgoers were left with few options when it came to finding something to eat.
This group of friends, however, came prepared. They packed a camping stove, what looks like pasta and meat, and were able to cook up a nourishing hot meal. To top it all off, they took turns taking swigs from what looked like a giant can of orange juice. We’re sure other travelers were jealous of their meal!
An Intense Moment
The Woodstock Music Festival featured performances from all types of artists including “roots rock” of Southern rock group Creedence Clearwater Revival. This photograph features drummer Doug Clifford as he puts on a particularly passionate performance of the band's hits.
At the time of the festival, Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the biggest acts to agree to perform. Like many of the bands performing, the band’s music was often filled with politically-charged lyrics, particularly about the Vietnam War. Just a few years after this photo was taken, in 1972, the band decided to go their separate ways.
The Road Less Traveled
While many of the stars who performed at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival were flown in via helicopter, concertgoers were not so lucky. Those traveling by car or bus had to maneuver the few rural roads to reach the farm where the festival was held.
Having grossly underestimated how many people would be attending the event, traffic became a huge issue and some roads were even shut down. These people decided to grab their camping equipment, leave their cars, and just walk to the farm. Judging by their sunburned appearance, it looks like they walked miles.
Mountain of a Man
While Woodstock featured a variety of artists, many of us associate it with lyrics about social change and peace and love. Knowing this, it’s hard to imagine that the hard rock band Mountain would appear on the same stage as gurus and folk singers.
Many music experts believe that Mountain would help inspire the heavy metal music that would appear in subsequent decades. Wearing a fringed vest and rocking some serious facial hair, co-lyricist and guitarist Leslie West played his guitar complete with his roaring deep voice, giving the festival a bit of an edge.
Waiting for the Bus
Some of the best photos to have emerged from the Woodstock festival are candid photos taken of the concertgoers on their way to the infamous festival. This photo shows two women sitting in front of a bus terminal, speaking to two men who also look like they are waiting for their bus to Woodstock to show up.
Interestingly enough, the newspapers displayed next to one of the women featured a picture of the ticker-tape parade that was held in honor of the historical Apollo 11 mission to the moon which had occurred about a month prior.
Not the Best Choice of Beverage
If you were planning to go to a multi-day long music festival held on a rural farm in upstate New York, you would probably consider bringing non-perishable foods and plenty of water.
This woman, however, seems to have missed the memo that most dairy products require refrigeration in order to keep them fresh and safe to drink. She was photographed holding a carton of milk as she explored the fairgrounds of the festival. Strange choice of beverage if you ask us, but then again, many things seen at Woodstock would be considered strange today!
A Fleeting Glance
Known for his perfectionism, singer John Fogerty, featured in this image, would later decry his band’s performance at the 1969 Woodstock festival saying it “wasn’t our best.”
He added that he was disappointed to have had to perform after The Grateful Dead, who Fogerty claimed: “put half a million people to sleep!” The singer claimed that he was only inspired to play after seeing one man in the far distance holding up a lighter. He claimed he “played the rest of the show for that guy.” What a lucky man!
Parking Lot Meet Up
While there is no shortage of images of attendees of the Woodstock music festival caked with mud or looking worse for wear during the festival, it’s interesting to see what these people looked like before the festival began.
These concertgoers are just arriving at the farm stocked with necessities like beverages and even extra gas. Unfortunately, despite the festival being considered an opportunity to improve the world through music, the ground looks completely littered with garbage. A major contrast to the values espoused by many of the people who attended.
The Ultimate Backstage Pass
Wearing a pair of still-stylish Lee Riders jeans, this festival attendee named Melinda Lubinsky flashes a much-coveted “All Area Performer Pass” for the Aquarian Exposition which was later known as the Woodstock Music Festival.
While we’re not sure exactly why or how this woman was able to receive this backstage pass, we’re sure that she saw some pretty incredible things! It must have been amazing to have been given access to one of the greatest musical performances in history. We’re sure she has some truly unforgettable moments and memories of this event.
A Fashionable Trek Towards the Festival
Images from the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival offer a treasure trove of images that capture just how much fashion was changing. While the man behind our subject seems to be wearing a practical linen shirt and jeans as he lugs his camping gear, the man front-and-center considered Woodstock to be his own personal fashion runway.
Wearing tight pants held up with a belt, this man paired his outfit with a tie-dyed shirt and heavy suede jacket. To top it off, a pink scarf. This man couldn't look more stylish if he tried!
The Girl With the Grapes
While, according to many historians, there was no shortage of illicit substances or generally unsafe behavior, it seems that not everyone was partaking in unhealthy activities.
This woman decided to start her journey to the Woodstock music festival on a healthy note. She decided to munch on a bunch of grapes as she waited for the bus that would take her to Max Yasgur’s farm. Considering that the festival was known to have had very few options for food, we’re sure she was thankful to have packed some healthy and delicious snacks!
A Beatles-Inspired Look
While there were many styles representative of the 1960s, one of the most popular subcultures to emerge from the decade were the “hippies” — a name given to young members of this unconventionally dressed and unconventionally thinking generation.
This photo of two “hippies'' making their way toward the festival exemplifies the fashion of the time. Barefoot and wearing long curly hair and a brass-band uniform jacket (largely inspired by The Beatles), these two men are presumably on their way to meet up with fellow hippies.
Woodstock’s Forgotten Acts
Seen as a festival to celebrate the emerging counterculture and popularity of psychedelics, many bands emerged like The Incredible String Band, a “psychedelic folk” band that often fused music and surreal poetry during their performances.
This photo shows one of the band's members, Christina ‘Licorice’ McKechnie. The band, which was forced to perform on the same day as hard rock acts, was largely panned and wasn't even included in the documentary about the festival. Sadly, just close to 20 years after this photo was taken, McKechnie disappeared while hitchhiking in Arizona and was never heard from again.
Sweet Performance by Sweetwater
Though they were initially supposed to open the iconic music festival, the rock band Sweetwater became stuck in the gridlock traffic that also held back thousands of other drivers hoping to make their way to the Woodstock music festival.
Though their opening slot was taken by singer Richie Havens, Sweetwater eventually got their turn and became the first band to perform. Just a few months after this photo was taken, singer Nancy Nevins was involved in a serious car accident that left her unable to sing and perform, eventually leading to the demise of the band.
Bucking the Trend
Glancing at the photos from the Woodstock Music Festival often gives historians a better idea of what people were actually wearing versus flipping through the pages of a fashion magazine from the decade.
One of the most common garments for both men and women was fringed jackets and vests, typically made from suede or buckskin. During the ‘60s, the influence of Native American culture and traditional costumes began to appear in everyday fashion. Items such as moccasins, beads, and fringe accents became common elements in the fashion of the decade as demonstrated by this fashionable concertgoer.
An Ideal Business Model
It is often said that one of the most important things when creating a successful business is figuring out if there's a market for your product or service. In the case of these clever business people, the answer is yes. Who wouldn’t want an ice-cold soda or beverage on the way to an outdoor festival?
This intelligent couple set up a makeshift concert supplies store for vehicles carrying hungry and thirsty travelers on their way to the Woodstock Music Festival. At just 25 cents, we consider that cold drink to be quite the steal! We wonder how many cans of soda they sold.
A Family Affair
It's easy to assume that the 1969 Woodstock music festival was just for young people interested in taking part in the counterculture movement. The truth is, however, that many families and children actually attended this festival including this family pictured.
Wearing the traditional ‘hippie’ garments of the time, this father carries his son as he and the child’s mother navigate their way around the hilly terrain where the concerts were held. Not exactly the most family-friendly place, but then again, this was a time when many people were actively rebelling against conventional societal norms.
Unlike many modern concerts where seating or shelter is typically provided, the organizers of the Woodstock Music Festival of 1969 were woefully unprepared for everything from the number of people who ended up attending to the terrible weather.
Many attendees didn’t bring supplies like tents and so they slept in sleeping bags or made makeshift tents using their own clothing propped up with sticks. We doubt that this homemade tent was able to keep these people dry from the torrential rains that turned the grounds into one large mud pit or provide warmth from the chilly mountain air.
Dance to the Music
While the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival was all about celebrating the growing counterculture in America at the end of the decade, it was also all about the music. Woodstock featured some of the greatest acts playing their most memorable songs.
This picture features bassist David Brown, who passed away in 2000, and drummer Michael Shrieve as they perform with the legendary Santana. Brown played on all three albums until he departed the band in 1971. Shrieve lasted in Santana until late 1974.
If You Build It, They Will Party
In addition to hearing some of the world’s biggest artists at the time perform, attendees of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival took part in other activities. One of those activities was exploring the festival’s wooden structures.
Months before the festival began, University of Miami professors of art Bill Ward, Ron Liis, and several of their students were invited to build what is known as “earth art” — art that utilizes the natural landscape. What resulted were several installations throughout the area including one large structure known as the “playground.”
A Secret Skinny-Dip
The Woodstock music festival was all about embracing the societal movements and counterculture that had emerged in the 1960s, specifically rejecting societal norms regarding nudity and intimacy.
For this reason, many of the photos to emerge from this festival feature attendees in various states of undress, even in some rather compromising positions. Beyond just promoting “free love”, the festival encouraged patrons to explore the connections between their bodies and nature. This couple decided to take in the great outdoors and cool down with a little impromptu skinny dip in this lake.
Though guitarist Carlos Santana is known for his legendary guitar skills, he wasn’t the only renowned guitarist performing on that stage that afternoon at the 1969 Woodstock music festival. In addition to his fellow Santana bandmates, guitarist David Brown helped the band play their biggest hits including “Soul Sacrifice” and “Evil Ways.”
The coverage the band received resulted in international fame and countless chart-topping hits and awards. Unfortunately, just a few years after this photo was taken, Brown decided to leave the band before returning once more in 1974.
Woman’s Best Friend
While there was no shortage of partying and all sorts of wild and unconventional behavior taking place at the 1969 Woodstock music festival, some of the attendees took part in some pretty mundane activities as well.
This picture shows a woman taking her majestic-looking dog for a walk across the area where the concert was held. Her dog is a unique and generally less-common breed of dog known as a Borzoi or a Russian Hunting Sighthound. We wonder if they met any other four-legged friends on their walk.
The Songs of the Woodstock Generation
It takes a special level of cool to be considered the unofficial theme song for the “Woodstock Generation” and to be largely featured in the 1970 documentary about the infamous music festival. That award goes to the blues band, Canned Heat.
On that hot August day, the blues rock band took the stage as one of the festival's headlining acts and performed hits like “Going Up the Country '' which many believe contained lyrics about the Vietnam War. The performance by bassist Larry Taylor (pictured here) and his bandmates made them international rock legends.
A More Romantic Side to Woodstock
Though the Woodstock music festival was full of young attendees hoping to meet a significant other who also believed in the “free love” ethos of the event, there were also many couples who went to the festival together like this pair shown here.
The stylish pair were photographed sitting close to the festival’s “free stage area” — a place where attendees could take part in open mic sessions or just watch. Though this photo was taken decades ago, some of their clothing items or accessories are still in style today.
Taking a Peek
Like many concerts or festivals, the 1969 Woodstock festival originally began as a way to make a profit while putting on a great show. However, plans quickly changed when the festival's organizers realized that both the ticket booths and the fences that were supposed to have been erected on the site hadn’t been completed.
Attempts at holding back eager attendees behind chain-link fences quickly failed and the organizers embraced the now-free music and cultural event. This wooden fence that fans are holding onto was probably erected to protect the cameras used to film the event.
A Shocking Performance
Like many of the acts who were invited to take part in the 1969 Woodstock music festival, the Grateful Dead was one of the bands that epitomized the counterculture of the 1960s.
Due to the torrential rain, the band also had to deal with electric issues caused by the rain, having to frequently stop and restart due to getting shocked by the damaged electrical equipment. Despite the shockingly bad performance, the band’s frontman, Jerry Garcia joked that he was surprised his band was able to recover after “blowing the biggest gig of your career.”
The Queen of the Psychedelic Music Scene
When we think of the 1960s, specifically the women who took part in the counterculture movement of the decade, many people think of artist and singer-songwriter Grace Slick. Slick is known mostly for her collaboration with the psychedelic rock group Jefferson Airplane (seen in the background of this photo).
Slick helped the band achieve fame with her powerful and haunting voice in classic tunes like “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love.” With her dark eyeliner and fringed frock, Slick looked every bit the style and music icon as she was photographed.