Thursday, August 15, 2019

1969 revisted: Woodstock

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WOODSTOCK MUSICAL FESTIVAL 

AUGUST 15-18, 1969 

From Wikipedia at:
Woodstock was a music festival held between August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music", it was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York, 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Woodstock. It was also referred to alternatively, on occasion, as the "Bethel Rock Festival" given its location in the Town of Bethel, New York, or the "Aquarian Music Festival".  
Over the sometimes rainy weekend, 32 acts performed outdoors. It is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation. Rolling Stone listed it as number 19 of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll.  
The event was captured in the Academy Award-winning 1970 documentary film Woodstock, an accompanying soundtrack album, and Joni Mitchell's song "Woodstock", which commemorated the event and became a major hit for both Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Matthews Southern Comfort. Joni Mitchell said, "Woodstock was a spark of beauty" where half-a-million kids "saw that they were part of a greater organism". In 2017, the festival site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 


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Readers wanting to have a look at the behind the scenes activity of Woodstock should view the 2009 Ang Lee film Taking Woodstock. A good and interesting look at the events, based on Elliot Tiber’s memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life. 


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From Buzzfeed: 

20 Things You May Not Know About the Woodstock Music Festival 


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The festival was organized in six months by Michael Lang, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, and Artie Kornfield. 

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There was a total of 32 bands who performed under the sun, beneath the stars, and in the rain. 

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The festival was originally scheduled to take place in Woodstock, NY but since there weren't any suitable ground sites, it was moved to a town called Wallkill. 


Wallkill then decided they didn't want a sea of drugged-out hippies in their town, so they enforced a law that banned the festival from happening. 


In mid-July, only a month before the festival, Max Yasgur offered his dairy farm in Bethel, NY to be the official location for the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair. 
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The Woodstock Festival was released as a documentary in 1970 and was a great commercial success. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. 

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A live album of the concert was also released in 1970. 

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The couple featured on Woodstock's live album cover, Nick and Bobbi Ercoline, are married. 


Comment: 

I have previously posted about this couple, read that post at: 

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An estimated number of 400,000 people attended the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair. 

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The thousands of flower children who flooded Bethel created a huge traffic jam. 

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Arlo Guthrie announced during his set that the New York State Thruway was officially closed. 

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Richie Havens wasn't supposed to be the opening act, but the bands that were initially scheduled were late because of traffic. Richie improvised a song that would be forever associated with the Woodstock Festival: "Freedom." 

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Tickets for the three day event were sold for $18 in advance and $24 at the site. But due to the unexpected invasion of flower children, the festival became free. 

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A Jewish Community made 200 sandwiches for the attendees. 

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90% of concert-goers smoked marijuana. 

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These groovy signs were made so attendees wouldn't get lost. 

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Neil Young refused to be filmed for the movie while performing with Crosby, Stills & Nash. 

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Jefferson Airplane demanded $12,000 for their set, and The Who, Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead also wouldn't perform until they were paid. 

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Joni Mitchell was set to perform at the festival, but her manager advised her to stay back and appear on The Dick Cavett Show the next day. 


Don't worry though -- she made up for it by writing the major Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young hit, "Woodstock." 
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John Lennon had an interest in performing at Woodstock, but he told organizers his entry into the U.S. was denied by President Nixon. 

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There was a total of 80 lawsuits against Michael Lang and the organizers, which were eventually paid off from the Woodstock film. 

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There was a notorious thunderstorm toward the middle of the weekend, in which attendees chanted "No rain, no rain" to stop the rain fall. 

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Jimi Hendrix closed the event on Monday morning, performing a two-hour set. By then there were only 30,000 attendees because of the rain. 


Only a small chunk of hippies witnessed the greatest moment in rock history: Hendrix's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." 

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By the way: 

From Bytes March 3, 2012:

Those who recall Jimi Hendrix’s closing of Woodstock by playing the Star Spangled Banner, complete with explosions and distortion, may be surprised to learn that he was not the original act chosen to close the festival. Woodstock organiser Michael Lang revealed in 2006 that he originally asked cowboy star and crooner Roy Rogers to close the event. Roy realised that Woodstock was not his type of gig. 

Michael Lang: "I had this inner dream I grew up listening to Roy Rogers sing Happy Trails on the radio and I thought, `What a perfect way to end the show ' He was the only artist who turned us down. He didn't get it at all " 

Roy Rogers: "I would've been booed off the stage by all those goddamn hippies." 

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From Wikipedia at:
Aftermath

Max Yasgur refused to rent out his farm for a 1970 revival of the festival, saying, "As far as I know, I'm going back to running a dairy farm." Yasgur died in 1973.

Bethel voters did not re-elect Supervisor Amatucci in an election held in November 1969 because of his role in bringing the festival to the town, and the upset attributed to some residents. Although accounts vary, the loss was only by a very small margin of between six and fifty votes. New York State and the Town of Bethel also passed mass gathering laws designed to prevent any more festivals from occurring.

In 1984, at the original festival site, land owners Louis Nicky and June Gelish put up a monument marker with plaques called "Peace and Music" by a local sculptor from nearby Bloomingburg, Wayne C. Saward (1957–2009).


Attempts were made to prevent people from visiting the site. Its owners spread chicken manure, and during one anniversary, tractors and state police cars formed roadblocks. Twenty thousand people gathered at the site in 1989 during an impromptu 20th anniversary celebration. In 1997 a community group put up a welcoming sign for visitors. Unlike Bethel, the town of Woodstock made several efforts to cash in on its notoriety. Bethel's stance changed in recent years, and the town now embraces the festival. Efforts have begun to forge a link between Bethel and Woodstock.


Approximately 80 lawsuits were filed against Woodstock Ventures, primarily by farmers in the area. The movie financed settlements and paid off the $1.4 million of debt (equivalent to $9.6 million today) Woodstock Ventures had incurred from the festival.

Legacy  
Max Yasgur's farm in 1999 
In 1984, a plaque was placed at the original site commemorating the festival. The field and the stage area remain preserved in their rural setting and the fields of the Yasgur farm are still visited by people of all generations.

In 1996, the site of the concert and 1,400 acres (2.2 sq mi; 5.7 km2) surrounding was purchased by cable television pioneer Alan Gerry for the purpose of creating the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.[98] The Center opened on July 1, 2006, with a performance by the New York Philharmonic. On August 13, 2006, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performed before 16,000 fans at the new Center—37 years after their historic performance at Woodstock.

The Museum at Bethel Woods opened on June 2, 2008. The Museum contains film and interactive displays, text panels, and artifacts that explore the unique experience of the Woodstock festival, its significance as the culminating event of a decade of radical cultural transformation, and the legacy of the Sixties and Woodstock today.

Richie Havens' ashes were scattered across the site on August 18, 2013.

In late 2016 New York's State Historic Preservation Office applied to the National Park Service to have 600 acres (0.94 sq mi; 2.4 km2) including the site of the festival and adjacent areas used for campgrounds, all of which still appear mostly as they did in 1969 as they were not redeveloped when Bethel Woods was built, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


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