Woodstock: The Concert of all Concerts
by Erika Cox
The Woodstock festival or concert as they are called now was the most popular concert of the 1960’s.
With more than 500,000 people attending the event, the three-day concert that took place in nearby Woodstock, New York in a town called Wallkill on Sam Yasgur’s farm for three days in August 1969, prove to be the climax of the 1960’s spirit.
However, the concert was plagued with problems from the beginning. First, the developers of the concert ran into problems finding an actual site to have the concert.
It was suppose to be in Woodstock but the townspeople did not like the thought of a large number of hippies showing up in their backyard. Once a place was found, parking issues, transportation in and out of the site, water, electricity, and stage problems began to arise.
The concert was planned for only 200,000 but the developers became quickly overwhelmed when more than 500,000 people showed up.
The sheer number of people caused resources like water and sanitary conditions to become limited. Unlike the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock was not free.
The developers planned to make money and the artists expected to be paid. These were not burgeoning artists, these were some of the most popular and talented artists in the world that were performing.
However, when the gates became flooded and run over by the overwhelming crowds, the developers deciding – were forced - to forego the cost of admission.
Because Woodstock eventually turned into a free concert, this put a financial burden on the developers. Initially they didn’t make any money from the concert but later on from record and film sales they did recoup some of their costs.
Then the rain came. The rain turned the farm that the concert was being held on into a mudslide. Due to the wind and rain, the stage suffered damage and electrical problems became a major concern.
Sanitary, food, water, and other supplies were extremely limited.
Many of the top music acts that performed at Woodstock included Ritchie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Santana, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Jimi Hendrix.
The concert opened with Ritchie Valens on Friday and ended with Hendrix on Monday morning.
The festival was long, too long, many acts performed for hours including the Who, whose performance included a 24 song set and was interrupted by one of the concert’s developers, Abbie Hoffman, to protest a national news incident.
Because of rain delays, interruptions, long sets, and disorganization the concert continued into Monday morning but most of the people had left wet and weary. Many acts began their performances in the early morning hours.
By the time Hendrix performed most of the crowd had left, which was unfortunate because his was one of the best performances, and most memorable by those who stayed, of the festival.
Woodstock was the opposite of the Monterey Pop Festival, which encountered no problems with the crowds, weather, or artists, and was organized. There were two deaths, arrests, and, of course, drug use. In fact, one of the deaths was due to a heroin overdose.
Despite all of the problems encountered with the Woodstock Festival, the concert went on and was a success and a historical event in music history and has spawned many Woodstock revivals years later.
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