Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music


On this date in 1969, the Woodstock festival opened in upstate New York.

Here are some things you may not have known about it.

It wasn’t held in Woodstock. It was originally planned for Woodstock, but local residents balked at the idea, forcing the organizers to find another location. The city of Wallkill, New York, vetoed the concert on July 15. With less than a month before the event, the organizers finally settled on a 600-acre dairy farm near Bethel, New York, 43 miles from the town of Woodstock. However, the difficulty in finding a venue would give the festival an early publicity boost.

At the time, the organizers also said they planned no more than 50,000 concertgoers. However, the late venue selection would make that limit impossible to keep. Three days before the event was to start, the fencing, ticket booths and stage were not yet complete. The organizers decided to focus on the stage and let the crowd swell to more than 400,000 people.

The festival opened at 5:07 p.m. on August 15 with a two-hour set by guitarist and vocalist Richie Havens. Eight acts played Friday night, including Tim Hardin, Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez, who was six months pregnant at the time. Friday’s bill wrapped up at 2 a.m.

The huge crowd caused a massive traffic jam, which prevented concertgoers and performers from reaching the venue in a timely manner.

Saturday’s lineup started shortly after noon, and included Santana, Canned Heat, and John Sebastian, of the Lovin’ Spoonful. Sebastian was recruited from the audience to fill in for performers who were late.

Large gaps between acts forced Saturday’s lineup to continue into Sunday morning. Among the bands to play overnight were The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin and The Who. Jefferson Airplane wrapped up the final set at 9:40 a.m.

Joe Cocker opened Sunday’s planned slate, before a thunderstorm delayed the show for about three hours. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young began their set at 3 a.m. Concert headliner Jimi Hendrix took the stage at 9 a.m. Monday morning, playing to an audience of about 30,000 people.

Hendrix earned $32,000 for the event. Blood, Sweat and Tears, Joan Baez and Creedence were the only other acts to be paid more than $10,000. The band Quill was paid $375 for their 30-minute set.

Iron Butterfly, famous for their hit “Inna Gadda Da Vida” was scheduled to play, but ended up stuck in an airport.

Among the notable acts that didn’t play the festival was Bob Dylan, who played the Isle of Wight Festival in England later that same month. The Doors and The Byrds both declined invitations, thinking the festival would not be that big of a deal. Both acts are said to have regretted the decision.

Joni Mitchell also did not perform at Woodstock, choosing instead to appear on TV’s “The Dick Cavett Show.” Mitchell, however, would become forever linked to the festival by writing the song “Woodstock,” which became a hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The festival was the subject of an Academy Award-winning documentary. The film, called “Woodstock,” is said to have helped save Warner Bros. from going out of business. It also helped organizers pay back their creditors.

Following the 2013 death of Richie Havens, his ashes were scattered at the festival site.

Our question: Which act declined to participate because the frontman didn’t like hippies and was concerned about inappropriate nudity?


Today is Independence Day in India, South Korea and Republic of the Congo.

It’s unofficially Cupcake Day, National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, and Stay Home With Your Kids Day.

It’s the birthday of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was born in 1769; TV chef Julia Child, who was born in 1912; and actress Jennifer Lawrence, who turns 26.

This week in 1969, the top song on the U.S. Pop Chart was “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat and Tears.

The No. 1 movie was “Easy Rider,” while the novel “The Love Machine” by Jacqueline Susann topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question

Woodstock the bird serves what role to Snoopy’s World War I Flying Ace in the “Peanuts” comic strip?


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