13 Things You Did Not Know About Woodstock
The Woodstock Music Festival was a watershed moment in American history and counter-culture. Thirty-two bands played the three-day fest, that actually lasted until Monday morning — Day 4— when Jimi Hendrix closed the gathering of more than 400,000 strong. Through the trials and tribulations of an event never conceived to grow so large, the hippies of the 1960s proved one thing by coming together at Yasgur’s Farm — peace can prevail. Here are 13 things you may not have known about Woodstock.
1- Max Yasgur addressed the crowd to open the third day of the festival. Among other things, he said, “…you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids — and I call you kids because I have children that are older than you — a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and I God Bless You for it!” After the haughty festival, his neighbors boycotted milk produced from the dairy farm.
2- With more than 400,000 people assembled for the three-day music festival, not a single person was arrested for an act of violence.
3- John Sebastian, the lead singer of Lovin’ Spoonful, announced from stage that “Some cat’s old lady just had a baby, a kid destined to be far out!” To date, no one has come forward to confirm they are the love child of Woodstock. Unfortunately, eight women reportedly suffered miscarriages during the festival.
4- Concert promoters wanted Iron Butterfly on the bill to capitalize on the popularity of their mega-hit In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. But the band made such diva-esque demands that no one bothered to call them back.
5- Joni Mitchell wanted to play Woodstock but her manager talked her out of performing to be prepared for “The Dick Cavett Show,” and she ended up on the show with David Crosby, Stephen Stills, fresh from Woodstock. Making matters worse, she had to write her popular song “Woodstock” based on her boyfriend Graham Nash’s account of the festival.
6- The Doors weren’t actually passed over due to Jim Morrison’s legal issues as implied in Oliver Stone’s movie The Doors. They turned it down and later regretted it. However, drummer John Densmore attended and is caught of concert film footage during Joe Cocker’s performance. Cocker’s rendition of The Beatles song “With a Little Help from My Friends” was one of the festivals greatest and enduring moments.
7- The “white dove” on the guitar neck of the original poster that reads “Woodstock Music & Art Fair presents An Aquarian Exposition” is actually a catbird. The poster lists Iron Butterfly and Jeff Beck Group on the bill. Neither band performed. Jeff Beck Group, which included Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, and Ronnie Wood broke up the night before the festival began.
8- The Hog Farmers made quite a bit of hey during the festival. Promoters banned off-duty police from working security and instead brought in members of the Hog Farm commune to form a “Please Force.” Led by toothless beatnik comic Wavy Gravy, wearing a Smokey-the-Bear costume, The Hog Farmers also were in charge of catering and ordered 160,000 paper plates and utensils. They fed nearly 200,000 people and entertained the crowd when opening band Sweetwater was stuck in traffic. The Hog Farmers had the crowd doing yoga.
9- Indian master sitar player Ravi Shankar will be forever linked to The Beatles and played Woodstock. Shankar would later confess that he basically disliked hippies, saying in his autobiography of his festival experience that the crowd was “shrieking, shouting, smoking, masturbating and copulating – all in a drug-crazed state… I used to tell them, ‘You don’t behave like that when you go to hear a Bach, Beethoven or Mozart concert.’”
10- Jimi Hendrix was the highest paid performer at Woodstock, earning $18,000, which would be more than $100,000 in the current economy. Hendrix played the longest set of his career, nearly two hours, with a temp band. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, who he had the majority of his success with, had broken up. His legendary rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” was actually part of an hour-long medley. He recorded the song nearly 50 times, 28 of those were before Woodstock.
11- Many people forget that Santana played a 45-minute set at Woodstock. That may be because the group were still considered underground at the time and had yet to release their debut album. They were paid the meager sum of $750.
12- The Woodstock Festival movie was released in 1970 and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Directed by Michael Wadleigh, seven editors are credited, including Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese. Although Woodstock was declared a “free festival” after the fences were overrun, the film was a huge commercial success.
13- When food ran low at Woodstock, a call to arms went out and members of the Monticello Jewish Community Center answered by making 200 sandwiches that were handed out by nuns.