The Woodstock Music and Art Festival was held August 15-18, 1969, not in Woodstock but in Bethel, New York, 40 miles away. Woodstock was supposed to host the festival, but when rumors spread that attendance could reach a million people, the city backed out. Farmer Max Yasgur saved the concert by hosting the more than 500,000 attendees in his alfalfa field.
With the huge crowd, there were shortages of food, water, and restrooms, but most revelers still enjoyed some of the best musical acts of the era. Here's the lineup from that fateful weekend.
Richie Havens, a Greenwich Village folksinger, got the concert started around 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 15. He played eight songs, including the memorable "Motherless Child," which he ended with the word "freedom" sung over and over. After Woodstock, Havens continued to tour and release albums, and in 1993 he performed at the inauguration ceremonies for President Bill Clinton.
Country Joe McDonald
Country Joe McDonald made an unscheduled appearance at Woodstock on Friday evening without his band, The Fish. McDonald's solo set included "I Find Myself Missing You," "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag," and the "Fish Cheer," a song where he usually spelled out the word fish with the audience, but at Woodstock he spelled another four-letter f-word instead.
John Sebastian is best known as a founder of The Lovin' Spoonful, members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sebastian wasn't scheduled to appear at the festival, but he played five songs, including "I Had a Dream" and "Rainbows Over Your Blues." In 1976, he had a number-one single with the TV theme song Welcome Back, Kotter. Sebastian continues to record and tour and promotes a collection of the 1960s greatest hits via infomercial.
After three solo artists, Sweetwater -- who pioneered the psychedelic rock/classical fusion style later picked up by Jefferson Airplane -- was the first band to perform at the festival. They played eight songs, including "What's Wrong," "My Crystal Spider," and "Why Oh Why." After Woodstock, Sweetwater disbanded when lead singer Nansi Nevins was badly injured in a car accident.
The Incredible String Band
The Incredible String Band was a Scottish acoustic band that formed in the early 1960s and later switched to psychedelic folk music. Their set of four songs included "The Letter" and "This Moment." The Incredible String Band broke up in 1974, reunited in 2003, and broke up again in 2006.
Bert Sommer was a folksinger and former member of the baroque-pop group the Left Banke. Sommer played ten songs at the festival, including "Jennifer," "Jeanette," and "America." He continued to record and perform until his death in 1990.
Tim Hardin was also a Greenwich Village folk musician and composer. During his hour-long set, Hardin performed only two songs -- "Misty Roses" and "If I Were a Carpenter," which was a top-ten hit for Bobby Darin. Hardin continued to record until 1973 and died of a heroin and morphine overdose in 1980.
Bengali-Indian musician and composer Ravi Shankar is best known for teaching George Harrison to play the sitar. His work with Harrison and other rock stars landed him a gig at Woodstock, where he played five songs in the rain, including "Tabla Solo in Jhaptal." Today, his daughters Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones are both successful musicians.
Melanie, born Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk, made her first recording at age five and was successful in Europe with "Beautiful People," one of the two songs she performed at Woodstock. She later recorded "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" after being inspired by the Woodstock audience lighting candles during her set.
Prior to Woodstock, Arlo Guthrie -- the son of folksinger and composer Woody Guthrie -- was best known for his 18-minute-long song (and subsequent film) "Alice's Restaurant," which describes how he avoided the draft. Arlo played three songs at Woodstock, "Coming into Los Angeles," "Walking Down the Line," and "Amazing Grace." He continues to record and performed his song "City of New Orleans" at fund-raisers for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Day one at Woodstock closed with Joan Báez, probably the most famous folk and protest singer to perform at the festival. Báez performed 12 songs at Woodstock, including her hits "Joe Hill" and "Sweet Sir Galahad" and classics such as "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and "We Shall Overcome." After more than 50 years in the music biz, Báez continues to record and perform songs about nonviolence, civil and human rights, and the environment.
Day two at Woodstock kicked off around noon with the Boston band Quill. They had opened for several notable artists, including The Who, Sly & the Family Stone, The Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin. At Woodstock, Quill played four songs, including "They Live the Life" and "Waitin' for You." After Woodstock, Quill released its first album, which fizzled, and the band broke up in 1970.
The Keef Hartley Band
The Keef Hartley Band, which mixed elements of jazz, blues, and rock, was one of the few British bands to play at Woodstock. Keef Hartley's career took off when he replaced Ringo Starr as the drummer for Rory Storm and The Hurricanes when Ringo joined The Beatles. At Woodstock, the band played eight songs, including "Spanish Fly" and "Rock Me Baby." Hartley recorded until the mid-1970s, and today he occasionally plays with John Mayall.
The career of Latin rock guitarist Carlos Santana got a major boost when concert producer Bill Graham convinced Woodstock promoters to book the band, even though they hadn't yet released an album. The band played seven songs, including "Waiting," "Jingo," and the 11-minute instrumental "Soul Sacrifice," which was considered a highlight of the festival.
Although the 1970 album Abraxas reached number one on the album charts and sold more than four million copies, Carlos Santana wouldn't duplicate this success until the 1999 release of Supernatural, a collaboration with Eric Clapton, Wyclef Jean, and other artists. The album garnered nine Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for the song "Smooth" with Rob Thomas.
Blues-rock/boogie band Canned Heat performed four songs at Woodstock, including "Goin' Up the Country" and "Let's Work Together." In 1970, they brought in blues singer and guitarist John Lee Hooker to record the double album, "Hooker 'n' Heat." While many of the original members have died, Canned Heat has replaced them and continues to perform and record.
The rock band Mountain was playing only its fourth live gig when it performed 13 songs at Woodstock, including "Stormy Monday," "Waiting to Take You Away," and "Theme for an Imaginary Western." Mountain broke up and re-formed a number of times after Woodstock and is currently back together and performing, but without founding member Felix Pappalardi, who was shot and killed by his wife on April 17, 1983.
Before her death from a heroin overdose in 1970, Janis Joplin made a huge impact on rock music with four albums and memorable performances. At Woodstock, she gave a spirited execution of ten songs, including "To Love Somebody," "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)," and "Piece of My Heart." Her biggest-selling album Pearl, released posthumously in 1971, featured her hit single "Me and Bobby McGee" and the a cappella song "Mercedes Benz."
Sly & the Family Stone
One of the first racially integrated bands, San Francisco's Sly & the Family Stone combined soul, funk, and psychedelia in its music. They played eight songs at Woodstock, including "Dance to the Music," "Stand!," "Everyday People," and "I Want to Take You Higher." Woodstock made the band popular, but Sly Stone's drug use brought them down.
When the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, many of the founding members performed, but Sly, in a surprise appearance, accepted his award and disappeared. Then, during a Sly & the Family Stone tribute at the 2006 Grammy Awards, Sly joined the band in the middle of "I Want to Take You Higher," but left the stage before the song ended.
The Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead was known for performing long live jams of their combination of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, country, jazz, psychedelia, and gospel. Formed in San Francisco in 1965 by guitarist Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead performed four songs at Woodstock: "St. Stephen," "Mama Tried," "Dark Star/High Time," and "Turn on Your Love Light."
The Grateful Dead continued to tour regularly for its "Deadhead" followers until Jerry Garcia died in August 1995. The remaining members disbanded, but later reunited to form The Other Ones and in 2003 renamed themselves The Dead.
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Heavily influenced by the swamp blues music that came out of Louisiana in the late '1950s and early '60s, Creedence Clearwater Revival formed in the San Francisco Bay area in 1959. They hit their peak in early 1969, just in time for Woodstock.
At the festival, they performed an 11-song set that included "Bad Moon Rising" and "Proud Mary." Their performance was not included in the Woodstock film or album, apparently because lead singer John Fogerty didn't like their performance. CCR broke up in 1972, but Fogerty emerged as a solo artist in the mid-1980s and continues to record and tour.
Woodstock was The Who's biggest performance since the release of their groundbreaking rock opera Tommy. Their 24-song set began around 3:00 a.m. and included many songs from Tommy as well as "I Can't Explain," "Shakin' All Over," and "My Generation." At the conclusion of their set, Pete Townshend slammed his guitar into the stage and threw it into the crowd.
Drummer Keith Moon died in 1978 from a prescription drug overdose, and the group officially disbanded in 1983 but have reunited for various events and tours over the years. In 1990, The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2006 founding members Townshend and Roger Daltrey released Endless Wire and returned to touring.
Jefferson Airplane's eight-song set took off at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. This psychedelic rock band from San Francisco performed such hits as "Volunteers," "Somebody to Love," and "White Rabbit." After Woodstock, Jefferson Airplane continued to perform and record hits under different names, including Starship and Jefferson Starship The Next Generation. Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
After an all-night music marathon, Joe Cocker took the stage around 2:00 p.m. The English rock and blues musician performed five songs, including his version of The Beatles' song "With a Little Help from My Friends," as well as "Delta Lady" and "Some Things Goin' On." Cocker overcame problems with drug and alcohol abuse and continues to tour sporadically.
Country Joe and The Fish
After a rain delay lasting several hours, Country Joe returned, this time with his band The Fish, taking the stage around 6:00 p.m. They played four songs, including "Rock and Soul Music" and "Love Machine." In 2004, Country Joe formed the Country Joe Band with some of the original band members and went on tour.
Ten Years After
English blues-rock band Ten Years After performed five songs at Woodstock, including "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," "Hear Me Calling," and "I'm Going Home." Between 1967 and 1974, Ten Years After recorded and released ten multimillion-selling albums, before breaking up in 1975. After their entire catalog was digitally remastered and rereleased in 2001, three of the founding members got back together and are again recording and touring.
Originally known as The Hawks, the careers of Canadian-American musicians The Band took flight when Bob Dylan recruited them as his backing band for his 1965-1966 world tour. They subsequently recorded four albums with Dylan. At Woodstock, their 11-song set included the songs "Tears of Rage," "Long Black Veil," and "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever."
The Band broke up in 1976, then reformed in 1983 without founding guitarist and main songwriter Robbie Robertson. They are members of both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Blood, Sweat & Tears
When they performed at Woodstock, jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears were still riding high from their 1969 Grammy win for Album of the Year for their self-titled sophomore album. The band's five-song set at Woodstock included "Spinning Wheel" and "Something Coming On." Blood, Sweat & Tears broke up and re-formed a number of times and continues to tour.
Albino blues singer and guitarist Johnny Winter released his first album in 1968. He performed nine songs at Woodstock, including two with his brother Edgar Winter, also an albino blues singer. The set included "Johnny B. Goode," "I Can't Stand It," and "Tobacco Road."
In 1977, Johnny produced Muddy Waters' Grammy Award-winning comeback album, Hard Again. In 1988, Johnny was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, and he continues to record and tour.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Folk rock supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young began their 16-song set around 3:00 a.m. Made up of former members of The Byrds, The Hollies, and Buffalo Springfield, Woodstock was only their second gig. Their nine-song acoustic set included "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and "Marrakesh Express." The electric set that followed included "Long Time Gone" and "Find the Cost of Freedom."
They later recorded the song "Woodstock" to commemorate the festival, and for a while they rivaled The Beatles in terms of popularity. But their superegos caused the group to disband in mid-1970. They've all enjoyed success as solo artists and have reunited in various configurations to record and tour over the years.
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Paul Butterfield was a harmonica player and singer who brought the Chicago electric blues style to rock. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band's five-song set at Woodstock included "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," "Driftin'," and "Born Under a Bad Sign." Butterfield broke up the Blues Band in 1970 and formed a new group called Better Days. He performed solo in the late 1970s and early '80s and died in 1987 from a drug and alcohol overdose.
Sha Na Na
By far the funniest band to perform at Woodstock was Sha Na Na, a group that covered doo-wop songs from the 1950s while clowning around in period outfits. At Woodstock -- only the seventh gig of their career -- they performed nine songs, including "Yakety Yak," "Wipe Out," and "At the Hop."
At the time, Sha Na Na did not have a record deal, but they received one immediately afterward and went on to release more than 25 albums. From 1977 to 1982, the group even had its own hit TV show, and they continue to tour with some of the original members.
Perhaps the most influential guitarist in rock music history, Jimi Hendrix insisted on closing the show. He was scheduled to perform at midnight, but his set was delayed until around 8:00 a.m. Monday morning. By that time, the crowd, which once numbered more than 500,000, had dwindled to an estimated 80,000.
Still, Hendrix played a 16-song set that featured hits such as "Foxy Lady," "Purple Haze," and "Hey Joe." He also played a striking and memorable rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
On September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was found dead in London. It is believed that he asphyxiated on his own vomit following an overdose of sleeping pills. Hendrix was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the U.K. Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
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