Photo Courtesy of myslackermind.com
Forty-five years ago today, one of the most pivotal moments in music history took place in Bethel, New York. Three days of peace and music were somehow successfully shared by over 400,000 people on Max Yasgur’s farm of 600 acres. How did this blesséd event come to be? Read on for FDRMX’s five fun facts about Woodstock Festival.
1. Two men, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, placed an ad in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that read, “Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions.” Two men responded; Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld. Lang had organized the Miami Pop Festival, which was the largest festival on the East Coast at that time. They met and the four originally intended to build a retreat-style recording studio in Woodstock.
2. The recording studio idea got chucked and a giant outdoor music and arts festival was on. Now to secure the acts. Artists were hesitant to sign on until Creedence Clearwater Revival finally agreed for the price of $10,000. Then followed the legends. Ravi Shanker, Santana, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone, The Band, The Who, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Blood Sweat and Tears, Ten Years After, Country Joe and the Fish, Arlo Guthrie, Canned Heat, Melanie, and Johnny Winter all played the legendary festival and in effect became part of the legend themselves.
3. Peace, love and music are all fine and dandy, but Woodstock was intended as a money making venture. Tickets in advance were sold for $18 (which if we take inflation into account would be about $75 today). At the gate for all three days they were sold for $24. An estimated 186,000 tickets were sold in advance, and the organizers expected around 200,000 people to show up. When it became clear that the festival was attracting hundreds of thousands more people than anticipated, the concert became “free.”
4. Although there were no riots or serious fights at this giant fest, there were a handful of serious events on record. Two deaths, four miscarriages, and two births reportedly took place at Woodstock. The first death was caused by a heroin overdose, the second a sad accident caused by a tractor running over someone asleep in a hayfield. One birth occurred in traffic caused by the event, and the other happened in a nearby hospital after the woman was airlifted by helicopter.
5. Several famous music artists turned down the invitation to play Woodstock. The Beatles were approached, but they were going through a rough patch, and Lennon wouldn’t play unless Yoko Ono could have her own set. Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant thought the lineup was too full. Bob Dylan opted to play the Isle of Wight Festival instead. The Doors, Jeff Beck, and The Byrds all declined. Joni Mitchell agreed, but then cancelled last minute because of heavy traffic reports that might have made her miss appearing on The Dick Cavett Show. She did write a song about Woodstock Festival, though, that really conveyed the essence of the event.