Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Woodstock's 45th Anniversary

Forty five years ago, on August 15, 1969, on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in the small town of Bethel, New York, a crowd of about 500,000 gathered to celebrate “3 Days of Peace & Music.” Today, Woodstock remains an iconic point in American history, giving a glimpse into the counterculture of the 60s, becoming an emblem of togetherness and illustrating the power of music. Initially proposed by businessmen John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield, and Michael Lang, as a way to raise money to build a recording studio, Woodstock turned into one of the grooviest moments in history. By the time of the festival, 186,000 tickets were sold, and they expected no more than 200,000 people to show up. However, by Friday night, thousands of early arrivals were flooding the gates and pushing to get in. Realizing they could not control the massive crowd, the festival promoters decided to make the concert free for everyone. Performers such as The Who, Santana, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Ravi Shankar were among many to grace the stage. Highlights of the festival include the massive downpour and thunderstorm, during which Joan Baez sang “We Shall Overcome,” the group yoga exercises led by hog farmers while waiting for Sweetwater to take the stage, the fact that no violent crimes broke out in such a huge crowd, and the epic closing performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Jimi Hendrix. While there have been many attempts to recreate the music festival, most notably in 1991, none have successfully been able to replicate the original, the one and only, Woodstock.

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