Woodstock Revisited

For the record, the first rock festival in history was the little-remembered Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival in Marin County, CA, June 10-11, 1967. Most of the acts came out of the San Francisco scene and represented bands that had played at Avalon and Bill Graham’s Fillmore West ballrooms.

This was followed less than a week later by the far more famous Monterey International Pop Music Festival, where Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin became overnight sensations. (And The Who didn’t do so badly either.) There were about a half-dozen more rock festivals between 1967 and 1969, one of which was (the first) May 1968 Miami Pop. 

Thus began my series on Woodstock – or as I would have called it, Hippiefest – that ran back in 2016. Given that it’s the 50th anniversary it seemed like as good a time as any to re-introduce this five-part series. The links below should take you to each post. If they don’t work, just go to the site, type in Woodstock on the search bar and they’ll all come up.

I should also note that American public TV on its American Masters series is running a pretty good documentary, more from the point of view of how the people who attended it felt rather than a focus on the bands as such. And the original movie (and maybe Director’s Cut) is playing in theaters if you’re so inclined. It will be far out, groovy and … beautiful, man.

As to the failure of the 50th-anniversary concert, well, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. There *will* be a celebration at Bethel this weekend on what one site called “sacred grounds,” which, to me, seems kind of overblown, but ok.

Bethel Woods

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

 

27 thoughts on “Woodstock Revisited

  1. The flower and peace signs, headbands and batik shirts, the military jackets and the uniform dress of jeans showed one thing above all: we are as free as our music, we don’t need them anymore.

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    1. Yes, the documentary provides a somewhat different perspective than that of the movie, focusing on the people. Their sense of taking care of each other in adverse circumstances is what really comes through.

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      1. Since the explosion of punk end of the ’70s and the years of raves in big cities, has no music culture set a revolution. Today, concerts cost hundreds of dollars, there are VIP-lounges and rows of chairs, nobody comes too late or plays too loud, instead of lighters there are cell phone screens and the sponsors dominate the terrain. In ten years we get to see Woodstock in 3-D. Ultimate extra total surround.

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        1. Amen to all that. Might I add that in the ’80’s, there was still a significant amount of rock on the Billboard charts. (Springsteen, Bowie, Floyd). But now there is none or very little. I never listen to it and care not one bit for it.

          As to rock, minus bands like Foo Fighters, whatever happened to guitars in rock music? I listen to indie bands and all I hear are quirky singers who seem to have never listened to blues, soul, jazz, rock or R&B. They listen to and copy each other.

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        2. Popular music has always been multicultural. The fact that Ray Charles loved Country music or that Miles Davis was inspired by Jimi Hendrix could only disturb purists (they never understood how culture works anyway). I think Woodstock was something like the climax and the end of a utopia. The film and the festival retained their significance, because rock music continues to count on rebellion, wants to be understood as an expression of it, but this is a brand.

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  2. What we now think of as rock was predominantly at the time considered pop, everyone wanted a hit and to be famous and get the adulation. The instruments have changed but the impetus is the same, there have always been manufactured stars, remember Stoehne Stills wanted to be in the Monkees, some of them even break out and get to be seen as artist. I have always thought the seeds of the decline of the rock concert was actually Woodstock, the bath the promoters took made it so that they would never take such a bath again. Those high prices are for some of the same artists who played for free man. That being said you have to love the music and the fans and the townspeople from a time when decency could overcome prejudice in this land. Wavy Gravy has always been a hero.

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  3. Nothing to add to my original comments other than looking at the pic you posted with the title, it would probably be the last place i would want to be. Like Neil Young said “Pa send me money now ….. you know CB loves to dance. yeah, yeah, yeah”

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    1. I’ve always been torn on the whole Woodstock thing. Part of me would like to have had that experience; part of me would have said “Get me the hell out of here.” I guess the latter part one ‘coz other than the odd jazz festival or street fair, I’ve never been to a music festival, certainly nothing of that size.

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      1. Different mind sets from a young Doc to an older Doc.
        Maybe if i was 16 and out of my mind but even then the shmoz would have been to much. If you can’t beat em, join em. “Give me some of those little pills you’re eating fella. I’ll wash them down with this Apple Jack I’ve got”.

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        1. Christian and I were talking about this over at his crib. He thought it should be all boomer acts at the now-dead Woodstock 50. But what audience would you get? Those kids sleeping out in the field when they were 20 could not even begin to do that at 70. Hell, I saw pictures of guys sleeping on the top of cars.

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        2. That’s a cool story.
          Half the stuff that came out of people mouths I didn’t get then and i still don’t get now but what i did get was some of the music. Some of those performances were really good. Santana, The Who, Ten Years After, Joe Cocker etc Still sound good today. Some people make it sound like it was a religious experience and others say it was a big shit storm. Somewhere in between lies the truth. Different experiences huh.

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        1. Yeah they rocked pretty good. I have a couple of their records. Be an interesting piece and yes the original was the one. They always looked like they were having fun which is kinda what rock is all about.

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