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What Happened at Woodstock

Updated on February 4, 2010

Woodstock 1969


A famous hippie quote reads: "If you remember Woodstock 1969, you weren't there". While this is the case for many, out of 400,000 people, some remember it all. Originally billed An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace and Music, what became known as Woodstock 1969 was a series of fateful events, the start aligning to create what became the biggest music event in history.

Originally the brainchild of our individuals: Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, the Woodstock music festival began after Rosenman and Roberts placed an ad looking for legitimate investment ventures. Concert promoter Michael Lang and Capitol record vice president Artie Kornfeld had developed a strong bond and had hopes of creating a retreat style recording studio in Woodstock, NY. Once Lang and Kornfeld saw the ad, they contacted Roberts and Roseman and began talks about the record studio.

Eventually abandoning the idea for a record studio and settling on a music bash, the four men formed Woodstock Ventures Inc. and began making preparations for Woodstock 1969. The event was initially supposed to be executed on a much smaller scale, featuring acts local to the Woodstock area including Bob Dylan and The Band. In April 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival became the first act to sign up for Woodstock 1969.

Originally designed to be held in Wallkill, NY the festival was forced to move under the conditions that the portable toilets would not meet town code. Woodstock Ventures also assured the city that no more than 50,000 individuals would show up. Eventually the concert was moved to the dairy farm of Max Yasgur in Bethel, NY. Woodstock Ventures again told Bethel authorities that no more than 50,000 people would be present.

Woodstock Music

What Really Happened at Woodstock

Due to the late changes, the organizers didn't have enough time to properly prepare for what would be a massive turnout. People were showing up at an astounding rate, and the UAW/MF Family cut the fence the night before prompting more people to show up. The influx of individuals created a traffic jam and upon arrival, many people found themselves fighting against bad weather, food shortages, and poor sanitation.

On Saturday morning, August 17, New York Governor Nelson Rockefellers called organizer John Roberts and told him he was thinking of ordering 10,000 National Guard Troops for the festival. Somehow, Roberts convinced him to call off the dogs. Musician John Fogerty described the scene as a "a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud." Creedence Clearwater Revival didn't take the Woodstock stage until 3 a.m. Despite the somewhat poor planning and hardships involved with Woodstock 1969, it was a peaceful gathering. Within the sea of a half million individuals there were only two recorded fatalities; one believe to be a heroin overdose, and one a tractor accident involving an attendee sleeping in a hayfield.

There were also two births recorded at the festival, one caught in traffic, and the other airlifted to a nearby hospital. All things considered, even with the debauchery and less than ideal conditions of the festival, it did prove to be 3 days of peace and music. Farm owner Max Yasgur saw the event as a victory for peace and music and addressed the crowd on stage. Media coverage began as negative with the traffic jam and depiction of mud covered hippies being shown as heathens, but by the end of the festival, public opinion change and the press began showing Woodstock as a positive cultural event (mainly because organizers called them telling them that their reporting was inaccurate).

As much a cultural event as a concert, the performers of Woodstock 1969 not only represented the best of the 1960s, but a variation of music from around the world as well. Offering some of the most memorable performances in music to this day, the Jimi hendrix, Who, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and other highlights are still seen as landmark performances in the history of music. In reality, most of the ill preparation and bad weather resulted in less than stellar performances. The Grateful Dead got electrocuted, CCR requested their set not be shown on the documentary, and many other acts were simply lackluster. Despite the less than ideal circumstances, both the festival and the movie became some of the most artistically influential events in history.

List of Woodstock performers

Woodstock 1969 Aftermath

After Woodstock 1969

His farm covered in trash, obliterated by a half a million young people partying their asses off, Max Yasgur denied a one year revival of the Woodstock festival in 1970. He stated that as far as he was concerned, he was going back to beingĀ  dairy farmer. Yasgur sold the farm in 1971 and died two years later. Many were unhappy with the events that transpired during the days of August 15-18, 1969. The Bethel supervisor was kicked out of office after an election for helping to bring the festival to the town and New York State and the town of Bethel passed mass gathering laws designed to prevent any more festivals from occurring.

In 1989, 20,000 people gathered at the site for an impromptu 20th anniversary celebration. A monument to the concert was erected and a welcome sign was put up in 1997. The stance of the township of Bethel has recently changed its tune toward the Woodstock festival and now embraces it as a large part of musical and cultural advancement. Approximately 80 lawsuits were filed against Woodstock Ventures. The movie financed the settlements and paid off Woodstock Ventures' $1.4 million dollars of debt it had incurred from the festival.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I enjoyed your article but just a lil note - the Grateful Dead were not 'electrocuted' as this would mean they had died on stage. They received electric shocks, were perhaps electrified, possibly received electrical burns, but were not electrocuted.

    • profile image

      To Young At The Time 

      5 years ago

      Just watched on DVD. I was to young and from another country... Nothing like Woodstock the reral thing. What happened to the people interviewed in the movie. Love to hear there thoughts after...

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      8 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Great Hub! I recently watched the new movie out, "Woodstock" and it had a lot of stuff very similar to your pictures. I like a lot of the woodstock songs from that generation but I never cared about the fact they needed to use drugs to make the world a better place!

    • CreativeOrange profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I've yet to hear of someone who didn't enjoy themselves at Woodstock, although I'm sure they're out there. As long as you stayed away from the brown acid, I imagine you would have had a beautiful experience!

    • laurenronda profile image


      8 years ago from Waco, TX

      Ah how i wish i could have been there. superb hub!

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      8 years ago from US

      mmm..I can't decide if I would have liked being there or not! lol,,but great hub.

    • SwiftlyClean profile image


      8 years ago from Texas

      Great Hub!Though I was not there but just in watching it would have been something I would have enjoyed.

      Sharon Smith


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