Woodstock 50 becomes a success


Flower power, free love, mind-expanding substances and lots of top acts - everyone would probably be the first to do this with the legendary three-day Woodstock Festival (15 - 18.08.1969) connect. But what does she have "Mother of all festivals" mutate into the myth it is today? For the 50 year old Woodstock anniversary let's take you on a little journey back in time to 1969.

Woodstock in numbers:

If you just look at the spirit and the media and social aftermath, you can "Woodstock Music & Art Fair presents An Aquarius Exhibition - 3 Days of Peace & Music" - Describe the festival as THE festival. However, it was by no means the first festival of its kind: The Seattle Pop Festival or the Aquarian Family Festival, which in some cases had even more spectacular acts to offer, are at least before Woodstock.

The bare numbers of the Woodstock Festival make the hippie happening of '69 however, to a festival of superlatives: The around 500,000 (half a million!) Festival visitors caused up to 27 kilometers of traffic jams and shared over the 3 days, at which the festival took place, just once 600 toilets. So came around to every toilet 800 visitors. For comparison: At the Wacken Open Air 2017, 75 visitors shared a mobile toilet. The festival was generally not a boon for the body: The 18 festival doctors had to on the second day of 50 other doctors get supported. Under the 6,000 visitorswho needed medical help were also located two births and four deaths.

Generally it went on the round 240 hectares The big festival area was not exactly comfortable: If the midsummer temperatures of 35 ° Celsius prevailed at the beginning, the approaching storms turned the area into a huge field of mud.

Woodstock artist colony:

Woodstock - The small town in the state of New York ultimately only served as the namesake for that Festival of Love and Peace. Because the legendary big event actually took place 70 km away Bethel on the dairy farmer's lands Max Yasgur instead of. The town Woodstock On the other hand, it was considered an enclave for various artists from different fields - above all Bob Dylan. One of Woodstock initiators, Michael Lang, found his new home in this El Dorado for artists and planned to build a recording studio there. Through various connections with like-minded people, the idea of ​​a large festival grew up. The necessary financial resources were quickly found, but the residents were reluctant Woodstocks against the festival, which is why Lang & Co. ultimately after Bethel had to evade.

With cream cakes and soda bottles:

Above all, the peaceful nature of the Woodstock festivals still resonates today. This peace did not come by chance, however, but is also due, among other things, to the security policy pursued. Michael Lang found out at the "Denver Pop Festival" what happens when hundreds of police forces act too aggressively. Lang wanted to avoid scenes with batons and pepper spray. So the initiators of Woodstock on the one hand on police officers from New York with a hippie-friendly disposition. On the other hand, the Hog Farmer involved. They were supporters of a Californian hippie community who were supposed to provide assistance to unexperienced guests, run a large kitchen at the festival and take care of drug victims - so to speak, professional help. The leader of the Hog Farmes, Hugh Ramney aka festival clown Wavy Gravy, answered the journalists' question how he and his people want to keep the masses in check: "With cream cakes and soda bottles". The relaxed nature of the hippie security contributed significantly to the peaceful course of the festival.

The Star-Sprangled Banner:

But the visitors of the Woodstock festivals were of course mainly interested in the musical acts. Despite some high-profile rejections (Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon), the line-up was quite impressive. Especially the appearance of Jimi Hendrix was eagerly awaited.

Hendrix, who had already been awake for 3 days thanks to massive drug use, showed no sign of this condition and delivered a virtuoso show as usual. After his hit "Voodoo Child" went Hendrix seamlessly into its own interpretation of "The Star-Sprangled Banner" about - the national anthem of the USA. Imitated by effects pedals, feedback, and the vibrato lever Hendrix between the catchy melody bomb strikes, machine gun fire and missiles launched. Of Hendrix never officially confirmed, this performance was interpreted as a criticism of American politics and the Vietnam War and developed into Woodstock Festival Anthem.

Carlos Santana and the snake guitar:

Santana played this as a very young musician Woodstock Festival. When he looked at the imposing sea of ​​spectators, he hadn't even released an album with his band. The debut record "Santana" appeared only a few weeks after the legendary festival. But Santana had completely different problems than stage fright or a lack of awareness: Before the performance he was told by Jerry Garcia, guitarist by trade Grateful Dead, LSD offered. There Santana thought he wasn't playing for five hours, he took it - and was summoned onto the stage half an hour later. While he was struggling to hit the notes anyway, his guitar turned into a snake. At least that's what he thought. On the subject of "drug use among artists" was also Michael Lang asked: "For many of them it was a natural state, so I wasn't worried about it."

With a little help from my friends:

Up until now, the 1970s have not been kind to the trained gas fitter John Robert "Joe" Cocker. His career as a musician, which was crowned with little success, took a sudden turn for the better when Joe Cocker his audience at Woodstock Festival with his grater voice and a cover of that Beatles song "With A Little Help From My Friends" enchanted. Immediately after Cocker's appearance, a strong storm set in. The festival sank in the mud and had to be interrupted for three hours.

The appearance at Woodstock Festival marked it Cockers Stepping stone to global success before he succumbed to alcohol and drugs in the 1980s. In the end it was Woodstock co-founder Michael Langwho is around cocker took care of him, managed him and pulled him out of the drug swamp. Anything is possible if your friends help you a little.

The Who and the Activist:

It became very different Woodstock Festival from the members of the band The Who interpreted. While singer and guitarist Roger Daltrey honored the festival as a political happening and certified the community gathered there to be “more than just a fun community” Pete Townshend already in the run-up the nose was full of this "whole hypocritical event". Sure, his wife Karen had just given birth to their daughter while The Who toured - the motivation to play an additional show was generally low. But Townshend also had ideational problems with the celebrated major event:

"The people at the Woodstock Festival were a bunch of hypocrites, guys who thought they could start a cosmic revolution just because they'd taken a big field, pulled down some fences, took bad acid, and then tried to run away - without paying any money for the bands. "

Townshend Nevertheless, he was persuaded and his wife and newborn child were also flown into the site - in general, almost all the artists were flown in by helicopter due to the large number of visitors. The freshly baked family man let his frustration out on a political activist during the performance, of all places. The activist Abbie Hoffman entered the stage during the show, turned on Townshends Microphone and started talking about the political situation. Pete pulled the guitar over his head without comment. While Daltrey disagreed with his colleague on the moral aspects of the Woodstock Festival Townshend represented, he had for his anger towards the stage pirate Hoffman Understanding:

"But. I would have chased him away too. Because nobody just fucking runs on stage when The Who are playing there. Where are we going? "

+++ here the complete interview +++

What's left of Woodstock

It was all 50 years ago and the phenomenon Woodstock '69 seems to remain a phenomenon because the one planned for this year Anniversary Festival was called off after some unexpected setbacks. But maybe that's a good thing: Woodstock was imperfect, it was messy, and it was dirty. But people endured it without a murmur and moved even closer together. Even if Pete Townshend If his opinion of some festival-goers is partly correct, it is actually the one that is often quoted "Spirit of Woodstock"that should be remembered. How often does it happen that around 500,000 people come together in one place without culminating in violent riots? For the residents of the region it was Woodstock associated with some inconvenience - but they helped out with food when the organizers ran out of food on the second day of the festival. That Michael Lang and his colleagues have also put a great deal of commitment into a sustainable documentation of the events, that has Woodstock Festival retrospectively made a monumental event in the media Have all of these adverse circumstances and the spirit of the time Woodstock let it be identified and authentic. A new edition would of course be a nice thing. However, it could never have achieved the effect that the original event had. Michael Lang describes the meaning behind Woodstock as follows:

"It was a wonderful way to conduct an experiment in which we wanted to find out whether a human community can be formed that is based on kindness, compassion and respect for one another."

When we get away from Woodstock should keep something, then it is the realization that the experiment was a success. And you can apply that not only to festivals, but also to everyday life. Love, Peace and Rock’n’Roll!

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