“By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong…”
Woodstock – Joni Mitchell; from the Album: Ladies of the Canyon, 1970
“The New York State Throughway is CLOSED, man!”
Arlo Guthrie, from the stage during the Festival
Woodstock Music & Art Fair
An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace and Music
Day 1 – August 15, 1969
We all have certain touchstones in our lives. The Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 is one of the most formative touchstones in my life. I did not attend Woodstock, but, oh did I know all about it! It was all over the news: the traffic jams, the hippies, the hedonism, the music. I was inspired. And when the 3 record album came out, I was transformed! Many of the songs from that Festival were adopted by the band I was playing in at the time, and became staples of our set list: Goin’ Up the Country and Woodstock Boogie by Canned Heat; I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker; Wooden Ships and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Among the acts that performed on August 15, 1969 – the first day of the Festival – were Richie Havens, Ravi Shankar, Melanie, Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez (who was 6-months pregnant at the time).
Richie Havens was the first performer to take the stage, at around 5:00 p.m. on August 15, 1969. Havens played what came to be a 2 hour set – partly because he was told to keep playing due to the logistical problems they were experiencing in getting acts to the performance area.