The 15th of August would mark the 45th anniversary of the most iconic music festival in history, the one where it all started – Woodstock ’69. Ladies and Gentleman, here are some eye-brow raising Woodstock ’69 trivia courtesy The Sherp.
1.The Beatles weren’t there.
Yes, this is very true. There are however, varying theories about why they ditched the festival. John Lennon (the vocalist) informed organizers that he was refused a U.S Visa at the time. Although a lot of people believe the reason behind their absence was because John Lennon’s wife’s – Plastic Ono Band was refused an invitation by the promoters. Ouch.
2. Bob dylan, didn’t attend Woodstock because he didn’t like hippies.
I bet he regrets that now.
3. Three days of music and no crowd violence.
It truly was a magical festival. During the three days of constant music and love with around half a million people at the venue, there were no reported incidents of violence. Pot, hashish, hallucinogenic drugs and drug paraphernalia were available to buy which lead to around 400 reported bad LSD trips. There were a few arrests, the traffic jams were particularly hellish, there was a shortage of food and STILL no crowd violence.
4. Babies were born.
There were various reports of heavily pregnant women being rushed to nearby hospitals to deliver. John Sebastian, vocalist of Lovin’ Spoonful even announced from stage, “Some cat’s old lady just had a baby, a kid destined to be far out!”
5. Ravi Shankar found Woodstock ‘terrifying’.
Apart from being one of the only Indian musicians to perform at Woodstock, renowned Sitar player Ravi Shankar did not share his contemporaries’ excitement about the festival. He once said it was a terrifying experience, where the large crowds lounging in the mud reminded him of water buffaloes in India.
6. There was a shortage of food.
‘Shortage of food’ is an understatement. Because of what we’re assuming was a serious lack of planning or an underestimate of attendees, the festival ran out of food on the very first day. After appealing to neighborhoods around the venue, members of the Monticello Jewish Community handed out sandwiches made out of 200 loaves, 40 pounds of meat & two gallons of pickles. Some attendees also resorted to drinking milk straight out of cows.
7. The festival was named Woodstock, but didn’t actually take place in Woodstock.
Although it was supposed to be held in Woodstock, New York the organisers had a harm time finding a suitable location that was available (especially because the amount of hippies the festival was going to pull in). They finalized on having it at Bethel Woods on some good Samaritan’s farm – Max Yasgur. God bless his soul.
8. There have been four attempts to recreate the festival on different sites.
In 1979, 1989, 1994, and the disastrous 1999 festival, which was shut down because of rapes, arson and overall violence – many called it the day music died.
9. Iron Butterfly wanted the organisers to fly them in on a helicopter. The organizers replied with an anagrammed “Fuck you”.
Iron Butterfly were stuck at the airport in New York and were unable to get to the festival by ground transportation, so they demanded the festival promoters send a helicopter for them. According to many a storyteller, the promoters sent the band’s manager a telegram, the first letter of each line spelling out the words “Fuck You.” So, no. Iron Butterfly didn’t show up.
10. The venue was filled with hippie-tastic signs like these.
11. That’s what 400,000 people at a festival looks like.
12. Jimi Hendrix’s performance of The Star-Spangled Banner (The American National Anthem) has been often called ‘the single greatest moment of the Sixties’.
Even though, it was only witnessed by a fraction of the crowd. Most attendees had gone home by the time Hendrix took stage at 9 am on a Monday morning.
13. Nevermind The Beatles, British musician Joe Cocker played the most beautiful rendition of The Beatles’ song “With A Little Help From My Friends”. Another iconic performance in Woodstock history.