Woodstock music festival was a major music festival held in August 1969, on the Elbe River near the town of Woodstock, Connecticut, just south of the town of Woodstock, New York. Organized by artist/band leader John Cogges, the festival featured diverse musical artists that made their way to the United States. Bands like Celtic and folk groups also made their way to the shores of America to play at the Woodstock Music Festival. Also taking place on the same day were jugglers, bicyclists, clowns, balloonists, and many other local acts.
With over one million visitors expected to come out to the Woodstock Music Festival that year, organizers had every reason to make sure that they got it right the first time. In fact, they were so confident that they would indeed get a positive response that they offered a staggering amount in free passes to the event. If you were to go back fifty years ago when this very same festival first took place, you would see that this was not just any event. This was much bigger than the hippie fads of the 1960s; this was a huge social experiment. And it was happening right before a massive wave of popular acceptance for “free expression.”
The original Woodstock Music Festival comprised just about sixty musical acts. As the event grew in popularity, bands would appear, such as Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Queen, and the Fagles. But as this youthful group got older, they would never perform at Woodstock again. The Stones were also rumored to be coming to the festival, but would ultimately end up taking their shot elsewhere. Other bands would include the Velvet Underground and the Yardbirds.
During the early months of 1969, there was an enormous explosion of activity in the immediate New York area surrounding the Woodstock Music Festival. Hundreds upon hundreds of young people from the surrounding areas would show up for three days and spend their time dancing and boogieing to the music. It was an amazing display of youthful energy and creativity, but because it happened in the midst of so much turmoil, there was no real plan in place. So what happened?
On the first day of the Woodstock Music Festival, there was a massive explosion in spontaneous human expression that would never again be the same. It was a combination of emotions including confusion, happiness, solidarity, anger, disappointment, joy, and sadness. As the crowd began to disperse around the different sites throughout the grounds, many people began to yell and scream at each other as they ran from one place to another. It didn’t matter if they were walking to the opposite side of the field from where they had originally come in; they were just trying to find a few friends or someplace to stay the night. As the day wore on, more people filled the stands and the atmosphere became more festive.
The Last Age
Back in 1969, there were no cell phones, nor was there the internet. Everyone just knew that they were going to the Woodstock Music Festival in a group or by song. Joanna was able to follow her brother and cousin to the concerts because her father worked at the event as an organist. She would sit in the front row, sometimes on the floor, and he would play the organ.
A very interesting account about the Woodstock Music Festival from the point of view of Joanna comes from Betty Shabazz who was a nineteen-year-old girl at the time and she remembers the event well. At the end of the day, there were only about 150 people remaining at the Woodstock music festival, and they were mainly comprised of hardcore punks. These guys had camped out since the previous night at a friend’s house and were very anxious to get to the festival as soon as possible. In order to get to the festival, the four guys had to hitch rides on two trucks with their friends, which they did not bother to do with Joanna.
Joanna and her brother were very anxious to get to the festival, but they were still very afraid. They had all heard about the brutal police beating of a musician outside the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. This was the reason they were so tense that they were not planning on going to the Woodstock music festival that Monday morning. The girls had already spent three days in their tent sleeping on the hard plastic on the floor. They were afraid to even think about walking down those steps to get to the area where the festival was.