Woodstock As You've Never Seen It Before

Published 1 year ago on December 13, 2018
By Hugo

It was sold as '3 days of Peace & Music,' but Max Yasgur's festival became so much more. It became iconic, and a slap in the face to an America that preached freedom, but offered little in return. Unjust wars in Vietnam persisted, and the persecution of blacks raged on. It was a divisive period in America, and Woodstock's three-day event of music and psychedelic escapism was perhaps just as synonymous with the period.

But then again, how did an event, held on only 600-acres of dairy farmland in the New York countryside, filled only with peace-loving hippies, become so fabled? Well, as these 30 striking images show, the festival spawned a plethora of ideas and influences. Fashion lines became inspired by more garish garments; musicians became energised with writing lyrics that stood for more than just the wants of their record labels, and ultimately, a younger generation dragged America into a new period of enlightenment and possibility.


Would-be festival-goers travelled far and wide to an event that captivated the minds and souls of millions of young Americans. Some even hitchhiked to the festival, which was billed as a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Woodstock gave thousands of suburban young folk living in the confines of their parent's generation the opportunity to escape and meet all kinds of new and exciting people. It was even rumoured that many never returned home, and instead headed straight to the bright lights of New York City once the event had finished.


Because there was a limited police presence at the event, attendants could pretty much do what they pleased and sell what they wanted. 

Such freedom gave the press all the ammunition they needed to shroud the event in initial controversy with a string of negative reports when in reality, it was one of the most peaceful music events of all time.

Several media outlets wrote misleading and often derogatory things about Woodstock and it wasn't until the festival finished that many newspapers reported more favourably on it after parents- who were told nothing but good things about the event from their children- phoned up the outlets whose journalists reported otherwise.


Designers remain influenced by the colourful attire that was sported at Woodstock. Today, festival gear is now a fashion line in itself.

The 3-day music festival may have taken place in the height of the summer, but August on the East Coast doesn't guarantee a rain-free summer. In this black and white photo of a rainy Woodstock, flower hairbands and sun-dappled torsos are nowhere to be seen as festival-goers cover up and do their best to make the most of the iconic weekend despite the deluge of mud. 

Twitter/History Lovers Club

Though 186,000 tickets were sold, these numbers were dwarfed by those who found their way in by other means. As a result, the event became free to everyone and created a demand so high traffic jamsstretched over 8 miles long. It has been estimated that over a million people tried to attend the festival.



In the words of the festival's chief medical officer, those in attendance were anything but trouble. "These people are really beautiful. There has been no violence whatsoever which is really remarkable for a crowd of this size."


Even pets were welcome at the all-inclusive festival, which celebrated diversity in a way that simply hadn't been seen before. For the first time that decade, American people were drawn together for a love of music rather than one built on years of bigotry and racial mistrust. 


Jimi Hendrix was Woodstock's headliner and wowed the crowd with a pulsating performance that is regarded by fans and music critics as his all-time best.


Several media outlets wrote misleading and often derogatory things about Woodstock, and it wasn't until the festival finished that many newspapers reported more favourably on it after parents- who were told nothing but good things about the event from their children- phoned up the outlets whose journalists reported otherwise.

The VW campervan was a popular mode of transport for revellers travelling to Woodstock. Since nicknamed, 'The Hippy Van.' Here, Bob Grimm, once a member of the rock group "Light" poses next to his beloved camper, a mode of transport his band would use when they were booked to play at the Woodstock Rock Festival of 1969.

While no vehicles were allowed access inside, Bob got around this in a rather novel way. "It was the day before the first performances and we discovered that we might not be able to get in! Approaching the access road, a policeman said, "You can't drive in, you'll have to walk!" Thinking quickly I said, "We're taking this bus to the art exhibit." He paused momentarily and said, "OK, go ahead."

Bob's very own piece of Woodstock memorabilia would be photographed by a Rolling Stone journalist as his bandmates watched the music from the car's rooftop. 

Various posters were created to promote the festival, and if you can find an original, you might be able to sell it for a lot of money!

Heritage Landscapes

An aerial view of the event, captured by a film crew working on the 1970 Oscar-winning Woodstock documentary, highlighted the magnitude of the event which would see hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the 3-day musical bemouth. 

Space was sparse, but people found ways around this. Indeed, various incongruous communes were built within what was primarily a sparse area of woodland. It's believed that over 500,000 people attended the four-day event.


Woodstock practically established its own society after various pathways and communities were dotted within the nearby forests. Quirky signposts, directing people to, 'Groovy Way' and other similar places were also common.

Morrison Hotel Gallery

The late female rocker Janis Joplin dazzled the 1969 crowd with a signature 'electric' performance. Only one year after her iconic Woodstock performance, Joplin died of a heroin overdose.

Photographers weren't short of beautiful faces, and some were even offered modeling gigs after being discovered by professional photographers.

There was no official merchandise at Woodstock, which is hard to wrap your head around for a festival of that magnitude.....

Instead of T-shirts, hoodies, and hats, memorabilia came in the form of the various garments and patterned clothes from creative festival goers.



Families also basked in what was mostly a celebration by young people. Nevertheless, the families that were in attendance added a sense of community to a festival that was first and foremost about community and love.


Those who gained access to the festival would have memories to last them a lifetime, and the festival arguably defined the counterculture movement. But the journey back wasn't the greatest of experiences.....


As expected, nearly all those in attendance were fervent anti-war supporters, and regularly held up signs to promote their thoughts. It was almost a pre-requisite for those in attendance to have such views and share progressive ideas with other festival-goers.

Those who gained access to the event would have memories to last them a lifetime, and the festival arguably defined the counterculture movement.

Recreational drug use was common at Woodstock. While the festival is thought to have little-to-no recorded casualties, there were two recorded deaths. One concerned a drug insulin overdoes, and the other saw a tractor drive over an unsuspecting attendee sleeping in a nearby hayfield.

Famed groupie Sally Mann and guitar amp pioneer Jim Marshall share a cheeky kiss on one of the festival's main stages. Sally Mann would be one of the most recognizable groupies of the 70s, though it was her stint with the Rolling Stones where she gained most notoriety before her arrest for a heroin bust.

Despite this setback, Mann parted ways with the hedonistic lifestyle and gained a law degree while in prison.

The opening ceremony of Woodstock saw the Indian religious leader Satchidananda Saraswati deliver a compelling speech. Many in the crowd felt enlightened by Saraswati's sermons and promotion of the physical and spiritual exercise now known as yoga.


Wikimedia Commons/Heinrich und Friedl Winter

The famous Woodstock farmyard and its surrounding areas attract numerous tourists each year. With the cultural significance of the festival, be it through music, film art, and even politics, everyone with an ounce of knowledge about the festival will appreciate Yasgur's contribution to modern-day culture as we now know it. 

As well as the famous farmyard, a Peace and Music Woodstock monument was erected in 1984. Decorated with plaques designed by sculptor Wayne C. Saward, the beautiful monument remains one of the rural area's foremost attractions.

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