Time to talk about what really went down in the first-ever Woodstock that happened in Bethel, New York from August 15-18, 1969. This music festival is now known to be the turning point of everyone realizing they can alter the course of history… and they did.
From the famous photos of the Woodstock ‘69 poster and the half a million attendees, here are some never-before-seen photos that will just reveal what really went on on the sidelines during the massive counter-culture movement everyone still talks about today.
Just got some milk
With the unexpected more or less 500,000 attendees of the first Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, it can’t be denied that some would expect that the oddest things transpired during the three-day music event… including the one in this photo taken by Baron Wolman: a group of people milking a cow by the roadside.
Through the roof
The three-day music festival back in 1969 had 32 artists on their list that performed – an incredible set list that consisted of the industry’s powerful performers from Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana, and the closing of Jimi Hendrix.
Suffice to say, no one can blame the attendees for jamming hard to their favorite music, even going as far as defying the laws of gravity and flying in the air… like the one in the photo.
Wavy Gravy and The Hog Farm Bus
Yes, Woodstock ‘69 was definitely known for its stance on peace, a counter-culture movement amidst the Vietnam War and Cold War issues faced by the country back in the day.
Needless to say, having the presence of the commune Hog Farm Bus in the festival contributed to the event’s purpose – as Wavy Gravy, the commune’s founder, kept order among the 500,000 people in a non-intrusive way.
Traffic for days
What’s the consequence of 500,000 people suddenly appearing in one venue? That’s right – a nightmare of traffic, that the people resorted to abandoning their cars to just walk to the venue… making the road their parking lot!
And those who weren’t in the first Woodstock can just imagine how long it took for the line of vehicles to finally dissipate after the festival ended.
Peaceful car markings
What’s Woodstock without any relation to peace? This photo – or the markings on the man’s Ford Mustang, specifically – just captured what everyone in the festival stood for. Phrases of “Peace on you” and “War is not healthy” definitely embodied everything the attendees want to say.
Like any other event, Woodstock had some unexpected last-minute changes … such as drawing 500,000 attendees instead of the expected 50,000, which was quite a far round-off.
After seeing the never-ending influx of people coming in for the 3-day music festival, Woodstock Ventures, the four founders of Woodstock, decided to make tickets free for the rest of the attendees… putting up this “sold out” sign on their booth.
Typical chill in Woodstock
There were a lot of things Woodstock is known for such as a chill, laidback kind of music festival – at least when it first started in 1969. Another thing it’s known for is the presence of recreational drugs, which can be seen in this photo, and the cardboard sign hung up by the people.
Of course, the police were on their job… but that doesn’t stop them from joining the other attendees into their lounging, laidback mood throughout the 3-day event. But, out of the half a million attendees present throughout the music fest, there a total of 33 individuals arrested… quite a small proportion of the 6-figure digit attendees.
No rain can stop anyone
The odds that the weather will unleash its unideal self were never zero. One would expect that within the three days of the music fest, the weather would agree with everyone… But rains poured down, and it even caused delays to the closing performance of Jimi Hendrix, further extending the event schedule quite a bit.
Nevertheless, the attendees obviously wouldn’t let some rain bother their jam!
Three days mean spending 72 hours out on the dairy farm. One can just expect it to be less than comfortable. The wide field did not have any sleeping corners – everyone had to improvise.
Exhibit A: seeking shelter underneath a truck. What makes this photo even more symbolic upon first sight is the American flag wrapped within the girl – an iconic image of the now-known counter-culture movement in the country.
Second day: Rock music legend Janis Joplin
Woodstock ‘69, throughout its 3-day course, had a total of 33 performers, peppered with local and internationally-renowned names. This includes Janis Joplin – as shown in this rare close-up photo of her performance during the later second day of the festival.
All thanks to Max Yasgur
One would just expect that given its name, Woodstock should have transpired in Woodstock town in New York.
And it was supposed to be – but last-minute cancellation and a whole slew of ordinances did not make this possible. But obviously, the music festival still pursued, thanks to Max Yasgur and his huge dairy farm where the 1969 counter-culture movement transpired.
Santana on day two
Among the line of performances during the Woodstock ‘69 was the Santana band, who rocked the second day of the festival. As captured in the photo: 10-time Grammy Award Winner Guitarist Carlos Santana jams head to head with the band’s former bassist David Brown.
Chopper on the way
Spending three days straight on a dairy farm, while it’s all about music and relaxation, still has got to be a nightmare when it comes to camping out… especially when there’s a shortage of basic needs.
The crowd was so big and inaccessible, to the point where helicopters had to drop off medical supplies and other basic necessities for half a million people!
Makeshift food booths
As there were no invited food stalls where people can buy their drinks and meals, the people came together just to help provide and serve food. Despite not knowing each other, Woodstock really held on to its unity and peace purpose as there were volunteers left and right for the makeshift food booths.
It rained, it poured… and since Woodstock ‘69 was held in a dairy farm, the floors weren’t cemented. As a result? Mud everywhere! Since sanitation was hard to maintain with all the people walking out and about, the attendees resorted to just enjoying the moment… and also cleaning themselves by taking a dip in the ponds.
Woodstock ‘69 up in the air
By half a million, it is indeed half a million. Going way over the expected 50,000 festivalgoers, the whole crowd for Woodstock ‘69 couldn’t be captured by the simple on-ground cameras going on within the crowds. It had to be an aerial one: and you can just see how wide the scope was during the three-day festival!
Concerts on the side
Of course, as concerts typically go, there’s bound to be spots where the speakers couldn’t just reach… or there’s got to be some crowd on some further part where they just have to have their own world.
With the long line-up of performers for the festival, there were also mini concerts playing over the field, one led by the people.
Traffic jam… literally
Yes, there was traffic. A long one, going to the festival and coming home from the festival. With all the jamming and vibing that happened on the grounds, some people could not get enough and took it on the road, easing the traffic stress quite a bit!