Sunday, August 18, 2019

Hendrix - Woodstock

Of Santana's monumental performance, weeks before their debut LP was released, Carlos Santana said, "It was very memorable and monumental. We didn't know that there were so many people in the '60s that wanted to stop the war. People got involved in the '60s, with the Black Panthers and the students. We wanted to change the world, like Jim Morrison, from The Doors, said: 'We want the world and we want it now.' I didn't realize till we got to Woodstock just how many freaks [there were] at Woodstock. There were women and men, an ocean of hearts screaming. I use this word 'freaks' as a positive thing. Freaks are great. Freak is a good word because you're outside of the normal," he told Billboard. "We all wanted Vietnam to stop. We wanted to be liberated, emancipated from mental slavery. We are one family at Woodstock." Woodstock was indeed about peace, about love and of course about the music, but it was also a portrait of our nation's youth, struggling with parents and a generation who could not understand the dissent. It was a generation intent, not on preserving the American way of old, but one that dismissed many of the ideals held in such esteem in America's bedroom communities.
Bobbi Kelly and Nick Ercoline Greet the Sun and Become an Icon

During The Who's performance, which ended at dawn, Sunday morning, the concert's only real controversy arose when Abbie Hoffman rushed the stage during a break in the set. The activist took over the PA in a semi-coherent rant about freeing John Sinclair from jail. Pete Townshend turned, yelled at Hoffman to get off "my stage," and hit the activist in the head with the neck of his guitar.

By Sunday the world was already experiencing the shock of the new through newspaper and television coverage, but within the festival grounds, it was still about the music. Joe Cocker was the first act on the last officially booked day (Sunday, August 17th), opening for the day's booked acts at 2:00pm. The incessant rain ultimately delayed the schedule nine hours. By dawn (Monday morning), the concert continued despite most attendees having left, returning to the working week and other normal obligations.

A Rarely Seen Alternate Shot
Ten Years After, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Johnny Winter would all have commendable sets that afternoon, but it was Crosby, Stills and Nash who stole the show on Sunday, with Neil Young on stage as well, who refused to be filmed. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had played only one previous show prior to Woodstock, and although each member was experienced in the rock circuit, the lack of playing together left them incredibly nervous; the gravitas of the festival fully apparent by day three. The set included acoustic performances of songs from the first album released without Young (Crosby, Stills & NashAM10), who played as a duo with Stills during the performance. The pair were introduced as Buffalo Springfield, although they'd disbanded in 1968. After their sink or swim induction into the rock 'n' roll world at Woodstock, they followed up with their first release as a quartet titled Déjà Vu (AM10), which topped the charts and produced three hit singles. In addition to the Stills/Young duet, the CSNY set included two separate components; the first acoustic, the latter electric.

Sister Susanne Bunn
As most people assume that the Aquarian Exposition was held in Woodstock, many are also under the impression that the song, "Woodstock," was played at the concert. It is perhaps ironic that the artist who, for some, defines the Woodstock Festival was not actually there. Like a lot of artists who should have performed, who one fancifully imagines did perform, Joni Mitchell was a part of an absentee list that included Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Love and the Doors. Joni's manager insisted that keeping a scheduled interview on The Dick Cavett Show was more beneficial to her career. Sitting in her hotel room awaiting her appearance, Mitchell watched what has come to be regarded as the defining event of the Aquarian Age unfolding before her eyes in a series of television news bulletins. Woodstock, she would later state "struck her like a modern-day fishes and loaves story. For a herd of people that large to co-operate so well, it was pretty remarkable, and there was a tremendous optimism. So I wrote the song 'Woodstock' out of these feelings."

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and 50s era cover band Sha Na Na, possibly the least apropos act signed on to the festival, followed; Sha Na Na performing at the break of dawn, Monday morning.

Jimi Hendrix insisted on being the final performer of the festival and was scheduled to perform at midnight. Due to the various delays, he did not take the stage until 9:00am on Monday. The crowd, estimated at over 450,000 at its peak, is reported to have been no larger than 80,000 when his performance began (with possibly as few as 25,000). His set lasted two hours - the longest of his career - and featured 17 songs, concluding with "Hey, Joe," which was played to a relatively empty field.