Woodstock: 54 years ago a festival that made history

The fiftieth anniversary of the Woodstock festival falls in mid-August.. In truth, nothing was happening in this town at the foot of the Catskills at the time, but being known as a haunt for artists, anarchists, and oddballs of all kinds, it was symbolically associated with the event of the company founded in March. half a century ago – with partners Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman and John P. Roberts – Lang himself (then a 24-year-old New York promoter who returned from the organization in 1968 Miami Pop Festival) and named Woodstock Ventures, Inc.

Location selection

The first group signed in April was Creedence Clearwater Revival, followed by Jefferson Airplane and The Who.. Conversely, denials included the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, The Byrds, Frank Zappa and The Doors, when talks never even started with Bob Dylan, who settled in Woodstock in 1963.

The site originally chosen was the Mills Industrial Park in Wallkill., about fifty kilometers south of the registered settlement, but on July 15, local authorities refused to use this place. Elliot Taiber (later memoirist) spoke at this point. Taking Woodstockon which Ang Lee’s film of the same name is based) suggesting the White Lake area at Bethel, 40 miles further west, however Lang found it insufficient, who instead took into consideration the nearby estate of Max Yasgur.

The final location of the festival became known on the day of the landing of a man on the moon, July 20.not even four weeks after the appointment.

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Janis Joplin at Woodstock (photo by Henry Diltz)

Woodstock exhibitions

The sequence of performances – 32 in all – was opened on Friday afternoon the 15th by Richie Havens and closed on Monday the 18th by Jimi Hendrix.joined by a band called the Gypsy Sun and the Rainbows, who had just taken over from the Experience, included in their set a legendary garbled version of the US national anthem played in front of the survivors, who had dwindled to a few tens of thousands.

Between the two extremes of the program walked recognized stars and rising artists.: Joan Baezsix months pregnant, new Carlos Santana and Saturday Night Poker consisting of Janis Joplin, Sly and family stone, V WHO AND jefferson planeand Sunday’s main attraction was Crosby, Stills, Nash & Youngsecond time together on stage.

Turnout was estimated at over 400,000 people.many of which were free due to unexpected overcrowding that made attendees’ access unmanageable: 100,000 tickets were sold in presale at $18 when they paid $24 at the box office.

Woodstock: The Other Side of Utopia

It was the hagiographic ceremony of the hippie movement.ambassador of utopian ambitions (“We want peace, and we want it now!” preached Jim Morrison in late 1967. When the music ended) and an integral element of the antagonistic front towards the System, cemented by opposition to the military intervention in Vietnam.

However, the apogee of this collective experience was made possible by the involvement of the large Warner Bros., an integral part of the controversial institutionwhich has been the beneficiary of content on a record and cinematic scale, with economic investments such as making up for a deficit that would otherwise have put the organizers on the brink of bankruptcy (the total cost of the operation exceeded three million dollars, only partly covered by the proceeds).

More than the culmination of an epic, which was in fact the pinnacle Summer of love bloomed a couple of years ago in San Francisco, So the Woodstock rally meant the loss of innocence.. Soon the nodes will return home to visit. The ongoing contradictions were highlighted by two tragic events of great symbolic significance.

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Photo by Henry Diltz

Charles Manson, Hippie Antichrist

During the weekend leading up to the festival, Roman Polanski’s Bel-Air villa (not due to work in London) saw a massacre that killed actress Sharon Tate, the director’s wife, and four unfortunate friends.

The investigation led to the indictment of some members of the Family, an ambiguous osmosis between a libertarian commune and an esoteric sect led by Charles Manson: A character who, at the time of the events, has spent two-fifths of his life in prison, gradually serving time for robbery, sexual assault, and the exploitation of prostitution.

Inscriptions were written on the walls of the villa with the blood of the victims. Pigs AND Helter Skelter: Names of songs included in white albums The Beatles, where Manson claimed to have found the encrypted messages that inspired him for the delusional conspiracy of which the Bel Air massacre was part.

The media didn’t ask for anything better: the hippie Antichrist entered the scene. As an aspiring songwriter, the Californian adventurer had free access to countercultural circles in Los Angeles, befriending Dennis Wilson, drummer for the Beach Boys, who even recorded his song. cease to existrenamed Never learn not to lovetaking it to the rear 45 rpm Blue birds over the mountain.

Greil Marcus wrote about it in Mystery Train: “The playful freedom of the Beach Boys is inseparable from Manson’s knife.“.

Altamont disaster

Meanwhile, the Rolling Stones were about to return to the States with concerts.after a three-year ban due to problems with justice in their homeland, and were preparing to release a new album Let it bleed. So they decided to emulate the rite of passage of the Woodstock generations on the occasion of the last leg of the tour, featuring some of the main characters of the event in mid-August: Santana, Jefferson Airplane and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

So there was a free festival on December 6 at the Altamont Hippodrome.near San Francisco. They entrusted “protection” to the infamous Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang.

Result: Instead of appeasing the spirits of the 300,000 present, the “angels” incited them to a crescendo of provocations, up to bloody epilogue that cost the life of 18-year-old African American Meredith Hunter. He was “Woodstock’s nemesis” to paraphrase the name Rolling Stone was then using.

British scholar Simon Frith vividly described the metaphorical power of this incident in an essay. Sociology of rock: “The violence at the 1969 Altamont Festival was a clear signal that the community could not rely solely on the consumption of music.“.

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Photo by Henry Diltz

The onset of great cold

They were a premonition of what would happen as the next decade rolled around: Utopia hippie and rebel illusions Movement they literally fell apart in contact with the 70sopened in April with the official announcement of the breakup of the Beatles.

To compress its meaning in an allegorical key, there was a triptych of mourners worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy: on September 18, 1970, he died. Jimi Hendrix and after 16 days it was his turn Janis Joplinand on July 3, 1971 left Jim Morrison.

Thus, the Summer of Love gave way to the Winter of Discontent.. Consequences in terms of awareness and identity were filmed in 1983 by director Lawrence Kasdan in the acclaimed film big cold.

All photos in this article are taken from the book “Woodstock. Three Days That Changed the World (Ed. Hoepley) by Mike Evans and Paul Kingsbury.

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