Just this past week on August 15, 50 years ago, the legendary Woodstock festival kicked off. Held on a dairy farm in the Catskill Mountains just northwest of New York City from August 15–18, 1969, it made a lasting impression on its attendees and also led the way for festivals that followed.
While the security issues, weather and sporadic sound problems informed concert promoters on how to produce future fests, the largely peace-loving crowd enjoyed an amazing and once-in-a lifetime experience either way. Outdoor festivals create a magical feeling no matter who is playing and one might say that this magical feeling began with the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in 1969.
The event attracted more than 400,000 attendees. Originally, tickets were sold but the event got so out of hand that it became a free festival. About 186,000 advance tickets were sold and the promoters expected around 200,000 people would attend the festival, but the final number exceeded that twofold.
A total of 32 acts played during the three days of the event. The first act to sign on to the festival was Creedence Clearwater Revival for a fee of $10,000. They would end up going on at 3:30 a.m. to a mostly sleeping crowd on Sunday morning.
Most famously, Jimi Hendrix was the last act to play at 8:30 a.m. Monday morning. His rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” would encapsulate the feeling of the 1960s.
Check out our Woodstock memorabilia, which at time of writing included genuine Woodstock ticket collages and more featuring Woodstock performers Canned Heat, Country Joe & The Fish, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, and The Who, a photo signed by 17 Woodstock artists, an original RIAA Gold Record for the Woodstock II album and more here.