Legendary Woodstock Photos That Will Go Down In History
1. Woodstock: The Original Music Festival
Nearly half a million people flocked to Bethel, New. York’s undulating meadows to celebrate love, peace, friendship, life, and music (among other things) during the Woodstock event of 1969.
There has never been anything precisely like it before. With these rare historical images from that year, you can see what those three days of peace, love, and music were actually like! Keep scrolling to learn more!
2. A symbol of the sixties
Tie-dye was all the style in those days, even if it now seems trite. A few enterprising hippies offer their handicrafts to festival guests here. Because no official festival goods were available, these — and styles on the following slide — would have to suffice.
A simple rug-like cloth could serve as an outfit and worked for both genders. The colorful fabrics made the event seem somewhat livelier and were famous to all.
3. The flowered hair
At today’s major music festivals, such as Coachella and Bonnaroo, guests are frequently just as concerned with what they’re going to wear as they are with the acts they’re going to watch. However, festival classics like the floral crown, which dates back to Woodstock, will never go out of style as long as there are festivals to attend.
This simple yet surprisingly appealing fashion was quite popular, especially to ladies. The locals would crown themselves in beautiful flowers of different species and colors, attracting people close.
4. Young, wild, and free
Woodstock is well-known for not charging any fees for admittance. But that wasn’t intended to happen. When it became evident that the grounds were popular with young people, the event organizers had to relinquish any hope of making any money.
Young people are generally quite cautious about spending a lot of money at a single event. These festivals were predominantly flocked with the youth, and charging a fee just to participate in the event would highly discourage them from coming altogether. This move encouraged young ladies and gents to attend and spice up the whole festival.
5. Unforgettable moments for unforgettable people
Woodstock was as unforgettable for the musicians that performed there as it was for the audience. Jefferson Airplane members are pictured here, with singer Grace Slick in the center, dressed in white. Over the three days, 33 performers performed, including many other stars.
Performances from artists from all over the state were welcome. This inclusion encouraged mingling among stars and musicians, even encouraging duets and mixed performances. Peers mixed over the three days sharing drinks and meals whenever possible, knowing they wouldn’t see each other again in a while.
6. The birth of a legend
People nationally attended the music festival in upstate New York. Nobody could have predicted that it would become one of the most iconic concert series in history. And let’s be honest, you wouldn’t want to miss a concert with 33 of your favorite artists, would you? This event was going to be one of the biggest concerts yet.
Just think about it! Thousands of people congregated in one location for three days, all to see your favorite singers perform? The anticipation was palpable, the performances were legendary, and the crowd did not disappoint, cheering and partying for three days. The festival’s original location is now home to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which hosts performances throughout the year.
7. All aboard the "Mary Jane" bus
The hippie subculture is known for its music as much as it is for its drug use. Drugs went hand in hand with the theme. Hippies would party hard. During the festival, it can be estimated that over half of the attendees consumed marijuana, although no one got arrested. Half of the time, people were intoxicated, mostly with liquor or marijuana.
However, there were surprisingly no known incidents of violent mugging or any uncouth behavior. Drug users, especially drunks, were perceived as violent individuals; this event was an exception or perhaps disproved the myth. However, at least two births were registered.
8. Overwhelming numbers
Everything was in short supply since the event organizers were unprepared for as many people as Woodstock. The numbers that turned up were many times well over the anticipated crowds, which was good news, of course, but caught the event organizers off guard.
Food (breakfast meals, lunch, and dinner), drink (beer, liquor, water, fruit juices, punches, other beverages), medical supplies, and facilities were in short supply. Still, because of the communal spirit, everyone managed to get by just fine—as you’ll discover as you keep reading through this list!
9. Off-camera memories
Only a fraction of the 33 artists who performed at the event got to be in the footage that later turned into the Woodstock documentary, which is how most people are familiar with the concerts today.
Some, such as Joan Baez, featured above, will be eternally connected with the Woodstock music festival. Others, for example, Sly and the Family Stone, were not included in the film’s final cut and are quickly forgotten or thought not to be there. But recorded or not, the memory of the event lives on to this date.
10. Pay me upfront first
For the whole length of the event, music was played continuously, both day and night, ensuring that there was never a boring moment at Woodstock. Nevertheless, behind closed doors, the organizers came perilously close to putting an immediate stop to all activities.
In order to accommodate the huge number of spectators who turned up unexpectedly, several artists insisted on being paid in cash before entering the stage—which necessitated them visiting a neighboring bank that was open on a Saturday in order to acquire the necessary funds.
11. Partying among cows
One of the 600-acre dairy farms on which the Woodstock festival was held belonged to Max Yasgur, the event’s host, and it was on this land that the people came to party. The fact that he did not need much convincing to agree to rent the property may have been influenced by the spirit of the occasion.
According to the arrangement he made with the festival organizers, he would get $10,000 to use the site. Damages to the property, on the other hand, ended up costing more than $50,000. Littering and the general destruction of property contributed to this inflation.
12. All that ends well is well
Original estimates put the overall cost of the event at $750,000 by the three significant organizers, John Roberts, Michael Lang, and Joel Rosenman, who were responsible for its execution. In the end, they spent over $2.5 million throughout the festival weekend while only earning approximately $1.5 million in revenue.
Much of the difference was due to an unprecedented large crowd. Although it seemed as though the founders had made a considerable loss, sales from the film and a live album made up for the difference in the budget. What happened after that, as they say, is history.
13. An aerial view of event attendees
A renowned former LIFE magazine photographer known as John Dominis, reminisced about Woodstock years later indicating that he had a good time throughout the event.
Dominis also said that, despite the fact that he was much older than the youngsters in attendance, he felt like he belonged with them. “When it comes to an older individual, you may think they’re uninviting. But no, they were fantastic!” he said.
14. It was a nightmare feeding 400,000 people
It is no small feat to feed 400,000 people for three days straight. It seemed like supplies were always in short quantities, lines were always lengthy, and the audience was always ravenous. Such strain would be too much for anybody with a weak heart.
From the above platform, a man named Hugh Romney stated to the crowds that “there’s a guy up there—some hamburger guy—who had his stand burn down last night.” He still has a little money left over, and for those of you who still feel capitalism isn’t all that strange, you might consider helping him out by purchasing a couple of hamburgers.
15. Festival founders hit too many snags
According to the Washington Post, the festival’s people who came up with the Woodstock idea were just businessmen who wanted to put on a concert to showcase their upcoming recording facility while also raising money for it. They, however, made some rookie mistakes, and some were just sheer bad luck.
Initially, it seemed that they weren’t quite at the peak of their abilities. There were three changes in the festival’s location, and construction on the festival’s stage didn’t even begin until a month before the show’s scheduled start date.
16. The host and his wife did not mind tagging along
“By attending the event, we can turn the adversities that are currently facing America into a source of hope for a stronger and more peaceful future,” said Max Yasgur, a farmer who owned the acres of land on which the event was held. He attended together with his wife.
The year was 1973, and Yasgur was 53 years old when he passed away from a heart attack. As a homage to him, Rolling Stone Magazine published a full-page obituary, making him one of the few individuals in history to receive such an honor who was not a musician himself.
17. The Health Department concerns
Several years ago (2008), the Washington Post said that, nowadays, “no health department, nor any Woodstock-generation parents or grandparents, would permit a festival where children eat chopped veggies from garbage cans.”
According to newspaper reports and stage announcements, two births took place at the festival, but no one has claimed the title of Woodstock baby. It is still crazy trying to imagine babies born at an open-air concert.
18. Reasons for gathering
It was almost impossible to complete the enormous job of feeding 400,000 hungry hippies in a short period of time. In the first place, no one had expected the festival’s magnitude to be as big as it turned out to be.
But these inconveniences did not deter people from continuing to have fun because that didn’t make a difference. The festival had people concerned about the Vietnam War, racial tensions in the United States, and various other issues. This festival was a safe place to get some release from the cruel world that awaited them.
19. Everyone kept their items close
If you didn’t stay in your blanket or tent, you’d have to trek for several kilometers to find the things you needed. And, in the absence of aisles, seating patterns, and cell phones, it would have been nearly difficult to find your way back to where you were initially and you would probably lose all your belongings.
Today’s festival-goers wouldn’t even know what to do if they were in that situation! It was a total nightmare trying to trace anything, especially if you did not correctly mark them or know which direction to begin looking.
20. Kids couldn't be left behind
In addition to limited food, there were far too few restrooms for the amount of people that attended the event, and it rained on the festival grounds for several days straight. At times, distinguishing between muck and, well, you know, was a tough job to do.
There were just three documented deaths in total. One person died due to a ruptured appendix, another died due to a heroin overdose, and a third person died from a tractor that ran over him. These three disturbing accidents were not violent.
21. The traffic menace
After only five days, the amount of traffic outside Bethel began to increase significantly. Thousands of automobiles rested along a 20-mile stretch of road leading from Max Yasgur’s farm. Local inhabitants were stranded, and a large number of performers had to be exited by helicopter.
Just imagine trying to locate your Volkswagen bus amid hundreds of others that are identical to it. First to the park was last to leave for sure; you can imagine the uneasiness. Impatient artists had to improvise or make themselves comfortable until the traffic cleared.
22. Hippies were against the war but rooting for the Military
The festival’s mood was decidedly anti-war, as many Americans had begun to see the Vietnam War as needless and far too long-lasting. Ironically, though, the U.S. Army airlifted in food, medics, and even festival performers.
“They are with us, man; they are not against us,” an announcer reportedly told the crowds in attendance. People cheered and welcomed them to the festival. Their help was much needed and very welcomed by the people. Medical emergencies were airlifted away from the scene and safely taken to nearby medical facilities.
23. Not all performers could make it to the event
John Lennon consented to participate in Woodstock, but the United States government denied him admission into the country with a visa from Canada.
Other acts that we’re unable to make it to the festival included the Jeff Beck Group, which had broken up just weeks before the event, and Iron Butterfly, stranded at a New York airport due to a flight cancellation.
24. Jimi Hendrix only performed for a portion of the audience.
When Jimi Hendrix performed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the New York Post declared it the “single finest moment of the 1960s.” Most of the festival’s guests missed it, as he entered the stage at 9 a.m. on Monday, by which time most of them had already packed up and headed home.
Despite the fact that the gathering was much smaller than it had been the prior days, Jimi could still sense the love and excitement of the audience.
25. Performance payments were inflated
Because their festival was brand new, the event’s organizers had to pay seriously high sums to secure their main acts. Jimi Hendrix was given $18,000, and members of Jefferson Airplane $12,000, double their usual fee.
Groups that demanded cash payments upfront included the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and The Who.
26. A swarm of faces
When looking at this picture taken from the rear of the stage, it becomes more apparent exactly how many people were in attendance at Woodstock. There were a multitude!
According to estimates, between August 15 and August 17, 1969, about 400,000 people descended on the little town of Bethel, New York, the majority of whom were young, accessible, and unfettered by the spirit of peace and love.
27. People were stuck in traffic coming to the festival
People attempted to attend the festival in more significant numbers than those who attended. For example, as you can see in this photograph, traffic was so severe that many attendees chose to abandon their cars kilometers away and walk to the festival grounds.
According to Arlo Guthrie, who said it on stage, “The New York State Thruway is closed, man.” Reaching the center of the festival was a far greater task than getting to work during Monday morning traffic.
28. A star in the making
The documentary film made at the Woodstock music festival is considered one of the best “rockumentaries” of all time by fans and critics alike.
In the case of one young director, Martin Scorsese, who is depicted on the right wearing a headset, it was a promising start that led to more than 80 Academy Award nominations throughout his career.
29. Those with vans were lucky
If you arrived at Woodstock by a small automobile, you might have found yourself out of luck when it came to getting a seat at the festival. The persons who had the most nuanced view of the stage were the ones who were able to scale the roof of their van to the highest point.
Of course, it would have been difficult to relocate your vehicle with so many people in the area. Nevertheless, there was no compelling reason to leave the festival grounds until the final note.
30. People created their own shows
The Woodstock program was filled with major stars, as everyone knows. But that didn’t deter anyone with a guitar from attempting to put on a show for the audience.
From the photograph, it appears as though the man is seated in some sort of handcrafted treehouse that he has converted into a performance space. At the time, it seemed that no one was interested in hearing him perform. But, who knows, by the end of the weekend, he might have gathered a small but dedicated fan base.
31. Don't worry, be happy
It may sound cheesy, but in the upstate New York village where the Woodstock concert took place, Happy Avenue is a road. It seems fitting for a festival dedicated to peace and love, doesn’t it? Of course, individuals may not have been pleased with the traffic en route to the festival on this particular day.
Imagine living in one of those Happy Avenue houses and being unable to leave your driveway for the entire weekend because the streets are packed. But the positive side of this is that you would have conveniently attended the festival while operating from home.
32. Keep the feet clean
There were at least a few individuals at Woodstock who attempted to dispel the image of the filthy hippie, which we are all familiar with. After all, when you spend the whole weekend wandering about barefoot, it is inevitable that your feet will get a bit filthy. Fortunately, there was a water pump nearby, which enabled some concertgoers to keep their feet nice and clean throughout the event.
Perhaps, some of them used the water to cool down their bodies as well after a long day of dancing and excitement.
33. Yoga in the morning
Okay, so these folks may or may not have been doing yoga, but from the photograph, it certainly seems like they were, don’t you think? It’s more probable that these two were doing some kind of interpretative dance while listening to one of the musical performances that were playing around the festival grounds at the same time.
It’s reasonable to infer that these two individuals are under the effect of some kind of drug. After all, it was the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. However, it’s possible that the music and positive emotions were sufficient enough to get them high on life.
34. Pass the doobie, please
This picture is usually the image that comes to mind when you think about Woodstock. That woman doesn’t have a cigarette from the corner store in her hand. That’s also not the type of smile you’d see on someone who’s smoking a regular cigarette.
No, the woman in the picture must be smoking something a little more substantial in this photo, and it’s representative of the era and Woodstock in general. You can just summarize the photograph by saying “the event was lit.”
35. Unique in a crowd
This image may be the best representation of the festival as a whole. There are people as far as the horizon, and the woman in the front is perched on someone’s shoulders, completely enthralled by the concert going on all around her.
If you look closely, you’ll notice a few more people with their arms lifted and giant smiles on their faces as they soak in what was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the majority of those present.
36. Eat to live through the festival
We don’t hear about the food eaten in Woodstock, but this photo proves that people did eat while there. It’s unclear what they’re eating, but there appears to be a food stand set up with concertgoers waiting with paper plates for some grub.
The people in the picture don’t appear overly impressed by the flavor of their food, but whatever they ate provided them with enough nourishment to keep them going throughout the event.
37. When it rained, it poured
We know that it rained at some time at Woodstock and that some people opted to welcome it while others tried to avoid it. A few people have draped a plastic sheet over themselves to protect themselves from the rain.
This behavior may sound contradictory given the event’s free-spirited atmosphere, but they didn’t run from the rain, and having the plastic covering allowed them to continue enjoying the show.
38. Wrong side of the Woodstock fence
The presence of a fence at Woodstock is unusual, but this guy appears unconcerned about being on the wrong side of it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t uncover any information about the background of this photo, which nearly looks like he’s about to break down some fence panels.
This image also shows the approximate number of people who attended. Not only can you see the happy man at the fence, but you can also see the excited faces of the other attendees in the crowd on the other side.
39. An award-winning documentary
In 1970, the four-hour documentary Woodstock was nominated for an Academy Award. Since then, it has been released several more times, each time with new bonuses and footage. A teenage Martin Scorsese served as an assistant director on the original picture, which was his first film credit. He’s giving a peace sign in this photo, which you can see below.
Martin Scorsese later wrote that he was completely drowned in the creation of the documentary. “I was nearly completely oblivious to the audience because I was so focused on the action on stage,” he wrote.
40. A unique and expensive event
People attempted to recreate the one-of-a-kind festival in 1979, 1989, 1994, and 1999. The 1999 event ended in disaster when riots and violence wreaked havoc on the attendees, as shown in this photograph.
According to estimates, the inaugural festival left event organizers with a debt of at least $1.3 million. It took them more than ten years to recoup their losses by selling audio and recording rights. This fire was a significant setback for the event organizers and considerable damage to the film’s reputation and its origin. It is not yet known the reason for the unruly behavior to date.