they made money, and they made a little history.
– E. Tiber
It’s hard to find a person who wouldn’t know the name, Woodstock. It may mean different things to different people, but everybody knows about it. For the participants and those who wanted to get there, Woodstock became the holiday of freedom and love. For opponents of the hippie movement, it was a noise meeting of drunk and drug addict youth. Some people regard it as a culmination of the “hippie era” and the celebration of the counterculture. Arnold Skolnick, an artist who designed the symbol of Woodstock, described this event as “something was tapped, a nerve, in this country. And everybody just came.”(Tiber, http://www.woodstock69.com/wsrprnt2.htm).
Officially Woodstock is remembered as the most prominent rock-festival, which place in August 1969.
Initially, it was planned to spend it in the town of Woodstock, and that’s where the festival got its name from. But conditions were not appropriate, and the place was changed. The festival was under the threat of cancellation because of the problems with the place, but Max Yasgur saved the situation and gave his 600-acre dairy farm. So, the festival was held in Bethel near New York about 40 kilometers away from the town of Woodstock. Festival was planned as a commercial project and was well advertised in journals, magazines, newspapers and on TV, but nobody could predict that such a significant amount of people would attend it. Despite all ambitions of the promoters and their desire to create the biggest rock-n-roll show of all times, they underestimated some people who would attend it. “Although the show had been planned for a maximum 50,000 attendees, over 500,000 eventually attended, most of whom did not pay admission. The highways leading to the concert were jammed with traffic and people as they abandoned their cars and walked for miles to the concert area.” (Wikepedia,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodstock). The weather was rainy, but nobody cared about the weather. People shared food, clothes, and alcohol. Initially, the idea of the Woodstock festival belonged to Michael Land, Artie Kornfield, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman.
These four argued about the first place in putting forward the idea. Now it’s hard to define who is right, and it isn’t probably necessary. Each of the promoters had a 25 percent share. Lang was looking for new investment opportunities and addressed Kornfield to help him. They were going to open the recording studio in Woodstock, but Rosenman and Roberts dissuaded them and proposed to organize a festival. Promoters invested about 2.4 million dollars in this festival. The tickets for the festival cost 18 dollars for all three days, but it became free when the crowd demolished the ticket gate. In the beginning, it didn’t bring much profit to its promoters but it raised record sales several times, and the documentary movie about the festival brought good money sometime later.
The festival became surprisingly trouble-free event if to take into account the number of people presented there and the amounts of alcohol and drugs they consumed. The level of crimes and misbehavior was low during those days. The number of accidents has happened during those days, though. Three deaths had been officially recorded during these three days. Two people died because of the heroine overdose, and the tractor had run one person. Uncertain sources state that two babies were born during the festival.
Some attendants of the festival complained of a bad organization. The number of facilities and first aid-tents wasn’t planned for such a big amount of people. The place the festival was held wasn’t able to room such amount of people and transport. The festival created the biggest traffic jam. It’s not necessary to mention inconveniences it caused to the neighboring farms and damage to the environment.
Four generations have grown on the ideas of Woodstock. It’s hard to imagine that the promoters had hard times booking bands for the concert. Big rock bands were reluctant to take part in unfamiliar festival without well-known brand name somewhere in the farm. Lang, one of the promoters, found the way out proposing the artists big money for their participation. The success was guaranteed by signing up contracts with such major figures of counterculture as The Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc. The amount of money for the participation reached 12.000$ the amount unheard for those times. Lang had money and didn’t worry about the cost. The popularity of The Who raised several times after the festival. The band didn’t go on stage until the four a. m.
Because of the financial disagreements but their performance had mesmerizing effect in the rays of the rising sun. Jimmy Hendrix’s “The Star-Spangled Banner» has also become very popular after the festival. Allan Markoff, the member of the Audio Engineering Society, has designed special gear for the festival. It can not be compared with the potent technique used nowadays, but it was a breakthrough for those times. To understand it’s potency it’s enough to imagine that amplifier had caused pain to anyone who approached it closer than 10 feet.
Just two days before the festival Kornfeld singed up the contract with Warner Brothers about shooting the documentary film. They paid 100.000$ for this film, which brought millions of dollars later. Kornfeld said: “All they needed was money for the film. The contract was handwritten and signed by myself and Ted Ashley (of Warner Brothers). I told them, ‘Hey, guys, there are going to be hundreds of thousands of people out there. It’s a crap shoot: spend $100,000, and you might make millions” (part 3).
Now Woodstock is remembered as the biggest holiday of the naive and romantic hippie era. 500.000 people from different parts of the country came together joint by the ideas of freedom, peace, and love. Three August days the festival lasted became the prophecy of the history, and the participants of those events can now tell that they took part in one of the most famous festivals.
“For four days, the site became a countercultural mini-nation in which minds were open, drugs were all but legal, and love was free.” The music began Friday afternoon at 5:07 pm August 15 and continued until mid-morning Monday, August 18″ (Tiber, http://www.woodstock69.com/wsrprnt2.htm).
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