Always I look back in time to understand not just today but also tomorrow. Woodstock caused and started a musical, love and peace revolution that is now visible in these music festivals all over our World, example, in Scotland we have T-In The Park’ and always it’s really busy, every year. All over Europe and afar these music festivals lived on. It was sold as ‘3 days of Peace & Music,’ but Max Yasgur’s Festival became so much more. It became iconic, and a slap in the face to an America that preached freedom, but offered little in return. Unjust wars in Vietnam persisted, and the persecution of blacks raged on. It was a divisive period in America, and Woodstock’s four-day event of music and psychedelic escapism was perhaps just as synonymous with the period. But then again, how did an event, held on only 600-acres of dairy farmland in the New York countryside, filled only with peace-loving hippies, become so fabled?Well, as these 30 striking images show, the festival spawned a plethora of ideas and influences. Fashion lines became inspired by the more lucid garments; musicians became energised with writing lyrics that stood for more than just the wants of their record labels. And ultimately, a younger generation dragged America into a new period of enlightenment and possibility.
1. Youngsters travelled far and wide to an event that captivated the minds and souls of millions of young Americans. Many even hitchhiked to the festival, which was billed as a once-in-a-lifetime event. But most of all, Woodstock gave thousands of suburban young folk living in the confines of their parent’s generation the opportunity to escape and meet all kinds of new and exciting people. It was even rumoured that many never returned home, and instead headed straight to the bright lights of New York City once the four-day event had finished.
2. As expected, nearly all those in attendance were fervent anti-war supporters, and regularly held up signs to promote their thoughts. It was almost a pre-requisite for those in attendance to have such views and share progressive ideas with other festival goers.
3. Some were even quite comical, as this creative protester highlighted with a placard that was in keeping with the theme of peace and love.
4. Recreational drug use was common, which is illustrated in the picture below as a woman advertises acid for $1. There was little policing at the event, which in part allowed attendants to sell what they wanted, although such freedom gave the press all the ammunition they needed to shroud the event in initial controversy with a string of negative reports.
5. Many designers, even to this day, are continually influenced by the colourful and exciting hippy attire that was sported at Woodstock, so much so that festival gear is now a fashion line in itself.
6. Romances blossomed at the event and many couples regularly return to the famed site, just like the couple below.
7. While 186,000 tickets were officially sold, those numbers were dwarfed by those still wanting in on the action. As a result, the event became free to everyone and created a demand so high many traffic jams often stretched over 8 miles long. It’s believed over a million people tried to get to the event.
8. In the words of the festival’s chief medical officer, those in attendance were anything but trouble. “These people are really beautiful. There has been no violence whatsoever which is really remarkable for a crowd of this size.”
9. Everyone celebrated the freedom of life, but some took it to extreme lengths.
10. Even those with pets were welcome.
11. Jimi Hendrix was Woodstock’s signature performer and wowed the crowd with a pulsating performance that is regard by many as his best of all time. But many remember the late rock star best for how he closed the festival when the musical icon performed a heartrending rendition of the American national anthem.
12. Being fully undressed was almost the norm for many at the event, and was done so in the spirit of being equal and at one with nature. Nonetheless, many media outlets reporting on the event wrote misleading and often derogatory titles. Thus, it wasn’t until the festivals end that many newspapers reported more favourably on the festival after parents, who were told nothing but good things about the event from their children, phoned up the many media outlets to complain about the previous reportings.
13. The VW campervan was a popular mode of transport for revellers travelling to Woodstock, which led to the model being nicknamed, ‘The Hippy Van.’
14. ‘A once-in-a-lifetime celebration’ was another caption used on the many posters to promote the festival, and in more ways than one, the event certainly lived up to the hype.
15. As you probably expected, many listened to the music when under the influence of various narcotics, which arguably created a whole genre of music if one looks at the more modern electronic dance genre.
16. This aerial view of the event, which was taken by a film crew working on the 1970 Oscar-winning Woodstock documentary, highlighted the sheer size of the event.
17. As well as being a music festival, festival-goers turned it into a communal celebration and came equipped with large tents and cooking stoves to bring people together through the medium of food and drink.
18. The magnitude and size of the event meant an even greater risk for accidents. And though peace and love reigned supreme there were also two deaths. The first was from a heroin overdose and the other death was attributed to a man being run over by a tractor. But while two lives ended another two began, as two women gave birth at the festival!
19. The flower headband- now a staple part of every female festival goers wardrobe- was first popularised by women at the legendary festival and has since spawned a variety of different designs.
20. Creative ingenuity was another feature of the festival.
21. Space was sparse, but people found ways around such limitations. In fact, it’s believed over 500,000 people attended the four-day event.
22. Woodstock practically established its own society after various pathways and communities were dotted within the nearby forests. Quirky signposts, directing people to, ‘Groovy Way’ and other similar places were also common.
23. Animal cruelty was another issue raised at the festival and many who have since studied the festivals wider impact on society viewed the festival as a place which inspired political thought and action as much as a place that aired good live music.
24. Rhymic dancing and spirituality characterised large swathes of the festival, and many people saw the event as a place of worship and solitude.
25. The late female rocker, Janis Joplin, dazzled the 1969 crowd, and her performances were often viewed as ‘electric.’ Sadly, however, only one year after her iconic Woodstock performance, Joplin joined the infamous 27 club when she died of a heroin overdose.
26. While female fashion at Woodstock has long been replicated, it appears the male choice of the attire didn’t have the same effect…
27. Photographers weren’t short of beautiful faces and some were even offered modelling gigs after being discovered by professional photographers.
28. There was no official merchandise at Woodstock, which is hard to wrap your head around for a festival of that magnitude. So instead of T-shirts, hoodies, and hats with ‘Woodstock’ emblazoned on the design, memorabilia came in the form of the various garments and patterned clothes from creative festival goers.
29. As well as the hordes of youngsters, many families basked in the celebrations and added a sense of community to a festival that was first and foremost about peace and love.
30. Many people who gained access to the once-in-a-lifetime event would have memories to last them a lifetime, and the festival arguably defined the counterculture movement. But the journey back wasn’t the greatest of experiences…..