It was on this day in 1969 that the most famous music festival ever opened up. Woodstock has been the subject of songs, movies, and even other Woodstocks. With the exposure the festival generated, most people now know the basics of what happened over that weekend in the middle of August. There are some interesting facts that I came across, that i didn't know at least, and found quite interesting.

  • The organizers played down the numbers they anticipated, telling the authorities they expected 50,000, while selling 186,000 tickets in advance (costing six dollars for each day) and planning for 200,000. In the end 500,000 attended. Another million had to turn back because of traffic.
  • For the weekend of the festival it had become the third largest city in New York State.
  • Thirty-two bands were listed to play, but Iron Butterfly got stuck at the airport and didn't make it because the helicopter booked to ferry them to the site didn't arrive. Organizers were, in fact, worried their hippy heavy-metal music would incite violence.
  • John Lennon told organizers he had wanted to be a part of Woodstock, but he was in Canada and the U.S. government had refused him an entry visa.
  • Though Bob Dylan was one of the original inspirations for the festival, and his backing group, The Band, played to the massive audience, the great man never made it, as one of his children was hospitalized over that weekend.
  • With the festival start-time running over an hour late, there was panic to find a performer ready. Tim Hardin ,was too stoned, so Richie Havens went on. When Havens finished his set he kept trying to leave but was told to do more encores as the next band was not ready. His song Freedom was improvised and became a worldwide hit.
  • Nine out of ten festival-goers smoked marijuana on site and 33 were arrested on drugs charges.
  • Two people died at Woodstock  -  one man from a heroin overdose and a teenager in a sleeping bag who was killed when a tractor ran over him. The driver was never traced.
  • Actor and country singer Roy Rogers  -  billed as King of the Cowboys for his western movies  -  was asked to close the show, singing his trademark song, Happy Trails To You. But Rogers' manager vetoed it, and years later Rogers admitted: 'I would have been booed off stage by all those goddamn hippies.'
  • Organizers at Woodstock Ventures were at least $1.3m in debt afterward. It took more than a decade for backers to recoup money, through audio and recording rights.

Woodstock was truly a one of a kind festival. Time Magazine called it "the greatest peaceful event in history." Although people have tried to recreate the event four times it has never turned out even close to what it was like back in '69.


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