Joni Mitchell did not attend WOODSTOCK. Her agent DAVID GEFFEN in his ultimate wisdom thought it would be best for her to remain in the CHELSEA HOTEL in Manhattan resting up for her appearance on the DICK CAVETT television show the following Monday night. The afternoon of the Cavett taping many of Joni’s friends, those who performed during the legendary weekend, arrived to sit in on the show’s taping.They were David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Jefferson Airplane.
In the months and years that followed the giant festival, the “Woodstock” song would offer the those not in attendance the general aura of the gathering. Joni Mitchell composed the tune on the basis of reports from her then boyfriend Graham Nash, plus what she saw on television.
I didn’t go to Woodstock, thought about it, planned to go with 3 friends but decided against it at the last minute. I never regretted giving the tickets away. No doubt the music was amazing but I enjoy the modern convinces of food, bath, etc. Festivals are not made for me, or me for them. I’d much rather be in a small club seeing a few bands then be in a large, muddy field hearing (might not be seeing) many, many groups. However, The WOODSTOCK MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL was a pivotal moment in history circa 1969.
As a historian I studied who played and when they played, what they played, how much they were paid, the weather they played in, the traffic problems in getting the artists to the stage,as well as the hundreds of filed news reports which later documented the financial dilemma of the festival ,and ultimately,information regarding the movie. So here goes, whether you want it or not…
Originally the promoters established a cap set at $15,000 per artist (band) to perform, except Hendrix ($18,000) which was a story unto itself.
After being denied permits for the original site (Wallkill, NY), which was near WOODSTOCK (hence the name) the promoters of the festival found a good soul of a farmer located in BETHEL (White Lake),NEW YORK (43 miles away from original site) named MAX YASGUR who received $10,000 to lease the land (damage estimate to his fields was over $50,000).
Ticket prices were advertised as $6.00 a day (single day tickets) or $18.00 for the entire weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Prior to the event 186,000 tickets were (reportedly) sold. (My math: tix sales $3,348,000…band fees $139,825)
Looking years hence, one “bargain” group for the festival would be SANTANA, paid a measly $750.00 as they were unknown act managed by Bill Graham. And then there was IRON BUTTERFLY for not showing up to collect a $10,000 fee, which was a hefty price to pay a band on a sharp decline. The WOODSTOCK movie would have been 4 hours longer if IB showed up and played IN A GADDA DA VIDA.
The first band to agree to perform, and given a hefty fee for doing so ($10,000) as well as being offered a prime spot in the line up, was CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL. Until that agreement the promoters found it difficult to find any band to perform. Once CCR was announced the other “big named” acts signed up. A note of importance: CCR under the leadership of John Fogerty refused to be taped for the movie and Fogerty bitched about the GRATEFUL DEAD “putting the crowd to sleep” prior to CCR hitting the stage.
Friday Aug.15th- THE LINEUP
Richie Havens 5:07 pm – 7:00 pm
Swami Satch 7:10 pm – 7:20 pm
Sweetwater 7:30 pm – 8:10 pm
Bert Sommer 8:20 pm – 9:15 pm
Tim Hardin 9:20 pm – 9:45 pm
Ravi Shankar 10:00 pm – 10:35 pm
Melanie 10:50 pm – 11:20 pm
Arlo Guthrie 11:55 pm – 12:25 am
Joan Baez 12:55 am – 2:00 am
Richie Havens ($6000) 5:07-7:00PM
Richie Havens opened the festival with a rousing performance. He was asked to continue playing by the promoters as other acts were delayed due to the traffic problems, the roads leading into the small upstate New York town and the major highway feeding it were at a virtual standstill. Knowing he had run out of tunes, Havens improvised a tune he called “FREEDOM” which is actually an old spiritual known as “MOTHERLESS CHILD”.
From The Prison
Let’s Get Together
From The Prison (reprise)
Minstrel from Gault
I’m A Stranger Here
High Flying Bird
I Can’t Make It Anymore
With A Little Help From My Friends
Strawberry Fields Forever/Hey Jude
Freedom (Motherless Child)
Next up was SWAMI SATCHIDANANDA (7:10-7:20PM) who offered his blessing to the masses in the audience.
SWEETWATER ($1,250) (7:30-8:10) Actually Sweetwater was scheduled to open the festival but were stuck in traffic and had the pleasure of an additional stop requested by NYS Troopers. These conditions slowed their arrival to be the first ACT to perform but they were the first BAND to play and what do they open with one might ask:
For Pete’s Sake
Why Oh Why
Let The Sun Shine In (from Hair)
Oh Happy Day
BERT SOMMER (fee unknown)was “the hair” from the Broadway play HAIR. Bret was once a member of THE LEFT BANKE before landing on The Great White Way . He penned a few tunes for The Vagrants (Leslie West’s band of old). Bret on his own( with a few side men) offered a ten song set.(8:20-9:15)
The Road To Travel
I Wondered Where You’d Be
Things Are Going My Way
And When It’s Over
America (Simon Garfunkel tune)
A Note That Read
TIM HARDEN: ($2000) 9:20- 9:45 plays a very short set. As short as it was it was a great set of tunes. Mr. Harden was overwhelmed, reportedly due to his heroin addiction and his fear of performing, after seeing the massive crowd out front.
(How Can We) Hang on to a Dream
If I Were a Carpenter
Reason to Believe
You Upset the Grace of Living When You Lie
Speak Like a Child
Snow White Lady
Blues on My Ceiling
Simple Song of Freedom
RAVI SHAKAR ($4,500) played for about a half hour (10:00- 10-35) and I can’t really spell the ragas he played but he played three.
MELANIE: ($750) plays at 10:50-11:20 in place of THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND who refused to play in the rain. Hmmmm, strange, an acoustic ensemble afraid of the water. So MELANIE steps up and offers the following set list:
Close to It All
Mr. Tambourine Man
Tuning My Guitar
Birthday of the Sun
ARLO GUTHRIE:($5000)11:55- 12:25AM
Coming into Los Angeles
Wheel of Fortune
Walking Down the Line
Arlo Speech: Exodus
Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep
Every Hand in the Land
JOAN BAEZ: A pregnant Joan Baez was paid $10,000 bucks to close out Day 1 aka The Folk Segment.
Oh Happy Day
The Last Thing On My Mind
I Shall Be Released
Story about how the Federal Marshals came to take David Harris into custody
Sweet Sir Galahad
Drug Store Truck Driving Man
I Live One Day at a Time
Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South
Let Me Wrap You in My Warm and Tender Love
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
We Shall Overcome