The First Woodstock by Phin Upham

By Phin Upham

Woodstock, the festival of Peace and Love, is today a relic of a sepia colored time that is often fondly recalled. The reality of the event is somewhat more complex to understand. Yes, it was a defining moment for the anti-war generation of the 60s, but it carried with a host of logistical problems that made the concert both infamous and famous.

Woodstock featured some of the biggest names in music. Ever. Janis Joplin played the event, as did Jimmi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. Joe Cocker sang “With a Little Help from My Friends” there. It was an exciting event for music connoisseurs to reflect on. So much talent concentrated into three days of music seems unfathomable by today’s standards.

Still, the company planning the event was driven by less than pure motives. Simply put, money (and the lack of it) made the concert both a failure and a rousing success. The promoter’s first hiccup came when they attempted to find a venue for the concert. No one wanted to host the 50,000+ concert goers that the company was saying would be present. To make matters worse, the promoters had already sold 250,000 tickets by that point.

They finally did find a venue in Bethel, New York. It was a 600 acre farm, but there were some other issues to contend with. There were not enough facilities for the crowd of a half-million people who showed up. The crowd also completely destroyed the gate, opening the venue to everyone who could make it to the grounds.

Though messy, Woodstock was still one of the most important concert events of all time.