Woodstock photos that will take you back to 1969

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What was meant to be a fundraising event to start a music and art studio in upstate New York wound up being a cultural phenomenon. In August of 1969, musicians and fans gathered together to dance, enjoy music and spread a message of peace on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York.

Little did they know, they were making history.

John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang teamed up to create a “Three Days of Peace and Music” — later known as Woodstock — which wound up attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors. Performers included the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & The Family Stone, and Carlos Santana..

It was an event that encapsulated the feeling of the time; even today, no one has forgotten about Woodstock or its message. There was even an anniversary celebration — essentially a recreation of the Woodstock Music Festival — in 1994.

These photos will take you back to the Woodstock days of 1969 and remind you that in some ways, not much has changed.

Hoards Of Hippies

What was expected to draw maybe 200,000 people wound up attracting nearly half a million music- and peace-loving concertgoers.

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Those in attendance set up tents and prepared to camp out for the duration of the festival, which lasted from Aug. 15 to Aug. 17.

Derek Redmond and Paul Campbell

Rainy Days

Concertgoers didn’t seem to mind the rain and mud that came during the festival! In the book “The Road to Woodstock,” Lang reportedly said “rain simply meant it was a good time to meet new people.”

Mark Goff

Concert Weather

People were forced to huddle together under the open skies, or if they were lucky, makeshift tents, when the rains came. It was all about the music and the message — no matter the weather. (Note: Check out the festival baby on the tent floor in the image below!)

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Bring On The Music

When it wasn’t raining, the grass served as the perfect viewing spot for some of the greatest musicians of the era. Spiritual leader Swami Satchidananda opened the festival on Aug. 15.

Mark Goff

Epic Performances

Iconic performances by artists such as Sly & The Family Stone will not soon be forgotten.

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Forging Friendships

The theme of this musical event — peace, love and rock ‘n roll — became clear as strangers formed friendships over the course of the three days.

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Long-Lasting Impressions

While this festival may have originally been all about the music, it wound up having significance on a much larger scale. From the cultural relevance to the fashion, you can still see the impressions the 1960s and 1970s had on the United States. Musician Joe Cocker’s a tie-dye shirt wouldn’t be out of place in 2018.

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Four years before Woodstock, President Lyndon B. Johnson had made the decision to send American troops to Vietnam. Millions of Vietnamese and nearly 60,000 American troops ultimately died and many others were injured. This car displayed anti-war messages at Woodstock’s peace-promoting event.

Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images


From dressing to dancing, the festival promised freedom from the usual trappings of society. For many attendees, it changed their lives forever.

“It was a truly life-altering experience and one that changed the world,” attendee Annie Birch told The Huffington Post.

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Other Activities

When not listening to music, the festival had plenty else to offer, such as Kundalini massage (shown below).

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Future Festivals

There may not be anything quite like Woodstock around now (or ever again, for that matter), but you can definitely see the influence this festival had on the festivals that are around today, such as Coachella. From flower crowns to fringe, people are still trying to recreate the free-flowing 1970s style in their ensembles.

Derek Redmond and Paul Campbell

Musical Performances

One thing that will probably never be captured quite the same way again are the musical performances with a stellar lineup of musicians. Below, Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane perform.

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Full Of Spirit

The spirit of the event would be impossible to recreate in the same way. It was all about peace, love and rock ‘n roll in a way that it never had been before and never quite will be again — which is likely why it’s remembered to this day.

Three Lions/Getty Images

Reliving Woodstock Days

People have tried to recreate Woodstock. There was a 40th anniversary concert in 2009 that strived to offer folks a chance to experience it again. This image is from the commemorative event, and as you can see with the vintage van and more, the event was reminiscent of the past.

woodstock 2009 photo
Getty Images | Mario Tama

On The Road To Woodstock

Can you imagine the organizers’ surprise when people flocked in by the thousands? It must have been quite the sight to see — lines and lines of VW Beetles and vans on the road to Woodstock.

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The Best View

Those cars and buses wound up coming in handy for concertgoers in more ways than one. Some guests sat on top of them to get a better vantage point for the stage. How resourceful!

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Stellar Lineup

Looking back, it’s easy to see why so many people would travel to upstate New York to attend this event. It gave them the opportunity to see musicians such as Carlos Santana and David Brown go to town on the guitar and bass in person.

Tucker Ransom/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Priceless Experience

Tickets for the whole weekend sold for $18 in advance or $24 at the gate. Little did concertgoers know at the time, but they were in for the experience of a lifetime. Can you imagine what a concert like this might cost today?

Blank Archives/Getty Images

Sense Of Community

When attendees weren’t listening to music, they were making friends, selling art and creating long-lasting memories. One attendee, Howard Loberfeld, who was 15 at the time and attended with his summer camp, told Today.com, he “noticed a lot of music, a lot of fun and a lot of community.”

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Media Frenzy

Loberfeld also noted that what he experienced and what the media reported were entirely different. Media outlets were reporting about drug usage, deaths and lack of food, which clearly worried peoples’ parents back home! While there was some nudity, drug usage and even a few deaths, festival attendees insist the situation was safer than it was depicted in the media.

“There was a lot of drug stuff — overdoses, acting out, puking and drinking,” Joey Reynolds, a 22-year-old DJ at the time of the festival, told Today.com.

He continued, “I was camped out in the woods at the top of the field and there were all these paths with names like Far Out Path and Groovy Way. At the intersection there were people selling pot, acid and hash. But I didn’t see any heroin or cocaine or anything like that.”

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Tragedy At Woodstock

Organizer Lang can account for three deaths caused by incidents such as car accidents and overdoses, according to a book he wrote about the festival. The mud made things more dangerous for those sleeping on the ground, and 17-year-old Raymond R. Mizzak was accidentally run over by a tractor and killed at the event.

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Peace, Love And Happiness

Although a half million people were in attendance at Woodstock, there were no reported violent crimes or burglaries. A small handful of drug charges were handed out.

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Remembering Woodstock

Those who attended the festival seem to have nothing but good things to say about it. The official Woodstock website collected statements from those who were on-site in 1969:

“My friend Bob and I drove through mobs of traffic on Friday to park within a few miles of the festival grounds,” a statement from John Bowman read. “We trekked in by foot. By the time we made it, the fences were down, our tickets were unnecessary, and the music was on. But what stopped us in our tracks was the massive size of the crowd, with all its energy and makeshift madness. Through thirst, hunger, rain and song, we bonded as one huge organism. Three days later, after Jimi brought those of us who stayed to a rousing finale, we drove home to lives that would never be the same again.”

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Santana On Playing At Woodstock

It’s not just the fans who remember Woodstock fondly, either. The musicians also recall the event as a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. Santana told Billboard:

“It was like witnessing an ocean of hair, teeth, eyes and hands. If you closed your eyes, you could forget the impact of seeing a moving ocean of flesh. Then you could just feel the sound, which had a different kind of reverberation when it bounced off the people and came back at you … I remember seeing Jerry Garcia; as soon as we landed, he was already playing his guitar on the hill with this beautiful, blissful smile on his face.”

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How Much Was Each Artist Paid?

According to Consequence of Sound, Jimi Hendrix was the highest-paid artist of the festival, making $18,000. Other artists, such as Joan Baez made $10,000, The Grateful Dead earned $2,500 and Joe Cocker left with $1,375.

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49 Years Since Woodstock

2018 marks the 49th year since the festival took place, and it will be remembered for many years to come for its music, for its message and for it cultural significance. Max Yasgur’s dairy farm where the festival took place is now the Bethel Woods Center for The Arts and is was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.


Changes In The Music Industry

While Jimi Hendrix made $18,000 in 1969, Beyoncé likely raked in between $3 to $4 million for her Coachella performance in 2018. So it’s safe to say a lot has changed in the music industry since the Woodstock days.

beyonce coachella photo
Getty Images | Kevin Winter

Coachella Vs. Woodstock

Half a million or more people descended on Woodstock, hugely stressing the available food and water. According to HelloGiggles, around 125,000 people attend Coachella — and even that starts to feel a bit crowded!

coachella photo
Getty Images | Christopher Polk

Is Coachella The New Woodstock?

Considering the comparison is still being made and Coachella is still striving to live up to the significance of Woodstock, it’s probably safe to say that it’s not quite there yet.

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Festival Fashion

The festival has come to dictate what “festival fashion” should look like, from fringe to flowers to large sunglasses and other items you may not wear everyday.

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Why It’s Called Woodstock

Organizers had initially hoped to host the festival in Woodstock, New York. When they couldn’t find the appropriate space there, they settled on a dairy farm 40-some miles away in Bethel, New York. Still, the original name stuck.

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Gone, But Not Forgotten

Much has changed in the nearly 49 years since this music fest, but two facts remain: Woodstock left a lasting impression on America, and we’re still chasing after the same things: peace, love, happiness. And oh yeah — great music doesn’t hurt either!

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Curiosity, Entertainment, Music

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About the Author
Augusta Statz
I have a B.F.A. in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I’m an avid writer with a genuine sense of curiosity. I feel the best way to absorb the world around you is through fashion, art and food, so that’s what I spend most of my time writing about.

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