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The last bedraggled fan sloshed out of Max Yasgur's muddy pasture more than 25 years

ago. That's when the debate began about Woodstock's historical significance. True belieers still
call Woodstock the capstone of an era deoted to human adancement. !ynics say it was a fitting"
ridiculous end to an era of naiete. Then there are those who say it was #ust a hell of a party.
The Woodstock Music and $rt %air in &'(' drew more than )5*"*** people to a pasture in
+ullian !ounty. %or four days" the site became a countercultural mini,nation in which minds were
open" drugs were all but legal and loe was -free-. The music began %riday afternoon at 5.*/pm
$ugust &5 and continued until mid,morning Monday $ugust &0. The festial closed the 1ew York
+tate Thruway and created one of the nation's worst traffic #ams. 2t also inspired a slew of local and
state laws to ensure that nothing like it would eer happen again.
Woodstock" like only a handful of historical eents" has become part of the cultural lexicon.
$s Watergate is the codeword for a national crisis of confidence and Waterloo stands for
ignominious defeat" Woodstock has become an instant ad#ectie denoting youthful hedonism and
(*'s excess. -What we had here was a once,in,a,lifetime occurrence"- said 3ethel town historian
3ert %eldman. -4ickens said it first. '2t was the best of times. 2t was the worst of times'. 2t's an
amalgam that will neer be reproduced again.-
5athered that weekend in &'(' were liars and loers" prophets and profiteers. They made
loe" they made money and they made a little history. $rnold +kolnick" the artist who designed
Woodstock's doe,and,guitar symbol" described it this way. -+omething was tapped" a nere" in
this country. $nd eerybody #ust came.-
The counterculture's biggest bash , it ultimately cost more
than 62.) million , was sponsored by four ery different" and ery
young" men. 7ohn 8oberts" 7oel 8osenman" $rtie 9ornfeld and
Michael :ang. The oldest of the four was 2(. 7ohn 8oberts supplied
the money. ;e was heir to a drugstore and toothpaste
manufacturing fortune. ;e had a multimillion,dollar trust fund" a
<niersity of =ennsylania degree and a lieutenant's commission in
the $rmy. ;e had seen exactly one rock concert" by the 3each
3oys.
8obert's slightly hipper friend" 7oel 8osenman" the son of a
prominent :ong 2sland orthodontist" had #ust graduated from Yale
:aw +chool. 2n &'(/" the mustachioed 8osenman" 2)" was playing
guitar for a lounge band in motels from :ong 2sland to :as >egas.
8oberts and 8osenman met on a golf course in the fall of &'((. 3y winter &'(/" they
shared an apartment and were trying to figure out what they ought to do with the rest of their lies.
They had one idea. to create a screwball situation comedy for teleision" kind of like a male
ersion of -2 :oe :ucy-.
-2t was an office comedy about two pals with more money than brains and a thirst for
adenture.- 8osenman said. -?ery week they would get into a different business enture in some
nutty scheme. $nd eery week they would be rescued in the nick of time from their fate.-
To get plot ideas for their sitcom" 8oberts and 8osenman put a classified ad in the Wall +treet
7ournal and The 1ew York Times in March &'(0. -Young Men With <nlimited !apital looking
for interesting" legitimate inestment opportunities and business propositions.- They got thousands
of replies" including one for biodegradable golf balls. $nother seemed strange enough to work as a
real business enture@ +ki,bobs" bicycles on skis that were a fad in ?urope. 8oberts and 8osenman
researched the idea before abandoning it. 2n the process" the two went from would,be teleision
writers to wanna,be enture capitalists. -+omehow" we became the characters in our own show"-
8osenman said.
$rtie 9ornfield" 25" wore a suit" but the lapels were a little wide and his hair brushed the
top of his ears. ;e was a ice president at !apitol 8ecords. ;e smoked hash in the office and was
the company's connection with the rockers who were starting to sell millions of records. 9ornfeld
had written maybe A* hit singles" among them -4ead Man's !ure"- recorded by 7an and 4ean. ;e
also wrote songs and produced the music for the !owsills.
Michael :ang didn't wear shoes ery often. %riends described him as a cosmic pixie" with a
head full of curly black hair that bounced to his shoulders. $t 2A" he owned what may hae been
the first head shop in the state of %lorida. 2n &'(0" :ang had produced one of the biggest rock
shows eer" the two,day Miami =op %estial" which drew )*"*** people. $t 2)" :ang was the
manager of a rock group called Train" which he wanted to sign to a record deal. ;e bought his
proposal to 9ornfeld at !apitol 8ecords in late 4ecember &'(0.
:ang knew 9ornfeld had grown up in 3ensonhurst" Bueens" like he had. :ang got an
appointment by telling the record company's receptionist that he was -from the neighborhood.-
The two hit it off immediately. 1ot long after they met" :ang moed in with 9ornfeld and his
wife" :inda. The three had rambling" all,night conersations" fueled by a few #oints" in their 1ew
York !ity apartment.
Cne of their ideas was for a cultural expositionDrock concertDextraaganEa. $nother was for
a recording studio" to be tucked off in the woods more than &** miles from Manhattan in a town
called Woodstock. The location would reflect the back,to,the,land spirit of the counterculture.
3esides" the <lster !ounty town had been an artists' mecca for a century. 3y the late &'(*s"
musicians like 3ob 4ylan" The 3and" Tim ;ardin" >an Morrison" 7imi ;endrix and 7anis 7oplin
were moing to the area and wanted a state,of,the,art studio.
:ang and 9ornfeld were searching for seed money for the festial and money to build the
recording studio. They neer saw the -young men with unlimited capital- ad" but their lawyer
recommended they talk to 8oberts and 8osenman. The four met in %ebruary &'('. -We met with
them in their apartment on 0Ard +treet in a high,rise"- :ang recalls. -They were kind of preppy.
Today" 2 guess they'd be yuppies. They were wearing suits. $rtie did most of the talking" because 2
think they seemed puEEled by me. They were curious about the counterculture" and they were
somewhat interested in the pro#ect. They wanted a written proposal" which we had but we didn't
bring with us. We told them that we would meet again with a budget for the festial.
To this day" the founders of Woodstock disagree on who came up with the original idea for
the concert. $nd" dulled by time" competition and countess retelling" no one recollection is
consistent. :ang and 9ornfeld say Woodstock was always planned as the largest music festial
eer held. $t the second meeting" :ang recalls discussing a budget of 65**"*** and attendance of
&**"***. :ang said he had started looking at festial sites in the fall of &'(0" which would hae
been well before he'd hooked up with 9ornfeld or 8oberts and 8osenman. 3ut 8osenman and
8oberts maintain that they were the driing force behind the festial. $s 8osenman and 8oberts
recall it" 9ornfeld and :ang primarily wanted a studio" hyped by a party for rock'n'roll critics and
record company executies. -We would hae cocktails and canapes in a tent or something"-
8osenman said. -We'd send limos down to 1ew York to pick eeryone up. Tim ;ardin or
someone could sing. Maybe" if we were lucky" 7oan 3aeE would get up and do a couple of songs.-
$t some point" 8osenman and 8oberts focused on the party idea and decided that it really
ought to be a rock concert. -We made a deal"- 8osenman said. -We'd hae the party" and the
profits from the party would be used to pay for the recording studio. <ltimately" we had the
money" so what we said went.-
3y the end of their third meeting" the little party up in Woodstock had snowballed into a
bucolic concert for 5*"*** people" the world's biggest rock'n'roll show. The four partners formed a
corporation in March. ?ach held 25 percent. The company was called Woodstock >entures" 2nc."
after the hip little <lster !ounty town where 4ylan lied.
The Woodstock >entures team scurried to find a site. 8eal estate agents across the mid,
;udson were scouring the countryside for land to rent for #ust a few months. %eelers went out in
8ockland !ounty" then in Crange. %or 6&*"***" Woodstock >entures had leased a tract of land in
the Town of Wallkill owned by ;oward Mills" 7r. -2t was a +unday in late March"- 8osenman said.
-We droe up to Wallkill and saw the industrial park. We talked to ;oward Mills and we made a
deal.- -The ibes weren't right there. 2t was an industrial park"- 8oberts inter#ected. -2 #ust said"
'We gotta hae a site now.'-
The A**,acre Mills 2ndustrial =ark offered perfect access. 2t was less than a mile from
8oute &/" which hooked into the 1ew York +tate Thruway" and it was right off 8oute 2&&" a ma#or
local thoroughfare. 2t has the essentials" electricity and water lines.
The land was Eoned for industry@ among the permitted uses were cultural exhibitions and
concerts. The promoters approached the town planning board and were gien a erbal go,ahead
because of the Eoning. 1onetheless" :ang was unhappy with the site. 2t was missing the back,to,
the,land ambience Woodstock >entures was selling. -2 hated Wallkill"- :ang said. >entures set to
work on the Mills property" all the while searching for an alternatie.
8osenman told Wallkill officials in late March or early $pril that the concert would feature
7aEE bands and folk singers. ;e also said that 5*"*** people would attend if they were lucky.
Town +uperisor 7ack +chlosser thought something was fishy. -More than anything else" 2 really
feel they were deliberately misleading the town"- +chlosser said. -The point is" they were less than
truthful about the numbers. 2 became more and more aware" as discussions with them progressed"
they did not really know what they were doing. 2 was in the $rmy when diisions were )*"*** or
5*"*** men"- he said. -!hrist almighty" the logistics inoled in moing men around... 2 said at
one point" '2 don't care if was a conention of 5*"*** ministers"- 2 would hae felt the same way.-
2n the cultural,political atmosphere of &'('" promoters 9ornfeld and :ang knew it was
important to pitch Woodstock in a way that would appeal to their peer's sense of independence.
:ang wanted to call the festial an -$Fuarian ?xposition"- capitaliEing on the Eodiacal reference
from the musical -;air-. ;e had an ornate poster designed" featuring the water,bearer.
3y early $pril" the promoters were carefully cultiating the Woodstock image in the
underground press" in publications like the >illage >oice and 8olling +tone magaEine. $ds began
to run in The 1ew York Times and The Times ;erald,8ecord in May. %or 9ornfeld" Woodstock
wasn't a matter of building stages" signing acts or een selling tickets. %or him" the festial was
always a state of mind" a happening that would exemplify the generation. The eent's publicity
shrewdly appropriated the counterculture's symbols and catch phrases. -The cool =8 image was
intentional"- he said.
The group settled on the concrete slogan of -Three 4ays of =eace and Music- and
downplayed the highly conceptual theme of $Fuarius. The promoters figured -peace- would link
the anti,war sentiment to the rock concert. They also wanted to aoid any iolence and figured that
a slogan with -peace- in it would help keep order.
The Woodstock doe is really a catbird@ originally" it perched on a flute. -2 was staying on
+helter 2sland off :ong 2sland" and 2 was drawing catbirds all the time"- said artist $rnold
+kolnick. -$s soon as 2ra $rnold Ga copywriter on the pro#ectH called with the copy,approed
'Three 4ays of =eace and Music"' 2 #ust took the raEor blade and cut that catbird out of the
sketchpad 2 was using. -%irst" it sat on a flute. 2 was listening to #aEE at the time" and 2 guess that's
why. 3ut anyway" it sat on a flute for a day" and 2 finally ended up putting it on a guitar.-
Melanie +afka had a song on the radio called -3eautiful =eople.- $n extremely hip 47
named 8oscoe on W1?W,%M played it. Cne day" Melanie ran into a curly,haired music,business
guy named Michael :ang" who was talking about a festial he was producing. When Melanie
asked if she could play there" :ang's answer was a ery laid,back" -+ure.- -2 thought it would be
ery low key"- recalled Melanie.
Woodstock >entures was trying to book the biggest rock'n'roll bands in $merica" but the
rockers were reluctant to sign with an untested outfit that might be unable to delier. -To get the
contracts" we had to hae the credibility" and to get the credibility" we had to hae the contracts"-
8osenman said. >entures soled the problem by promising paychecks unheard of in &'('. The big
breakthrough came with the signing of the top psychedelic band of the day" The 7efferson
$irplane" for the incredible sum of 6&2"***. The $irplane usually took gigs for 65"*** to 6("***.
!reedence !learwater 8eial signed for 6&&"5**. The Who then came in for 6&2"5**. The rest of
the acts started to fall in line. 2n all" >entures spent 6&0*"*** on talent. -2 made a decision that we
needed three ma#or acts" and 2 told them 2 didn't care what it cost"- :ang said. -2f they had been
asking 65"***" 2'd say" '=ay 'em 6&*"***.' +o we paid the deposits" signed the contracts" and that
was it. instant credibility.-
2n the spring of &'('" 7ohn +ebastian's career was on hold. %rom &'(5 to &'(/" +ebastian's
band" the :oin' +poonful" had cranked out hit after hit , -4o You 3eliee in Magic"- -You 4idn't
;ae To 3e +o 1ice"- -4id You ?er ;ae To Make <p Your Mind"- -GWhat a 4ay %or
aH 4aydream- and -+ummer 2n The !ity.- 3ut in &'(/" after the :oin' +poonful appeared on -The
?d +ullian +how-" things began to go wrong. Two band members were busted for pot possession
and left the group. Their replacements neer Fuite fit in. 2n &'(0" the group broke up" and
+ebastian tried going solo. 3ut his performing career wasn't taking off. +o" in the spring of &'('"
+ebastian headed west to do a little soul searching. ;e ended up at a !alifornia commune where
the hippies made money by making brightly colored shirts and #ackets by a process they called tie,
dye.
The residents of Wallkill had heard of hippies" drugs and rock concerts" and after the
Woodstock adertising hit The 1ew York Times" The Times ;erald,8ecord and the radio stations"
local residents knew that a three,day rock show" maybe the biggest eer" was coming. 3esides"
Woodstock >enture's employees sure looked like hippies. 2n the minds of many people" long hair
and shabby clothes were associated with left,wing politics and drug use. The new ideas about re,
ordering society were threatening to many people. 2n Wallkill" those feelings were unleashed upon
Mills and his family. 8esidents would stop Mills at church to complain. >entures tried to head off
some of the complaints by hiring Wes =omeroy" a former top assistant at the 7ustice 4epartment"
to head the security detail. $ minister" the 8e. 4onald 5anoung" was put on the payroll to head
up local relations.
$llan Markoff watched the two freaks walk into his store in late $pril or early May. They
were :ang and his buddy" +tan 5oldstein. 5oldstein" A5" had been one of the organiEers of the
&'(0 Miami =op %estial. %or Woodstock" he was coordinator of campgrounds. -They wanted me
to design a sound system for 5*"*** or so people"- said Markoff" who owned the only stereo store
in Middletown" the $udio !enter on 1orth +treet. -They said there could een be &**"***" might
een go to &5*"***.-
;e thought :ang and 5oldstein were nuts. -There had neer been a concert with 5*"***@
that was unbelieable"- Markoff said. -1ow" &**"***" that was impossible. 2t's tantamount to
doing a sound system for A* million people today.- Markoff" then 2)" was the only local resident
listed in the $udio ?ngineering +ociety MagaEine. :ang and 5oldstein had picked his name out of
the magaEine@ suddenly" Markoff was responsible for gathering sound gear for the greatest show
on earth. ;e remembers one characteristic of the sound system. $t the amplifier's lowest setting"
the Woodstock speakers would cause pain for anyone standing within &* feet.
Markoff had doubts about the sanity of the enture until he saw the promoters' office in a
barn on the Mills' land. -That's when 2 saw all these people on these phones" with a switchboard"-
Markoff said. -When 2 saw that" 2 said" ';ey" this could really happen.'-
8osenman and 8oberts couldn't entice any of the big moie studios into filming their
weekend upstate. +o they got Michael Wadleigh. 3efore Woodstock" rock documentation meant
obscurity and few profits. $ year before Woodstock" Monterey =op had fiEEled at the box office"
making moie execs skittish oer the idea of funding another rock film. 4uring the summer of
Woodstock" Wadleigh" 2/" was gaining a reputation as a solid cameraman and director of
independent films. Two years earlier" he had dropped out of !olumbia <niersity of =hysicians
and +urgeons" where he was studying to be a neurologist. +ince then" he'd spent his time filming
on the urban streets" the main battlefield for the cultural skirmishes of the &'(*s. ;e'd filmed
Martin :uther 9ing 7r. ;e'd filmed 3obby 9ennedy and 5eorge Mc5oern talking to middle
$mericans on the campaign trail in '(0.
Wadleigh was experimenting with using rock'n'roll in his films as an ad#unct to the day's
social and political themes. ;e was also working with multiple images to make documentaries
more entertaining than those featuring a bunch of talking heads. $nd then the Woodstock boys
came to his door. Their idea was irresistible. The money was not. Wadleigh went for it anyway.
5oldstein went alone to his first town board meeting in Wallkill. -This was before we knew
we had problems"- he said. -2t was probably in 7une. We had a full house. 1o more than &5*
people. There were some accusations. +omeone made some references to the !hicago conention.
That it was young people" and this is the way the youth reacted" and that's what we could expect in
our community. GWallkill +uperisor 7ackH +chlosser said that Mayor 4aley knew how to handle
that. Then 2 lost my temper. 2 said there was no need for the iolence and that Gthe policeH reaction
caused the iolence. 2 said that 4aley ran one of the most corrupt political machines in history.-
+chlosser" who attended the !hicago conention" didn't recall such a specific exchange
about 4aley. ;e did remember the conention" howeer. -2 saw these people throw golf clubs with
nails in them"- he said of the !hicago protesters. -2 saw them throw excretion. The police" while 2
was there at least" showed remarkable restraint.-
$s the town meetings and the weeks wore on" the confrontation between >entures and the
residents of Wallkill got worse. Woodstock's landlord" ;oward Mills" was getting anonymous
phone calls. The police were called" but the culprits neer were identified" much less caught. -They
threatened to blow up his house"- 5oldstein said. -There were red faces and tempers flaring.
=eople drien by fear to ery strange things. They raise their oices and say stupid things they
would neer ordinarily say.- To this day" ;oward Mills will not discuss how his neighbors turned
against him in &'('. -2 know that it is a part of history" but 2 don't want to bother about it"- Mills
said.
Woodstock >entures billed the concert as a -weekend in the country- , temporary
commune. The ads ran in the newspapers" both establishment and underground" and on radio
stations in :os $ngeles" +an %rancisco" 1ew York" 3oston" Texas and Washington" 4.!. $ concert
ticket also bought a campsite. 3ut een a commune reFuires some kind of organiEation. 2n late
7une" 5oldstein called in the ;og %arm.
The ;og %arm started out as a communal pig farm in !alifornia@ its members eentually
bought land next to a ;opi 2ndian reseration in 1ew Mexico. 2ts leader was a skinny" toothless
hippie whose real name was ;ugh 8omney. ;e was a one,time beatnick comic who had changed
his name to Way 5ray and held the wiseguy title of -Minister of Talk-. -We brought in the ;og
%arm to be our crowd interface"- 5oldstein explained. -We needed a specific group to be the
exemplars for all to follow. We belieed that the idea of sleeping outdoors under the stars would
be ery attractie to many people" but we knew damn well that the kind of people who were
coming had neer slept under the stars in their lies. We had to create a circumstance where they
were cared for.-
The Wallkill Ioning 3oard of $ppeals officially banned Woodstock on 7uly &5" &'('. To
the applause of residents" board members said that the organiEer's plans were incomplete. They
also said outdoor toilets" such as those to be used at the concert" were illegal in Wallkill. Two
weeks earlier" the town board had passed a law reFuiring a permit for any gathering of more than
5"*** people. -The law they passed excluded one thing and one thing only , Woodstock"- said $l
8omm" then,editor of The Times ;erald,8ecord" which editorialiEed against the Wallkill law.
Wallkill +uperisor 7ack +chlosser denied that this was the intent.
The Wallkill board may hae done Woodstock >entures a faor. =ublicity about what had
happened reaped a bonanEa of interest. 3esides" if Woodstock had been staged in Wallkill" :ang
said" the ibes would either hae sFuelched the show or turned it into a riot. -2 didn't want cops in
gas masks showing up" and that was the atmosphere there"- :ang said. -With all the tensions
around it" it wouldn't hae worked.- $nother Woodstock >entures member" :ee 3lumer"
remembered the threats made in town. -They said they were going to shoot the first hippie that
walked into town"- said 3lumer.
9odak wanted cash" but the moie crew got no money upfront for film. +o Wadleigh pulled
65*"*** out of saings" both from his personal account and an account for his independent film
business. 4uring 7uly" Wadleigh was out in Wyoming filming a moie about mountain climbing.
When promoters lost the Wallkill site" Wadleigh cringed. -2 had this feeling of absolute terror that
it wasn't going to come off"- Wadleigh said. -That feeling that someone could pull the plug out on
us didn't go away until the music started.-
?lliot Tiber read about Woodstock getting tossed out of Wallkill. Tiber's White :ake resort"
the ?l Monaco" had 0* rooms" nearly all of them empty" and keeping it going was draining his
saings. 3ut for all of Tiber's troubles" he had one thing that was ery aluable to Woodstock
>entures. ;e had a 3ethel town permit to run a music festial. -2 think it cost 6&2 or 60 or
something like that"- Tiber said.-2t was ery ague. 2t #ust said 2 had permission to run an arts and
music festial. That's it.- The permit was for the White :ake Music and $rts %estial" a ery" ery
small eent that Tiber had dreamed up to increase business at the hotel. -We had a chamber music
Fuartet" and 2 think we charged something like two bucks a day"- he said. -There were maybe &5*
people up there.-
Tiber called >entures" not een knowing who to ask for. :ang got the message and went
out to White :ake the next day" which probably was 7uly &0" to look at the ?l Monaco. Tiber's
festial site was &5 swampy acres behind the resort. -Michael looked at that and said" 'This isn't
big enough"'- Tiber recalled. -2 said" 'Why don't we go see my friend Max YasgurJ ;e's been
selling me milk and cheese for years. he's got a big farm out there in 3ethel.'- While :ang waited"
Tiber telephoned Yasgur about renting the field for 65* a day for a festial that might bring 5"***
people. -Max said to me" 'What's this" ?lliotJ $nother one of your festials that doesn't work outJ'-
Tieber said.
Yasgur met :ang in the alfalfa field. This time" :ang liked the lay of the land. -2t was
magic"- :ang said. -2t was perfect. The sloping bowl" a little rise for the stage. $ lake in the
background. The deal was sealed right there in the field. Max and 2 were walking on the rise aboe
the bowl. When we started to talk business" he was figuring on how much he was going to lose in
this crop and how much it was going to cost him to reseed the field. ;e was a sharp guy" ol' Max"
and he was figuring eerything up with a pencil and paper. ;e ws wetting the tip of his pencil with
his tongue. 2 remember shaking his hand" and that's the first time 2 noticed that he had only three
fingers on his right hand. 3ut his grip was like iron. ;e's cleared that land himself.-
Yasgur was known across +ullian !ounty as a strong,willed man of his word. ;e'd gone
to 1ew York <niersity and studied real estate law" but moed back to his family's dairy farm in
the ')*s. $ few years later" Yasgur sold the family farm in Maplewood and moed to 3ethel to
expand. Throughout the '5*s and '(*s" Yasgur slowly built a dairy herd. 3y the time the pipe,
smoking Yasgur was approached by Woodstock >entures" he was the biggest milk producer in
+ullian !ounty" and the Yasgur farm had deliery routes" a massie refrigeration complex and a
pasteuriEation plant. The (** acres that >entures sought were only part of the Yasgur property"
which extended along both sides of 8oute &/3 in 3ethel.
Within days after meeting Yasgur" :ang brought the rest of the >entures crew up in eight
limousines@ by then" Yasgur was wise to Woodstock" and the price had gone up considerably.
Woodstock >entures kept all the negotiations secret" lest it repeat what had happened in Wallkill.
$t some point during the talks" Tiber and :ang went to dinner at the :ighthouse 8estaurant" and
2talian place #ust down 8oute &/3 from ?l Monaco in White :ake. That's where the news leaked
out. -While we were paying the check" the radio was on in the bar. The radio station out there"
W>C+" announced that the festial was going to White :ake"- Tiber said. -The waiters or the
waitresses must hae called the radio station. We were #ust in shock. The bar was now empty.
Michael #ust had a blank look. We all went into shock.- Cn 7uly 2*" &'('" the world was talking
about the first man to walk on the moon. 3ut conersation in 3ethel centered on this -Woodstock
hippie festial.- -2 was used to fights" but 2 wasn't ready for this one"- Tiber said.
The Woodstock partners hae since admitted that they were engaged in creatie deception.
They told 3ethel officials that they were expecting 5*"*** people" tops. $ll along they knew that
Woodstock would draw far" far more. -2 was pretty manipulatie"- :ang said. -The figure at
Wallkill was 5*"***" and we #ust stuck with it. 2 was planning on a Fuarter,million people" but we
didn't want to scare anyone.-
9en 9esey's farm in Cregon was oerrun with hippie acolytes. 9esey lied in =leasant
;ill" which became home base for his Merry =ranksters" the creators of the original $cid Tests in
+an %rancisco. 9esey had bought the farm with the earnings from his two bestsellers" -Cne %lew
Cer the !uckoo's 1est- G&'(2H and -+ometimes a 5reat 1otion- G&'()H. The fashion of the day
was to share and share alike. 3ut the horde was starting to bother een a founder of the
counterculture.
$s the $pollo && astronauts were strolling the +ea of TranFuility on 7uly 2*" the =ranksters
were hearing from Way 5ray" whom they knew from the $cid Tests. The ;og %armers said
they were getting 6&"/** to gather as many people together as possible and get them to 3ethel.
-9esey was glad to get rid of eerybody"- said 9en 3abbs" then AA and the leader of the
=ranksters' Woodstock sFuad. 3abbs packed )* hippies into fie school buses. Cne was -The
3us- , the one later made famous by author Tom Wolfe in -The ?lectric 9ool,$id $cid Test.-
The 3us had a custom" psychedelic paint #ob and a =lexiglas bubble on top" and it was packed with
sound gear. 2ts destination sign read. -%urther.- -While 1eil $rmstrong was taking a giant leap for
mankind" we were starting to take a giant leap for Woodstock"- 3abbs said.
Max Yasgur had two concerns. -;e thought a grae in#ustice had been done in Wallkill.
$nd he wanted to make sure that he got the 6/5"*** before some other dairy farmer did"-
8osenman said. -They were in no particular order. 2'm not sure which was more important to him.
;aing said that" 2'll say this about Max. ;e neer hit us up for another dime after we paid him. 2
remember that eery time we went oer there" Max would hand you one of those little cartons of
chocolate milk. ?ery time. We ended up with all these cartons of milk around the office.-
!ontracts for the use of land surrounding Yasgur's parcel ended up costing >entures
another 625"***. -We could hae bought the land for what we rented it for"- :ang said.
Meanwhile" hand,lettered signs were being put up in the town of 3ethel. They read. -3uy 1o Milk.
+top Max's ;ippy Music %estial.-
:ang had set a 6&5"*** ceiling for any act. 3ut the hottest act in the country , guitarist 7imi
;endrix , wanted more. ;endrix had gotten a one,time fee of 6&5*"*** for a concert earlier that
summer in !alifornia. ;is manager was demanding that much to play Woodstock. 3ut by 7uly"
:ang had some leerage too. ;e didn't need ;endrix to make the biggest concert of the year. 2f
;endrix wanted to come" he'd be welcome. -We paid 7imi ;endrix 6A2"***. ;e was the headliner"
and that's what he wanted"- 8osenman said. Then >entures lied about the terms. -We told
eeryone that was because he was playing two sets at 6&("*** each. We had to do that" or the
$irplane would want more than 6&2"***.- :ang set the bill so that folk acts like 7oan 3aeE would
play on %riday" the opening day. 8ock'n'roll was saed for +aturday and +unday. 3ut ;endrix's
one,and,only set was always to be the finale. ;is contract said no act could follow him.
Motel owner Tiber's new #ob was to be the local liaison for Woodstock >entures in 3ethel.
;e was paid 65"*** for a couple of month's work. Tiber was earning his money too. -The town
meetings neer drew more than flies before"- Tiber said. -3ut then they were standing,room,only"
maybe A** people. Maybe it was that Michael was barefooted. ;e came off the helicopter with no
shoes. 2'd neer experienced anything like that before" but that was the way he was. That was fine
with me" but 2 think they didn't like it.-
3ethel residents had read about the worries in Wallkill. drugs" traffic" sewage and water.
=ublic fury mounted once more. $ prominent 3ethel resident approached :ang. ;e said he could
grease the wheels of power and make sure :ang got the approals he needed. $ll the fixer wanted
was 6&*"***. Woodstock >entures got the cash and put it in a paper bag. :ang won't name the man
who solicited the bribe. 3ut ultimately Woodstock >entures would not pay off. -We were ery
concerned with karma"- :ang said. -We thought that if we did pay someone off" that would be
wrong and we would change the way things came out.- The suggestion of a payoff galaniEed
Yasgur's support" :ang said. -$t that point" he really became an ally" not #ust a spectator.-
3ut there may hae been a payoff" anyway. 8osenman wrote in a &'/) book that he issued
a 62"5** check to a man who was demanding 6&*"*** to arrange local backing. Years later"
8osenman said some of the eents in the book were hyped for dramatic tension. -$nd 2 honestly
can't remember whether 2 wrote the check or not"- 8osenman said.
$t least one of Woodstock's opponents also was approached to fix the deal. 5eorge
1euhaus was one of the old,style" old boy politicians in 3ethel" in and out of the town superisor's
post for years. ;e thought Woodstock was being #ammed down the throats of local people who
didn't want it. That 7uly" 1euhaus was approached by a man who wanted him to be a guide through
the local political maEe. 1euhaus wanted none of it. :ike :ang" 1euhaus wouldn't identify the
man" but both indicate it was the same indiidual. -2t wasn't" per se" money" but he wanted to know
if 2 could get the thing off the ground"- 1euhaus recalled. -2 was sitting on my porch. 2 threw him
the hell off my property. 2 wouldn't hae anything to do with it.-
3ob 4ylan was the only one of :ang's rock'n'roll heroes who hadn't signed a contract. The
promoters had borrowed some of 4ylan's mystiFue by naming their concert after his adopted home
town" which was only /* miles from 3ethel. 4ylan's backup group" The 3and" was already signed.
:ang figured that 4ylan's appearance was a natural. +o he made the pilgrimage to 4ylan's <lster
!ounty hideaway. -2 went to see 3ob 4ylan about three weeks before the festial"- :ang said. -2
went with 3ob 4acey" a friend of 4ylan's" and we met in his house for a couple of hours. 2 told
him what we were doing and told him" 'We'd loe to hae you there.' 3ut he didn't come. 2 don't
know why.-
2n late 7uly" Woodstock >entures obtained permit approals from 3ethel Town $ttorney
%rederick W.>. +chadt and building inspector 4onald !lark. 3ut" under orders from the town
board" !lark neer issued them. The board ordered !lark to post stop,work orders@ the promoters
tore the signs down with !lark's tacit approal. ;e felt he was being made the fall guy for the
town. +chadt said that Woodstock's momentum was accelerating like a runaway train. -$t that
time" it had progressed so far" any kind of order to stop it would hae #ust resulted in chaos"- he
said. -;ere you hae thousands of people descending on the community. ;ow in the world do you
stop themJ-
9en >an :oan" the president of the 3ethel 3usiness $ssociation" wasn't worried. ;e'd
decided this festial could be a great boost for the depressed economy of the !atskills. -We talked
to the county about promoting this thing"- said !an :oan" who owned 9en's 5arage in 9auneonga
lake. -We told 'em it would be the biggest thing that eer came to the county.-
$s 7uly became $ugust" >assmer's 5eneral +tore in 9auneonga :ake was doing a great
business in kegs of nails and cold cuts. The buyers were longhaired construction guys who were
caring Yasgur's pasture into an amphitheater. -They told me" 'Mr. >assmer" you ain't seen nothing
yet"' and by golly" they were right"- said $rt >assmer" the owner.
$be Wagner knew that little 3ethel" with a population of A"'** souls" wasn't set to handle
the coming flood of humanity. Two weeks before the festial" Wagner" (&" heard that Woodstock
>entures had already sold &0*"*** tickets. Wagner" who owned a plumbing company and lied in
9auneonga lake" was one of approximately 0** 3ethel residents who signed a petition to stop the
festial. -The people of 3ethel were afraid of the influx of people on our small roads" afraid of the
element of people who read the adertisements in the magaEines that said" '!ome to Woodstock
and do whateer you want to do because nobody will bother you"'- Wagner said.
3y $ugust" ?lliot Tiber was getting anonymous phone calls. -They'd say that it'll neer
happen" that we will break your legs"- Tiber said. -There was terrible name,calling. 2t was anti,
+emitic and anti,hippies. 2t was dirty and filthy.
$ week before the festial" Yasgur's farm didn't look much like a concert site. -2t was like
they were building a house" except there was a helicopter pad"- >assmer said. >assmer had heard
the nerous talk among his regular customers" especially when they heard the radio ads. -'2 don't
know about this"' they'd say"- >assmer recalled. -They'd say" '3oy" when this thing comes" we're
gonna be sorry.'- That same week" a group of outraged residents filed a lawsuit. 2t was settled
within a few days@ the promoters promised to add more portable toilets. -There was a lot of
intrigue"- :ang said. -2 don't remember it all.-
Those 0** petitioners weren't too happy with 3ethel +uperisor 4aniel 7. $matucci. -;e
didn't inform us about all the people until a week before the festial"- Wagner remembered. -;e
turned around and threw it in the wastebasket without een looking at it.- Wagner protester.
$matucci read it. Then he told Wagner it was too late.
Michael :ang gunned a shiny 3+$ motorcycle across a field of grass. ;e wore a leather
est on his shirtless back" and a fringed purse hung at his hip. $ lit cigarette hung out of his mouth
as he popped down the kickstand. 2t was early $ugust &'('" and :ang commanded an army of
workers throwing together the rock concert. $ filmmaker came by to ask :ang some Fuestions"
freeEing :ang" his motorcycle and his attitude foreer in a moie moment that captures the careless
braado of youth. -Where are you gonna go from hereJ- the interiewer asked. -$re you gonna do
anotherJ- -2f it works"- :ang answered.
>entures decided to try to win oer the residents in 3ethel. 2t sent out the ?arthlight
Theater to entertain local groups. 2t booked a rock band called Buill to do free performances. 3ut
?arthlight" an &0,member troupe" didn't do +hakespeare or 8odgers and ;ammerstein. They did a
musical comedy called -+ex. Y'all !ome.- They also stripped naked. %reFuently.
Cn $ugust /" >entures staged a pre,festial festial on a stage that was still under
construction. Buill opened the show" and 3ethel residents sat on the grass" expecting theater.
2nstead" the ?arthlight Theater stripped and screamed obscenities at the shocked crowd. -They
went from being suspicious to being coninced"- 8osenman said.
Way 5ray rounded up 05 ;og %armers and &5 ;opis. ;e donned a +mokey,the,3ear
suit and armed himself with a bottle of seltEer and a rubber shoel. Then he and the barefooted"
long haired ;og %armers flew into 7ohn %. 9ennedy 2nternational $irport. -We're the hippie
police"- 5ray announced as he and his entourage stepped off the plane on Monday" $ug. &&.
The opposition plotted a last,minute strategy to stop the show. a human barricade across
8oute &/3 on the day before the concert. Tiber heard about the plan on Monday. -+o" 2 go on
national radio and said that they were trying to stop the show"- he said. -2 didn't sleep well. $bout
two o'clock in the morning" 2 wake up and 2 hear horns and guitars. This is on Tuesday morning. 2
look out" and there are fie lanes of headlights all the way back. They'd started coming already.-
9ornfeld made Warner 3rothers an offer it couldn't refuse. 2t was Wednesday" two days
before showtime. >entures had to make a moie deal... now. $ll 9ornfeld wanted was 6&**"*** to
pay for film. The concert would take care of the acting" the lighting" the dialogue and the plot.
-Michael Wadleigh was up there Gat the siteH waiting with GMartinH +corsese"- 9ornfeld said. -$ll
they needed was money for film. The contract was handwritten and signed by myself and Ted
$shley Gof Warner 3rothersH. 2 told them" ';ey" guys" there are going to be hundreds of thousands
of people out there. 2t's a crap shoot. spend 6&**"*** and you might make millions. 2f it turns out
to be a riot" then you'll hae one of the best documentaries eer made.'-
Wadleigh rounded up a crew of about &** from the 1ew York %ilm scene" including
+corsese. Wadleigh couldn't pay them until much later" but he could get them inside the eent of
the summer. The crew signed on a double,or,nothing basis. 2f the film made it" they'd get twice
regular pay. 2f the film bombed" they'd lose. The crew got to Woodstock a few days before" driing
up in >olkswagen 3eetles and beat,up cars. Wadleigh's plot ran like this. Woodstock would be a
modern,day !anterbury Tale" a pilgrimage back to the land. ;e wanted the film to be as much
about the hippies who trekked to Woodstock as about the music on stage. ;e wanted the stories of
the young people" their feelings about the >iet 1am War" about the times. The stories of the
townspeople. These would make the film" not #ust the music.
?ight miles away" Timer ;erald,8ecord harness racing 7ohn +Eefc was working on a
feature story at the Monticello 8aceway. Then he caught a glimpse of the traffic out on 8oute &/3.
2t was &&am" more than 2) hours before the concert" and traffic was already backed up all the way
down 8oute &/3 to 8oute &/ , a distance of &* miles. -That's when 2 knew this was going to be
big. 8eally significant"- he said. +Eefc's story that night was about the effect of the concert on the
racetrack. +ome bettors fought the traffic on 8oute &/3 and managed to get to the windows. 3ut
the handle was down 6(*"*** from a typical weekend night in $ugust.
3y the afternoon of Thursday" $ugust &)" Woodstock was an idyllic commune of 25"***
people. The ;og %armers had built kitchens and shelters with two,by,fours and tarps. Their kids
were swinging on a set of monkey bars built of lumber and tree limbs" #umping into a pile of hay at
the bottom. Way 5ray recruited -responsible,looking- people and made them security guards.
;e handed out armbands and the secret password" which was -2 forget.- 4own the slope" stands
were ready to sell counterculture souenirs. hand,woen belts" drug paraphernalia and headbands.
!hristmas tree lights were strung in the trees. +awdust was strewn along the paths. Cer the hill"
carpenters were still banging nails into the main stage. The =ranksters and the ;og %armers had
built heir own alternatie stage.
=rankster leader 3abbs acted as emcee" opening the stage to anyone who wanted to #am.
The sound system was a space amplifier borrowed from the 5rateful 4ead. -Cer the hill and into
the woods we went"- 3abbs said. -We had the free school for the kids" the %ree 9itchen and so" the
%ree +tage.
The Festival. 4ay Cne.
The sticky,sweet smell of burning mari#uana wafted into the open windows of the house in
3ethel late Thursday night. The chirp and buEE of the insects suddenly gae way to the shuffle of
sandaled feet. -2t sounded like a parade"- said the man who lied there. The young 3ethel couple
lied a Fuarter,mile from Yasgur's field. The wife" 22" was pregnant with the couple's second
child" and the husband" 2/" a salesman" had an important business meeting in $lbany on %riday
morning. 3ut the couple wasn't budging from 3ethel. When they awoke on the first of three days
of peace and music" they looked out front. -1othin' but cars and people. +aw a trooper. Ten kids
were on the hood of his car"- the husband said. They looked out back. -=eople were camping all
oer the yard"- he added.
=roducer :ang woke up %riday morning to find that something was missing.... the ticket
booths. Cthers had known for days" but :ang said that %riday morning was his first inkling that
Woodstock would neer collect a single dollar at the gate. -Tickets were being handled oer in
G8oberts'H office"- :ang said. -2 #ust assumed that they were handling the booths" but they were
neer put in place.- >an :oan" the cigar,smoking owner of 9en's 5arage" had been hired two days
before the festial to tow about two doEen ticket booths into position. -$ll we eer got to moe
was two or three"- >an :oan recalled. -?ach one we moed took longer and longer. There were
too many people and cars and abandoned GacantH tents blocking the way.-
$bbie ;offman was the head of the Yippies , the Youth 2nternational =arty" the irreerent
left,wing organiEation founded by ;offman" 7erry 8ubin" =aul 9rassner and Woodstock's ?d
+anders. ;offman coninced the festial's producers to donate 6&*"*** to the Yippies , mainly by
threatening to disrupt the proceedings. The political pranksters wanted the money to fund arious
community pro#ects" including 1ew York !ity storefronts they rented to shelter runaways and
defense funds they established for the -politically oppressed.-
$long with the ;og %armers and other left,leaning groups" the Yippies set up -Moement
!ity"- their festial,within,a,festial" about a Fuarter,mile from the stage. 4ays before the festial"
;offman and his lieutenant" 9rassner" mimeographed thousands of flyers urging festial,goers not
to pay. Cf course" that issue became moot as soon as the fence went down. 9rassner would later
say that all attempts to politiciEe the three days of peace and loe had eaporated. 9rassner also
recalled bringing a brand new white,fringed leather #acket to Woodstock. 2t was stolen from the
Moement !ity tent.
Three school buses rolled up to Yasgur's farm late %riday morning and parked near
>entures headFuarters" by the playground and the %reak,Cut Tent on West +hore 8oad. 2nside
were more than &** 1ew York !ity police officers hand,picked by concert management for their
street smarts and relaxed attitudes. 2n the days before the concert" the city police department had
told its members that it would not sanction Woodstock work. The cops had been promised 65* a
day. 3ut when the officers arried in 3ethel" a more stringent warning awaited them. -The
message was something to the effect of" '2f you participate in this" you may be sub#ect to
departmental censure"'- %eldman said. -+o they stretched their legs" got back in the bus and went
back to 1ew York !ity.-
Many stayed to work under assumed names. 3ut they demanded that Woodstock >entures
increase their pay to 6'* a day. >entures paid it. -We had eight to nine guys on the payroll as
Mickey Mouse and names like this"- said $rthur +chubert" a waiter at the !oncord ;otel and one
of the directors of the security force.
Melanie +afka was supposed to sing" so she and her mother got in her mom's &'(0
burgundy =ontiac 3onneille and headed upstate. When they turned onto 8oute &/" they noticed
lots of traffic. When Melanie called the festial's producers" they said" yes" the traffic was headed
for 3ethel" which was getting crowded" so she'd better get to a hotel where they would take her by
helicopter to the festial site. $t that hotel" the name and location of which Melanie doesn't
remember" she saw a slew of T> cameras focusing on 7anis 7oplin and her bottle of +outhern
!omfort. -$nd meJ- says Melanie. -2 was #ust a fleckling.-
+tate police inestigator %red W. !annock" A)" was supposed to direct traffic at the
intersection of 8oute 55 and 8oute &/3 in White :ake. 3ut parked cars didn't need much
direction. -2 #ust stood there and watched the fiasco"- !annock said. -8oute &/3 was #ammed for
roughly ' miles" all the way back to Monticello and beyond.-
Woodstock organiEers blamed state police for the monstrous traffic #am. The troopers had
refused to enact the festial's traffic plan. -2 know the way cops think" and 2 think they figured that
if they had done that" they would acFuire responsibility for whateer might happen"- 5oldstein
said. -Cf course" they were not necessarily in faor of these kinds of eents" and they wanted it to
turn to GchaosH. They wanted it to be a disaster.-
Woodstock organiEers had meant for cars to pull off the highway and be directed by the
1Y=4 cops to parking in fields off 8oute &/3. Cn Tuesday" 5oldstein had pleaded for the state
police to help" at least by starting the procedure. The state police brass added additional troopers to
direct traffic. :ocal ciil defense officials refused to plan for a disaster@ their office was closed
%riday afternoon as the traffic rolled in. +o the traffic backed up for miles while the police looked
on. -+uddenly" we were in a logistic nightmare"- 5oldstein said. That didn't mean that indiidual
officers didn't hae sympathy for the floundering festial,goers.
-2 thought they were hippie scum , but you couldn't help but really feel sorry for the
kids"- !annock said. -They got sucked into this carte blanche. 1obody said anything about
reserations" tickets. They #ust came. You couldn't beliee it. $dance sales paid" nobody else paid
a nickel. They paid with pain" hunger and exposure" or whateer.-
Wadleigh bought out rooms in a local motel" the +iler +pur" for the film crew and
eFuipment. The crew naturally nicknamed the place -the +iler +perm.- Then the crowds came.
They left cars in the middle of the road. The crew and their cameras were stuck. They ended up
sleeping in the field" under the stage" whereer.
Woodstock's security force was briefed late that morning by none other than 3abbs" the
=rankster leader. 3abbs was one of the more experienced acid trippers. -2 guess they had me do it
because 2 was in the Marines"- 3abbs said. -2 told them that if someone was hassling someone else"
then they should help the person who was in trouble. 9eep an eye out for people who need help.
Cther than that" it was nobody else's business what they did. -They asked about drugs" and 2 told
them not to worry about it. 2 said" 'There are going to be so many drugs around" you're not going to
be able to keep track of any of it.'-
$t about noon" 3abbs and Way 5ray watched as a doEen guys in orange #ackets started
walking up the rise. They carried change boxes and were nearing the fence border. -They said"
'We're the ticket,takers" and now we want eeryone to walk out and come back in"'- 3abbs said. -2
said" 'Man" you gotta be kidding me. There are 2**"*** people in there. +o the head security guy
says to me" 'There's no way we're going to be able to get these tickets. What do you want to doJ'
They had" like" a double,wide section of fence that was open for the gate. +o Way and 2 said the
only thing to do is take down the fence. +o" we , Way and 2 , unrolled the fence about &** feet"
and the people all came pouring in.-
+chubert said his security forces had no choice. -;ow can you to tell 2**"*** to )**"***
people" '5o home" it's oerJ- he said. -2t would hae been the riot of the century.- 3ut the crowd
closer to the stage couldn't see the impromptu ceremony of taking down the gate. %rom there" it
looked like the mob was taking oer. -My most iid memory was that there was this chain,link"
!yclone fence that went all the way around"- said 3ert
%eldman" who was working security on the hill near the ;og
%arm base. -2 had the uncanny feeling that there were 5**
million people there. +uddenly" the fence was no more.
Trampled into the mud. 2t disappeared like magic.- :ang said
he neer exactly decided Woodstock would become a free
show. 3ut he did decide to make the announcement. -2t was
kind of like stating the obious"- he said.
!omplaints were coming in to 5o. 1elson
8ockefeller in $lbany. 8osenman and 8oberts hinted that a
declaration of a disaster area in 3ethel might be welcomed" to
ease the crowd's suffering and because it would limit the
company's liability in lawsuits. 3ut the other partners feared a
disaster declaration could bring in the 1ational 5uard and the
possibility of an armed confrontation. ?xtra cops" including
2* 8ockland !ounty deputies mounted on horseback" had
already been brought in. 3ut the goernor did not consider Woodstock an act of 5od. ;e made no
declaration. -We'll play it by ear"- the goernor's spokesman told <nited =ress 2nternational.
+ullian !ounty residents heard that the kids up there in 3ethel didn't hae enough food.
3y %riday afternoon" members of the Monticello 7ewish !ommunity !enter were making
sandwiches with 2** loaes of bread" )* pounds of cold cuts and two gallons of pickles.
Woodstock >entures estimated that it needed donations of /5*"*** sandwiches. %ood was being
airlifted in from as far away as 1ewburgh's +tewart $ir %orce 3ase.
4ay Cne of Woodstock was supposed to be the day for the folkies. 7oan 3aeE was the
headliner" preceded by a bill that included Tim ;ardin" $rlo 5uthrie" +weetwater" the 2ncredible
+tring 3and" 8ai +hankar" 3ert +ommer and Melanie. Cne rock act" +ly and the %amily +tone
was added for a little taste of the rock'n'roll of the weekend. The scheduled starting time was )pm.
The performers were spread around in ;oliday 2nns or ;oward 7ohnsons miles from the site.
3ecause of the traffic #am" the promoters were frantically contracting for helicopters to shuttle in
the performers and supplies. 3ut the helicopters were late. $ four,seater finally arried after )pm@
it could handle only single acts. :ang had two
choices. ;ardin" who was drifting around backstage stoned"
or 8ichie ;aens" who looked ready. -2t was" 'Who could
get setup the FuickestJ'- :ang said. -$nd 2 went with 8ichie
;aens.- Three days of music started at 5.*/pm ?astern
4aylight Time on $ugust &5" &'('.
?ery time 8ichie ;aens tried to Fuit playing" he
had to keep on. The other acts hadn't arried. %inally" after
;aens had played for nearly three hours , improising his
last song -%reedom- , a large <.+. $rmy helicopter landed
with musical reinforcements. $n $rmy helicopterJ
-Yes"- said ;aens. -2t was the only helicopter aailable. 2f
it wasn't for the <.+. $rmy" Woodstock might not hae
happened.- The <.+. $rmy saed the day for a crowd that
was" for the most part" anti,warJ -We were neer anti,soldier"- said ;aens. -We were #ust against
the war.-
!ash in hand" $rt >assmer floated in his boat across White :ake to the +ullian !ounty
1ational 3ank. ;e was the only bank customer that day. >assmer feared robbers would take all the
money the store was raking in from the sale of beer" soda" and peanut butter and #elly. 3ut
>assmer's worries were groundless. -The ;og %armers kept the peace"- he said. -They were dirty"
but they were nice. $ few were happy on drugs" but hell" that was nothing.- >assmer raised only
one price in his whole store. 3eer was 62 a six,pack instead of 6&.'5. -5ot tired of making
change"- said >assmer" who een cashed a couple doEen checks for some kids who ran out of
money. 1ot one bounced.
While the helicopters whirled to Yasgur's farm" Melanie sat in the motel lobby talking to
her mom. When it was her turn to fly" her mother wasn't allowed with her , een though Melanie
argued" -3ut she's my mom.- Mrs. +afka droe back to 1ew 7ersey. Melanie flew to 3ethel.
3ert %eldman" the town historian" was suddenly Woodstock's censor. ;is #ob was to keep
frontal nudity from appearing on national teleision. he stood between the swimming hole and the
teleision cameras" reminding folks to coer up. $fternoon temperatures were in the mid,0*s.
-They had to hae one or two garments on" depending on sex"- %eldman said. -:emme tell you"
after fie minutes" it was work. You neer saw a fight in there. You could argue" of course" that it
was because eeryone was stoned.-
Cther acts still weren't ready. +tage organiEers knew they had to kill time. The Woodstock
1ation might get restless if the music stopped. ?mcee !hip Monck grabbed !ountry 7oe
Mc4onald" strapped an acoustic guitar on him and thrust him on stage. Mc4onald's short set
included the unprintable and improised -%ish !heer- and -2,%eel,:ike,2'm,%ixin',To,4ie 8ag-.
$fter !ountry 7oe" Monck spotted 7ohn +ebastian" the former lead singer and guitarist for the
:oin' +poonful. +ebastian" clad in wild tie,dye" was tripping on some unidentified substance. ;e
hadn't een been inited to perform at the festial. ;e recalls he was -too whacked to say no.-
+ebastian's stage rap was nearly a parody of hippie conersation" mostly because of his
psychedelic state. 3ut the crowd roared with approal. -7ust loe eerybody around ya' and clean
up a little garbage on your way out"- +ebastian told the crowd.
Melanie +afka was such a nobody that she didn't een hae a performer's pass. +o when it
was time for her to go on" she had to proe who she was by showing her drier's license and
singing -3eautiful =eople.- +he was led backstage to her -dressing room"- which was actually a
tepee,siEed tent. When she realiEed that she would be playing for a crowd about the siEe of 3oston"
she got so scared that she deeloped a nerous cough that -sounded like a chain saw.- 2t was so
loud that someone in the next tent sent her a cup of soothing tea. That neighbor was 7oan 3aeE.
The film crew didn't hae een close to enough film to shoot all the rock performances at
Woodstock. +o Wadleigh tried to make up for it by getting performers' song lists and the order in
which they were going to sing them. Wadleigh wanted to film the anti,war songs" the songs that
talked about the rifts in society and oerlook the loe songs. 3ut musicians were getting stoned
backstage. 3y the time they got on stage" they broke with song orders and played whateer came to
them. ;ere's why the cameras neer recorded the first two letters of the -%ish !heer.- Wadleigh
was manning the onstage front and center camera. When !ountry 7oe Mc4onald came out yelling
-5imme an %"- reing the crowd with anti,>ietnam cheers" Wadleigh was loading his camera and
fixing a minor #am. -2 was #ust scrambling like craEy to get my camera in some kind of working
order"- Wadleigh said. -That's why you don't see him for the first two minutes or so in the film.
You #ust hear him. 2 got him on camera eentually. +omeone should gie him an award for that
song. That is one of the greatest war songs there is.-
;aens flew back to :iberty on the chopper. Then he hopped into his car and droe back to
1ewark 2nternational $irport" where he caught a plane for another show in Michigan the next
night. ;aens says the car ride to 1ew 7ersey was almost as incredible as the helicopter trip to the
festial. -2 was the only person on the 1ew York Thruway going south"- ;aens said.
Cf all the acts on %riday night" Woodstock's producers were worried only about +ly and the
%amily +tone. The rocking soul band had a tendency to fire up small crowds" initing people to
rush the stage. With a couple hundred thousand people" +ly and his band could ignite a riot. +o
9ornfeld cleared the pit in front of the stage to gie security a fighting chance. Then he and his
wife" :inda" climbed down" all alone into the ast chasm between the musicians on stage and
Woodstock's horde. -;e was singing" '2 want to take you high,erK' and eeryone lit up. $ll those
lights in the crowd" thousands of them"- 9ornfeld said. -We were right between +ly and the crowd.
The sprinkles began around midnight as sitarist 8ai
+hankar was playing. 3ert +ommer's angelic oice won him
a standing oation. 3y the time 7oan 3aeE finished -We
+hall Cercome"- a warm thunderstorm was pounding
Yasgur's farm. 2n the space of about three hours" fie inches
of rain fell.
The ration ticket read -%ood for :oe.- 3ut 25 year
old 5eorgie +ieers of Toronto" who had been isiting
family in =ort 7eris" paid a price anyway. -We waited for
an hour" and we got a cold hot dog on a hamburger bun"-
she recalled. %ood for :oe was the original food
concession for those inside the festial. !ampgrounds
coordinator 5oldstein had set up two food operations. %ood
for :oe" for those who had tickets" and the %ree 9itchen
for those outside the festial fence. %ood for :oe was
plagued by a lack of organiEation from the outset. The
oucher system was cumbersome" and the young food
workers started giing away hot dogs and hamburgers in the
spirit of the eent. 2n addition" the massie traffic #am had blocked delieries.
$ %ood for :oe truck was stuck in the traffic in front of $be Wagner's house" about fie
miles northeast of the festial site. Then the truck was raided. -Cne of the kids got in" and then
they started throwing the food out all oer the road" the bread" the hot dogs"- Wagner said. :ater"
when hungry customers oerran the booths" %ood for :oe disintegrated. -2t started to rain" and it
got ugly"- said ;elen 5raham" who at )& was one of the senior employees of %ood for :oe. -2t
was 2am" and 2 yelled" '7oan 3aeE is on. 7oan 3aeE is on.' 2 wanted to get the teen,agers away from
the stand. They #ust wanted to stare at me. Mrs. 5raham found herself trapped on Yasgur's farm
because her car was blocked in. +he wanted out of the Woodstock 1ation. -2t wasn't my type of
culture. 2t wasn't my type of upbringing. 2t wasn't my type of experience.- she said. -2 kind of
blotted it out from my head. 2t was a frightening experience. 2 didn't see the loe and the peace. 2
saw an oerwhelming crowd" and 2 didn't understand what was going on.-
The stream behind 5ery 9rewson's tent was rising. The music stopped" and the group
bailed out at Aam to dig a trench. -The water was #ust running down in torrents"- he said. With the
turf torn away" the Woodstock site is red clay and rocks brought down by glaciers millions of years
ago. Within seconds of the rain" the festial became a slippery Fuagmire punctuated by puddles.
The rain slammed into Yasgur's farm" drenching the fans" including &' people who #ammed into
9rewson's tent seeking shelter from the storm. -When 2 got there" things at least had some
semblance of order"- 9rewson said. %rom the instant the storm blew in" he recalled" there was no
order" no security" no sense of what was happening or who was in charge.
Melanie +afka faced complete terror. half a million people in a driing rainstorm. -2t was
the only out,of,body experience of my life"- she said. -2 #ust watched myself on stage singing the
songs" but 2 wasn't there.- $nd then" as the rain tumbled down" tens of thousands of fans lit candles
in the darkness. +ixteen,year,old 5ery 9rewson" his brother and three friends camped 5* yards
from the stage. They'd arried Wednesday night from Tunkhannock" =a." in a psychedelic an. 3ut
their campsite seemed to be receding in the distance. $ sea of people was rolling into the gap. -The
word kind of got out that something was going on in the !atskills"- 9rewson said.
The Festival. 4ay Two.
Mary +anderson stepped aboard the helicopter at dawn +aturday. The chopper blades
slapped the air" and the paement of the Crange !ounty $irport fell away. The copter soared
toward 3ethel in a battering hailstorm. 7ust before it arried" sunshine shot through a hole in the
clouds. To the )* year old nurse from Middletown" it looked like a scene from a biblical epic.
-When you are in a helicopter" the sun's rays come down on 5**"*** people. 2t looks like the
multitudes"- Mrs. +anderson said. -You #ust can't picture that. You don't realiEe how all the people
looked in that sun.- Mrs. +anderson had been scheduled to drie to the festial to work +aturday's
night shift. 3ut the Woodstock organiEers had called her late %riday. They said the festial had
been swamped with emergency cases. >entures would send a helicopter for her and any other
nurse she could recruit.
When she arried" 4r. William $bruEEi of Wappingers %alls" the festial's medical director"
immediately put her in charge of the newly erected medical tent. Cutside" one man was selling his
own brand of medicine. -;e was yelling" LMescalineK Cne dollarK MescalineK Cne dollarK' $ll day
long"- 1urse +anderson said.
=romoters decided early on that it was crucial to crowd control for the music to be endless"
especially after dark. The music was supposed to start at /pm on +aturday and continue until
midnight. 3ut after the crowd swarmed the site on %riday" the promoters' strategy changed. They
needed more music and deemed that acts should start later and play until dawn. +aturday's bill
included loud" tough rock'n'roll. The Who" the 7efferson $irplane" 7anis 7oplin" !reedence
!learwater 8eial" the 5rateful 4ead" !anned ;eat" Mountain and +antana. The promoters
worried that as the music got louder" the crowd could get wilder. 3ut if they weren't entertained
well" seeral hundred thousand bored fans could do some damage. :ang and the other organiEers
pleaded with +aturday's acts to play twice as long. Most were willing. 2t was the biggest audience
in history@ the attendance was estimated at 25*"*** that morning.
The mud smelled like hashish" two inches deep. +odden sleeping bags were churned up
with cellophane" cigarette butts and discarded clothes. +tanding rainwater was steaming skyward"
blanketing thousands of sleeping kids with an eerie fog. 5ery 9rewson saw the tractor rumbling
oer the hill" plowing through a pile of soaked garbage and sleeping bags. The tractor was towing a
tank trailer to haul away sewage from the portable toilets. 3ut under that mass slept a &/,year,old
from +outh 7ersey named 8aymond MiEak. ;is sleeping bag was oer his head to ward off the
rain. The tractor slowly ran oer him. 9rewson and fie others raced up the hill and helped carry
MiEak to an ambulance. 3y the time the helicopter arried" MiEak was dead. -2 don't think he eer
felt anything. ;e was asleep"- 9rewson said. 8ichard 3arley was walking up the hill seconds after
the accident. -;e had a blanket oer him"- 3arley said. -$ couple of girls were standing there
crying.-
?ileen %uentes" a &/,year,old %orest ;ills ;igh +chool student" had been recruited to run
an independence concession stand at the festial. +he sold the accouterments of the counterculture
, posters" roach clips and buttons. 3ut %uentes discoered +aturday that the real market was in
raincoats. +he entured into the crowds" found a spot by the stage and sold the raincoats her boss
had packed" #ust in case. Within an hour" hundreds of coats had been snatched up at 65 a pop. -2
went back to get more" but we didn't hae any more"- she said.
-+=2,4?8+K- the guy was screaming. The %reak,Cut Tent had its first patient. 1urse
+anderson wasn't sure what to do about psychic spider infestations. The ;og %armers treated bad
acid trips with physical stroking and soft words. +he decided to do the same. -You learned in a
gosh,darn fast way"- she said. -You hae to gie them some touch with reality. You had to speak
softly.- Mrs. +anderson wanted to work the festial to learn how to treat the new sicknesses
associated with the drug culture. Woodstock >entures had offered to help train medical personnel"
and >entures was offering big bucks , 65* a day , for nurses. 3ut there weren't many takers. :ocal
people in medicine were skittish about being associated with the controersial eent" Mrs.
+anderson said.
The medics had brought a bottle of ThoraEine" an anti,psychotic drug" to chemically
counteract bad trips. 3ut the tripsters reported that ThoraEine would send a drug user crashing
immediately" leading to long,term psychological problems. The consensus at the ;og %arm was
that ThoraEine was a ery bad trip indeed. -We stuck the ThoraEine under the table" and 2 think
somebody stole it"- Mrs. +anderson said. +he diided the circus tent into three wards to coer the
incoming casualties. The most famous was the ward for those experiencing the imaginary
symptoms of bad trips. $ second" the largest" was for people with cut feet. 3roken glass and pop,
tops slashed hundreds. -Their feet were cut to ribbons"- she said. -We sat them down" put their feet
in a bowl of clean water and disinfectant.- The third area was for people with a malady peculiar to
Woodstock. -They had burned their eyes staring at the sun"- Mrs. +anderson said. -2f they were
tripping" they'd lie down on their backs and #ust stare. There were fie or six or seen at a time.
That was something.-
The shiny piece of foil glistened next to the black rubber tire of the state police car. :eo
C'Mara" &0" of !lintondale" figured there was hashish in the foil" snatched it up and continued
walking past the cop as he followed the abandoned cars along 8oute &/" for what was probably 2*
miles. C'Mara opened the foil and found 2' tabs of acid. -They were pinkish" kind of"- C'Mara
said. -+o 2 took one and folded the rest up and kept walking.- 3ut C'Mara's eening was about to
turn strange. -2 get there and eeryone's saying" L:ook out for the purple acidK :ook out for the
purple acidK'- he said. -2 go"';ey" that stuff was kind of purple. <h,oh.'-
3ethel Town 7ustice +tanley :iese ran a Fuiet court from his house. 3ut in $ugust &'('"
:iese suddenly acFuired &0 months' worth of work , &// cases. The most common charge.
possession of implements to administer narcotics. 2f the cases were not simply dismissed" the
aerage find was 625. :iese remembered one &(,year,old who was charged with selling mari#uana
Gfor 6( an ounceH and possessing six pounds of the stuff with intent to sell. 2rate customers
followed the troopers into :iese's house when they brought the suspected mari#uana dealer in. The
customers demanded that the #udge throw the book at the teen because the grass was awful. :iese
ordered him locked up in the +ullian !ounty 7ail and sent a sample of the grass to the police lab
in $lbany for analysis.
The %ree 9itchen was created to feed the hundreds of people who would be outside the
concert" #ust making the scene. CrganiEers felt responsible for a horde of unprepared people" so
they planned to feed them. 3ut by +aturday afternoon" the ;og %arm's %ree 9itchen was cooking
for thousands after the %ood for :oe operation turned into chaos. 2 bought truckloads of grain"
barrels of soy sauce"- 5oldstein said. -2 bought a lot of egetables from all oer. 3ut after the
roads shut down" 5oldstein's problem became how to moe the food to the people. The helicopters
couldn't find a place to land. -The sandwiches were coming in a 1ational 5uard helicopter to the
;og %arm compound"- 5oldstein said. -We had 2** people #oin hands to form a circle for the
helicopter.
$ Woodstock acid trip wasn't always oluntary. -Cutside Gthe tentH" they were giing out
electric 9ool,$id laced with whateer"- 1urse +anderson said. -They said" L4on't take the brown
acid.' They put it in watermelon. 1ow" when kids take a tab of acid" they know what they're getting
into. When you drink something that's cold because you're thirsty" that's different. $ lot of the kids
hurt with this stuff were #ust thirsty. They didn't hae any choice.- 3ut while the kids were
drinking and taking whateer was around" :ang was being careful. +tationed in the headFuarters
trailer backstage" :ang couldn't afford to hallucinate. ;e says he didn't een smoke pot that
weekend. -2 didn't drink anything that didn't come from a bottle 2 didn't wash or open myself"- he
said.
+o far" so good for :eo C'Mara. The acid had kicked in" the sun was shining" and he had no
bummer symptoms yet. 3ut he was thirsty" yes thirsty. %our cans of cold beer were sweating next
to the stump on which he was sitting. 2n keeping with the code of the counterculture" C'Mara didn't
touch it for an hour" by his reckoning. ;e een looked at his watch. 3y the time he says he finally
did flip one of the pop,tops" the sun would hae baked those beers" but C'Mara swore they were
still ice,cold. The facts of physics are clear. C'Mara was hallucinating either time or temperature.
-2 couldn't beliee it"- he mareled. -2'm serious" man. 8eally.-
Cn +aturday eening" :ou 1ewman's ears pricked up when he heard the murmuring on the
sidewalk outside his gift shop in :iberty. -The kids were going" LWalla,walla,walla.' 2 couldn't
really hear what they were saying"- 1ewman said. -Then 2 found out why. This guy comes in and
says" -We're with the 7efferson $irplane" and this is 5race +lick.' 2 didn't know anything about a
7efferson $irplane.- Marty 3alin" 7orma 9aukonen and +lick were staying at the ;oliday 2nn
down the road. $ll three signed 1ewman's guest book.
The show wasn't going on. 7anis 7oplin" The Who and the 5rateful 4ead refused to play
+aturday night. Their managers wanted cash in adance. Woodstock >entures feared the fans
would riot if the stage was empty. The promoters pleaded with !harlie =rince" the manager of the
White :ake branch of +ullian !ounty 1ational 3ank" to put up the money. =rince knew that
>entures =resident 7ohn 8oberts had a trust fund of more than 6& million. :ate +aturday night"
=rince negotiated his way through the clogged back roads from :iberty to White :ake" where he
opened up the bank. ;e discoered the night drop slot was oerflowing with bags of cash. =rince
called 7oe %ersch" the bank's president" who told him to use his #udgement. $fter 8oberts gae
=rince a personal check that night for -5* or &** thousand dollars"- =rice wrote the cashier's
checks. The performers were paid. The show went on. -2 felt that if 2 didn't gie him the money for
the show to go on" well" what would a half,million kids doJ- =rince said.
Cne festial,goer" who asked to be identified only as $ndrew" had decided that 7anis 7oplin
was in loe with him. $ndrew knew that he had a shot at instant on stage romance. -2 knew that if 2
could #ust make passionate loe to her" eerything would #ust be all right and she would fall in loe
with me foreer"- $ndrew recalled. -2 got about three feet on stage" and about )* policemen
disagreed. They dragged me off. 2 wasn't the only one. That happened all the time.- 4aniel
+anabria" the fence installer" who stayed for the show" also remembered 7oplin's set. ;e was &*
feet from the stage. -2 think we were under the influence of certain mind,altering substances"-
+anabria said. -We would tell the performers" L4own on stage.' +he G7oplinH would sit down and
let us see.-
The er was #ust back from L1am. 1ow" possessed with paranoia" he cowered on a cot in
the %reak,Cut Tent. -;e kept saying the same thing oer and oer again"- Mrs. +anderson said.
-;e was afraid of something. L4on't come near me"' he said. L4on't come near me.' They tried to
talk him down" but that time we did use drugs. They gae him a shot of something" and an hour or
so later" he was down. We asked him" we always asked" what he had taken. 2'm not awfully sure
that we got the right answers.-
=hil !iganer's buddy was 5rateful 4ead guitar guru 7erry 5arcia" who used to pop into
!iganer's hippie boutiFue in 3rooklyn. 3ut" friendship aside" !iganer had to be honest about the
5rateful 4ead's performance at Woodstock. The band members were standing in water" their
electric guitars were shocking their fingers. -2t was the worst show of theirs 2'd eer seen"- he said.
The Who had released their first rock
opera" -Tommy"- in 7une. 1ow" #ust after
midnight" the ?nglish hard,rockers were
performing the three,record set's theme
song" -+ee Me" %eel Me.- -:istening to you"
2 get the music"- sang the fringe,shirted
8oger 4altrey" -gaEing at you" 2 get the
heat...- ;ead Yippie $bbie ;offman sat on
the stage with :ang during The Who's set.
;offman had been working the medical tent
since the festial's opening act" gobbling
down tabs of acid to stay awake. :ang and
;offman had been looking for an imaginary guy with a knife under the stage. :ang decided it was
time to calm ;offman down. ;e had become increasingly obsessed with publiciEing the case of
7ohn +inclair" a Michigan teen,ager busted for possession of two mari#uana cigarettes.
+o he #umped up and grabbed the mike" spitting out a few words about +inclair" who had
gotten a &*,year #ail sentence. Who lead guitarist =ete Townsend didn't recogniEe ;offman and
figured he was #ust another whacked,out festial,goer rushing the stage. Townsend bonked
;offman on the head with his guitar. ;offman wandered away. -$bbie was being $bbie"-
9ornfeld said. -;e was ery out of his head at Woodstock. ;e didn't hae contact with reality.-
The Festival. 4ay Three.
$t sunup +unday" 5race +lick's oice wafted out of the festial bowl to a pasture aboe.
-Cne pill makes you larger" and one pill makes you small...- -+ome G#erkH was out there making
eggs oer a campfire" going" L;ey man" it's the $irplaneK ;ey" man" it's the $irplaneK'- recalled
7erome C'!onnell" the hippie from 8ome" 1Y.
7udge :iese heard a commotion out on the lawn. ;ippies were camped all oer the grounds
of the Waldheim ;otel bungalow colony in +mallwood" which the #udge owned. 3ut :iese
couldn't explain this banging. $t 5.A*am" the #udge got up to inestigate in the grayish morning
light. -2 saw a longhaired man wandering around all the bungalows" trying to open the doors"- he
said. -2 asked the fellow what he was looking for. -;e said" L$ doctor.' -2 told him 4r. G+tuartH
4ombeck was three,Fuarters of a mile away" but it would be impossible to get there because of the
roads. ;e kept raising his oice louder and louder. 2 finally told him to leae. -3ut 2 guess 2 made a
mistake" standing too close behind him. The next thing 2 knew" 2 woke up. ;e'd punched me in the
mouth and knocked me out. 2 was down maybe 2* or A* minutes.- The blow also knocked out
most of :iese's teeth. -The newspaper headline read" L;ippie slugs #udge"'- :iese said.
$be Wagner wasn't fond of freaks. Years later" he recalled the hungry kids" the lost kids"
the kids with nowhere to sleep" nowhere to reliee themseles. The kids using and selling drugs.
There were -rabble,rousers"- as Wagner called them" but he emphasiEed that they were a small
minority. -2 felt sorry for the kids lying by the roadside"- Wagner said. -;ungry. 4irty. 2 remember
a 3elgian couple@ she was crying. They had lost their kids. What could 2 doJ- Wagner said he and
his neighbors fed them. -Most of us here had two or three weeks of food on hand. We put a plank
across our drieway and put the food on it and fed the kids. $nd we took cans of soup and set up a
soup kitchen for the kids in an old building on :ake +hore 8oad.- 3ut there was also a handful of
nasties among Wagner's neighbors. Wagner remembered one 3ethel resident who charged 6&* to
tow a car out of a muddy ditch and onto the road. When one kid didn't hae the money" the
neighbor towed the car right back into the mud.
Way 5ray called it -3reakfast in 3ed for )**"***.- The recipe. 8olled oats or bulgur
wheat Goften bothH. !ook until mush. $dd peanuts for taste. !ook until the texture of goulash. %or
a side dish" stir,fry any egetables that can be scraped together. +coop the mixtures onto paper
plates. -These people were feeding literally hundreds of thousands of people with nothing"-
9rewson said. -They were taking what they could get and feeding people with it.- 5ray told the
audience that it was no miracle. -We're all feeding each other" man"- he said.
The ;og %arm had become the 5reater ;og %arm. 5ray was now leading thousands of
olunteers" sort of. Many newly recruited ;og %armers had red polyester rags" each stenciled with
a winged pig" tied around their arms. -2t got hard to tell the ;og %arm really responsible people
from the casual hang,around ;og %arm people"- 5oldstein said. -+uddenly" the only credential
was the ;og %arm. There were so many people doing so many things that the ;og %arm brassard
Garm bandH became an all,areas pass. $ egetable chopper wanted to participate" and three hours
later" he'd be running a crew. 5ray's idea was simply that eentually" eeryone in the whole
crowd would hae a brassard.
3y noon" the sun was beating down on 3ethel. ;eatstroke
became the biggest worry" een some fans were showing signs of
pneumonia from being drenched for two days. The promoters
considered turning the fire hosts on to mist the crowd" but didn't.
2t started to rain again in the afternoon. +unday's lineup again was
packed with rockers. The 3and" 7oe !ocker" !rosby" +tills M
1ash" Ten Years $fter" 7ohnny Winter and 7imi ;endrix. 2ron
3utterfly" which pioneered heay metal rock'n'roll" was also
scheduled to play. The group arried in 1ew York from a seen,
week" nationwide tour and called for a helicopter to bring it to the festial. 3ut :ang and the other
organiEers worried that 2ron 3utterfly's brand of hippieDheay,metal music might be dangerous
under the circumstances. ?mcee 7ohn Morris dispatched a nasty telegram to the group at the
airport. 2t was designed to prooke the members into deciding not to play. 3ut :ee 4orman" 2ron
3utterfly's bassist" remembers it differently. Woodstock organiEers" he said" were supposed to send
a helicopter and didn't.
-Two or three times" we checked out of our hotel and went to the heliport on AArd +treet"-
4orman said. -2t neer came. 2 guess it had more important things to do" like feed people.- The
band went home to !alifornia and" at first" members didn't mind missing the festial. -When we...
heard how big it was" we thought" L4amn" we missed it"'- 4orman said. -2t would hae been great
to play L2n,$,5adda,4a,>ida' or een to #ust say L;i.'-
3en :eon ran the boat rental business on %ilippini's =ond" popularly known as -:eon's
:ake.- The '*,year old kept watch on the boats from the porch of a shanty perched on the hillside
aboe the largest of Woodstock's skinny,dipping spots. Cn Woodstock weekend" :eon wasn't
renting boats" but he was still watching. -;e sat on the eranda" the old fool" and you could hear
him 5* feel away. L;eee,heee,heee. ;aw,haww,haww"'- %eldman said. -;e had a gigantic pair of
binoculars. Must hae been 1ay submarine spotters or something. The funny thing was that &*
days after the festial" he dropped dead. 2 talked to the undertaker" and he said he neer could wipe
the smile off the guy's face. That's the way to go" 2 guess.-
;e was &/. +he was &5. +ometime during the weekend" they came to banker !harlie =rince
with a problem. Their parents didn't know where they were. They had another problem. The boy
had taken his father's week,old &'(' Cldsmobile out for a drie. +omehow" they'd ended up at
Woodstock. They had one more problem. They couldn't find the car.
$ttendance estimates kept rising. 3y +unday" the state police figure was )5*"***" and
others rounded it off to an een half,million. 3ut 8ecord editor $l 8omm" who coordinated
coerage from a trailer behind the stage" belieed the estimates were all wrong. !iting aerial
photos" 8omm swore that Woodstock drew maybe &5*"*** people. -There were &**"***" &5*"***
there"- 8omm said. -2t was to eeryone's adantage , the police" the promoters and the reporters ,
to say there were more. 2t was to nobody's adantage to say there were less. The biggest concert
before it had 2*"*** people. GWoodstockH was still a big deal@ there were #ust not as many people.-
3ert %eldman" 3ethel's historian" also maintained that the attendance figures were wrong.
3ut he thought the figures were low. -There were /**"*** people there"- he said. -The attendance
estimate is based on aerial photos" and there were thousands of people under trees.-
The motorcycle roared up to the ?l Monaco ;otel on +unday afternoon. 3ehind the
handlebars was a bearded hippie. Cn the back was a woman screaming that she was haing a baby.
8esort owner ?lliott Tiber raced in. ;e said he was the only one on the lot who wasn't stoned" and
he relied on his instincts to help delier the baby. Then he watched as $rmy medica flew mother
and child away in a helicopter. -+he must hae been stoned"- Tiber said. -?ither that" or 7anis
7oplin was Fuite a draw. The mother Lhad olie skin and big black eyes. ;er ?nglish was kind of
broken. $ %rench accent" 2 think.'-
8alph !orwin pulled out a pack of cigarettes" lit one and started trucking down ;urd 8oad.
The 2(,year,old biker from Winterton met up +unday afternoon with a young couple. The girl
wore an $rmy fatigue shirt and a pair of black #eans. The guy begged a smoke@ !orwin flipped him
three or four. The couple walked away. !orwin looked oer his shoulder. The girl's black #eans
were missing on the back side. -Cnly the strip down the center"- !orwin said. -1o undies" and her
cheeks were hanging out.-
$ short" iolent thunderstorm struck around 5pm" triggering an early exodus from the
grounds. :eo C'Mara noticed a guy with a red beard" wearing a ast muddy poncho and a huge
smile. C'Mara sat in the mud and wondered why this guy was so thrilled in such miserable
weather. -Then 2 noticed that there were three other sets of legs under that poncho"- C'Mara said.
7erome C'!onnel started walking back to the car at sundown. The rains had continued
throughout much of the day" and C'!onnel felt whipped by the weather. ;e wasn't the only one
who really wanted to leae. -2 remember that there was a whole line of cars on both sides of the
road"- C'!onnell said. -There wasn't enough space in the middle for a car. 3ut someone had drien
down the middle anyway. There was a A,inch scrape on both sides all the way down. Must hae
been 5* cars scratched.-
$ll weekend" hippies had camped out on the ;eller 4airy farm at the intersection of 8oute
&/3 and ;appy $enue. The kids didn't ask permission before pitching camp. $nd they left
broken bottles and bent cans behind. 3ut the last straw was +unday night. -The last day" we had a
car outside" with a hose next to it that we used for washing the car"- said 3lanche ;eller. -We
woke up and found that they had cut the hose and drained all the gas out of the tank. 1ow" if only
they had asked....-
2n 7effersonille" the local congregation was upset about a kid who'd climbed into the
basement of the church. ;e'd done no damage" left no mess" but the locals were still bothered by
the intrusion. -They did find this young man in there" who had heated himself a can of beans" ate it"
and left money on the table for the gas he used.- said $delaide +chadt" wife of the 3ethel town
attorney.
While other stars flitted in and out of the
show aboard helicopters" headliner ;endrix was
roaming the crowd on foot. C'Mara remembered
;endrix stopping to talk with many of the girls.
Cthers remember the star's turn in the %reak,Cut
Tent that day. -We didn't know who he was"-
1urse +anderson said. -7ust a black man lying on
the stretcher. Then eerybody started saying"
L;ey" isn't that 7imi ;endrixJ' There was a big stir about it.- ;endrix lay on the stretcher for about
A* minutes before roadies hauled him out.
2nestigator !annock met 8aymond MiEak's father +unday night in a funeral home on ?ast
3roadway in Monticello. The senior MiEak was accompanied by the youth's uncle" a lieutenant in
the 1ew 7ersey +tate =olice. -2t Gthe tractorH ran oer his chest"- !annock said. -;is head was
twice the normal siEe. 8eally grotesFue.- The father told !annock he had refused to gie the boy
permission to go to the concert. !annock said the father blamed himself" said he should hae
locked his son up.
Two of the most ehement festial opponents showed up at the site independently
sometime +aturday or +unday. Wallkill +uperisor 7ack +chlosser and former 3ethel +uperisor
5eorge 1euhaus toured the grounds and came to identical conclusions. -2t became obious to me
nobody knew what the hell they were doing. 1obody"- +chlosser said.
!annock got to the morgue at ;orton Memorial ;ospital in Middletown later +unday
night. $ man in his mid,2*s" who had been at the festial" had died of a heroin oerdose. !annock
can't remember the man's name" and it was neer disclosed. 3ut for the second time that day"
!annock was assigned to get a body identified. !annock tracked down a friend of the dead man's
and met him at the morgue. -The kid had been autopsied already"- !annock said. 2nexplicably" the
body was not stitched up after the chest had been split open for the autopsy" according to !annock.
-The friend pulled down the sheet to far and saw it all"- he said. -The kid passed right out.-
Cutside Yasgur's farm" Monticello ;ospital nurses and doctors had set up a clinic in a
school that was closed for the summer. Monticello ;ospital's head of nursing" 5ladys 3erens"
helped delier three babies there" only miles from the festial grounds. +he was there when a
Marine on leae was brought in sometime +unday" unconscious from an oerdose. The Marine , an
&0 year,old from :ong 2sland , died in the hospital" one of three concert fatalities. -This young
Marine had been through the war without a scratch" and he ends up dying in ;orton Memorial
;ospital in Middletown" 1Y. ;ow sad"- 3erens" now /& recalled.
$rtie 9ornfeld figured the capsule he was taking was speed" 4exedrine" something to keep
him alert for the rest of the festial. ;is wife" :inda" took one too. Then he began hallucinating
that the 1ational 5uard Gwhich was not thereH was shooting into the crowd. The colors were all
melting together. -2 was dosed. 2t was my first psychedelic" and it happened at Woodstock"-
9ornfeld said. -2 neer would hae chosen that place deliberately" neer to do it at Woodstock.-
9ornfeld learned later that the capsule was powdered psilocybin mushroom" a powerful
hallucinogen. -2 decided that we needed help. 2t was &2 hours before ;endrix"- 9ornfeld said. -2
was ThoraEined out of it. That's why 2 missed ;endrix.-
The ;oliday 2nn in Monticello was one of the headFuarters for Woodstock performers. 2t
was also the Fuarters for the state police. !annock wasn't impressed at being in the company of the
rich and famous. ;e doesn't een remember their names. -We were rubbing elbows. 2 wasn't
thrilled to hae them there"- the inestigator said. -The two dead bodies were fixed in my brain.-
7ohn =innacaia didn't een feel it at first" #ust a twinge of pain on the instep of his foot late
+unday night. Then this girl started screaming" and there was all this blood. -2t must hae been
some kind of bottle"- he said. -2 couldn't een see it. My foot was in the mud.- =innacaia had been
listening to guitarist 7ohnny Winter while fetching peanut butter sandwiches for himself" his
girlfriend and his sister. 3ut the &0,year,old from 3rooklyn took one step and became a
Woodstock casualty. -This guy picked me up" threw me oer his shoulder and ran me to the
hospital GtentH. Must hae saed my life"- he said. $ helicopter flew him to Monticello ;ospital.
-They'd gien me a shot of anesthetic" but it hadn't started working. They had to start stitching.
Then this big fat nurse sat on me so 2 couldn't moe" and they started stitching. That's all 2
remember of that. Cne other thing. They called home to ask permission to operate"- =innacaia said.
-Mom freaked out.-
The Festival. Monday.
2t was about 'am" time for ;endrix" the headliner. ;e had launched into the national
anthem" a moment that would go down in the annals of rock'n'roll. -2 remember trying to fall
asleep during the L+tar,+pangled 3anner'"- said !iganer" 7erry 5arcia's buddy. -2 #ust wished he
would stop.- The party was oer.
The partners had to face a different kind of music. Woodstock >entures had obtained
letters of credit" backed by 8oberts' trust fund" from a bank on Wall +treet. 1ow" >entures was at
least 6&.A million in debt. 9ornfeld was still muddy when he walked into the banker's office. -;e
had a tank with a piranha in it" and he was feeding him meat"- 9ornfeld recalled. -The attitude
already was a battleground.- >entures was in trouble because Woodstock had been a damn,the,
expense money pit for six weeks. 9ornfeld's promotional expenses were more than 6&5*"***" /*
percent oer budget. :ang's production expenses had soared to 62 million" more than A** percent
oer budget.
>entures had paid crews oertime to do six months of work in six weeks' time. Three days
of running a priate air fleet of helicopters had also helped to bust the budget. -2t was like liing a
dream"- :ang recalled. -My idea was #ust to get it done" whateer it took. We had a ision" and it
all came true.- When it was all oer" the Wall +treet bankers demanded an accounting. The
promoters had sold about 6&.&million in tickets" but >entures had written maybe 6(**"*** in bad
checks and had other debts. $s of $ugust &'" &'('" the high,water mark of the counterculture had
cost at least 2.) million hard" capitalist dollars. Thousands of dollars more in fines" fees" claims and
lawsuits hadn't een come in yet. To top it off" there was a criminal inestigation. The attorney
general's office and the +ullian !ounty district attorney were starting to dig.
1orman 9arp" who had lost his irginity at Woodstock" also lost his fie,speed bike. 3ut
somewhere among the tons of garbage steaming on the site" 1ormal found a new &*,speed. ;e
pedaled back to Woodridge. ;is mother gae him some tearful hugs and grounded him for a
month.
$bout those two kids who brought their woes to !harlie =rince. The banker helped them
sole their problem. They found the week,old L(' Clds. 2t was parked eight miles away. 2n front of
1euhaus' home. Two state troopers were sitting on it.
:eo C'Mara walked the 2* miles back to his car. $ndrew neer found the friends who
brought him" but made some new ones and rode home with them. 5ery 9rewson had left +unday
afternoon in the >olkswagen bus he'd come in.
1orman 9arp came back and helped two >entures employees repair a broken golf cart the
day after the festial. $s payment" they gae him a stack of unused Woodstock tickets. -They said"
LThese might be aluable someday"'- 1ormal recalled.
:ittle Michael 9ennedy from +mallwood was three years old. Cn Tuesday" his dad took
him down to Yasgur's farm. -$ll 2 can remember is all the garbage"- 9ennedy said. -2t was the first
time 2 eer saw a longhair. 2 asked my dad" LWhat are theyJ' ;e said. LThat's someone who doesn't
cut their hair and cleans up garbage.'- >entures spent 6&**"*** to clean the decimated festial site.
5oldstein dug a huge hole and bulldoEed tons of shoes" bottles" papers" clothes" tents and plastic
sheets into the ground. ;e set the pile afire. The ast" smoky smolder that burned for days brought
>entures a charge of illegal burning from 3ethel officials.
Cn Tuesday" =rince's phone rang at +ullian !ounty 1ational 3ank. 2t was bank president
7oe %ersh" who told =rince that Woodstock >entures' account was 625*"*** short. 8obert's check
had bounced" and the bank checks =rince had written +aturday night to the performers weren't
coered. %ersch wanted to know. -What are you going to do about itJ- +o =rince called 8oberts.
-G8obertsH said" L2 know the pickle you're in" !harlie. 2'll be there Thursday morning.'- =rince
recalled.
3y Wednesday" the lab had analyEed the green" leafy substance submitted as eidence in
7udge :iese's court. The irate pot smokers were right. They were buying bogus reefer. -2t turned
out to be a mixture of timothy grass and birdseed"- said the #udge. -;e must hae paid 6( for the
six pounds of it.- :iese ordered the ersatE mari#uana salesman set free. -$ guy selling birdseed for
6( an ounce. What are you gonna doJ- said :iese with a chuckle. $lso on Wednesday" a
Woodstock mother came back to thank acting,midwife Tieber. Tieber #otted her name down" stuck
the matchbook into his pants and" from there" it went into history. -2 hae no idea what pants 2 was
wearing"- he said.
Thursday morning" 8oberts arried alone at the White :ake branch of the +ullian !ounty
1ational 3ank. ;e pledged 6& million in stock to the bank to coer the 625*"*** note. -2 was off
the hook"- =rince said. 8oberts" :ang" 9ornfeld and 8osenman had made personal guarantees to
pay the bills. 3ut only 8oberts' family , and his own trust fund , had enough assets to pay off
Woodstock's debt. While :ang stayed with the cleanup crews" the other three partners sFuirmed
under the fiscal glare. 8oberts' father and brother told the Wall +treet bankers that they neer had
run out on debts and they weren't going to start now. The 8oberts family paid off the debt.
3ob 4ylan had been scheduled to leae for ?urope on $ugust &5 aboard the Bueen
?liEabeth. 3ut 4ylan's son was hospitaliEed that day" and the rock legend stayed home. 4ylan left
the country in late $ugust to play at the 2sle of Wight %estial off the coast of 3ritain. Michael
:ang was in the crowd.
5ary 9rewson had another Woodstock moment back home in Tunkhannock" =a." about '*
miles away. 9rewson was sitting on the steps of the town's only hotel when he saw three
psychedelic school buses tooling oer the hill to the town's only traffic light. The lead bus" drien
by Way 5ray" blew an engine. 9rewson fetched Tunkhannock's only mechanic" who let the
=ranksters and ;og %armers use his garage. The bus crew pulled the blown engine and popped in a
spare within )5 minutes. 5ray and company were on their way to another festial in Texas.
The Times ;erald,8ecord submitted its stories for the &'(' =ulitEer =riEe competition.
?ditor $l 8omm recalls. -$ friend" years later" who was on the #udging panel" said" LYou'll neer
know how close you came to winning.' Cur coerage took a different tack from most of the
publications. 1obody had as many people at the scene as we did" about six. We had passing
coerage of the music. 8eally could hae done better with that. We were #ust eneloped with the
human indignities. The sickness. The miscarriages.
+ix weeks after the festial" 8osenman and 8oberts bought out :ang and 9ornfeld for
6A&"2)* each. :ang" 9ornfeld" 8osenman and 8oberts , the four young men who had produced
and promoted Woodstock , were separated for more than 2* years by Woodstock's fallout.
8osenman and 8oberts stayed best friends. 3ut they charged for years that :ang and 9ornfeld" but
especially :ang" grabbed all the attention immediately after the eent. %or instance" 8osenman and
8oberts weren't in the moie at all. 9ornfeld was seen a couple of times" but :ang was
featured prominently" riding his motorcycle and being interiewed. -We were so busy that 2 think
the credit was directed toward Michael G:angH"- 8osenman said in &'0'. -Years later" people
would ask" LWere you inoled in that thing Mike :ang didJ' You hae to be in this business a
long time to know how aluable it is to be famous. 2 think Michael and $rtie knew that. We didn't
hae any idea.
:ang said in &'0' that he" more than anyone is probably responsible for the ill will. -7ohn
and 7oel were from a different world. They were outsiders" and they didn't understand"- :ang said.
-2 didn't hae time to acclimate them. 2'm not the most communicatie person in the world. 2 was
kind of a wise guy.- 9ornfeld" upon reflection" figures it's not really important who did what.
-With all the attention grabbing that's gone on oer the years" my reality is that there are a lot of
more important things"- 9ornfeld said. -:ook" no one person produced Woodstock@ the generation
produced Woodstock. $nd look at it emanate now.-
Woodstock had 5"&(2 medical cases" according to a state ;ealth 4epartment report
released Cctober )" &'('. The report listed /'/ documented instances of drug abuse. 1o births
were recorded in the festial medical tent" but 4r. $bruEEi told the ;ealth 4epartment there were
eight miscarriages. The report lists two deaths by drug oerdose and the death of 8aymond MiEak
in the tractor accident. 2n late fall" a +ullian !ounty grand #ury declared that there wasn't enough
eidence to indict anyone for anything. The drier of the tractor was neer identified and was not
charged. $nother inestigation by the state attorney general's office ended in early &'/* with
Woodstock >entures haing to make refunds on &2"*** to &0"*** tickets. The tickets were sold to
people who were not able to attend because the roads were closed.
7ohn =innaaia was considered &,$ by his draft board when he walked onto Yasgur's farm.
$fter he stepped on the bottle and it slashed the tendon in his right foot" he was classified &,Y for a
temporary disability. $fter four months on crutches" =innaaia got married" putting him een
lower on the draft list. =innaaia stayed out of the $rmy but still bears a road map of scars on his
foot. ;e calls it his -Woodstock wound.- -2 can't walk oer broken glass een with shoes on. 2 #ust
cringe at the sound"- says =innaaia.
The owner of the only stereo store in Middletown became a hippie of sorts. -2 went from
one of my to one of them"- $llan Markoff said. Markoff always regretted he didn't stay at
Woodstock" but he explains it this way. -There was no place to hang out. 2'm not a close,to,the,
earth indiidual. 2'm a 8itE !arlton type of indiidual" and there were no luxury places to stay. 2
can't lie in the rain and the mud. Markoff" now 5)" would also go full tilt into the rock'n'roll
business" supplying eFuipment for a 8olling +tones tour in the early L/*s. ;e rigged a massie
sound system in former 3eatle 5eorge ;arrison's hotel room at the =laEa in 1ew York !ity.
;arrison was promptly eicted from the hotel.
Two years after Woodstock" fence installer 4aniel +anabria discoered that he was sort of a
star. -Woodstock. The Moie- was out. ;e was in it. -3eing hams" we'd #ump in front of the
camera at any opportunity"- +anabria said. -2t was the greatest time of our life. We bonded as
children@ we bonded as men.-
The Festival. Wrap <p.
$fter Woodstock" Way 5ray wanted to keep the energy going. ;e returned to the ;og
%arm commune" where he discoered -eery hippie in the world had moed to our house.- 5ray
got a few thousand dollars from Warner 3rothers to finance a proposed moie" -Medicine 3all
!araan.- The idea was to round up some Merry =ranksters and ;og %armers" trael across the
country in a bus and film the trip. The moie was neer released. +omehow" the group ended up in
?ngland. Throughout the early and mid L/*s" they traeled to &A countries" including Turkey" 2ndia
and 1epal" distributing free food and medical supplies along the way.
9rassner and his fellow Yippies tried to build on Woodstock. They helped put on a -=ow
Wow +ymposium- at ;og %arm headFuarters in 1ew Mexico. 3ut in 4ecember came
Woodstock's bad twin" $ltamont" where the ;ell's $ngels worked security , and some stomped
members of the audience. 2n &'/*" the trial of the !hicago +een began" and the Yippies focused
their energy and money on freeing the defendants. 9rassner and 9en 9esey decided to collaborate
on -The Whole ?arth !atalogue +upplement"- the successor to the post,hippie bible" -The Whole
?arth !atalogue.- 2n the early /*'s" the entire radical community began to dissole as its members
went their separate ways. 9rassner returned to 1ew York" where he continued to perform and
publish a newsletter. 2n &'/)" 9rassner moed to >enice" !alifornia" to a house by the ocean a
block from actor 4ennis ;opper's house.
Max Yasgur toured 2srael about two years after the concert and had the opportunity to meet
2srael's first prime minister" 4aid 3en,5urion. 3en,5urion went down the receiing line"
speaking to each guest. -Max said to 3en,5urion" L2'm Max Yasgur of 3ethel"' and 3en,5urion
shakes his hand and says" LCh yeah" that's where Woodstock was" wasn't itJ- said :iberty's :ou
1ewman" a friend of Yasgur's until the dairy farmer's death of a heart attach in &'/A.
Yasgur's farm was subdiided and sold by his widow" Miriam. Most of that land is still
pasture" fodder for the cattle herd of 3ud 8ussel" who owns the old Yasgur farmhouse in 3ethel.
$s Woodstock began to fade into legend in the early L/*s" the Town of Wallkill was tagged
as the hometown of the uptight" much to the consternation of Wallkill +uperisor +chlosser.
Wallkill was only trying to protect itself from a horde it was not prepared to handle" he said.
3esides" added +chlosser" who retired from politics in &'0)" the promoters lied to the town" and
that's neer mentioned in Woodstock lore. -That is what bugs me about this whole thing"-
+chlosser said in &'0'. -They hae been allowed to perpetuate that myth for 2* years..-
Woodstock's medical director" 4r. William -8ock 4oc- $bruEEi" went on to specialiEe in
the medicine of drug abuse. 4rugs brought $bruEEi prominence" but they also proided the means
for his downfall. ;e was charged in &'/) with anesthetiEing female patients and molesting them
while they were unconscious. Two years later" minutes before he was to go to trial" he pleaded
guilty to sexual abuse. $bruEEi's saga didn't end there. The state's highest court ruled that a police
officer iolated $bruEEi's rights when he watched the doctor abuse his patients through an
examination window. $bruEEi neer sered his prison sentence" but he did lose his license to
practice medicine in 1ew York. ;e has since dropped out of sight and can not be located. To this
day" $bruEEi has his supporters" including 1urse +anderson. -;e was framed"- said the nurse" who
retired in &'0* and left Middletown.
%or the next decade" Woodstock was irtually a cliche for all that was goofy about the L(*s.
3y &'0*" the world had moed on. 8osenman and 8oberts were still in enture capital" but instead
of funding concerts" they were dismantling conglomerates and handling mergers. -The transactions
that we were inoled in would hae been etoed if they'd known about Woodstock"- 8osenman
said. -2t wasn't exactly broadcast in our
resumes.
9ornfeld was the one who was able
to use his Woodstock credentials. ;e
remained in the music business" promoting
rock acts and albums. ;e worked with 3ruce
+pringsteen and Tracy !hapman. :ang too"
stayed in music. ;is title as Woodstock's producer gae him a certain cachet with superstars of the
business. :ang signed a :ong 2sland singer named 3illy 7oel to his first record contract. ;e was
7oe !ocker's manager. 3ut een :ang downplayed Woodstock. -2 didn't talk about it for years"- he
said.
!ountry 7oe figures his fate was sealed right after he shouted. -5imme an %. $fter the
moie came out" that's all 2 was known for"- Mc4onald said. -2ts pretty hard to top the L%ish
!heer.' 2 don't know if 2 can do that.' The %ish !heer was Mc4onald's improised call,and,
response that began with L5imme and %' and concluded with -What's that spellJ G?xpletieKH-
Mc4onald's musical career went from Woodstock into a slide. 3y the L0*s" !ountry 7oe said he'd
had it with the music business. -2 won't make another record again unless it seems commercially
iable"- he said in &'0'. -2 #ust don't hae the burning desire to make a record that nobody wants to
hear. You spend a year to do it" and it doesn't sell more than &"*** copies. That's not cost,effectie.
Music is something that needs to be heard.- Mc4onald said the problem was he was still writing
-sociopolitical and anti,war- songs. -Today" politics and war isn't good box office"- he added.
When Mc4onald tours" it's for a handful of fans at tiny folk clubs. ;e might een turn up at the
occasional L(*s reial show" but only if the price is right. -2 don't like doing these nostalgia
things"- he said" -but when people offer me the right amount of money" 2'll do it. 2 wouldn't een
write a story about myself. 2 wouldn't waste my time.- 3y &''&" the year he recorded an acoustic
album" -+uperstitious 3lues"- !ountry 7oe had changed his tune. 2n &'')" he appeared in a =epsi
commercial featuring a Woodstock reunion for yuppies.
2n $ugust &'0&" 1ormal 9arp heard that someone was selling a bunch of unused
Woodstock tickets for 6'"***. ;e went home" tore his house apart and found A& tickets. Then" he
bought seeral safes for 6&)"*** from a family friend" $l 9ross" who had leased them to
Woodstock >entures. 9ross had neer opened the safes. 2nside" 9arp found &5*"*** unused
tickets" plus the original of 7imi ;endrix's signed contract and assorted Woodstock T,shirts" hats
and #ackets. That year" 1orman 9arp placed ads in national magaEines and sold A*"*** tickets at
62'"'5 each" plus 62 for postage and handling. ;e claims to hae netted nearly 6& million from the
sales.
$ guy named :ouis 1icky from 3rooklyn bought about )* acres from the widow Yasgur at
the intersection of ;urd 8oad and West +hore 4rie in 3ethel. $ couple of tons of concrete , the
footings for the main stage at Woodstock , were tumbled off in the brush in the northeast corner.
1icky didn't really worry too much about the history he'd bought. ;e #ust wanted to run a few
horses" but a bout with cancer caused him to abandon the plan. Twice" the town put up a sign
identifying 1icky's land as the site of the concert. Twice" the sign was stolen.
%or years" no one celebrated Woodstock's anniersary" and $ugusts came and went without
notice. =eople who wanted to stop by Yasgur's farm and reminisce weren't always sure they were
at the right place.
2n the late L/*s" a ragtag bunch started celebrating eery $ugust with a three,day party.
$round &'/0" a welder named Wayne +award came out for the party. -$nd it was" like" super,
Fuiet"- he recalled. -There'd be A* people there" at most. $nd that was in the middle of the night.
Then in &'0)" +award started" pretty much alone" to build the world's only monument to the eent.
2t's a 5 &D2 ton marker made of cast iron and concrete@ landowner :ouis 1icky paid 6(5* for
concrete and casting the iron. Cnce the marker went up" the site became a kind of counterculture
shrine. >isitors started showing up randomly" staying for a few minutes" then leaing.
3eginning in &'05" this writer became one of that ragtag group" celebrating the Woodstock
festial with a small group that eentually became a close,knit family. Many of us had attended the
original festial and excitedly shared the stories of the eent with the group at each gathering.
Cthers of us were simply intrigued by the power of the festial and came to find answers for our
lies. $s for myself" 2 was about to turn 5 years old in $ugust &'('" and could not hae attended
the festial" as my parents lied in 1orth !arolina and did not particularly subscribe to the
counterculture lifestyle. My mother was" howeer" from 1ew York state and had family ties to the
;udson area. +he also operated a music store in 1! that gae me my first taste of what longhairs
were like. The store also gae me a good dose of what music was saying in the late L(*s and early
L/*s" and connected me to the politico of the >ietnam war. $s time wore on" 2 had all but forgotten
about that time of my life. Then 2 began working as a 47 for an oldies radio station. They were
looking for someone to produce a specialty show as a weekend special. 2 became that person"
deling into my own memories to recall the sounds of the L(*s and L/*s. The year was &'0A" and
L(*s rock'n'roll shows were something of a rarity. The show became an instant success with my
audience" and sered to remind me that 2 really missed the music of my childhood. $fter moing to
the !harlotte area in &'0)" 2 decided to find out more about Woodstock. ;aing learned where the
festial was held" 2 wound up isiting what 2 thought was the original site in 1oember L0). 2t was
snowing so fiercely that 2 missed the original site and droe on to what 2 thought was the correct
place. :ater 2 learned that 2 had been walking around the 8einshagen's farm in the snow... 2'm sure
with the eeryone in the main farmhouse thinking 2 was #ust another nut case.
:ater is when 2 was fortunate enough to meet and become friends with Wayne +award" his
brother Whitey" Tom and Maryann 3radley" 8ick Marceau Gand later his wife" ;eatherH" 9ein
3ond" Tom -The !ommander- !onnelly" 3ill :ubinsky Gof Woodstock %estial fameH" Marcia
Weiss G3ill's spouseH" !hris Maget" 3ob Meringher" and a host of others that make up that ery rag
tag group mentioned in the Times ;erald,8ecord. Wayne was right when he said that in the
beginning it was ery Fuiet. You could be on the field during the original festial dates and see
people drie to the monument to reflect. <sually people only stayed a few moments to take
pictures. Cthers chose to stay a little longer and talk with the people there. 3ut at night" the field
had a magic all its own. 2 can remember many times only our group of &* or so would be there"
playing the Woodstock soundtrack and gaEing up at the clear midnight sky. 2t was so dark there
that" on a clear night" you could see the milky way and all the surrounding stars. $ true experience.
%or me" learning about Woodstock has been a good experience. !oming to understand the
arious aspects of the concert... and actually experiencing the people that made it happen" has
changed my life. The ery fact that people refuse to let the spirit of Woodstock die exemplifies the
kindness of the human spirit. 2t shows that people still care" are willing to help total strangers in
need" and that we can gie loe when it is needed most. 2n these turbulent times of the &''*s and
beyond" it is wholly satisfying to know that something that happened more than 25 years ago can
still gie hope to the future. 2" for one" am determined to share the loe" compassion and peace
Woodstock has taught me.
$nd the magic continues...

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