I was not fortunate enough to be around when the original Woodstock occurred in 1969. BUT I did watch Woodstock ’94 on MTV.
I know, I know. Not the same thing. There is literally no way the original Woodstock could be recreated. It helped define the entire era of music going into the 1970s. Today marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and a lucky few will get to visit the Bethel Woods Center for a whole set of events going through this weekend. The Bethel Woods Center is built on the original site of the legendary show.
Ringo Starr will perform, as will Arlo Guthrie, John Fogerty, Doobie Brothers, and Santana. This is not a festival, however. Each of these shows requires separate tickets, and those can set you back more than a THOUSAND dollars each.
SO. How do the two Woodstocks compare? Before we get into THAT, let it be known that Woodstock ’99 doesn’t count. That was a mess and everyone knows it. Anything with Limp Biskit involved should be erased from history…
The ORIGINAL Woodstock took place on a 600-acre dairy farm in New York and even with the amazing line up they expected less than 50,000 people to show up. What they got was a HUGE influx of people that wanted to experience 3 days of “Peace, Love, and Music”. The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Who, Janis Joplin… Iconic moments involving mud, hippies, drugs, and of course, Hendrix performing the National Anthem.
The list of bands that performed that weekend was epic. Over 400,000 people showed up. Causing traffic jams, and a call to the nearby Air Force Base to help with crowd control. Tickets, by the way, were $7.00.
Let’s compare THAT to 1994. Billed as “Two More Days Of Peace And Music” with tickets starting at $135.00 each. Which sadly seems oddly affordable by today’s standard. They sold 160,00 tickets, but somehow 550,000 people showed up to a farm in Saugerties, New York. Over 70 miles from the original venue. Big names from the ’90s were there such as Metallica, Green Day, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. But more importantly, original Woodstock performers like Aerosmith, Crosby Stills & Nash, Santana, and Joe Cocker performed.
Sadly, there will be no 50th-anniversary show. Not for a lack of trying. Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang had announced a lineup of modern acts with one or two originals but it was pretty much doomed from the get-go when the festival could not get any of the required permits and artists began pulling their support.