50 years ago, a certain farm got pretty crazy.
It was exactly 50 years ago on a farm in Bethel, New York (located about 40 miles outside of Woodstock), that much of the next half century of music was set on its course. This also inspired the setting for open-air music festivals all over the world like the UK’s Glastonbury Festival, which began the following year.
Woodstock also lined up what are still some of the most famous names in rock history like Jimi Hendrix, Joan Bias, Carlos Santana, The Who, Janis Joplin, and marking only their second performance together – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
“The lead-up to Woodstock was kind of interesting. We knew that we were going to play, but when we committed to doing it, there were supposed like 25,000 people that were going to be there,” said Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. “Then two weeks before there was a 100,000 people that were going to be there, then a week before there were 250,000 that were going to be there and then the day of the show – a lot of people.”
And among that lot of people (450,000 people to be exact), was future documentary-maker Mick Richards. He didn’t think much about his time there until years later when his teenage son asked him about the festival. That started Mick on a 27-year journey of research leading to his new documentary called “Creating Woodstock”.
“Our teenage son came home from high school and said to me, ‘Dad, you were at Woodstock. What was it about?'” said Creating Woodstock Director Mick Richards. “Woodstock was very uneventful for me so I started doing some research. I picked up John Roberts and Joel Rosenman’s book, ‘Young Men with Unlimited Capital’, and as I read through it I realized what an intriguing story it was and it prompted me to start doing more and more research on it.”
Richards says a lot of people across the country thought it was a disaster and that the event was completely unplanned. Creating Woodstock completely debunks that thought.
While the festival was planned to be significantly smaller than the hundreds of thousands who actually turned up, the hundreds of festivals which take place worldwide every summer all these years later still owe this pioneering event and its organizers a debt of gratitude.