demolish the myth of Woodstock
The Grateful Dead set has been described by drummer Mickey Hart as “very terrible”. The stage collapses, the band face a sporadic electrocution, and they end their set with a 50 minute version of Turn On Your Love Light. Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar said he “didn’t like” Woodstock and was “almost sorry” to be there. Afterwards, Shankar admitted that Woodstock was a “big event”, but said the musical mood was completely wrong. There was too much drug (the three incense sticks at Shankar’s feet offered a paltry defense to the clouds of marijuana smoke in the air). In addition, the rain destroyed his instruments. He couldn’t get his sitar to sound decent for a month afterward. Alla Rakha’s drum cracked as it dried.
John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival said by the time his band performed in the wee hours of Sunday morning, the audience was made up of “half a million people asleep.” “It was kind of like a painting of a scene from Dante, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered in mud,” he said. During The Who’s set hours later, political activist Abbie Hoffman ran onto the stage and yelled into a microphone. Pete Townshend hit Hoffman with his guitar.
Speaking to reporter Howard Smith about the June 1970 skirmish, Townshend admitted it was “not a particularly pleasant incident.” Even then, Townshend did not see Woodstock as the “great and historic” moment in which he was described.
“In a country that has such a huge population, it doesn’t seem so amazing to me that when you put together some of the best rock music there is in the country, and the best publicity I have ever seen for anyone. what a spectacle on earth, that you get half a million kids, ”the guitarist said. “I don’t think it’s that amazing. It’s just what America does.
Townshend’s comments go to the heart of the insanity of the Woodstock myth. Although the organizers lost around $ 1 million, they were a well-connected group who pressed the right buttons to build the myth.
Woodstock’s organization is instructive. In March 1968, two young businessmen called John Roberts and Joel Rosenman ran ads in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times saying, “Young men with unlimited capital looking for investment opportunities and money. legitimate business proposals. Artie Kornfeld and Mike Lang, who wanted to organize a festival, came forward. The four men formed a partnership and arranged Woodstock in just seven months. They also had a spectacular fight just weeks after the festival ended. So far from being the organic gathering of counter-cultural tribes in a pastoral paradise one might suppose, Woodstock was about as corporate as it gets. Businessmen. Unlimited capital. Investment opportunities. Commercial proposals. The Wall Street Journal. It was rock ‘n’ roll meets Dragons’ Den.