In the summer of 1969, what was supposed to be a small music festival turned out to be a historical, once-in-a-lifetime event. Nearly half a million people looking for a good time flocked to a dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for four straight days in August. Check out these rare photos from Woodstock you surely won’t want to miss.
Woodstock was known for attracting a large demographic of people, but a big majority of them were hippies, and hippies and flowers go hand in hand. This young lady looks just radiant as she cuddles with her boyfriend at this sunset music festival, of course with a daisy in hand, because if a daisy doesn’t scream 1969, we don’t know what does!
To the untrained eye this may look like a menagerie of homeless people hanging out in a lot, but to someone who understands the Woodstock lifestyle, they’re just groovy festival goers. These people left traditional luxuries at the door to indulge in living closer to nature for the three-day concert. They all look calm and cool as they lounged on the lawns and cars of some unsuspecting owners. Perhaps they were waiting for the next music set to come on or just enjoying some chilled out free time.
Melanie Safka got the opportunity to play at Woodstock when The Incredible String Band refused to play in the rain. It was said that Safka was so nervous playing in front of such a large crowd, that you could hear the anxiety in her voice! But we don’t blame her, after all, she was one of only three women who performed at the festival. The inspiration for her first hit song, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain), was inspired by the audience lighting candles during her set which was short but sweet.
Although the all-American singer is no longer with us, Janis Joplin remains in our hearts and memories as one of the coolest and most talented women ever! She was definitely one to march to beat of her own drummer, and the world saw that first hand during Woodstock. Joplin performed her hit song Piece of My Heart and a handful of others on the second day of the music festival. Joplin was paid a cool $7,500 to bring her talents to the main stage of Woodstock.
Lay Back And Relax
People were known to sleep in unusual spots during Woodstock, but this guy’s nap situation takes the cake for most original. Sleeping in between two cars may not seem like the safest option, but we guess it worked for this sleepy cowboy. Perhaps he wanted some time to chill out in between the various activities of the music festival. Let’s just all hope that neither owners of these cars came back because they may not have been to happy about this.
Another Woodstock great to take the stage was Tim Hardin, who performed If I Were a Carpenter during the first day of the music festival. All the legendary star needed was a guitar and his voice to make history on the main stage, but he did have the help of his band as well. For Hardin’s amazing performance he was paid a whopping $2,000, which may not sound like a lot, but in 1969 it was a hefty sum. Hardin, unfortunately, passed away in 198o after he was found on the floor of his Hollywood apartment following a lethal drug overdose.
Sri Swami Satchidananda
Sri Swami Satchidananda gave the opening speech at Woodstock, addressing more than 500,000 people with his empowering message. The Woodstock guru talked about the war as well as sound energy and the power of music. Satchidananda’s address started out with, “My Beloved Brothers and Sisters” we can just feel the vibes! He continued, “Music is a celestial sound, and it is the sound that controls the whole universe, not atomic vibrations. Sound energy, sound power, is much, much greater than any other power in this world. And, one thing I would very much wish you all to remember is that with sound, we can make—and at the same time, break.”
On Sunday, August 17, the last day of the concert, this far-out blues singer rocked out at the Woodstock music festival. He was one of 32 acts that performed over the four-day festival. Immediately after Cocker’s set, a thunderstorm disrupted the festival’s events for several hours. Cocker may not have been the highest paid of the festival only bringing in $1,375, but hey, it was still something! On another note, We’re really head over heels for his vintage tie-dye t-shirt!
Woodstock attracted a fair amount of spiritual people who believed that love was the only religion man needed, along with the help of tarot cards and psychic readings. Here we can see a woman reading another girl’s palm with tarot cards set on a tree trunk. While we can’t confirm if this psychic was legit, she certainly looks the part with her paisley dress and discerning stare. Also, the girl getting her palm read looks like she received some good news judging from the smile on her face.
We don’t know what’s more impressive – that hoard of people leaving the festival or this couple that has managed to sleep through that. Tough call! On the bright side we can see that the couple was so committed to being together that they wouldn’t let go even it meant being left behind. Let’s hope that their friends waited up for them, because it would have been a real shocker to wake up to a deserted Woodstock.
It was common practice during the music festival for participants to share things with each other whether that was food, water, clothing, or whatever else was needed. This incredible rare photo captures some of the lovely ladies of Woodstock preparing a meal for the rest of the Woodstock community. This aspect of sharing and taking care of one another was one of the main pillars of what the festival stood for. It looks to us like they were making some kind of a big salad, or they were chopping up vegetables for a stew. So sweet!
In case you weren’t already aware, Woodstock was held on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in the town of Bethel, New York, where there were plenty of animals, and the participants took full advantage of this. These resourceful ravers must have been in the mood for a dairy beverage because they decided to milk this cow to quench their thirsts. This turned into quite the spectacle as people gathered around to watch this man work his magic and retrieve some fresh farm milk.
In the spirit of helping a friend in need, these two women can be seen giving medical care to participants who felt ill. Although, even with professional nurses on staff, there were still many injuries recorded during the festival. There were even, unfortunately, two deaths during the epic concert. One participant passed away from a heroin overdose and another by being run over by a tractor while sleeping. On the bright side, where there is death, there is also life, as there were two births recorded during Woodstock.
Well, this father may have just won the award for the coolest dad ever! After all, there’s nothing like hanging out with your parents at Woodstock. Not only did this dad bring his kin along with him for the epic ride that was Woodstock, but he also took them on what appears to be a psychedelic school bus. The radical and colorful bus even matched the boys’ tie-dye shirts. During what looks like to have been a quick break in between activities, the family quenched their thirst with some soda. Check out that vintage 7-Up can!
Held on a 600-acre dairy farm, Woodstock was never supposed to be that big of an event, and no one imagined that over 500,000 people would show up! A music festival of this magnitude has yet to be recreated since that magical time. For those of you who have ever wondered what it half a million people together looks like, here you go! Only 100,000 Woodstock tickets were sold before the concert meaning 400,00 just showed up without a ticket in hand. And to think this all went down on a small dairy farm.
If you were wondering how the Woodstock participants cleaned up over the three-day concert, this is how! Taking a shower looked more like a brief hose down by a pipe protruding from the ground. While this may not have been the most luxurious method, it must have done the job. Then again, that may explain why the people in most of the photos look a tad grungy and disheveled. We guess they were having so much fun that being a little dirty didn’t bother them much.
While the thought of everything being provided by one another seemed great, the people running the festival needed to bring in medial supplies from outside sources via a helicopter. Here you can see a medical crew carrying supplies to the ground from a helicopter. As you can imagine with 500,000 guests present, there were quite a lot of medical emergencies that needed tending to with something more than a t-shirt as a bandage and vodka as antibacterial. Thank goodness for modern medicine!
When Life Gives You Instruments, Make Music!
While there was an all-star set of entertainment on the stages of Woodstock, there were moments when the stages were empty which is when participants made their own fun. Here you can see creative and artistic participants playing their own instruments for the sheer entertainment of the friends around them. We’re no musical experts, but it looks like they’re really getting down and so are the people around them. That just goes to show that when life gives you instruments make music!
Fresh Off The Press
Once upon a time, in an era without iPhones, Androids, Instagram, or Twitter, people spread news through newspapers and contacted each other on land line phones. Here you can see Woodstock participants using pay phones to let their parents or loved ones know they’re alive, and journalists writing what they saw happening at the festival. The reporters were busy day and night with all of the shenanigans going on so they were constantly writing stories that made front page news. We guess some of the stories didn’t make it judging by all the papers on the ground
Iconic Bubble Blower
This famous Woodstock photograph is of a woman named Jackie Barg, who was sitting on the ground blowing bubbles enjoying her own company. Despite Woodstock being known for bringing people together, Bargs’s is the lone face we see in the picture, asides for the random people scattered around her. The image of Barg who was essentially alone with her bubble wand in a crowd of 500,000 people, became the perfect example of the free-spirited demeanor of that alternative time.
Twist And Squeeze
This couple may look like they’re playing a muddy game of tug-of-war but what they’re really doing is trying to get the water out of their blanket. They decided that team work was the best way to go about drying their blanket, so they twisted it tightly between them, which we hope worked. Multitasking was also involved here as the mister on the left was smoking a cigarette at the same time. Priorities, people! It’s all about priorities.
Reading In The Sky
There’s so much going on in this photo, but the one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is this daredevil on his perch, who was probably the highest one at the festival. The first question that comes to our mind is how in tarnation did he get up there? The second is how did he manage to stay up there while reading a book? Perhaps he was really a trapeze artist taking a break to attend the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. After all, Woodstock was an adult playground so seeing that kind of behavior isn’t that surprising.
Considering art was one of the main focal points of Woodstock, it only makes sense that they decorated with unique and ornate tapestries and tents. Here you can see youngsters milling around a common area filled with beautiful embellished yellow tarps. The tapestries you can see attached to the yellow tarps were a gorgeous coral coral embellished with small mirrored circles and hand sewed embroidery. Who wouldn’t love having one of these masterpieces hanging in their home or apartment?
It seems like a crucial part of a successful Woodstock experience would have included having a very laid back attitude when it came to sleeping arrangements. Considering the insane amount of people that attended the festival, finding an optimal sleeping arrangement was on a take what you could basis. This Woodstock participant was catching some zzz’s in true biker fashion on the body of his motorcycle. We hope it was his at least, or else that would have resulted in a really rude awakening.
We get that people wanted to attend to Woodstock so badly, but was it really worth sleeping in a cemetery with the dead? We think not! While it looks like they have a good set up with their tents and other camping essentials, we hope that they were at least alternating with others. On the other hand, sleeping in a graveyard may have added to the far out effect of the concert. Who knows what they must have seen during those nights on the farm?
This beautifully natural couple perfectly illustrates the fashion at Woodstock. While at the festival many people felt comfortable experimenting with different colors and textures of clothing. Besides the flowing clothes and long necklaces, people let their hair take on any natural shape and style. Many long beards and untamed manes could be seen at the festival. The groovy trends definitely made a statement. Festival goers wanted to exude a sense of freedom and liberation in everything they wore.
Jimi Hendrix’s powerful and unique performance at Woodstock stunned the crowd. Interestingly, the band Hendrix played with at Woodstock was only temporary. At the last minute, he had to assemble a group which he called, Gypsy Suns and Rainbows. The band that he had played with in the past broke up before the big festival. The new band, Gypsy Suns and Rainbows, had never played for a large crowd before! They only played a few more times together after Woodstock ended.
The crowd was a source of a lot of tension before and during the Woodstock festival. Before the event, it was a great struggle to find a venue that could fit the number of people expected and please the local residents of the area. Originally, the Woodstock festival was meant to take place in Woodstock, New York until the local residents opposed it. Once a venue was secured in Wallkill, New York, there was still an issue of crowd size. The festival was supposed to host no more than 50,000 people. 400,000 people ended up attending!
The music at the festival inspired lots of people in attendance to make music of their own. Festival goers found and made instruments out of pretty much anything. Some people brought drums along while others found barrels to use as drums. Others added to the music with flutes that they brought from home. Either way, people made music together. Many of the people who made music together did not know each other before, but anyone felt like they could join in.
Rain or Shine
During the four-day festival, the weather ranged from sunny and bright to rainy and dark. Many festival goers did not seem to mind the mud at all. Lots of hippies just threw off their shoes and soaked their toes in the soft dirt. As you can see from the photo below, the four people relaxing together in the rain are happy to be damp and shoeless. While some decided to wear raincoats, many others danced in the rain without any protection.
Sharing is Caring
Sharing was a huge part of the culture of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Unfortunately, there was a huge food shortage at the festival because the number of people that attended exceeded the number of people that were expected. Lots of people attending did not want to leave their spot on the field to find food. Even though it was hard to find food, many people banded together to help feed the festival goers. As you can see below, people made little huts and came together to share food.
Much of the style from the Woodstock festival influenced fashion trends in the future. The photo below showcases a beautiful woman accessorizing her outfit with many unique elements. At first glance, her eyes completely draw you in because of the way she strategically placed sequins around her eyes. Her floppy hat and headband could definitely be seen today at a Coachella festival. On top of it all, her layered thick beaded necklaces add tremendously to her thoughtful outfit choices. It would not be surprising to see those necklaces in stores nowadays.
After an incredible four days jamming out to the best music and dancing around in the grass, it was finally time to leave. It must have been a big let down after an amazing and uplifting experience. From the look on the face of the man in the photo, it seems people were sad to leave. Then again, after four days with showering and proper hygiene, many people may have also been ready to get cleaned up again and head back into civilization.
Santana and his band brought a Latin rock fusion vibe to the music festival which audiences went crazy for! What’s even more, is that his drummer Michael Shrieve was only 20 years old, making him the youngest musician to play at the festival. But Woodstock may not have been the place for youngsters considering all the substances that were on hand. During an interview with Rolling Stone in 1989, Santana admitted to his share of fun saying. “So I said, ‘Hey, I think I’ll take some psychedelics, and by the time I’m coming down, it’ll be time to go onstage and I’ll feel fine.’ But when I was peaking around two o’clock, somebody said, ‘If you don’t go right now, you’re not gonna go on.'”
So many different types of people came together for the Woodstock festival. Today it is known as one of the greatest rock festivals ever! Many say that the festival influenced an entire generation, specifically the baby boomer generation, and had a huge cultural impact. The festival was meant to establish a culture of peace and unify people. Many people who attended the famous festival feel that that Woodstock accomplished just that. Strangers unified and lived as one for four days.
Unlimited Tye-Dye Supply!
Following its prevalence at Woodstock, tie-dye became more then a fashion trend it was a lifestyle choice — specifically one that involved free love, feel good herbs, and music parents hated. Like Birkenstocks, tie-dye was a must have fashion staple during Woodstock and if someone forgot theirs at home, there were stands selling all different kinds of swirled rainbow items. To be honest, there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to get our hands on an authentic tie-dyed tee from Woodstock.
People gathered in droves of the hundreds of thousands for Woodstock and part of the reason was because of the star-studded musical lineup. Richie Havens opened the Woodstock festival on Friday, August 15, 1969, taking the stage for a whole two hours from 5:07 pm until 7:00 pm. The singer was also paid a pretty penny making a total of six thousand dollars for his one performance. People went crazy for the folk singer, and his stint at the festival made him even more famous. When Havens passed away in 2013, his ashes were scattered across the Woodstock site.
Home Of The Brave
If the show Fashion Police was around in 1969, they would have had a ball with this outfit! But after all, what would Woodstock have been without questionable fashion and life choices? While we love this Woodstock participant’s patriotic pants, we equally love his stylish shades and groovy pose. His look strikes the perfect balance of trendy and eccentric. Whether he supported the war or not, it’s clear that he loved the good ole U.S.A and isn’t that all that really matters?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but we still wish this one could talk. We’re almost certain this conversation was light-hearted and playful, but judging by the craziness of Woodstock, maybe this guy was asking, “are there any hotels near me?” With his sweet wheels and groovy leather vest, he looked ready to ride off into the sunset hopefully with this lovely lady by his side. Or should we say, on the back of his bike.
Hippies On The Roof
This psychedelic van is giving us serious Woodstock FOMO! It looks like these hippies on the roof were trying to get a better view of whatever was happening on stage, or just needed a comfy place to sit. While the safety of this seating arrangement seems questionable, especially being that two of the woman were standing, we’re sure that they had everything under control. Either way, it seems that these participants had hands down the best seats on the farm!
Everyone hail the almighty rain makers! While some may call what these brave participants exhibited as ‘playing in the rain,’ what they were really doing was an ancient tribal rain dance, and clearly it worked! So scoff and chuckle if you like but these are the people to thank for cooling down those unbearably hot August afternoons. Let’s face it, there’s nothing more fun than chanting and dancing with your friends for a good cause and in this case, the cause was rain.
Sly And The Family Stone
When the legendary mixed race and gender band took the stage at Woodstock on the second day of the festival, they delivered an out-of-sight performance. Bringing the funk element to the concert, they performed their hit song Stand! Along with other of their hits during a one hour set in the early morning hours on Saturday, August 16, 1969. It’s said that their performance was one of the best shows of the festival, which makes sense considering they were paid good money to perform. $7,000, that is!
Considering Woodstock was held on a farm, there was no shortage of animals to look at and play with, which was a major attraction for participants. This hippie girl decided to climb to the top of this lashed structure to get a better look at baby chicks in a coop during the festival. I mean, let’s face it, who wouldn’t go to great lengths just to get an eyeful of fluffy yellow winged creatures? All in all, this stunt made for a phenomenal photo.
Let’s face it, Woodstock wasn’t all Daisies and Kumbaya circles as there was a fair share of risk involved. Even getting in and out of the farm where the festival was held proved to be extremely dangerous. In this photo you can see a young man who was injured after falling off of a truck. Due to the massive traffic on the way to the festival, the ambulance couldn’t get through, but luckily the man had the help of these good samaritans in true Woodstock fashion.
Follow The Groovy Way
In life, there are so many roads to choose from, and here it looks like both paths led to good places. With arrows in both directions it’s only safe to presume that groovy way was a long one, probably lined with people wearing afros and bell bottom jeans jamming to disco. We imagine gentle path highway being a green grass covered trail with monks and fairies prancing around. Those people look a little con-flustered as to which road to chose, but we’re sure they chose the right one.
Hey Hey Hey!
Let’s face it, all a man really needs in life is a good guitar and the winds at his back and in this participant’s case he had both! #Winning. This man seems deep in thought as he strums along on his guitar wasting the day away sitting on his throne of hay. We wonder what this totally groovy dude was picking along to? Could it have been a Bob Dylan song, maybe some Jimmi Hendrix? Or perhaps he was in the middle of crafting his own legendary ballad.
Back In Black
Woodstock wasn’t just an opportunity for people to showcase their musical and artistic talents, it was also an excuse to rock some cool and some questionable fashion trends. This hip participant went for a sleek all black look, and although it may have been a little hot for that kind of clothing, she definitely looks on trend! Let us not forget about her carefully placed accessories, like that leather belt and those long strand necklaces. We give this look a ten!
The famous Jimi Hendrix was one of 32 acts who performed at Woodstock. The iconic musician was the last act to perform at the festival and the highest paid. Jimi Hendrix was paid an incredible $30,000 for two sets plus $2,000 for expenses. Keep in mind there was a cap of $15,000 per artist at Woodstock so a deal was struck for Hendrix to play two sets, a set with his band and an acoustic set. By the time of Hendrix’s performance the audience had reduced from 400,000 to about 30,000 as many participants waited to catch a glimpse of the musician before leaving during his performance.
As a teenager in 1969, you needed something to believe in and someone to hold onto and that’s what Woodstock provided for so many people. Here you can see these two love birds all wrapped in a blanket as the sun rises over the horizon marking a new day of the epic festival. But they weren’t the only ones tucked into blankets on that grassy hill. As you can see, many participants cuddled in their blankets trying to get some shut eye. It’s interesting to think what could have been in store for them on that day. However, as Woodstock ended, so did this temporary era of peace and love.
Thinking back at the music festival that changes the face and culture of the entire industry, Woodstock was held on a farm, meaning wildlife was not scarce. The youngsters seen having a genuinely good time in the picture below took a minute to cool off under the scorching August sun and found a cooling comfort in each other’s arms – and thanks to the trees’ shade. We would like to see how today’s generation would handle the heat without air conditioning to run off to.
The Roof Is The Limit
The weekend that was supposed to last three days ended up lasting a fourth, as people flocked to the dairy farm from all edges of the country to be a part of this history-making event. The weekend was, at times, rainy, but this did not stop the 32 acts from performing outdoors to the tremendous audience consisting of over 400,000 people in total. This pivotal moment in popular music history caused hundreds of thousands of people to adjust to living in tough conditions, such as on top of vans.
Make The Best Out Of It
Bill Hanley, the sound engineer who conducted the sound for the concert said that the event had “worked very well. I built special speaker columns on the hills and had 16 loudspeaker arrays in a square platform going up to the hill on 70-foot (21 m) towers. We set it up for 150,000 to 200,000 people. Of course, 500,000 showed up.” Despite of this, cars were strayed behind and not everyone got to hear their favorite artists performing on stage, which is why this boy is seen playing the missed songs to his friends.
The Message Is Freedom
John Sinclair put it best in 1969 when he said that “our program is a cultural revolution through a total assault on culture, which makes use of every tool, every energy and every media we can get our collective hands on.” The poet, writer, and political activist from Michigan expressed why Woodstock was unlike any other festival, saying: “Our culture, our art, our music, our books, our posters, our clothing, the way our hair grows long, and eat and sleep – it’s all one message – the message is freedom.”
Love Is In The Air
“Hippy is an establishment label for a profound, invisible, underground, evolutionary process,” said Timothy Francis Leary, a psychologist and writer. “For every visible hippy, barefoot, beflowered, beaded, there are a thousand invisible members of the turned-on underground.” He elaborated on the phenomenon of spreading the love that had a particularly strong role in Woodstock, saying that “persons whose lives are tuned in to their inner vision, who are dropping out of the TV comedy of American Life.”
There was always something interesting going on at Woodstock which made for excellent photo opportunities. This couple is seen taking advantage of the primo lighting at dusk to take a super cute picture. While the gentleman with the afro looks like he’s paying attention, his blonde beauty looks distracted by something in the sky. Was it a plane or just a psychedelic cloud formation? The world may never know, but what’s important is that they looked like they were having the time of their lives!