Jimi Hendrix's guitar playing the American anthem at sunrise in the middle of the Vietnam war … A whole epoch summed up in Woodstock. The festival takes place from August 15 to 18, 1969 on the farmer Max Yasgur's field. Very quickly, the organizers are overwhelmed by the flow of spectators. They are over 450,000, the barriers are jumping and few tickets have been sold. If Woodstock is a monumental financial fiasco, it will become "the" festival that changed the history of rock.
There had been precedents in Monterey or Miami. But Woodstock is famous 50 years later despite the absence of the greatest stars of the time: Beatles, Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan. No Pink Floyd either, neither Doors nor Led Zeppelin. The revelations will be Joe Cocker and Santana. The guitarist Alvin Lee (Ten Years After) evoking the roots of rock'n'roll on a " I'm Going Home "Of madness, would mean the link with the previous decade. Otherwise, the mood is "flower power" with a bunch of folk artists like Tim Hardin, Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, Melanie, Joan Baez or psychedelic wizards like Grateful Dead.
The sound lacks power to satisfy the huge crowd. Like the Butterfield Blues Band, some bands do not give their most memorable performance. On the other hand, Janis Joplin radiates. His concert marks forever the young Steven Tyler, future singer of Aerosmith …
Integral already exhausted
Woodstock will pay off its debts with the 3-hour film that will be broadcast in theaters. We see the public in communion with the hippie icons, singing to chase the rain, enjoying the mud bath and the great collective experience of a utopia come true: "3 days of peace and music". Only three days.
The first vinyl compilations "I" and "II", although imperfect and incomplete, also contributed to nourish the myth. Gradually over the birthdays, new extracts are made public. Some artists are entitled to their own " Live at Woodstock Like Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter or Jefferson Airplane. Now, three new boxes are added on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary: a triple CD (without Jimi Hendrix!) And a sum of 10 CDs featuring for the first time all the artists present at Woodstock (including the forgotten Bert Sommer or Quill). The Grail being this integral of 38 CD gathering 432 titles in a limited edition to … 1969 copies! Despite its price of more than € 710, the collector's item was sold out before its release on August 2nd … Woodstock nostalgia is in full swing, keeping the memory of the hippie dream and a certain idea of rock, both rebellious and peaceful. It was long ago in 1969, a utopian year.