1969 – Summer of Woodstock
The Monterey Festival two summers earlier may have been the first major rock festival, but the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was the largest and most famous. The three-day festival on a farm in Sullivan County, New York (a good 40 miles away from the town of Woodstock) in August, 1969 represented the peak of the drug-influenced counterculture lifestyle.
Rock music was undergoing some significant shifts in the summer of '69. The Beatles had performed in public for the last time early in the year. Hard rock, with Led Zeppelin in the forefront, was morphing from experimental to mainstream. The Who added "rock opera" to the musical lexicon with the release of Tommy (Compare CD Prices).
Woodstock’s promoters had planned to make a lot of money by staging a series of concerts over three days for 50,000 people. In reality, more than 500,000 showed up, and most them avoided paying to get in. Traffic was horrendous, it rained, there was too little food and too few sanitary facilities to handle the crowd. Regardless, Woodstock’s role in cultural and musical history is far greater than its organizational failings.
The Who solidified their superstar status with a 24-song set culminating with Pete Townshend smashing his guitar and throwing it into the crowd. Jimi Hendrix's performance of "The Star Spangled Banner," though controversial, is considered one of the best of his career. Carlos Santana’s performance of "Soul Sacrifice" holds a similar place in classic rock history.
Sounds of the Summer of '69:
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin - (Compare CD Prices)
Jethro Tull – Stand Up - (Compare CD Prices)
Santana – Santana - (Compare CD Prices)
Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - (Compare CD Prices)
Blind Faith – Blind Faith - (Compare CD Prices)