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Top 5 Woodstock Facts


Script written by Q.V. Hough In the summer of 1969, a music festival of peace and love organically came together. Well, there’s a little more to the story than that. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we’re counting down the 5 most interesting things we could learn about of the iconic Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Special thanks to our users jkellis or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 5 Woodstock Facts


In the summer of 1969, a music festival of peace and love organically came together. Well, there’s a little more to the story than that. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we’re counting down the 5 most interesting things we could learn about of the iconic Woodstock Music & Art Fair.

#5: One Month Before Woodstock, Wallkill Banned the Hippies


Woodstock took place over four days, but the concert itself was not held in Woodstock. And this was because the locals initially rejected the proposed location. And so, the promoters then selected nearby Wallkill as a potential spot. However in early July 1969, the town board passed a law that required an official permit for crowds of over 5,000. Of course, the festival was destined to be much larger, with organizers saying there would be 50,000 concertgoers. Skeptical across the board, Wallkill Zoning Board officially rejected the concert’s permit applications on July 15, leaving the promoters in search of someone, anyone, that had the means and opportunity to play host. And they found their guy in dairy farmer Max Yasgur.

#4: The Promoters Lied to Give the People What They Wanted


Since locals anticipated maybe 50,000 people, the promoters had to fib about their true intentions in order to execute a larger plan. They were actually hoping to sell 200,000 tickets. You could say that they lied about actually knowing how to pull it all off, too. They had had some experience in promoting concert festivals before, but nothing of this scale had ever been done before. The publicity they received from getting kicked out of Wallkill helped them sell 186,000 tickets in pre-sale, but the late venue change just didn’t give them enough time to reorganize. Three days before the event, they decided that they had time and resources to either finish building the stage, or to build fences and ticket booths. They went with the former, and that’s when it became a “free” concert that 400,000 showed up to.


#3: This Hippie Love Fest Involved a Lot of Money


So even though it became free, Woodstock was initially born out of capitalism more than peace and love. A couple of entrepreneurs, Joel Rosenman and John P. Roberts connected with some music insiders named Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld and hatched the pie-in-the-sky concert idea as a moneymaking venture. Tickets cost between$18 and $24, or $115 and $160 in today’s dollars, and they sold about $1.8 million of them. That left them with about a $1.2 million shortfall though. Peace and love is expensive! And the artists certainly didn’t play for free either, with the talent budget reaching nearly $200,000. In fact, Jimi Hendrix was the highest-paid musician at $18,000. It took over a decade for Roberts and Rosenman to get out of debt because of the concert. Insanely, Woodstock didn’t have any official merchandise for sale. No hats, no hoodies, no t-shirts, nothing!

#2: The Weekend Created 400,000 Hungry, Hungry Hippies


Given the chaos and confusion that went into setting up Woodstock, the organizers had a lot on their plate. And for the actual plates of attendees? Well, The promoters had some explaining to do when the entire operation was literally devoid of food by nightfall of opening day. Locals had to volunteer to make pickle sandwiches due to the complete lack of food. The Air Force airlifted in 10,000 sandwiches. Some enterprising folks set up makeshift booths in the woods. There wasn’t a whole lot of food there, but what there was was shared by all. A lack of food may have been a blessing in disguise actually, since the portable toilet situation was nowhere near adequate. Amazingly, despite the negligence, Woodstock remained pretty chill, and there were no reports of violence– aside from reports of some vigilantes burning down the booth of a price gouger overnight.


#1: Thanks to Rain Delays, Jimi Hendrix Performed at 8:30 AM


As the final act of Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix played to a unique and vastly diminished crowd on Monday, August 18th, 1969. And considering the 8:30 AM start time, well, not everybody was “there,” so to speak. In fact, the audience had dwindled down to right around 30,000, a fraction of the 400,000 that once filled the makeshift venue. And while the late guitarist is considered a rock legend today, not everybody stuck around to get “experienced.” Yet those who remained got to see one of the most iconic live performances in rock history, and one of the most defining moments of the decade, as Hendrix played a full two hours, leading up to a distorted rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”


So, what fact surprises you the most? And do you know anyone who attended Woodstock? Or how about Woodstock ‘99? For more far out top 10s and shirtless Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com
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