48 years later, Klickjam remembers the festival that started it all!
18 years ago on this very day, the Woodstock Festival wrapped up its 3-day show in Bethel, New York with some of the greatest rock n' roll bands ever to grace the stage, including Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, Joe Cocker, The Who, and the legendary Jimi Hendrix. Following ticket sales somewhere around 186,000, the Woodstock Festival organizers took down the fences and ticket barriers on the first day of the show and announced it as a free event. Once word got out, thousands more flocked to what has now become the single-most popular music event of all time. Some 400,000 people showed up to that New York dairy farm locale in 1969 to celebrate music and freedom of expression in a notorious age of technological breakthroughs, civil unrest and the ever-present threat of nuclear war. It also kicked off the first truly major instance of counter-culture against government and important social issues. After all, this was the same year that 543,000 American military personnel were active in Vietnam.
Woodstock's lineup needs no listing at this point, but sometimes it's easy to forget that the festival attracted such bands and artists as Carlos Santana, Mountain, the Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival, the Band, and Jefferson Airplane. Bob Dylan opted to cross over to England and perform at the 1969 Isle of Wight festival, while Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Chicago and Frank Zappa backed out for various reasons. Other artists like Joni Mitchell and Jethro Tull declined to participate, but made their way over to the Isle of Wight festival the following year, in 1970.
One of Woodstock's most fascinating developments was the decision to turn the festival into a free event. Though done largely in part through necessity, it is nevertheless a mirror image of what would take place at the Isle of Wight festival the very next year. Whereas Woodstock was a remarkably peaceful event, the Isle of Wight festival was a powder keg waiting to go off. The latter attempted to maintain control of crowds and keep out those who hadn't bought a ticket with barricades. Unlike Woodstock, those barricades came down by force and through the threat of violence from concert-goers who believed that the event should be totally free and open to the public. Where Woodstock's organizers made the event free by choice, the Isle of Wight's organizers did so begrudgingly. Nevertheless, both festivals were largely peaceful events that laid the groundwork for the Coachellas and Glastonburys that we all know and love today.
We won't go in-depth into Woodstock's popularity, as we believe others have accounted it far better than we have, but we enjoy taking the time to remember just how much America, and the world changed 48 years ago on this day, both politically, socially, and musically. It laid the seeds of counter-culture, solidarity through music, and indeed, even the beginnings of taking music for free without paying for it. Whether good or bad, Woodstock remains a watershed moment in music history, and attempts to duplicate the feeling and the message of the event have all paled in comparison to the original. Klickjam invites you all to fire up some classic rock in your car, or around the house today, and celebrate the anniversary of this momentus event!