Sunday, August 09, 2009


Hitting the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, allow me to marvel at the lineup of bands that came together those three days. Of course, I think it is safe to say that some of those bands weren't exactly well-known when they appeared in upstate New York. And some of them had peaked already and were either on their way down, or desperately holding steady.

Jefferson Airplane is a good example of a band that had peaked. Their appearance at Woodstock kept them going for a little longer, but the days of "White Rabbit" were well behind them. On the other hand, bands like Santana, Joe Cocker, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash found their path upward made easier thanks to their appearances.

One of the things that strikes me about the artists who performed was how many of them were never associated with Woodstock, probably because their performances weren't captured on film. Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, CCR, The Band, and several others performed and were solid. And even some who were caught on film weren't done justice. Hendrix? Sly and the Family Stone? Ten Years After?

There is no way any one film could have truly captured the sets of these artists, and that's fine, that's part of the romance and the wonder of the phenomena. All we can do is look at the film, look at the list of performers, and appreciate what we missed, for our imagination can never match the reality. That might be a good thing. is a list of the performers at Woodstock. And, by the way, check out this site:

Richie Havens, Sweet Water, Tim Harden, Melanie, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Biaz, Country Joe and The Fish, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Leslie West and Mountain, Santana, Sha Na Na, Jimi Hendrix, Blood Sweat and Tears, Ten Years After, Crosby Stills and Nash, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Who, Joe Cocker, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, The Band, John Sebastian


Charles Gramlich said...

About all I know about woodstock I learned from the Drum circle episode of South Park.

SQT said...

I was born in 1969 so it's really interesting whenever I hit a new decade (20, 30, 40) and get to hear about all the anniversaries. The moon landing, Woodstock and, unfortunatley, the Manson killings. Funny you should mention Jefferson Airplane though. My husband and I were in Santa Cruz a few weeks ago and Starship was playing on the Boardwalk--still with Marty Balin. Though I'd guess he's the only original member still left.

Stewart Sternberg said...

There are certain events that any lover of rock will acknowledge with a nod and wink. The Beatles at Shea Stadium, The Led Zepplin reunion at Live Aid, Monterey Pop, The Isle of Wight concerts, The first Lolapalooza, the disasterous concert at Altamont, organized by the Rolling Stones and policed by the Hells Angels. And Woodstock.
Marty Balin needs to stop. I've seen a video of him doing his thing and it is sad. Sometimes a rocker needs to know when it is time to go home. Or time to redo. Don't get me wrong. There are still names from that decade than can rock it out--The Stones, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, Pete Townsend, etc. I'm not sure what they do to continue, to remain vibrant and not just become a nostaligia freak show, but they're still churning out material and still have loyal and enthusiastic followings.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I'm wondering if Sha Na Na was any better under a drug-induced euphoria.

SQT said...

Stu, I totally agree. There are some people who can sort of defy time and stay relevant, but they're rare. Guys like Balin mostly look like they're trying to hold on to something that slipped through their fingers a long time ago. Even Grace Slick knew when it was time to walk away. Perhaps it could have worked it the whole band stayed together, but trying to keep it going on the strength of one lesser known member just doesn't seem like a good strategy.

Rick said...

I didn't really get into Woodstock when I was younger- I kind of missed the whole movement and the event itself. I was off doing a lot of other things during that period, but as I've gotten a bit older, I wished I'd paid more attention.