Stunning Woodstock pics show how the sex, drugs and rock&roll generation exploded on to the 60s scene 50 years ago this week

Stunning Woodstock pics show how the sex, drugs and rock&roll generation exploded on to the 60s scene 50 years ago this week


PEACE, love and hippies – plus lashings of public fornication, acid trips and skinny dipping – have helped Woodstock remain a music legacy 50 years after Jimi Hendrix and The Who and Janis Joplin played at the iconic three-day concert.

Described as a “cultural and pharmaceutical event” by the late Sen. John McCain, an estimated 400,000 people showed up for the festival on a hay field in Bethel, about 70 miles south of the village of Woodstock, from Aug 15-17, 1969.

This iconic shot, taken on August 16, 1969, shows a crowd of about 400,000 flocking to the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in Bethel, 85 miles northwest of New York City, US
AP:Associated Press
The August 1969 Woodstock festival, billed as ‘three days of peace and music,’ is regarded as one of the pivotal moments in music history
Getty – Contributor
Mexican-born American guitarist and bandleader Carlos Santana holds maracas and an electric guitar while performing at Woodstock, 50 years ago
Getty – Contributor
A concertgoer in a raincoat and hood stands with his hands clasped behind his back and a folding deck chair balanced on his head at the three-day event
Time & Life Pictures
Rock music fans relax during a break in the entertainment. Woodstock was notable for widespread drug use by performers and fans, although only about 100 arrests were made and there were no reported incidents of violence
AP:Associated Press
Three men attending the Woodstock music festival hug each other. The festival was documented in the 1970 film “Woodstock,” which won an Oscar
Getty – Contributor

It was the weekend that shaped the image of a “Woodstock Generation.” And that image would echo, appeal and provoke for generations to come.

To many who went or wished they did, the pivotal festival of “peace and music” 50 years ago remains an inspiring moment of counterculture community and youthful freethinking.

Among the musical acts playing were Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Joe Cocker and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Karen Breda, who was 17 when she went to Woodstock, recalled: “We went for the music and found something so much more, and so much more important camaraderie.”

She remembers feeling part of “a generation that felt like nothing could stop us. Peace. Love. The whole thing.”

Some other Americans saw Woodstock as an outrageous display of indulgence at a time of war.

After lying to her parents about her destination, Breda arrived from Boston to find a mind-boggling mass of people, tents, blankets, pot smoke, patchouli and under-preparedness.

Most of the 400,000-plus audience watched for free, and camped onsite in the mud
© Richard Gordon/Museum at Bethel Woods
Festival attendee Todd Strasser said that while every town and neighbourhood ‘had its share of long-haired freaks we were very much in the majority’. But at Woodstock, ‘for once we were in the majority’
Getty – Contributor
Concertgoers sit on the roof of a Volkswagen bus at Woodstock, mid-August, 1969. The three-day concert became a landmark cultural event of the late ’60s
AP:Associated Press
A hippie couple with their child at the iconic event – the pivotal festival of ‘peace and music’ 50 years ago remains an inspiring moment of counterculture community and youthful freethinking
Rex Features
Concertgoers felt they were part of a generation that felt like nothing could stop them: ‘peace. love. The whole thing’
Corbis – Getty

Organisers had sold 186,000 tickets; ultimately an estimated 400,000 people showed up for the festival on farmland in Bethel.

Space, water and toilets were in short supply. Security was thin, but there was an abundance of rain and mud.

Many Americans saw Woodstock as a spectacle of spaced-out, skinny-dipping, promiscuous hippies cavorting in squalor with “little more sanity than the impulses that drive the lemmings to march to their deaths in the sea,” as a New York Times editorial put it.

Yet, there were no reports of violence, and a local police chief called the crowd “the most courteous, considerate and well-behaved group of kids” he’d encountered in his career.

Max Yasgur, the dairy farmer who leased his land to the festival, said meeting them “forced me to open my eyes.”

He added: “I think America has to take notice.”

Naked couple embracing as river water rushes around them at Woodstock Music & Art Festival
Time Life Pictures
Paraphernalia stand in the woods featuring pillows, posters, and incense
Time Life Pictures
Young people relaxing by a lake at Woodstock – some Americans saw the event as an outrageous display of indulgence at a time of war
Corbis – Getty
Organisers had sold 186,000 tickets; ultimately an estimated 400,000 people showed up for the festival on farmland in Bethel, New York
Corbis – Getty
There were no reports of violence, and a local police chief called the crowd ‘the most courteous, considerate and well-behaved group of kids’ he’d encountered in his career
Getty – Contributor
Two festivalgoers who found Woodstock too much passed out on the bonnet and roof of their Volkswagen Beetle
Hulton Archive – Getty
Overall shot of the huge crowd, looking towards the large yellow tents during the Woodstock Music & Art Fair
Time & Life Pictures
Several youths huddled together under a piece of clear plastic in the rain
Time & Life Pictures
A couple as the stand together, arms around one another at the Woodstock
The LIFE Picture Collection

 

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