It was sold as ‘3 days of Peace & Music,’ but Max Yasgur’s festival became so much more. It became iconic, and a slap in the face to an America that preached freedom, but offered little in return. Unjust wars in Vietnam persisted, and the persecution of blacks raged on. It was a divisive period in America, and Woodstock’s three-day event of music and psychedelic escapism was perhaps just as synonymous with the period.
But then again, how did an event, held on only 600-acres of dairy farmland in the New York countryside, filled only with peace-loving hippies, become so fabled? Well, as these 30 striking images show, the festival spawned a plethora of ideas and influences. Fashion lines became inspired by more garish garments; musicians became energised with writing lyrics that stood for more than just the wants of their record labels, and ultimately, a younger generation dragged America into a new period of enlightenment and possibility.
Because there was a limited police presence at the event, attendants could pretty much do what they pleased and sell what they wanted.
Such freedom gave the press all the ammunition they needed to shroud the event in initial controversy with a string of negative reports when in reality, it was one of the most peaceful music events of all time.
Several media outlets wrote misleading and often derogatory things about Woodstock and it wasn’t until the festival finished that many newspapers reported more favourably on it after parents- who were told nothing but good things about the event from their children- phoned up the outlets whose journalists reported otherwise.