Happy birthday to Mr. Max Yasgur, the man who saved the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival!
After promoters lost their original location, Yasgur leased a portion of his dairy farm to the cause. While only 150,000 attendees were expected, everyone quickly found those estimates very much on the low side. Yasgur was forced to rally his neighbors and townsfolk to help provide water and food for the near 400,000 who actually showed up.
Yasgur was nearing fifty at the time, but felt that, if any progress was to be made in bridging the generation gap, then it was up to both sides to make gestures. The opening of his farm gave the festival a chance to become the legendary piece of music history it has become in the decades that followed. After the festival, he was persona non gratta among his neighbors, but, to his dying day in 1973, he never regretted his actions. Yasgur gave freely, and, in his own way, embodied the spirit of the hippie movement as much as anyone ever did.
So let’s all take a moment to give thanks to the man who stepped in and provided a place for some of the sixties’ most memorable performances, and watch some of the highlights from the party no one else wanted to host, but everyone wanted to attend. Thanks Max!
Joe Cocker – “With A Little Help From My Friends”
Santana – “Soul Sacrifice”
Sly And The Family Stone – “I Want To Take You Higher”
Jimi Hendrix – “The Star Spangled Banner”
And lastly, a song not from the actual festival, but a song by Joni Mitchell written in tribute to the weekend and the man who helped make the dream a reality. The version we’ve chosen is the most famous interpretation, by one of the fests then-newest acts, Crosby, Stills and Nash. Here’s “Woodstock.”