It’s been over half a century since Woodstock Music & Arts Fair took place upon Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm in the town of Bethel, NY in August 1969. Now considered a legendary event in American history for a variety of reasons, Woodstock sold over 186,000 tickets, though eventually became a free event as hordes of music fans numbering in the hundreds of thousands overran the grounds, rendering the fences and ticket barriers virtually useless by the end of the first day.
Due to a litany of production holdups that would garner countless headlines for the wrong reasons in 2021, not to mention unrelentingly inclement weather, the third “day” of the scheduled lineup wound up lasting over 24 hours, with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Who, Joe Cocker, The Band, Johnny Winter, and several other legends-to-be gracing the stage. The most storied performance of the weekend, however, didn’t occur until the festival’s final, unplanned fourth day on August 18th. Thus, On this day in 1969, Jimi Hendrix closed Woodstock by delivering perhaps the most famous performance in the history of rock and roll.
Hendrix finally clocked in at about 9 a.m. on Monday morning, playing for over two hours to the less than 30,000 fans who still remained on site. It was in the now-famous set where the guitarist performed his most famous solo with an instrumental take on “The Star-Spangled Banner”, channeling the atmosphere of beauty and love amid anger and aggression that defined the culturally tumultuous era.
Fans can hear the Air Force dive bombers staking their lives for the country in Vietnam through Jimi’s whammy bar dives, feel the mourning of American mothers and fathers in the fragments of military funeral hymnal “Taps” he added near the song’s end, and the nation’s chaos in the atonal distortion. Additionally, fans can hear the hope of the 60s youth movement shine through as Hendrix hits the anthem’s final notes with optimistic purpose.
Watch this early morning moment in the video, as well as his Woodstock rendition of “Purple Haze” and a trailer from Jimi Hendrix: Live At Woodstock, the officially released concert film from Jimi’s Woodstock performance below:
Jimi Hendrix – “The Star-Spangled Banner” – 8/18/69
Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze” – 8/18/69
Jimi Hendrix: Live at Woodstock Trailer:
Jimi Hendrix – Woodstock Music & Art Fair – Bethel, NY – 8/18/69 (Partial Audio)
Setlist: Jimi Hendrix | Woodstock Music & Art Fair| Max Yasgur’s Farm | Bethel, NY | 8/18/69
Set: Message to Love, Hear My Train a-Comin’, Spanish Castle Magic, Red House, Mastermind, Lover Man, Foxy Lady, Jam Back at the House, Izabella, Gypsy Woman > Aware of Love, Fire, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) > Stepping Stone, The Star-Spangled Banner, Purple Haze, Hey Joe
[Originally published 8/17/17]