It’s the 50th anniversary of Woodstock Music & Arts Festival, and the “official” celebration is taking place in Watkins Glen, New York on August 16-18th, 2019. Event organizers have confirmed the full lineup with Dead & Company, Santana, The Killers, Sturgill Simpson, The Black Keys, Cage The Elephant, Miley Cyrus, The Lumineers, The Raconteurs, Jay-Z, Robert Plant And The Sensational Space Shifters, Greta Van Fleet, Portugal. The Man, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, John Fogerty, and dozens of other socially conscious contemporary artists.
While the lineup was revealed in March, Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang left some details in question. In an interview published in January, Lang told Rolling Stone that there will be “newer bands” staging “celebrations of artists from the original Woodstock” that will likely include tribute performances to Janis Joplin, the Band, Jefferson Airplane, and Joe Cocker, among others. “Having contemporary artists interpret that music would be a really interesting and exciting idea,” he said. “We’re also looking for unique collaborations, maybe some reunions and a lot of new and up-and-coming talent.”
Today, Lang and co. unveiled one of the first of many surprises to come: 1960s guitar god Jimi Hendrix will return to Woodstock as a hologram to perform his legendary version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Based on the cultural significance the original performance had at the festival, the reprise comes as a fitting experience to deliver in this particular day in age, when hologram performances by deceased artists have become more and more common, from Frank Zappa to Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly. The performance will take place on Monday morning at sunrise, capping the festival weekend in the most meaningful way possible.
The original Woodstock took place upon Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm in the town of Bethel, NY. Now considered a legendary event 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 and 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. But the most storied performance of the weekend didn’t occur until the festival’s final, unplanned fourth day–when Jimi Hendrix played Woodstock, delivering perhaps the most famous performance in the history of rock and roll.
Hendrix finally clocked in at about 9AM on Monday morning, playing for over two hours to the less than 30,000 people that still remained. It was during that set that the guitarist performed his most famous solo, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” channeling the atmosphere of beauty and love amid anger and aggression that defined the culturally tumultuous era. You can hear the Air Force dive bombers staking their lives for the country in Vietnam through Jimi’s whammy bar dives. You can feel the mourning of American mothers and fathers in the fragments of military funeral hymnal “Taps” he added near the song’s end. You can hear the nation’s chaos in the atonal distortion. And you can hear the hope shine through as Hendrix hits the anthem’s final notes with optimistic purpose.
Watch this early morning moment in the video below:
Jimi Hendrix – “The Star-Spangled Banner” – Woodstock (1969)