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tv   Woodstock Festival 50th Anniversary  CSPAN  September 5, 2019 8:01pm-9:05pm EDT

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you on monday. >> the house will be in order. >> for 40 years, cspan has been providing america unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events from washington, d.c. and around the country so you can make up your own mind. created by cable in 1979. c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span. your unfiltered view of government. >> coming up on american history tv, we spotlight the woodstock festival. marking its 50th anniversary this summer. first we'll hear from historian david farber about the social movement of the time and how this unexpected cultural
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phenomenon unfolded. then woodstock co-creators discuss how it came together and the music festival's legacy. >> last night the traffic was immense but somehow, between dark and dawn, when the music finally stopped, they disappeared across the country. thousands remained on the 600 acre rented dairy farm pitching in on the cleanup detail or waiting out the crowd. the festival site is nestled in the heart of the catskills resort area. the biggest town nearby is monticello. the towns people, quite frankly, were terrified of the prospect of the hippie arrival. before it was over, something happened in monticello. residents and resorts freely emptied their cupboards for the kids. >> you didn't sell many shoes. >> no, not too many but they were happy here. >> i think they're really a wonderful group of kids.
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i never met so many kids who touched large numbers that were so polite, so patient, so courteous and understanding on these conditioned we had in the last three days. >> in the beginning it was a great deal of apprehension but i can say the attitude of the town has changed toward the young men and women. >> they took a lot of aggravation and inconvenience. >> unfortunately because much of the press coverage was so jaundice in its reports of what happened here, not many people in the country will have learned what monticello learned. suffice to say it was not a disaster area. there are 450,000 young people here and instant big city really, with no conveniences, few police, but no violence, not even arguments in the midst of a 12-hour traffic jam. >> abc news coverage from
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august of 1969. joining us from lawrence, kansas is david farber, professor of history at the university of kansas. we appreciate you being with us. let's talk about what happened in bethel, pennsylvania, 50 miles from new york city. what was woodstock? >> i think woodstock was a surprise for the entire nation. it started one way and ended in a very different way. it started as three days of peace and music. it was going to be a for-profit music festival starring some of the biggest names in rock and roll. it was like many other festivals that had preceded it in the minds of promoters. two days in, it became something quite different. a free concert in which some 450,000 people showed up, almost all of them young people who had to make due with what they had, who triumphed over rain, crowds, gridlock, lack of food, and had an amazing time and showed the nation what young people were capable of. >> why was this dairy farm
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selected for the site? >> learning so much about woodstock, that dairy farm outside of bethel was not supposed to be what was happening with woodstock. the festival was first maybe going to be up in the woodstock area. then it was going to be down in a neighborhood not too far from woodstock. permits weren't given. town people decried what was happening. with less than a month to go, a dairy farmer in new york said, all right, promoters. i'm willing to let you use my farm. with one month to go, they had to build a stage, build sound systems, build lighting, figure out how to create fences. and reallyane spontaneous way created the woodstock music festival. >> what did the neighbors think? >> i think a lot of people in that vicinity were not sure what to make of what was going to happen at the dairy farm in new york city, outside of new york city. there was a lot of concern. there was a lot of fear. there was a sense of what the
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unknown could bring. i think a lot of neighbors were furious with him for doing this. over time i think most of the towns people, most of the community residents were won over. >> first, more background on what happened at woodstock, a place that became one of the iconic moments of the 1960s counter culture movement. >> the organizers of the festival's original plan was to have it in woodstock, which is about 60 miles northeast of here. and woodstock, new york was a bohemian community and a lot of musicians lived there off and on including bob dylan, the band, van morrison. the organizers called their company woodstock ventures and started looking for a place for their festival. they couldn't find a place in woodstock that was large enough.
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they found a property that might work but that fell through. out of desperation they found an industrial park in the town of wallkill. they started building. they started advertising. they built the stage. they had artists creating art installations and everything was going smoothly until the locals caught wind of what they were doing and it wasn't going to be a 50,000-person folk festival after all of what they were promised. and the town of wallkill basically rewrote its laws to outlaw the festival. that left woodstock ventures with about four weeks to find another location. and when they came to this property, it was a perfect shape, perfect size for the type of rock festival they wanted to have and the rest is history. >> background on woodstock. as you look at the names of the
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people who performed, janice joplin, credence clearwater revival, jefferson airplane. what brought all of these mushzs to this location? >> it was a real hall of fame roster. so many of these people have names we still know so well today. this was a music festival not too far from new york city that many bands and their managers thought would be a great launching pad, put them in front of a lot of people. they hope to make some money performing and it was sort of one musician signed up, it lured another musician. it was a snowball effect. except a few of the major names, the stones, the beatles weren't there. but boy, after that, they all wanted to come to woodstock. >> one of the myths is that it became a place of violence and disruption. but that wasn't the situation,
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was it? >> no, i think what surprised the nation, and certainly went against what the mass media had been promoting until the festival began was that woodstock turned out to be, despite dire conditions, an incredibly peaceful assemblage of 400, 450,000 people, who figured out how to get along, not let the tensions erupt. not let lack of water, lack of food turn them off. they shared what they had. they worked with each other. and they made an incredible event that i think for those who attended became something they never ever forgot. >> what's remarkable too is how this spread to nearly half a million people. they initially expected between 150,000 to 200,000 people to travel to bethel, new york. this is in the era where there was no social media, no websites, no cell phones. so how did word spread about this iconic event?
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>> it's a real testament to how the counter culture and youth culture in general were organized at that time. there were no social media. there were no advertisements on the mainstream media. a lot of the word on the concerts got out through the alternative press. there was a very vital underground press at that point. every big city had one. many college towns had an underground press. the promoters did advertise in those places. it was talked about on fm radio stations. so young people had their own media and it worked. and word got out and it got out i think far faster and spread wilder than the promoters ever expected. >> what was the counter culture movement? >> the counter culture movement didn't have membership cards and there was no roster so it's a kind of amorphous word. one, it was that protest culture, ranging from people
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seeking social justice, racial justice against the war in vietnam, the beginnings of the environmental movement. young people were uniting for creating some sort of alternative politics in the united states. i think even more, the counter culture was a celebration of alternative values, or maybe just america living up to the values it proclaimed. what would equality really look like? what should freedom feel like? what would social justice live like? these are people who wanted to experience and build a different america built on some real core values. >> for those watching on c-span 3, american history tv, following our conversation we'll let you listen in its entirety to an oral history done by artie cornfeld. who was he? >> artie was one of the i guess four most important people in putting woodstock together. i think at that time he was in his mid 20s. all the guys who put the concerts together were in their 20s. they were young men. he had good connections in the music industry despite his age.
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he'd already been well connected. he was integral to them signing up some of the big names. he had those connections into the industry. >> here's part of the oral history as he reflects on what he and his colleagues put together in august of 1969. >> the legacy of woodstock is that in 500 years when they forgot about the beatles, if there's still people living, they'll still remember the event. the legacy was time magazine when they listed the top 20 events of mankind, making woodstock number two, when they said it was the greatest peaceful manmade event in the history of all mankind. it was second to man landing on the moon. david farber, as you hear that, what's your reaction? >> i think artie is right to take pride in what he helped accomplish. top 20, we can have an interesting debate about that. it was certainly an
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extraordinary event. in 1969, it felt like an extraordinary event. here was a time of polarization, anger, rage. when violence was starting to become the norm in a lot of the political movements of the time. and yet there they were, 500,000 young people, peacefully assembled, trying to do something wonderful, something beautiful. i think it really did surprise the people who attended and i think it cheered a lot of people up. create history in a wonderful peaceful way. >> we're dividing our phone lines. if you attended woodstock, we'd love to hear from you. 202-748-8000. if you're 55 and over and may not have attended but certainly remember the conversation among your family members about woodstock, 202-748-8001. and all others, 202-748-8002. what's the most important thing as a historian that we need to understand with regards to what
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happened in bethel, new york? >> i think woodstock has remained an important historical event really for probably two reasons. one, it was a hallmark of music history. if you've seen the movie, if you never know watched the bands perform, this was an incredible event. richie haven's hoping, very long set where he played that amazing freedom piece. to jimi hendrix's closing star-spangled banner. these are moments that will live on and on and on. perhaps even more, it was an event that marked in some ways the coming out party for the counter culture across america. so people kind of knew about hippies in san francisco. they knew about the youth culture of music. they were fearful of the drug experiences regarding marijuana and lsd. but at woodstock, people saw another side of the counter culture. especially the movie that came
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out in 1970. here were young people who were trying to live different values, trying to share and cooperate. this is the best face the counter culture could show america and i think it's been a lasting face, in part because of the film that came out the next year. >> we have the trailer from that film that was released in 1970. let's watch. >> woodstock. an incredible film about an incredible event is back. >> it's really amazing. it looks like some kind of biblical, ethical, unbelievable fleet. >> woodstock, with the cast of a half a million outrageously friendly people. >> you want me to explain in plain english?
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>> woodstock. where it all began. >> voiceover by casey kasem who has since passed away. that iconic voice of radio. came out in 1970. i also want to point out, david farber, the organizers sold 185,000 tickets. what were the ticket prices and what did they do when nearly a half million people showed up? >> right. that's i think one of the most important things to ponder all those decades later. was that supposed to just be another music concert? i think it was $18 if you wanted to attend all three days of the concert and you could buy tickets pretty readily. overwhelmingly the audience came from the new york midatlantic area. but what the promoters didn't expect is 250,000, 300,000 people showed up and the promoters really weren't prepared for those numbers because of the last-minute preparations for the festival. they didn't have the kind of
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fencing and ticket booths you'd see at a music festival today. people were coming from all directions and they showed up. after a while, the promoters didn't try to collect fees. they made it forthrightly, they announced from the stage, this will be a free concert. i think it was that transition from the commercial for profit concert to this free event where hundreds of thousands of people showed up and had to take care of themselves. that's when woodstock became woodstock. >> let's bring in our viewers and listeners. bob from boston, were you there 50 years ago? >> yes, i was. i was 16 years old. i was up in new hampshire working at a summer camp in the kitchen there and they said we're all quitting, we're going
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to woodstock. i said, i'm quitting too, let me come. but you know, one thing, i've seen the documentary in the 1980s. i didn't get to see it before that. but one thing that i noticed in the documentary, it didn't grasp a real hold of what actually was going on. it was a vietnam war protest for the most part. and i was kind of disappointed about that. >> hey bob, we'll get a response from our guest, david farber. but as somebody who was there, do you remember what you ate and where you slept? >> peanut butter sandwiches. slept on -- people had blankets and stuff like that. >> thank you, bob. david farber, your response. >> what bob said about the
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peanut butter sandwiches very much rings true. people brought what they could and ate simply. the larger context is interesting. 1969 marked in some ways the hallmark of the polarization over the war in vietnam and there were massive demonstrations. 200,000 people, 300,000. woodstock fundamentally was not political. country joe mcdonald did give his anti-draft drag. but the bands, the festival organizers did not treat this as a political event and it was not fundamentally about the war in vietnam though i think that shadowed everything that was happening. it was a kind of counterpoint to the war in vietnam and the anger and frustrations and fears many americans had. so it was set up as a nonpolitical event. >> anne is joining us, charlotte, north carolina.
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good morning. >> hi. thank you for c-span. it's the greatest. i had just one question. one of my great regrets is i did not make it to woodstock. i was under the understanding that there was a group called 10 years after and they did a song called going home and i don't see them ever listed as appearing at woodstock. could you clear that up? thank you, and i'm going to hang up. >> thank you, anne. >> there were 30 or so acts 10 years after it performed, i can't remember what their status was in terms of the film. a lot of people get the two things mixed up. who was at woodstock and who appears in the woodstock film. i know, for example, the grateful dead, for reasons that might have to do with what substances they were ingesting at the time, didn't sign the waiver to be in the film. so some groups did not choose to be invested in the documentary film. i don't know the particulars to
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tell you 10 years after. that's why some people's favorite bands don't show up in the documentary film. >> so drugs were prevalent at woodstock? >> drugs, the use of drugs? >> were they prevalent at woodstock? >> [ laughter ] yes. there was a lot of marijuana smoke. people said you only had to be within 100 yards of the stage to get high. you didn't actually have to be smoking a joint because there were so many marijuana joints being passed around. cannabis was omnipresent. it was being sold fairly openly, being shared extensively. there was a famous story about lsd at the concert. lsd by 1969 was not something most young people had ever tried. at woodstock, lsd was fairly easily available and a lot of people tried lsd for the first time at woodstock. imagine taking this incredibly
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powerful hallucinogenic. and some people had a hard time. i think 300, 400 people showed up with medical tents having bad experiences. but thousands of people did not have bad experiences. lsd use was prominent. marijuana use was omnipresent. >> the woodstock art fair, three days of peace and music. we're looking back 50 years later. we have aerial views of what the area looks like today. it's a historic site now, is it not? >> that's right. there's a wonderful museum right there. bethel museum wonderfully run and curated. anybody in the area can come and relive the woodstock experience. it's really quite special. >> we listen to bob from phillipsburg, new jersey. you were there 50 years ago? >> yes, i was. i was 18 years old. we traveled from bayonne, new
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jersey friday night at midnight. we missed all of the folks friday but that was okay. we wanted to rock and roll. for 18 dollars it was a bargain. we had no idea there was going to be almost a half a million people there. >> what do you remember about trying to get to bethel, new york? there were reports of traffic backed up eight miles to get there. >> we have a car maybe on somebody's lawn or the side of the road. and we had to walk for miles on saturday morning or afternoon to get to the festival but i remember people, the local people being friendly, giving us water and sandwiches and being very nice to us. >> and bob, how did you hear about it if i may ask?
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we were talking earlier, there was no social media. where did you get information about this huge concert? >> bayonne is close to new york city and it was advertised and we bought our tickets in advance. >> bob, thanks for the call. david farber, what are you hearing from his comments? >> bob's comments ring so true and are very representative i think of a lot of people. he was 18 years old and the other caller was 16 years old. i think when you look at that crowd, you realize how young so many people were. this was a group of people 16 to 25. there were few people older and a handful of kids there as well but it was teenagers and people in their early 20s. i think that's what also gives woodstock its aura. these were young people who faced all sorts of conditions, having to walk miles to get there, finding the free food that others provided. these were young people who rose to the occasion and had an
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incredible time under incredible circumstances. so that's a great story bob just told us. >> peggy is joining us from kansas. how old were you when you went to woodstock, peggy? >> 17. >> and how did you get there? >> we drove. me and three other girls. >> what do you remember about it? >> i just remember all the people, but the best thing in the world was jimi hendrix playing the star-spangled banner. >> peggy, thanks for the call. david farber. >> that's a really nice story. there were people who came from all over the country. i'd bet you all 50 states were represented, give or take hawaii and alaska maybe. i also think it's marvelous that she remembered jimi hendrix and i'm sure she did. when you watch jimi hendrix's
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performance you realize, oh, gosh, 80% of the people, maybe 90% of the people had left by that time, and the audience hendrix played to so early monday morning was very small so i always wonder if it's a little bit like i was there the day this happened, hank aaron hit his 750th home run. maybe she heard him. i bet she did. she was from kansas, she wanted to wait till the last minute. very few people were in the audience when he did his emotionally powerful rendition of the star-spangled banner. >> joe from delray beach, florida. how old were you when you attended woodstock? >> i was 19 years old. i drove my 1968 mustang as far as i could. i lived in a small town in new york at the time. i think if my memory serves me correctly even though it was only 6 miles north of where i
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was living, it took me at least eight hours. i must have parked five miles and walked the rest of the way. and when i got there, it was a field of mud. but there was great music. the people were just fantastic. i think that was instrumental in forming my political views. people could get along together. that there actually could be love and peace and happiness. and i think we could use more of that today. >> is that the message of woodstock, love and peace? >> as far as i recall, i'm still something of a hippie. i think i'm one of the few
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residents. but i think the message should resonate today that we can all get along and we don't have to be at odds with each other. there's more that unites us than divides us and i don't want to be political about it, but i think that's where our current president is doing his best to undo to divide us rather than to unite us. >> joe, thank you for the call. >> i think one of the other things that's really worth thinking about and remembering is most people came to woodstock to hear the music. they were kids. they were interested in youth culture. they didn't come there thinking oh, my goodness, this will be an incredible opportunity to share and live the values that we claim that we believe in. it was the actual lived experience of woodstock that was transformative. it wasn't the purpose of it in
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its origins. it wasn't what drove most people to come to woodstock. that's what was so transformative and became visible for the people there. theerts ro, the media coverage of it showed it. then the movie kind of hammered home that message and that's why woodstock lives on in memory. it's not just another incredible concert. i think beyonce had over a million people show up at a concert at one time but we don't talk about beyonce's incredible concert with a million people. it was the lived experience of the young people at woodstock that's given it its historical residence and power. >> 50 years ago this weekend. tom from new york, good morning. >> good morning. >> what do you remember about woodstock and how did you get there? >> i drove up in a barracuda which allowed me to put a mattress in the car. i went up just a week earlier to
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see what was going on at the concert site and there were an awful lot of people already there. so i decided i should go up as early as possible. i got out of work a little earlier on friday and drove up that day and i didn't go up 17 and in from monticello. i came up along the delaware and went in from the west side. i got to the intersection where the state police have put up barriers. the cars were parked five or six deep on both shoulders and both lanes of the highway. everybody had just walked to the concert from there. mainly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and orange drink. so i went back and forth between my car and the concert at times
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to change my clothes and eat. >> let me ask you, you mentioned the new york state troopers were there. what about infrastructure, whether it was facilities for bathrooms, places to eat. what was it like? >> initially there were places to eat at the back of the concert. you could walk up to the back of the audience and they had various vendors there but they all ran out of food fairly quickly. and there were a lot of portijohns but the lines were very long. but there were also -- which i think was in the movie a little bit, there were communes that had come in from california, like the hog farm and other people. and those groups tried to feed the crowd as much as they possibly could with the supplies
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they brought in. ultimately most of the supplies came in by helicopter. the u.s. army and the national guard flew people in and out of the concert like if there was a medical emergency and also flew food in and the fact that they dropped food live into the audience as they flew over the concert. >> one final question. for you, was this a political event or was it a music social event? >> for me, it was music social event. i was a drummer in a rock band at the time and i can tell you that all the clubs in the area, all the way down at that time, the new jersey drinking age was 21 and new york was 18, so a lot of jersey people used to come up to new york. so we have a lively group of bands that played in those clubs and there wasn't a single band that would play that weekend or any place in orange county.
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>> thanks for sharing your stories with us. >> john's got a great memory. everything he said really helps give us the picture of what things were like at that time. i want to follow up on the hog farm. it helped set the tone and help create the possibility of woodstock working so well. on the one hand, the promoters didn't prepare well. there wasn't enough food, wasn't enough water at first. traffic conditions were absurd as you've heard over and over again. they've made some really good decisions. chose to align themselves with this wonderful group called the hog farm which was a communal group led at the time by a guy name hugh romney later known as wavy gravy. these are people who knew how to take care of other people. they'd been doing this before in all sorts of settings.
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these are true counter culturists. these are not members of the youth culture coming out of suburban basements or living with mom and dad. these were people committed to creating an alternative world. tom law and lisa law. lisa law, without telling her story, you don't understand woodstock. lisa law is one of those people who knew how to take care of business. very thoughtful. very pragmatic, even as she lived these outlandish values and virtues that most americans would not have considered the mainstream. she understood you needed to bring thousands of pounds of bulgar, rolled oats, and the hog farm distributed free food. free food. nobody paid a nickel for it. arguably hundreds of thousands of people. looks like the hog farm are what gave substance, tone, and
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created the possibility that woodstock would work the way it did. so all kudos to lisa law, the hog farm, hugh romney and all the others. >> to that point, here's more background on the commune. >> we brought in a group called the hog farm. now wavy gravy. they were used to set up big outdoor facilities. organic gardening. their food was organic. probably the first time anybody had really seen granola. and more than that, more than what they provided in terms of talent, they set kind of a vibe if you will of welcoming everybody, getting them situated, then getting them to understand it's now their job to
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welcome the next group and get them situated. it's that whole idea of sharing responsibility and we were all in this together and that's what brought the community together and i think that's probably what had more to do with success when it turned into 500,000. >> more background on that commune and its role at woodstock. we're hearing from those who were there 50 years ago this weekend. jamie from lynn haven, florida. >> hi. i was there back in 1969. i caught a ride with six of my friends from atlanta, georgia and i was 16 at the time and they had stopped initially at atlantic city. afterward we went straight to
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where the woodstock festival was going to be held at. when we got there, we were there two weeks before the festival even started so we started camping out and as we camped out, more and more people started to come in. we had found out they were going to be taking applications to work to the festival. me and the rest of my group went up when we applied for jobs, and i worked for [ inaudible ] and van, he worked for security. the things i remember about woodstock was to me, when i went up there, it was more about really gathering the tribe together. because people were coming together from all over the world. it wasn't just a group from atlanta georgia. it wasn't just a group of
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hippies from california or from new york. we met people from england. we met people from other countries. we met them from all over the united states and they were like-minded. the emphasis was, the people coming together, and the music was very important because that was the music of our time. and it had a lot of meaning to us because it was like they were singing to our souls. and the one thing that really impressed me was that there were people out there that were like me. i believed in peace. i believed in love. i believed in sharing. and we were all together in this. and when that storm hit, there wasn't anybody just putting the other brother, sister away.
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whatever we had, we shared. that's what this country -- we need to gather together again. it's not about the drugs, it's not about sex, it's not about skinny dipping. it's about caring for each other. and that's what i got from it. i'm 66 now and like i said, my name is jamie and i still believe in that. i still believe in loving each other, gathering together and looking at my brother as equal. not above me or below me. >> thank you for the call from linhaven, florida. also remarkable they all remember the car they were driving in. one of those iconic moments that they don't forget. to her point, want to respond? >> it's a marvelous testimony, marvelous testament really.
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i think that's what people took away. that these people who came from all different corners of the united states, sometimes maybe the only hippie in a small town or the only counter culture, suburban community. they found each other. a gathering of the tribes. that's in reference to the 1967 that took place in san francisco. i think a lot of young people around the country wanted that experience. that experience of being with like-minded people and living, even if only for a few days, a completely different way of life. not a competitive, individualistic dog-eat-dog world. but this dream, this aspirational dream of what it could be like to live in a very different world. to use a bit of academic jargon, temporary autonomous zone. it was a place that was going to exist out of time in some ways and these young people created
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it for themselves there and as jeanie suggests, some at least took it home with them and tried to live by those values and we learn from the south section of the washington post, a bird of peace amid the dogs of war in the summer of 1970, charles schultz using the name woodstock for his iconic bird. you can see the initial comic strip as woodstock enters the fray. it says, you'll never believe it, woodstock, the name schultz gave the iconic bird. we're hearing from those who remember what happened 50 years ago. linda from howell, new jersey. what do you remember? >> i remember it was the greatest experience when we got there. i was from brooklyn, new york at the time and everybody in the neighborhood was going and we all kept saying we'll see you there. when we got there, and we saw the mass of people, it was just the most loving atmosphere you
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can possibly imagine. >> from your standpoint, linda, was this a political event or a music event for you? >> a music event for me. i wanted to see janice joplin. i wanted to see jimi hendrix. mostly musical. about 10 of us went to the cargo van and we drove up in the cargo van. not knowing at the time that the windshield wipers didn't work. so we were driving in that pouring rain with no windshield wipers and we pulled over on the side of the road and another van pulled over. we opened up the backdoors and we became friends because they were from queens. so we saw them after woodstock and it was just a wonderful, wonderful experience. i have to ask you one question. there'd been talk of having an anniversary of woodstock 50
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years later. that's not come together. why so difficult to try to capture the moment again 50 years later? >> i don't know. i really don't know. would i have gone now? i don't think i would have gone now. i'd like to see it on tv but i wouldn't have gone. so i don't know why. >> linda, thank you. david farber? >> i think another thing that emerges from the people who were there and giving us their wonderful testimonies is something that i think in memory we don't understand too well about the 60s. a lot of people marched against the war on vietnam. a lot of people marched against racial injustice. against women's oppression. but it was a relative small minority of the baby boomer generation itself. most baby boomers never marched. they never protested. they weren't self-consciously political people. but many, many baby boomers did feel themselves a part of this
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youth culture, of this cultural rebellion that was taking place. that was the politics most people lived. let me go to another caller from jeff in the bronx in new york. you were there 50 years ago. >> yes, i was. and you're right, it was more for the music than the politics. we were only kids. i was 15. my friend was 15. the other guy was 13. and my father actually drove us down to the bus station in manhattan. >> he let you go. >> i told him i was going to a jimi hendrix concert. and the other two guys told their parents they were going to the other guy's house to sleep over. >> that would never happen today, right? >> no. but what happened was when my father drove us down, when he let us out, he goes, you guys sure you got enough toilet paper? and later on, i said he must have known what we were doing. why would you ask somebody if
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they have enough toilet paper if they're only going to a concert? he probably knew the whole time. a funny incident that happened up there -- >> did you tell your dad afterwards where you all went? >> he saw it on tv. they all went out to my cousin's house in long island and they yelled out, that's where jeff is. oh, my god. [ laughter ] >> you're going to tell a funny story. go ahead. >> funny story is they put us in a u-haul van. they had no more buses left. they put us in the u-haul van and people were smoking pot back there. we were kids and we got up there, we had to walk all of 17 feet. they dropped us off on 17 and we had to walk 10 miles to the site. on the way we stopped at a grocery store. we got a half a case of beer and bottles. when we walk right out to the middle, we were there listening.
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all these adults around us were bugging us for the beer and the wine. we said, we just drove 10 miles. you guys are adults. you should have got what you wanted. told us we'll give you $5 for one bottle. meanwhile, the three of us, we weren't hurting for money. you know? why worked for the concession stand. we worked in the commissary. we weren't hurting for money so they were really bugging us. you don't like to be laughing at other people but 15-year-old kids, adults couldn't get their own. that was a little funny but the best part was joe cocker. we never heard of him. we sat there in awe of joe cocker. he was definitely the best of everybody that was there. >> thanks. we have a twitter poll and i'd like you to answer it as well. we encourage our viewers and listeners to answer the question as well.
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the question is this. did the 1969 woodstock festival have a lasting impact on culture in america? in a positive way, a negative way, or no impact at all? so three areas that you can decide upon. right now a majority saying in a positive way. how would you answer that, jeff? >> definitely positive. everybody was expecting a disaster. it was definitely positive. nothing bad happened there. the three of us survived. when we got up sunday morning, i forget what morning it was. we went up to the hill to sleep for the night. we look across the other side of the hill, we went over there and they fed up, it was nothing but hotdogs. not even rolls i don't think. but they fed us that and gave us free water. the porti stands were cleaner than the ones you see at baseball stadiums. the people were nice. the people bugging us for the beer, we couldn't blame them.
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>> thank you for the call. david farber. >> that's wonderful. i think his comment on joe cocker is also telling some of the bands who were already famous. janice joplin, jimi hendrix, grateful dead, jefferson airplane. they were already headline bands. but some people really emerged at the concert or became famous to a far larger crowd. richie havens was prominent in new york area and the folks knew him. santana was not a well known band and when santana got up there himself and played the guitar, suddenly the brando and the band erupted. for some, it wasn't the best show they ever played. but the music really did turn on a generation and really exposed millions of people eventually through the film in particular to bands they didn't know about before that time. >> john is joining us from
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hanover, maryland. good morning, john. >> good morning. >> go ahead with your memory from woodstock. you were there? >> yes, i was. my memory was what started. it was like a spiritual awakening. you can tell by the music how it progressed. it started out with music and went into british invasion. then it went into psychedelics. people would get together and sit around and talk about the insights they had gotten. and that's the power behind this movement. and woodstock was the culmination of all this. it was the signifying moment.
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i remember i was just married. i told my wife i was going to go to woodstock and she said she was againstmy wife i was going go to woodstock. she was against it, you know. and i said, look. i grew with this movement. i work for it. i've got to go. and she let me go. it was everything, you know, that you believed in. the word hippie, it came -- hip used to be a word from the 60s, that meant you knew, that you were right. that is how they got to be called the hippies, because people would stand around and share their insights. they would say, oh man, i am hip. that is how they started becoming hippies. >> thanks for sharing your story. as we hear these stories, david farber, there were other concerts and gatherings in the
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1960s. you mentioned the turmoil of the vietnam war, the assassination of kennedy. but what made woodstock different from the monterey international pop festival or the newport jazz festival, in the summer of 1969? >> yeah, as you suggest, there were plenty of other festivals going on. the newport folk festival had been going on for years and to take monterey for example, in 1967 in california, it was a much more commercial event. more of a music industry event. the industry controlled that event. much more stayed. much more typical. you paid your money, you sat there and listened to a band. woodstock was not that. the multi-day aspect, while not unique, the fact that people were camping and after a short period of time having to make do
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with what they had. it created a different cultural maloof for that festival. there were other festivals after at that were more related to woodstock, but i think that moment in 1969, when people were so hungry for something good, something peaceful, something that communicated the best possibilities young people could express. i think that is what gave it the power. the time it occurred, the place it occurred, and the unexpected qualities that brought forth for so many. that is what made woodstock unique, i think. >> let's go to dan in roswell, georgia. good morning, dan. >> hi, my name is dan. i attended and i am here today with my friend jeannie that went with me in 1969. with several other people. we heard about woodstock from the atlanta pop festival and we
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got our money to go together to purchase an old van. paid our ways up here and having to push the thing the whole time. >> dan, you are breaking up a little bit, but we got the essence of what you're saying. again, another reminder of what they were driving. >> yeah. you know, that is another 60s thing. this was an auto mania country. you could buy cars cheap. you could fix cars up cheap. the ubiquitous and iconic volkswagen beagle was such a hippie car because you could lift the engine basically her self. repair the volkswagen itself. the volkswagen van became this perfect people mover. cars were integral to the counterculture. it gave people the ability to travel and come to these festivals. it was cheap. someone probably remembers how much gasoline cost. i want to say $.29 per gallon. something like that. even with inflation, it was
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cheap. cars were cheap and easy to fix. there was no electronic, computer stuff. cars were at the core of the youth culture and counterculture. everyone remembers their vehicle, you're right, it's amazing that that has such powerful resonance. >> i want to share with our viewers, some of the headlines, beginning with the new york times. how woodstock was covered 50 years ago, as we listen to dan from fort lauderdale, florida, who was there in 1969. go ahead, dan. >> yes i was. i came from a small town and got together with the lifeguard where i was working at a state park and his friends. we drove down there. i still have my survive, survive, survive. i stayed up on my own energy for three days, because it was so peaceful. just the music and everything, it was quite an experience. >> did you think at the time, that 50 years later we would
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still talk about this venue in bethel, new york, this music concert and what happened over three days? >> no, i did not. no, i did not. >> thank you for phoning in. let's go to andy -- >> isn't it amazing -- >> we have another woodstock memory from eddie, as we look at old film from what happened that year. go ahead, eddie. >> how are you? i was there. i had a great time, it was great. i live in pennsylvania now, but i grew up in new jersey and i went with a friend of mine. he had a 1959 triumph. four of us in that two-seater car, mile after mile, skirting traffic. we left at 4:00 in the afternoon and my buddy couldn't drive anymore. we parked and it turned out to be 12 miles from the stage. we walked that way and i got to see -- is started to rain,
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seeing joan baez. we got there around midnight and had an excellent time. i remember it well. i had a great time. in fact, me and a friend went up there friday, two days ago, so i could stand on the same spot i was in 50 years ago and they had it pretty closed off. the venue was set up and you needed a parking pass. anyway, i had a great time. i never forgot it and that is why i went back friday. i wanted to stand in the same spot in front of the stage where i was 50 years ago, but they had it kind of closed off so you couldn't do it. >> but did it look the same as 50 years ago when you were there a couple days ago? >> yeah, i remember everything. the lake we swam in. i remember where the stage was and we drove past it, but they had it kind of fenced off. i wanted to actually stand in the field where i was, but i wasn't able to do it. >> it is a historic site, as you can see from this marker
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and some aerial drone footage. eddie, this is what it looks like today, if you're watching on television. what do you think? >> man, i'm not looking at the tv right now. i could in a minute. i remember it exactly the way it was, except it was a field of mud and today it is a nice, landscaped field. >> if you look closely, you will see the 50, with the peace sign as the zero to commemorate the 50th anniversary. ryan, how old are you and why did your parents let you go to woodstock? >> well, i was 29 at the time and we drove from outside detroit, michigan. we kind of came in the back way, so we didn't experience all the traffic that they saw from new york city and one of the main reasons we went, obviously, was for the music, but also, i don't know if you remember johnson claire, who was
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an activist at the time. he was put in jail for 20 years in michigan and part of the purpose for the concert at least in the michigan area was a fundraiser to help his legal fund. it was a great time. we got there friday night. had a tent and we camped. we came in the 1963 chevy and there were seven of us in it. we camped half a mile from the actual stage. the big thing was between the bands, one thing people don't mention is that each band they came on stage, it took quite a while for them to set up, so there was quite a bit of time between each concert. we would go back to our tent. we could hear the music. we would go back to the tent, you know, and sit around and enjoy ourselves and come back on the music started to play. >> thank you, robin, for the call. we have time for one more. marcia, who was also at woodstock. she is joining us from vermont. you get the last word on this,
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so what do you remember? >> oh my goodness, good morning. almost everything. almost everything. we came up with college friends from newton, mass., and we had to leave our car and walk and we came in early, so they took our tickets. i had gone down, close to the stage to film, because i brought, for the four days, seven rolls of film. movie film. they had left off the next morning, because of the rain. i didn't know that they had left. i stayed on and i didn't have shoes for four days, just my camera bag. i do remember most, most of the music, but most of all, it was
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the love and the caring and the sharing. and there wasn't any hassle in the midst of a huge, huge crowd. >> i'm going to stop you there, because we are short on time, but thank you to all of those who weighed in on their memories of woodstock. david farber, from marcia's story and others, what have you heard in the last hour? >> i think what is so powerful in listening to these people, remember, 50 years later their experiences of that time, how aspirational woodstock was for so many. such a moment in which everything they kind of hoped for. everything they saw as best about the united states and american society, sharing, compassion, equality, freedom, looking after one another as fellow people on this planet,
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that seems to be the message. at least those people who remember woodstock want us to take with us, so i thank them for sharing those memories with us and i think woodstock does bear remembering over again. >> with half a minute left, what is important to remember about woodstock? why should we care 50 years later? >> i think those moments in human time, when we seem to rise above the everyday and the prosaic. the 1960s are filled with those moments, from the protest marches and the struggles for equality. the 60s lived on, because americas tried to move past their own petty concerns. selfish issues we try to deal with every day. and woodstock became the icon for that for a lot of young people. this moment when they could rise above circumstances, rise above anger, rise above pettiness and create something wonderful, even if that only
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lasted three days. but those three days have clearly lived on in the minds of those who were there and i think we should all take stock of woodstock. >> david farber, joining us from the university of kansas. we thank you for your time. >> thank you. this weekend on american history tv, saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history, the california gold rush and the environment. at 10:00 on real america. the 1967 film on italian newspaper journalists. and sunday at 4:30 p.m., eastern, scholars on the history of u.s. policy toward iran and iran's nuclear program. and at 6:00, historian dan albert talks about his book, are we there yet, the american automobile, past, present and driverless. explore our nation's past on american history tv, every weekend on c-span3.
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weeknights this week we are featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c- span3. on friday we feature the 400th anniversary of the first africans in virginia, beginning with remarks from virginia governor northam, u.s. senators mike warner and tim kaine and house of delegates speaker -- the curator shares stories about individuals who lead slave revolts, educated fellow free people and took part in the abolitionist raid on harper's ferry. then the institution in washington dc. enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c- span3. watch c-span's campaign 2020 coverage of the democratic presidential candidates at the new hampshire democratic party convention.
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our live coverage is saturday at 9:00 eastern on c-span, online at, or listen with the free c-span radio app. next, and oral history interview with woodstock cocreator, artie kornfeld. he talks about how the three- day rock concert came together, how he signed the musical artist and the creation of the documentary film. he is the author of "the pied piper of woodstock". this is courtesy of the robert h. jackson center. the center's cofounder, greg peterson, conducted the interview in 2014. >> i would have liked to have been a baseball player, but i always loved music. my mother always had the lombardo's, not guy lombardo, but the two brothers. they both had bands. the guys who had the big bands. anyway,


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