The Song of Woodstock Nation:
came upon a child of god and he was walking along the road and
I asked him, tell me where are you going?
And this he told me.
Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm, going to join in a rock
and roll band.
I’m going to camp out on the land. I’m going to
try and get my soul free. We are stardust, we are golden and
we have got to get ourselves back to the garden.
can I walk beside you, I have come here to loose the smog, and
I feel to be a cog in something turning.
Well maybe it is just
the time of the year, or maybe it is the time of man,
not know who I am, but you know life is for learning.
stardust, we are golden, and we have got to get ourselves back
to the garden.
time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong, and
everywhere was song and celebration.
And, I dreamed I saw
bombers, riding shotgun in the sky, and then were turning into
butterflies above our nation.
We are stardust, billion year
old carbon, we are golden, caught in the devil’s bargain,
we have got to get ourselves back to the garden.
By Joni Mitchell 1969
Herb Staehr at the legendary
Woodstock Festival 1969
"I came to Woodstock by taking 128 North, the
Massachusetts Turnpike West to Albany, 87 South to
Middletown and 17 West to White Lake - probably about
5 hours on a good travel day!
Seriously, we had a "caravan" of 2 cars and
left about 6PM on Thursday night - 3 hours later than
planned, but nobody cared - we were young and carefree.
Early Friday morning (or late Thursday night), we
somehow managed to navigate around all the
cars that were already backed up on Rt.17 - by driving
on the soft shoulder. I remember managing to stay
awake nearly the whole night except for the last hour
or so. We arrived at the "campsite" about
6:00 AM when my brother shook me awake and said,
"We're here!!".. There were only 100
or so tents when we set up but, after sleeping for
about 6 hours, we awoke to 10 times as many "neighbors"
and the population continued to grow exponentially
over the course of the next three days.
We arrived at the Festival site in the early afternoon
on Friday - I still remember the pastoral beauty
of narrow Hurd Road, lined with trees and the vast and
gently sloping farm fields - and, around a corner, it
suddenly opened to the surreal scene of the stage,
light towers and (already) several thousand people. Richie
Havens started sometime thereafter - we were right at
edge of the stage. I only remember bits and pieces of
the whole trip - the crystal clear voice of Joan Baez
late Friday - closing the evening as we tryed to find
our way back to the campsite....my brother and I took
a wrong turn and got hopelessly lost,
hitching a ride with Arlo Guthrie's limo driver (honest)
who was also lost...finally finding "home"
again and waking up with what seemed like 2 inches or
rainwater in the tent on the next (Saturday) morning.
The highlights on Saturday were Santana (the stage
hands threw left over pieces of 2x4's into the crowd
and everybody was clapping them together in beat to
"Soul Sacrifice"). Canned Heat were also
great, they actually performed twice that afternoon.
In the evening, I remember that the Grateful Dead
played an incredibly long and terrible set - but they
were followed by Creedence Clearwater Revival, with
John Fogerty's distinctive voice howling up the
hillside after the opening notes to "Born On The
Bayou"... and everything was instantly good again!!
If I am not mistaken, many of us came just to see CCR
- because they were huge at the time.
I remember very little of Sunday, we left in the early
afternoon because we all had to be back at work
or school (I was in my senior year at Mass Maritime
Academy) and, by then, were all very tired, hungry and
wet. I believe Ten Years After took the stage about
8:00 PM on Sunday night - the first act after an
extended rain delay. I was already nearly home
about that time and missed them - but, no matter, I
had seem them 2 weeks before in the intimate confines
of the "Boston Tea Party" and that in itself
was an unforgettable experience."
Alvin Lee listening to his personal manager Dee Anthony
at Woodstock 1969
Ric Lee on the left, talking to Chip Monck
Woodstock 1969: Three hours of steady
rain, dropped five inches of water, and during the summer
downpour, there were real fears that some of the artists
would get electrocuted, if they attempted to perform on
stage. Alvin Lee of the band Ten Years After was warned of
this distinct possibility, as it was still raining when
the bands turn to go on came.
“Oh come on, if I get electrocuted at
Woodstock, we’ll sell lots of records,” Alvin said
of Ten Years After courtesy of Herb Staehr
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an eighteen year old college student, Mark heard about a
weekend long music festival in upstate New York and
decided to go. “I’m one of the few people who
actually bought tickets to Woodstock,” he laughs. “
I was so thrilled to hear about it that I bought tickets.
They were $18.00 for the weekend, which back then was an
enormous sum of money.
I got there, I quickly hid them, because I realized that
if you were truly into the “Woodstock Spirit” you
wouldn’t even have bought tickets.
only was I at Woodstock, not only did I buy tickets, but
I was actually at the exact spot when they decided it
was going to be a free concert,” he adds.
and his two friends arrived a day early, and because
they had come unprepared, without tents or sleeping bags,
they lived out of the car. On Friday morning, Mark was
walking towards the concert field and spotted a group of
men, with giant rolls of chain link fence, frantically
trying to put up the fence before the crowds grew.
”I had my ticket in my hand, as I stepped up, I saw
one guy with a beard, turn to the other and say “Fuck
It” it’s a free concert. Don’t put up the fence”.
So I quickly took the ticket and hid it in my pocket,
because everyone was cheering”. Mark also recalls,
there were beautiful full – colour programs printed
for “Woodstock” that nobody knew about”. You were
suppose to get one as you entered the gates and handed
them your ticket. But when they decided not to put up
the fences, they left boxes of them lying around. I
stuck one in my car. I had about twenty of them. A year
later, I cut them up and made a college for my dorm room
wall, thinking, “Oh Well”, it’s just Hippie-Stuff”.
I think today, if I had my twenty copies”, he pauses;
“I always kill myself about it”.
year later, Mark transferred to St. Andrew’s
University in Scotland, his walls covered in cut-up
“Woodstock Programs”. The documentary film
“Woodstock” had just been released in
theatres, and Mark told his friends, that he had
attended the concert, so they went to see the film.
movie made me realize that I have an amazing Woodstock
story, says Mark.
the last night, after the rain storm, it was freezing.
You would huddle around people who had made fires, and
since they’d burn trash, there was a horrible stench
over the whole place.
were standing with these guys from New Jersey, and one
of them had a watermelon.
was so scarce, so we urged
him to cut it up. This one kid was passing around
a hash pipe and said, No – I’m going to give this
watermelon to Alvin Lee”. Alvin Lee was the lead
singer of this British Blues Band, called Ten Years
After. “What are you talking about? Are you crazy? The
stage is a million miles away! He hoisted the watermelon
onto his shoulder and walked off into the night”.
remembered this story as he watched the “Woodstock
Documentary” for when they showed the clip of “Ten
Years After” playing, a watermelon rolled across the
stage and hit Alvin Lee’s feet. Alvin Lee picked it
up, held it up for the crowd to see, and left the stage.
was sitting there in the theatre audience watching this
going, “Wait a minute, this is
a dream I had?” That’s what happened to that
“Charisma and blind
speed made guitarist and singer Alvin Lee a standout at
wrote Paul Evens in The New Rolling Stone Album
Years After’s performance at Woodstock 1969 – quadrupled the
bands fan base.
click picture to enlarge article
"I'm Going Home by
following article and photos courtesy of Herb Staehr
click picture to enlarge article from 1989
John B. Sebastian
Photo by George Pericharos
Video Stills - Herb Staehr and Friends