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Though it's frequently portrayed as this crazy, unbridled festival of rain-soaked, stoned hippies dancing in the mud, Woodstock was obviously much more than that - or we wouldn't still be talking about it in 2009. People of all ages and colors came together in the fields of Max Yasgur's farm.
But when I played Woodstock, I'll never forget that moment looking out over the hundreds of thousands of people, the sea of humanity, seeing all those people united in such a unique way. It just touched me in a way that I'll never forget.
Woodstock happened in August 1969, long before the Internet and mobile phones made it possible to communicate instantly with anyone, anywhere. It was a time when we weren't able to witness world events or the horrors of war live on 24-hour news channels.
Woodstock was both a peaceful protest and a global celebration.
People say Altamont was the 'end of the '60s.' It was unfortunate, but at the time we didn't think of it as signaling anything. The fact that nobody got killed at Woodstock is amazing because that was half a million people. We only had 300,000 at Altamont.
After months of playing air guitar to 'Free Bird', what really got me into guitar was watching a documentary about Jimi Hendrix and picking up the Woodstock soundtrack. Listening to his version of 'Star Spangled Banner' and 'Purple Haze.' My brother played acoustic guitar and, idolising him, I thought, 'I'm going to get a guitar.'
Over the years Woodstock got glorified and romanticised and became the event that symbolised Utopia. It's the last page of our collective memory of the age of innocence. Then things turned ugly and would never be the same again.
Even Woodstock turned out to be a disaster. Everybody was stuck in the mud and people got sick.
I know about Woodstock probably as much as your average person who is over 30, where I'd know Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead.
There's always been an element of 'right time, right place' to Nine Inch Nails. When we stepped onstage at Woodstock '94, I could sense it. I get goosebumps thinking about it now. Like, 'I don't know how we did this, but somehow we've touched a nerve.'
My mom had me at 16 and took me every place she went. I remember going on peace marches. She tried to take me to Woodstock - it was pouring rain. It was on my birthday, and I was crying so much in the car they turned the car around and dumped me at my grandmother's house... I had a little attitude.
When my mother was raising me, she moved us upstate to the Woodstock area. Our closest neighbor was a mile away. She planted all her own vegetables.
Woodstock is well known because this country is so hyped on amount. It was big. Half a million people doesn't necessarily mean something is good. It just means it's big.
I was admired by all these hippies, and it was wonderful playing at Monterey and Woodstock, performing for half a million people.
The Woodstock dove on the iconic poster is really a catbird. And it was originally perched on a flute.
At the time of Woodstock, I was just 13, but I used to see these exotic hippy creatures and I did look on with envy. How could you not? In an ideal world, I would have loved to have been a hippy - but I might have been a bit strait-laced. It was my fantasy.
When Woodstock ended on Monday morning, over 600 acres of garbage was left behind on Max Yasgur's farm. It took over 400 volunteers and $100,000 to remove it all.
I'm from the '60s, but no one has ever accused me of being a hippie. I never had much interest in the Woodstock crowd, which partied to change the world, while real people were starving to death in Africa.
But, what did happen is I went to Woodstock as a member of the audience. I did not show up there with a road manager and a couple of guitars. I showed up with a change of clothes and a toothbrush.
The 'rock world' is a lot smaller than it used to be. It's doing a lot less things than it used to be. From Woodstock back in the day and Rage Against the Machine, no one sells millions of records anymore.
Woodstock had a tremendous impact on American artistic life.
P. J. O'Rourke
Describing Woodstock as the 'big bang,' I think that's a great way to describe it, because the important thing about it wasn't how many people were there or that it was a lot of truly wonderful music that got played.
Woodstock - I didn't see anybody play, except when I was standing backstage waiting to go on, because it was so muddy. And the weather was so horrible, you literally couldn't get there except by helicopter.
I was invited for the first Woodstock. Actually, I started the programme.
Chicago '68 was a relatively small demonstration for its time, but I've talked to millions of people who claim they were there because it felt like we were all there. Everyone from our generation was there and was at Woodstock.
I was living in Woodstock for a long time, and I thought, I got to get out of here, man.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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