Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting Back to the Garden

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 2:46 PM


The original Woodstock Music and Art Fair: An Aquarian Exposition — more familiarly known as just “Woodstock” — has become such a cultural touchstone that people who weren’t even alive in 1969 feel like they were there.

The “3 Days of Peace & Music,” as it was billed, spawned a classic movie, several albums and a couple of neo-Woodstock festivals in the ’90s. The event, which actually took place in Bethel, NY, featured artists who have become legends — from Jimi Hendrix to the Who, the Grateful Dead to Santana, Janis Joplin to the Jefferson Airplane. (Many other seminal artists of the era — including the Doors, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones — did not play for one reason or another, although most were invited.)

As the biggest and best known of the first wave of giant rock festivals, Woodstock epitomizes the combination of logistical ambition and zeitgeist that was later professionalized in events such as 1985’s Live Aid.

The Rock Hall celebrates the 40th anniversary of the original festival — which took place August 15-17, 1969 — with a new exhibit in its main exhibition hall, opening July 3 and running through November 29.

It includes both intriguing and revealing artifacts like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s contract for their performance and the original plan for the event handwritten by co-promoter Michael Lang. It also includes oddities like the vest worn at the festival by Lang and John Sebastian’s tie-dye cape and jacket.

To truly capture the spirit of the event, it really should include fences you can crash (most of the crowd of 500,000 got in free because of chaos at the gates), smelly port-o-potties and lots of rain. —Anastasia Pantsios

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.