The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, held 50 years ago this week (8/15 to 8/18/1969) is easily the most famous live music event in history. Crowd estimates range from 300,000 to 600,000+. Thirty two acts played almost non-stop over 3+ days. While the idea of the Woodstock festival is a very romantic one, this thing was a mess...mud, heat, lack of food and water, smells, overdoses, and a terrible schedule. The Who played at 5am. The Who? 5am?! Roger Daltrey says if he could get a do-over, he'd pass on playing Woodstock because it was the worst gig ever. (They were followed by Jefferson Airplane at 8am.) The festival wrapped up 11:10am on 8/18/69 with an incredible set by Jimi Hendrix (preceded by ShaNaNa, the oldies band. Go figure that weird pairing). Smart superstar musicians like Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were smart enough NOT to alter their existing schedules in order to fit in the Woodstock festival.
The Altamont Festival held on the west coast four months later was by all measures better organized, and by most accounts much better musically, but Woodstock will live on forever as the legend, and the height of smelly, sweaty, hippy togetherness at weird hours. Here's a video that illustrates the typical romanticization of Woodstock. (video courtesy of YouTube)
And I have to throw this in because I love Grace Slick and could watch the young version of her for hours. (courtesy of YouTube)