Woodstock: Photos From the Legendary 1969 Rock Festival | LIFE | TIME.com
The original plan was for an outdoor rock festival, “three days of
peace and music” in the Catskill village of Woodstock. What the young
promoters got was the third largest city in New York state, population
400,000 (give or take 100,000), location Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near
the town of White Lake.
began LIFE magazine’s description, in its August 29, 1969 issue, of what
has come to be seen as one of the defining events of the 1960s.
Forty-four years later, LIFE.com presents a gallery of pictures — many
of which never ran in the magazine — from those heady, rain-soaked days
Lured by music [the story in LIFE continued] and
some strange kind of magic (“Woodstock? Doesn’t Bob Dylan live in
Woodstock?”), young people from all over the U.S. descended on the
rented 600-acre farm.
It was a real city, with life and death
and babies — two were born during the gathering — and all the urban
problems of water supply, food, sanitation and health. Drugs, too,
certainly, because so many of its inhabitants belong to the drug
culture. Counting on only 50,000 customers a day, the organizer had set
up a fragile, unauthoritarian system to deal with them. Overrun,
strained to its limits, the system somehow, amazingly, didn’t break. For
three days nearly half a million people lived elbow to elbow in the
most exposed, crowded, rain-drenched, uncomfortable kind of community
and there wasn’t so much as a fist fight.
For those who passed
through it, Woodstock was less a music festival than a total experience,
a phenomenon, a happening, high adventure, a near disaster and, in s a
small way, a struggle for survival. Casting an apprehensive eye over the
huge throng on opening day, Friday afternoon, a festival official
announced, “There are a hell of a lot of us here. If we are going to
make it, you had better remember that the guy next to you is your
brother.” Everybody remembered. Woodstock made it.
part, one of the LIFE photographers on scene during the festival, John
Dominis, summed up his own recollections of Woodstock this way:
“I really had a great time.,” Dominis told LIFE.com, decades after the
fact. “I was much older than those kids, but I felt like I was their
age. They smiled at me, offered me pot … You didn’t expect to see a
bunch of kids so nice; you’d think they’d be uninviting to an older
person. But no — they were just great!
“I worked at LIFE for 25
years,” Dominis said, “and worked everywhere and saw everything, and
I’ve told people every year since Woodstock happened that it was one of
the greatest events I ever covered.”