The Woodstock music festival is considered a pivotal event in the history of pop music. It was held on a dairy farm in the Bethel town of New York in 1969. Despite being threatened by stormy weather and other problems, it produced some brilliant musical performances.
The talented performers certainly played a major role in making Woodstock a defining event in the world of music. Here are some of the best musical talents who played at Woodstock:
1. Jimi Hendrix
The key moment of this music festival came when Jimi Hendrix played the United States National Anthem. He was among the most influential electric guitarists in pop music history. The performance of Hendrix was one of the last acts on stage during the Woodstock festival.
It was among his most unforgettable performances ever. His interpretation of ‘The Star-spangled Banner’ continues to charm his fans across the world. Unfortunately, many of those who had made it to Woodstock missed his performance. By the time he came up on stage, the festival crowd had reduced to 30,000.
This American rock band was formed in San Francisco in 1966. Woodstock became one of the biggest reasons for the band’s early success. The audience saw the brilliance of the guitar genius Carlos Santana when he and his band took the stage.
Before making their appearance at the festival, the band had recorded their first album. Their Latin-infused electric performance at Woodstock placed them on the rock n’ roll map. Also among the major highlights of their performance was the excellent drumming by Michael Shrieve.
3. The Who
One of the 20th century’s most influential rock bands, The Who took the stage at 5:00am on Sunday. They had released their album ‘Tommy’ just a month earlier. It was a double album-length rock opera. They performed the entire Tommy album at the festival when it was still dark.
They had barely finished the rendition of one of their best-known hits when they played an extended improvisation. It was called Naked Eye and featured guitar solos by Pete Townshend and some frenetic drumming by Keith Moon. Their performance concluded with Townshend bashing his guitar and tossing it towards the crowd.
4. Joe Cocker
He had released his debut album just four months before the festival. Joe Cocker was placed among the greatest singers by Rolling Stone magazine. His performance at Woodstock was greatly praised by Paul McCartney. Cocker closed his set with the seven-minute version of With A Little Help From My Friends.
It is considered one of the most iconic among the live performances. He completely reinvented this song from The Beatles on the stage. When he finished his set, the summer thunderstorm came roaring and delayed the performances by almost an hour.
5. Richie Havens
He gave the opening performance at Woodstock. The groups that were supposed to perform after him were stuck in traffic. Havens played every song he knew while the festival staff finished building the stage around him. After several encores, a sweating Havens played one more song without even knowing it.
The film footages show him tuning his guitar and strumming. He was actually trying to come up with a song. The word ‘freedom’ came to his mind when he saw all the faces in the audience around him. It was a fully improvised song and set the mood for the rest of the event.