31 Pictures That Show Just How Crazy Woodstock Really Was

Step aside, Coachella.

1. On Aug. 15, 1969, more than 400,000 young people made their way to a dairy farm in the town of Bethel, New York, for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

The event was billed as “three days of peace and music” and featured 32 of the most iconic artists in American music history. More than just a festival, Woodstock captured perfectly the free spirit of the 1960s and became a cultural landmark that represents an entire generation of American youth.

2. Getting there wasn’t easy though…

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

With thousands flocking to the small New York town, the roads became jam-packed and many abandoned their vehicles to set out on foot.

AP

A young man with head injuries who was thrown from the trunk of a car on the road leading to Woodstock. Ambulances were unable to reach the scene because of the traffic.

4. Organizers of Woodstock told authorities that they were expecting only 50,000 people to show up — they were hugely mistaken.

AP

The huge crowds began to overwhelm the small rural community. New York governor Nelson Rockefeller considered sending the National Guard, while Sullivan County actually declared a state of emergency.

5. Despite the gigantic gathering of people, Woodstock is remembered for being a remarkably peaceful event.

AP

AP

AP

 

Jimi Hendrix performing on day three of Woodstock.

8. After more people arrived than expected, organizers agreed to offer admission free of charge.

Bill Eppridge / The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

10. Everyone shared in an atmosphere of love and harmony; there was nothing but good vibes all around.

Archive Photos / Getty Images

Tucker Ranson / Pictorial Parade / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

 
Hulton Archive / Getting Images

AP

Getty

 

13. Max Yasgur, the farmer who owned the land, spoke about the peaceful atmosphere: “If we join them, we can turn those adversities that are the problems of America today into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future…”

Bill Eppridge / The LIFE Premium Collection / Getty Images

Max and Miriam Yasgur on their land after the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

14. The festival hosted a slew of iconic names, including performances by Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez (who was six months pregnant at the time), Santana, The Grateful Dead, The Who, and Jefferson Airplane to name a few.

AP Photo

AP Photo

 

On the right, Joe Cocker performs for the thousands of people attending Woodstock.

Tucker Ransom / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Guitarist Carlos Santana and bassist David Brown perform on day two.

Three Lions / Getty Images

Three Lions / Getty Images

 
Henry Diltz / Corbis

Rock music legend Janis Joplin performs later on the second day.

Henry Diltz / Corbis

The Who fit the bill after Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and The Grateful Dead.

Henry Diltz / Corbis

David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash performs for the crowd on day three.

20. With all that peace and love, nudity wasn’t uncommon and a nearby pond became a popular spot for skinny dipping.

Pictorial Parade / Getty Images
Archive Photos / Getty Images

22. Recreational drug use wasn’t uncommon either.

AP Photo

Music fans seek shelter in a grass hut underneath a sign that reads, “Have a marijuana.”

23. Many of the attendees banded together to help feed and care for their fellow concertgoers.

John Dominis / The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett
John Dominis / The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

Two women give medical care during Woodstock. There were two recorded deaths at the festival: one from a heroin overdose and another when a tractor ran over a sleeping concertgoer. There also were two births.

Anonymous / AP

Workers carry medical supplies that arrived by helicopter.

26. After three days of peace and music, leaving the festival wasn’t that easy either…

Anonymous / AP

Hundreds of fans jam the highway leading from Bethel, New York, as they try to leave Woodstock.

27. Neither was cleaning up…

AP

A woman sweeps debris from the street in front of her home as concertgoers leave.

28. Or forgetting the amazing things that can happen when people join together in the spirit of peace, love, and music!

29. Music Week is a week of content that celebrates the awesome classic jams, artists, and music videos you grew up with — as well as future classics. Take a step back in time and check out more great music content here.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

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