1969. Nixon is elected President of the United States and Gaddafi takes power over Libya, in New York homosexuals begin to demonstrate for their rights during the Stonewall riots, in London, the Beatles perform on the roof of Apple Records and Milan is shaken by the Strage di Piazza Fontana. While the Vietnam War is collecting more and more deaths, the man puts his first foot on the Moon.
Exactly in the middle of this marasmus of events and revolutions is Woodstock, the most famous music festival of all time that for 3 days – between delays, encores, and unforeseen events, in the end, there were 4 – has united almost a million people who, intoxicated by the situation, by the wonderful music and by many amazing substances, sang at the top of their voices to the Peace and Love anthem.
After exactly 50 years we are here to celebrate it with the 5 performances that made history.
Richie Havens – Freedom
Woodstock officially began on August 15, 1969, a few minutes after 5:00 p.m., when Richie Havens took his place on stage. The euphoria and constant requests for an encore led Richie to close his performance by improvising a version of Motherless Child, a song that is a traditional Negro spiritual. The meaning of the title can be related both to the fact that many slave children were sold very young, becoming orphans, but also to the distance with their motherland, Africa.
So Richie Havens, accompanied by his guitar, began to repeat the word “Freedom” infinitely, marking the opening of the Festival in a striking way.
Santana – Soul Sacrifice
Twenty-four hours later it was time for Santana and his group of the same name, which was not yet well known at the time. Just think of the fact that Santana’s first album had not yet been released, but their performance was a great success, especially that of the song Soul Sacrifice in which Santana showed the world that with the guitar was not bad at all.
The Who – My Generation
A manifesto of an entire generation, My Generation closes the live show of The Who – who performed on the second day. A song that became a symbol of protest for a large proportion of young people at a time when they were seen as change, as something wrong.
The performance of My Generation went down in history also for its conclusion, when Pete Townshend starts to slam the guitar on stage and then throws it into the crowd.
Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends
The third and last day starts with a bang. Joe Cocker brought on stage a unique line up that decided to end with one of the Beatles‘ greatest hits, With A Little Help from My Friends. In Cocker’s version, the song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney to be sung by Ringo Star undergoes a real rearrangement.
We are nobody to judge which of the two versions is better, we just enjoy the beauty.
Jimi Hendrix – The Star-Spangled Banner
Last, both from our list and from the whole Festival, is Jimi Hendrix. Of his two-hour performance, we decided to mention his performance of The Star-Spangled Banner, the American anthem.
Accompanied by his electric guitar, the decision to bring the national anthem to Woodstock was a clear act of protest against the politics of the time and, of course, against the Vietnam War.