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Woodstock 40 years on

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Woodstock 40 years on


It was 40 years ago that young hippies watched the sun come up at the Woodstock music festival, an event that still defines the 1960’s in popular imagination. In fact, the town of Woodstock did not want the concert, and promoters were forced to change site at the last minute. They eventually settled on a hay field owned by a dairy farmer in Bethel, 60 kilometres away. Despite that, the name Woodstock stuck. Three days of peace and music from 15-18 August 1969.

More than 400,000 people converged on the rural corner, jamming traffic for miles. Fences were torn down, tickets became useless, food at stands ran out. Then came the rain, turning a lush field into a quagmire. It should have been a disaster. But for those who took part, Woodstock was unforgettable — a tribute to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and opposition to the Vietnam war. A young couple embracing at the festival became the cover of the Woodstock album. It remains one the event’s most enduring images. Forty years on they are still together. The Woodstock legend stems partly from the big names who graced the festival, such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, playing at a show where everything went wrong but turned out right.

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