How Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young got to Woodstock 1969
Woodstock 1969 of the year is a landmark event in the history of classic rock. This event became a springboard to the Olympus of fame for many of the now iconic, but then still fledgling stars. Despite the gloomy setting, mud and lack of basic amenities, Woodstock was a lucky ticket for a number of musicians, as well as a resounding end to an era of "Summers of Love.".
One of the most striking performances at Woodstock 1969 rightfully belongs to Jimi HendrixBut at that festival it stood out and Neil Young. But how did these two get to the arena, and what did they go through before they performed for the hippie crowd that forever inscribed their names in '60s musical history?
Prehistory: the end of the "Summer of Love" and chaos
The 1969 Woodstock Rock Festival, officially known as the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, was both a real disaster and one of the defining moments of the decade, and it says a lot about the nature of the American counterculture of the 1960s. As Jimi Hendrix's biographer notes, Charles Crosshe festival, organized by a young and enthusiastic group of amateurs, soon turned into chaos with hundreds of thousands of agitated hippies and incessant bad weather putting pressure on the already almost non-existent security and infrastructure. And the abundance of illegal substances, which were almost openly available in those years, led to countless instances of young people needing medical attention... All in all, the atmosphere was extremely peculiar and rather strained.
Although Woodstock was declared a three-day event, it was so chaotic that the weekend's festivities turned into the following Monday morning, when the multitude of young Americans was reduced to a small crowd that slept in the dirt and drank all day while enjoying rock and roll numbers. Those who endured were honored to watch two of the most historic performances of all time: set Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and a closing number performed by Jimi Hendrix and the last incarnation of his band... But what did Hendrix and Neil Young go through to take the Woodstock stage?
The difficult road to Woodstock, full of adventures
Although both Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix are considered leading figures of the 1960s counterculture today, the two musicians were going through tumultuous times creatively back then, despite being recognized as the best at the Woodstock Rock Festival. Young was producing a furor as a talented solo performer, but by the time Woodstock came around, he had officially joined Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - or rather, became part of what was simply called Crosby, Stills & Nash.
Hendrix was also in constant creative flux. After two and a half years of touring with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchellas well as the recording of three classic albums as The Jimi Hendrix ExperienceThe band broke up. This happened because Redding suddenly left the lineup...
Thus, amid the turmoil of trying to find common ground with the new musicians, both Hendrix and Young encountered difficulties in their attempts to get to Woodstock. They were stranded at a nearby airport, where they were told that bad weather would prevent them from flying to the festival as they had planned in advance. But a way out of the situation was quickly found! The musicians went to the concert on a pickup truckwhich, according to some rumors, stolen! According to Young, Hendrix rode on the hood. The musician once said:
"The Jimi Hendrix pickup truck hijacking was one of the best moments of my life."
Believe it or not - you decide!
In conclusion: a moment of truth at Woodstock
By the time they arrived at the legendary festival, both musicians had already wrestled with hours of chaos, delays, and stereotypical hippie jokes. And though both faced problems beyond their control, Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix had the perseverance and talent to bring the famous festival to its logical conclusion. Young took the stage with the newly formed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young band and presented a great number!
As some journalists have noted, though, the musician was disappointed with the festival. He was frustrated that the other performers seemed to play for the cameras rather than the crowd, and even refused to be filmed in protest. Nevertheless, he was there and finished his brilliant set with dignity, though he later described Woodstock as "damn concert" (not in a good way).
Shortly thereafter, Hendrix took the stage where, after he and his band were introduced as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, the legendary guitarist stepped up to the microphone and corrected the host, dubbing the band "Gypsy, Sun, and Rainbows," and later "Band of Gypsys", the name under which Hendrix's last music would be recorded before his untimely death next year... The show was decrepit. Hendrix struggled to find a rhythm with his new group of musicians. Nevertheless, he had a trump card up his sleeve: his iconic performance US anthemwhich is now remembered as Woodstock's most famous work.