Before Woodstock

A pre-cursor to the Festival as we know it first advertised itself as the "Human Be In" in January 1967, presented on the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA. Free food was offered by The Diggers as Hippies, Hell's Angels, Beat Poets and Acid Heads intermingled and heard the first live performance of the Grateful Dead's classic "Morning Dew".

Before Woodstock - only a handful of Music Festivals had been organized. In June, 1967 the world's first pop music festival "The Fantasy Faire and Magic Mountain Music Festival" was held - in a natural amphitheater in the forests of Mount Tamalpais, just northwest of San Francisco, CA

The festival was delayed by rain but, being well funded by radio station KFRC and well planned by volunteers from San Francisco State University, went off smoothly the following week. A fleet of eighty five buses carried fifteen thousand ticket holders from parking lots twenty five miles away up through low lying clouds and fog to the clean air and sun atop Mount Tamalpais. Two weeks later many attendees traveled from Magic Mountain south to Monterey.

This is a rare and original photograph from the June 10, 1967 Fantasy Faire and Magic Mountain Festival. That was the first ever rock concert held at the Mt. Tamalpais outdoor theater. The concert featured The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Fifth Dimension, Dionne Warwick, Canned Heat, The Byrds and The Steve Miller Band. This photograph came from the original photographer for Canned Heat and features the band playing onstage. This is a neat piece of San Francisco rock memorabilia in very nice condition.

These first two music festivals - Magic Mountain & Monterey, presented two weeks apart, were put on as benefits with proceeds going to food banks and community centers. No artists (except Ravi Shankar at Monterey) were paid to perform.

This copy of the inside of the brochure printed for the '67 Monterey Pop Festival was included in a 95 page booklet which accompanied an expanded, comprehensive four cd set released in 1992.

Here is a page from a Japanese music magazine advertising the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival. It was published as part of the world wide publicity campaign mounted by Derek Taylor, who had previously worked for The Beatles as Press Director and Public Relations Rep.

At the top they quote Shakespeare from The Merchant of Venice - "How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank! - Here will we sit and let the sounds of music - Creep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night, - Become the touches of sweet harmony".

At the bottom they promise "The following artists have pledged to perform... during the week of June 16/17/18... and every day the list grows..."

The Monterey Pop Festival coincided with the Summer of Love - produced by Lou Adler (2013 R&R Hall of Fame inductee) and John Phillips of the Mammas & Papas. It was the first major American performances of Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, The Who and Jimi Hendrix.

This is a full page of the July 26, 1968 issue of the Los Angeles Free Press newspaper advertising the 1st annual Newport Pop Festival, August 3-4 at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, California. The two day lineup of 18 bands, presented by Humble Harve, performs for the first concert audience to number over 100,000.

Advertised as "The Largest Ever" the festival didn't turn out to be very successful. But who knew? In the fall of 1968 Deep Purple and Creedence Clearwater Revival had just released their debut albums. Procol Harum was riding high on "Whiter Shade of Pale". Eric Burden had "Sky Pilot". The Chambers Brothers hit with "Time Has Come Today". Jose Feliciano was soaring on the Doors' "Light My Fire" - and Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was a 17 minute classic. The festival site, Alameda Fair Grounds, had hosted the County Fair since 1939 at the largest horse racetrack west of the Mississippi River.

This advertisement, taken out of Rolling Stone newspaper, announces the 1969 Denver Pop Festival, taking place about two months before Woodstock. Executive producer Michael Lang attended to preview some talent and critique the production and execution of the event. He "ran head on into everything he wanted to avoid at Woodstock" including rock throwing gate crashers (encouraged by Iron Butterfly band members from the stage), tear gas and billy club wielding police squads.

It's hard to believe that after a couple of months preparing the original site for the Woodstock Festival in Wallkill,Orange County, NY, the town rescinded the permit and shut it down. Immediately the organizers searched for a replacement site and had the good fortune of meeting Max Yasgur who agreed they had been mistreated and committed to help salvage their plans. Back in the day the fledgling FM radio (with live DJ's on the air) and "underground" newspapers (with weekly publishing dates) were the main outlets for Woodstock Ventures to keep their audience informed. I've collected numerous, original publications from 1969 that illustrate the effort to get up to date information to the public - with only four weeks to make the 50 mile move up to Bethel before the scheduled opening day.

The famously flagrant backhanded kiss-off to the town of Wallkill
Page 22 of The Village Voice - July 24, 1969

One of the four Woodstock Ventures partners, Joel Rosenman, in the video "The Creation of the Woodstock Festival" is quoted addressing this advertisement published by Woodstock Ventures to explain to the public the fact they had moved the festival site from Wallkill to Bethel. He said - "I didn't like the ad. - Two rednecks with a blunderbuss and a jug of moonshine - I thought it was confrontational. I was out voted."

I think the message (printed before zip codes had been assigned) is worth repeating;

"Certain people of Wallkill decided to try to run us out of town before we even got there. - They were afraid. - Of what, we don't know. - We're not even sure that they know. - But anyway, to avoid a hassle, we moved our festival site to White Lake, Town of Bethel (Sullivan County), N.Y. We could have stayed, but we decided we'd rather switch now, and fight Wallkill later. - After all, the whole idea of the festival is to bring you three days of peace and music. - Not three days of dirty looks and cold shoulders. - Just one more word about those concerned citizens of Wallkill - They're not going to get away with this. Our lawyers have been instructed to start damage proceedings immediately. In the end, we suspect, those citizens responsible will really have something to worry about. - Now to something a bit more pleasant. - Our New Site. - It's twice the size of our original site. (Who knows, maybe the people of Wallkill did us a favor?) That means twice as many trees. And twice as much grass. And twice as many acres to roam around on. - For those of you who have already purchased tickets, don't worry. You tickets, even though printed Wallkill, will of course be accepted at our new festival site at White Lake in the Town of Bethel. - We'd also like at this time to thank the people of Bethel for receiving the news of our arrival so enthusiastically. - See you at White Lake, for the first aquarian exposition, Aug. 15, 16, and 17"

When Wallkill went to hell - the New York Daily News was probably the most main stream publication utilized to spread the news - We're Leaving Today ...

Here is front page The Atlantic Weekly - Vol. 1 No. 5 - Aug 15 - 28 1969 - 15 Cents - 25c outside new jersey - (signed) CHUCK UPSCUK 69

A buxom Mardi Gras nymph with third eye and banners that read: WOODSTOCK MUSIC & ART FAIR - AN AQUARIAN EXPOSITION - WHITE LAKE - 69 - NEW YORK

This infamously ornate yet informal poster by David Byrd was commissioned early on by Woodstock Ventures to advertise the original, abandoned location in Wallkill.

They had no further details to provide!

Two weeks before Woodstock the Atlantic City Pop Festival was held at the Atlantic City Race Track, August 1st, 2nd and 3rd with many of the same performers scheduled to appear. Honestly - the technology to make an outdoor event even possible was still being developed. On this same page of the village VOICE dated July 24, 1969, is an advertisement for the band Rhinocerous appearing in the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art - regular admission $1.50 plus .75 for the concert.

Cover and centerfold spread from another NYC underground paper.

Here's a page from the underground paper RAT with some quick hints for Woodstock attendees.

A complete original issue of RAT dated August 12-26 1969, whose cover is relevant to today's headlines, and includes a full page ticket order form and centerfold with a pretty good drawing of the festival site and surroundings and rarely seen "survival guide" which was subsequently reprinted as a handbill and distributed separately.