Woodstock, the most famous music festival of all time, took place 50 years ago this week, August 15th to the 18th, 1969, in Bethel, New York.
Among the 32 acts on the bill were six from the San Francisco Bay Area -- Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Santana, Country Joe and the Fish, Sly and the Family Stone and Creedence Clearwater Revival, who were paid $10,000.
Scheduled to go on Saturday night, they didn't take the stage until 12:30 Sunday morning, following a 90-minute five-song set from the Dead. Creedence's Woodstock performance -- not represented in the film or the soundtrack album -- is now available as an album.
John Fogerty talked about Creedence Clearwater Revival playing Woodstock.
"When I walked out on stage, the Grateful Dead had put half-a-million people to sleep. So I started rocking and rolling and running around that stage like a whirling dervish -- probably played 20, 25 minutes of the rocking-est stuff I could think of. Finally I went up to the mic, because I was frustrated, and I said something like, 'We hope you're having a good time out there. We're playing our hearts out for you.' And I really don't see much moving. I see somebody's lighter and somebody out there says, 'Don't worry about it John, we're with ya!' So I played the whole rest of my Woodstock concert for that guy!"
Fogerty's experience that night resulted in the song "Who'll Stop the Rain."
The festival also provided Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick with a unique memory, but it had nothing to do with the music or performing.
Grace Slick shared her fondest memory of being on the bill at Woodstock:
"I have a bladder about the size of a dime and I didn't go to the bathroom from about seven at night til about seven in the morning. Probably because the event was exciting, but it was a logistical mess. You know, nobody had ever done that massive amount of planning for that many people before. We were supposed to play about nine o'clock at night, and we didn't play til sunrise the next morning. So we just stayed on the stage all night because you couldn't get away. All the roads were blocked. So the fact that I didn't go to the bathroom for half a day is amazing to me."
The one San Francisco band that was scheduled to perform on Saturday, Santana, actually did, albeit, like many others, later than planned. This resulted in Carlos Santana getting high with Jerry Garcia.
Carlos Santana shared his memory of playing Woodstock:
"Basically just me trying to land, you know, I was very, very high while I was on stage. Actually I was having a mescaline experience, at the peak of it. So all I can remember is just landing, drinking a lot of water while the conga players are playing their solos and just praying to God to keep me in time and in tune. I'll never forget the sound of the music coming out of our bodies, through the amplifiers, through the speakers and to the hill or an ocean of flesh and then coming back to us. By the time it came back to us, you know it has a different sound and I'll never forget that sound."
The little-known Santana was booked as a favor to Bill Graham. Their fiery performance on Saturday raised the band's profile considerably.