The Woodstock Music and Art Fair of 1969 is one of the most - if not the - famous music festivals to ever take place. Despite the somewhat rag-tag set-up, it featured some of the world's most famous musicians at a time of enormous cultural upheaval and change. If you weren't one of over 400,000 attendees, enjoy these fantastic photos that show us how it really was...
The Line for the Music Festival of the Century
We’re all familiar with the traffic caused by a major event and the endlessly snaking line to get into a hot party, yet none can compare with the chaos caused by hordes of people trying to get into Woodstock in 1969.
The music and art fair has gone down in history as one of the most popular (and infamous) rock festivals ever hosted on American soil. This photograph, snapped by Owen Franken, shares a brief glimpse into the urgency of getting to the Bethel farm property in New York. The line extends beyond the photo frame, and party-goers settle in for the long haul.
Everyone Is Welcome to Rock Out at Woodstock
Woodstock welcomed all sorts of characters to dance to the music and mix with fellow revelers — from hippy-dippy hipsters to groovy dancers and dirty hooligans. As this photograph by Ralph Ackerman shows, Woodstock also welcomed monkeys!
Flanked by a beautiful, smiling woman, this cuddly monkey seems content to sit in the middle of the group. The hairy mammal even smiles at the camera while scratching its butt. Considering how wild the festival would get, it’s not surprising there were real animals in the crowd!
Taking the Party to the Streets
While typical rush-hour traffic manifests as a hole in the head, this traffic jam is a social event in its own right. Party-goers sit bumper-to-bumper on the road to Woodstock Music Festival, which promised unlimited euphoria from 15-18 August 1969.
As the cars extend beyond the horizon, groovy individuals mingle among the cars. No one seems particularly disturbed by the long line, but rather the crowd seems to be happy with using the road as the venue for the pre-party before arriving at the main event.
The Poster Couple for Woodstock Festival
As far as iconic photographs from Woodstock go, this picture snapped of Nick and Bobbi Ercoline is the ultimate depiction of the festival. When this photograph was taken, the couple was just a pair of young kids in love, sharing a tender moment. The photograph would later be shared with the world by being printed on the festival’s album cover.
It’s been more than half a century since the photograph was snapped, and Nick and Bobbi are still in love. As Nick shares, he was “Just getting up in the morning, standing up, giving my girlfriend a hug. I don’t even remember the picture being taken, honestly.”
Lucy in the Field of Litter
By nature, musical festivals and parties are hedonistic, and party-goers chase a self-indulgent high. So, it should come as no surprise that the Woodstock party animals threw their rubbish where they stood rather than seeking out a sustainable way to get rid of their trash.
Luckily, the dirty environment didn’t seem to bother the masses, who were more than happy to cuddle up in their sleeping bag, surrounded by empty beer bottles and mysterious waste. We can only imagine how good that first shower back home must have felt!
A Snap Shot From the Woodstock Documentary
Michael Wadleigh’s documentary Woodstock offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the festival experience, revealing the perspective of casual attendees and glorified rock stars. In this still frame from the documentary, you can see the enthused dynamic between bassist David Brown and drummer Michael Shrieve while performing with Santana.
The pair seem entirely in the zone and caught up in their music, ensuring they give the crowd what they want. While Santana was one of the lesser-known bands to take the stage, they were one of the favorites by the end of the festival!
Making the Most of a Messy Situation
When you’re camping in the elements with hundreds of thousands of people, you learn to roll with the punches. Without proper shelter and sanitation stations, it wasn’t long before the muddy ground got slippery and wet (due to various dubious reasons).
However, festivals have a playful way of bringing out the inner child, and the slick mud quickly became a form of entertainment. As it turns out, the mud was actually a mix of dirt and feces, taking the idea of sliding through the slop to a new level of nasty.
A Place to Jam and Showcase Talents
As with most modern music festivals, Woodstock had different sections of entertainment. In this picture, snapped by Ralph Ackerman, a group of men hang around nearby the ‘Free Stage,’ which was set aside for scheduled performers to jam and festival-goers to flaunt their talent on the open mic stage.
The decorated school bus was used as a home base by the Hog Farmers, a group of men who were tasked to construct the venue, ensure security and provide food for the event. Judging by the solemn look on their faces, these lads would rather be partying up a storm than follow through with their responsibilities.
Revealing the Secrets of the Ambient Sound
The legacy of the Woodstock Festival continues to be shared and circulated by word of mouth, popular literature, and documentaries. Real-life audio and documented footage from the event exist today, thanks to guys like this!
The sound guy walks through the crowds near the Free Stage, armed with a microphone and NAGRA, picking up on the whispers and shouts of the crowd. We can only imagine the fascinating stories he has to tell (some of which he may choose to keep to himself).
Richie Havens Has the Honor of the Opening Act
As far as exposure goes, Woodstock was an incredible platform for musicians to showcase their talent and win the hearts of the crowd. American musician Richie Havens stepped up on stage and opened the event, earning his place in history as the opening act at Woodstock.
The talented singer’s style blends folk, soul, and rhythm and blues, with his sultry voice accompanying the rhythmic guitar. Richie Havens made the audience proud and even composed a festival-inspired song called Freedom which was immortalized in the documentary film.
A Gallery of Photographs Tells a Selection of Stories
Woodstock Festival ‘69 is not only known for its epic selection of musical acts but also for the art that was displayed around the venue. Take this gallery of photographs hanging from a chain link fence as an example!
The black and white photographs were captured by photographer Ralph Ackerman, who was also working the grounds and documenting the wild and wacky moments of the festival. In a moment of inception, Ralph Ackerman used his older, existing work to feature his next gallery of images.
The Original Poster That Attracted the Crowds
Marketing such a huge festival is a mammoth challenge, and the Woodstock organizers had their hands full trying to create captivating marketing collateral — and they hit the nail on the head. Popular artist David Byrd was tasked with designing the original poster for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, and he did a brilliant job.
Describing the event as An Aquarian Exposition, the poster's graphics allude to the trippy experience that Woodstock had in store (minus the clean flowing water in the center of the poster). The poster also offers insight into the time, revealing how the notorious festival was moved from the original location of Walkill to Bethel.
Taking Spectatorship to New Heights
It’s no secret that festivals are cramped and crowded. Unless you’re being squished at the front of the stage, then there’s little chance that you’ll get an up-close view of your favorite musician. Today, there are large high-definition screens that are clear enough to see the sweat dripping on the musician's face — but this wasn’t the case at Woodstock in 1969.
Desperate to get to a better position, these festival-goers climbed the sound tower to secure a better viewing point. While it may not be the safest option, it certainly offered a superior vantage point!
A Three-Day Woodstock Ticket
Take a moment and consider that a Tier 1 pass for general admission at Coachella starts at $449 — before fees! Festivals weren’t always as pricey as they are today. The purpose of Woodstock was to appeal to the crowds and encourage the everyday person to purchase a ticket, which is why a three-day ticket to Woodstock cost as little as $24, which equates to roughly $194 today.
There’s something nostalgic about this photograph of the Woodstock ticket with basic font, simple paper, and a to-the-point design. Now, this is one for the scrapbook!
Liquid Gold at Woodstock Festival
If you’ve ever spent a night drinking, dancing, and singing your heart, you’ll be familiar with waking up to a parched and dehydrated throat. Revelers at Woodstock Festival were no different and lined up at the water trucks to quench their thirst — but there was just one problem…
While there were hundreds of thousands of attendees at the festival, there were only five water trucks. In this photograph, thirsty festival-goers line up at the milk truck to fill their makeshift containers. The limited resources at the event made water a hot commodity.
The Grassy Camping Area Is a Rally Ground
If ever there was an event where “everything goes,” then Woodstock Festival is it! Without any rules and a very loose structure, it’s not surprising that people were climbing towers and running out of water. Added to the mix is the sight of Woodstock organizer Michael Lang riding his motorcycle through the grassy camping area.
Around the promoter, people hover about and put up their tents. Whether or not these flimsy constructions held up against the chaos that followed is unknown…
A Little Bit of Folk Mixed With Rock
Arlo Guthrie was only 19 years old when he stepped onto the Woodstock stage and performed for half a million people. The folk-singing icon had no idea how crazy Woodstock would be, and he describes the event as a “spontaneous combustion.”
In this photograph, you can see the innocence and carefree attitude held by the young star. Arlo shares his opinion on music today, saying, "When I started in 1967, the entertainment industry was run by people who knew how to make records and films and TV shows. Now it’s run by people who love money. I think the arts have suffered greatly, because the entertainment industry now has corporate giants looking over their shoulders.” We can't argue with that!
Photographer Jim Marshall Sits in Front of the Lens
Many of the great, iconic photographs captured at Woodstock are credited to legendary photographer Jim Marshall. In a rare moment, Jim stepped in front of the camera, and his image was snapped by fellow artist Ralph Ackerman.
The groovy photograph shows Jim Marshall dressed and ready for action, with his sunnies to block the glare and his jacket to hold his gear. It’s time to make the magic happen and capture the crazy shenanigans of Woodstock ‘69.
Going to Extremes to Get the Job Done
There are a few key elements needed to make a success of a music festival: musicians, sound equipment, and a stage. When Woodstock Festival was flooded by attendees revving to get to the stage, workers had to adapt to get the job done — just like this sound guy!
Ralph Ackerman snapped a photograph of a sound guy and his equipment on scaffolding. Surrounded by a sea of people, his elevated platform is the perfect perch for him to work on the production sound.
The Nurturing Side of Women at Woodstock
It’s a well-known fact that security was limited at Woodstock, with roughly a dozen police officers managing a mob of approximately 400,000 people. Luckily, there were a few medics on the scene in case of an emergency, and it’s suspected that the women in this photograph were nurses.
Dressed in lavender t-shirts with their hair neatly tied up, there’s a strong chance that these women were health professionals called out to help with the emergency situation. Needless to say, the scene was a far cry from the hospital!
Taking the Mustang to the Party
In many ways, Woodstock was a mirror for society at the time. With an emphasis on peace, love, and rock and roll, the event spoke volumes about the generation — and so does this decorated Ford Mustang.
Hosted during a time when a large portion of the country was fighting the Vietnam War, Woodstock offered a reprise from the harsh reality of life, and people were free to express themselves. This picture of a man beaming from inside a Mustang branded with antiwar messages is the epitome of the era.
Don’t Poop Where You Sleep
Farm fields aren’t designed to withstand a stampede of excited party-goers, and the farm in Bethel will never be the same after hosting Woodstock Music Festival. Between the litter, traffic, and harsh weather, it’s not surprising that the fields transformed into a churned mess.
The fact that people lay down and relaxed on the sordid ground suggests either the dirty environment didn’t bother them or that they were desperate for a break. Judging by the look on the one guy’s face, we’d guess he’d rather be in bed and sleeping on clean sheets.
Not Quite How a Tent Is Built…
It’s all fun and games until someone lands on their head, and even then, it’s still fun when you’re at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair. These three fellas were in the process of putting up the frame for a tent when they thought it would be a better idea to hang from the bent metal tubing.
Luckily, these guys are on the smaller end of the spectrum, and the structure seems to be holding their weight. If it broke, it would be a deeply regrettable mistake once the rain set in!
The Film Crew That Showcased the Event to the World
Unless you attended Woodstock and experienced the craziness for yourself, then you may not actually believe what unfolded. For the sake of storytelling, this film crew was there to capture all of the moments — both big and small — and showcase the festival's highlights to the world.
In this photograph, the film crew congregates at the boundary fence of the campground, planning their tasks for the day. In the following year, Woodstock was released and shared with the world, offering a taste of what unraveled on the grounds.
The Meher Baba Tent Adds an Additional Spiritual Touch
The 1960s was a tumultuous decade, punctuated by the civil rights movement, antiwar protests, and the desire to spread peace and love. The 1970s were a continuation of the decade before, with a focus on spiritual enlightenment and the quest to find one’s higher self. With this in mind, the Meher Baba tent — pictured in this photograph — was the perfect fit for Woodstock.
Meher Baba was an Indian mystic and influential spiritual leader. The divine leader passed away at the beginning of 1969, and his influence was honored in this tent. Several posters hung in the structure, with one captioned ‘You and Me are Not We, But One.’
A Trippy and Drug-Induced Fish-Eye View
If there was ever a picture that summarized Woodstock Music Festival, this is it! The fish-eye view reveals brightly-colored clouds and smiling party-goers, reflecting the mental state of many party-goers.
It’s no secret that LSD and marijuana were the drugs of choice at Woodstock, with other illicit substances also being passed around and shared. While federal law still governed the festival, no one was enforcing these restrictions. It wasn’t unusual to see drugs in the open as you walked past tents, danced in a throbbing crowd, or made your way to one of the limited toilets.
Young, Wild, and Free
The open-air festival was the perfect representation of the generation, revealing how music, peace, and love epitomized the peak of the hippie movement. Set against the background of the Vietnam War, racism, and political tensions, Woodstock was a voice for the people — even when it was messy.
There was limited food, water, and ablution blocks, but there was plenty of drugs, music, and love to go around. When the time came to wash off the mud, these festival-goers had no problem stripping down and bathing in the river.
Joe Cocker Sings the Woodstock Anthem
Have you ever seen such a groovy photograph of such a legendary singer? The English star is loved for his gritty, bluesy voice, which goes hand-in-hand with his dynamic stage performances. The Grease Band accompanied Joe Cocker’s performance at Woodstock, and together, they rocked the Woodstock world!
In this particular photograph, Joe was belting out the lyrics to the well-known song With a Little Help from my Friends, originally sung by the Beatles. This song is perfectly fitting when you think about the love, peace, and unity that dominated the festival.
Roger Daltrey Proves Not Everything Is As It Seems
In this Woodstock photograph, Roger Daltrey is rocking out on the stage, letting his hair (and tassels) run wild! As the lead singer of The Who, Roger was proud to have his band invited to play at the biggest music festival in history — but he later claimed to have hated the experience from start to finish.
While Roger appears to be having a wonderful time in the photograph, the reality was much less magical. He explains that the long wait in muddy discomfort, shoddy equipment, and human aggression soured the experience. Not to mention that the guitarist and chief songwriter, Pete Townshend, accidentally drank a cup of coffee spiked with acid!
Lighting Up the Lighting Tower
There’s something beautiful and refreshing about this sunrise photograph of the lighting tower. The crew is up at the crack of dawn, working their equipment to make Woodstock one of the most influential music events in history — and they succeeded.
Owen Franken captured the artistic shot. Not only is it ironic that the lighting tower is being brightened by the sun, but it also suggests that the entire festival was an illuminating experience. Suppose you had to be there to believe it!
Pictures From Inside Studio 54 That Captured Iconic and Historic Moments
Launched at the height of the disco dancing era, Studio 54 has become famous around the world for a variety of controversial reasons. It opened its doors in 1927, and quickly became a playground for celebrity guests and was notorious for restrictive entry policies, often based on the guests' appearance and style. Inside, the club was even seedier, on the balcony and inside the basement VIP rooms.
Care for a glimpse inside? Stay with us as we share some pictures from within.
Refined Ladies Dabble in a Scandalous Setting
Studio 54 welcomed some prestigious guests over the years, and that includes the likes of Liza Minnelli and the former First Lady Betty Ford. The esteemed women were dressed to the nines and enjoying a relaxing moment when photographer Robin Platzer sauntered up and caught them unawares.
Sitting with a third guest, the women look elegant and graceful, with a touch of pizazz. While the rest of the club raises the roof, Liza Minnelli and Betty Ford seem well behaved - albeit ready for some fun.
Three’s a Crowd
Today, Elton John is filled out and suited up, while Rod Stewart has transformed into a silver fox. But overall, the appearances of both men look very similar to their younger years, and you can recognize them in a flash!
Rod Stewart sits with his then-wife, Alana Stewart, and a much younger version of Elton John. Looking trendy as ever, the raspy singer seems slightly aloof, while his wife seems preoccupied with a very cool Elton John. It’s quite alarming to see such iconic singers in their younger years - and at Studio 54, no less.
The Village People Make Their Presence Known
Led by Victor Wilis, the Village People found fame as an American disco group loved and known for their outrageous on-stage costumes (and provocative lyrics). Yet as this picture shows, their costumes were not only reserved for performances but also for parties.
The group looks ready for some fun, leaning against the railing and deciding where to go first. Should they hit the bar? Is that a beautiful woman on the dance floor? Or is it time for a cigarette break? If we had to put our money on it, we’d suggest that they started a flash mob for their song "YMCA"!
Couples That Dance Together, Stay Together
Sir Michael Caine CBE is arguably one of the best actors to emerge from the United Kingdom. As of 2022, he’s enjoyed more than 89 years of life, and he’s lived them to the fullest - including spending time at Studio 54 with his wife, Shakira Caine.
The couple, who are still married today, were getting their boogie on when Robin Platzer captured this fun-loving moment of the pair. Their joy seems palpable, and we can only imagine that their playful nature has contributed to their successful marriage of more than five decades!
Lize Minnelli Keeps Versatile Company
In one moment, Lize Minnelli is sitting pretty with the former First Lady Betty Ford, and in the next, she’s hanging easy with Michael Jackson (pre-surgery). In this particular picture, which was also snapped by resident photographer Robin Platzer, the group was warming up to celebrate the New Year at the end of 1977.
The scene looks relaxed and comfortable, with guests dressed warm and smart. We can only imagine the number of fascinating conversations that they had on that chilly evening, without a clue about what was to come in the following year…
Diana Ross Proves That She’s the Dancing Queen
Diana Ross is one of the most iconic entertainers from the 1970s, and judging by this picture, she was in her element while dancing at Studio 54. The smile on her face is contagious, and we can feel the music through her posture.
What song is the legendary diva dancing to, if you had to guess? Our money is on a loud, sing-along track that has the opportunity to play a little bit of air guitar - at least that's what the guy in the background is implying!
Better to Keep Identity Under Wraps
While many celebrities were bold and brazen about attending Studio 54, others were more concerned about the media’s rumors. At least, what we’re imagining is happening with this guest who has arrived wearing a mirror mask.
The mystery visitor arrived at the notorious venue in February 1979 with his identity carefully hidden behind an extravagant mask. Other guests were equally intrigued by the gent’s strange getup, but every time they stared at the mask, they would see their own reflection staring back!
An Award-Winning Song Brings Interesting People Together
In 1979, They’re Playing Our Song hit the airwaves and became a major hit. Studio 54 hosted a party to celebrate the opening night for the track, and it attracted quite an interesting crowd. If this photograph tells us anything, it’s that the club scene blurs the boundaries between social groups and leads to everyone becoming friends.
For example, famous ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev sits alongside fellow dancer Michael Bennett and retired Olympian Bruce Jenner. Added to the interesting mix is Her’s Lucy actress Lucie Arnaz. We’d pay big bucks to be a fly on the wall of that conversation!
Robert Kennedy Junior Isn’t Camera Shy
You never knew who you would bump into when sauntering into Studio 54 during the 1970s. Depending on the night or the event, you could even cross paths with one of the preppy socialite Kennedy boys.
Robert Kennedy Jr. was enjoying a night out with his fiancee, model Jules Dreyfus, when the camera came by their way. Instead of shying away or asking for their privacy, the pair looked directly at the lens, allowing the photographer to capture a timeless moment. We have to admit, the pair do look gorgeous together!
A Candid Moment Captures High-Profile Guests
It wasn’t always just partying inside the walls of Studio 54. Sometimes, there was a choir of people dressed in floor-length white robes. Judging by the dazzling outfits worn by these guests, the event was a class act - and we wouldn’t expect anything less from these individuals.
Sonia Moskowitz freezes a classic moment with Elizabeth Taylor, Halston, Betty Ford, and Martha Graham at Studio 54 in 1979. The only detail missing from this crisp and expressive picture is a hint at the conversation!
Bianca Jagger Arrives Dressed to Impress
There’s no denying that Bianca Jagger can turn heads. But put her in a gorgeous evening gown and touch her up with makeup, and she can cause people to trip over their own feet. We can only imagine how the atmosphere shifted when she arrived at Studio 54 with Calvin Klein on this particular evening.
In January 1980, the pair rocked up with looks to kill. While Bianca appeared ravishing in her attire, special mention must be made of Calvin Klein looking dapper in a bow tie and tuxedo!
Betty Friedan’s Animated 65th Birthday
When feminist author and social activist, Betty Friedan, approached her 65th birthday milestone, she decided to celebrate like there was no tomorrow - and Studio 54 was happy to oblige. Included on the guest list was American author Kurt Vonnegut.
Photographer Susan Wood was working the floor that night and captured this expressive moment between the two friends, with Kurt raising his hand while chatting with the birthday lady. We’d love to know the words behind this spirited conversation, but a black and white picture will have to do.
Steve Rubell Fratenizes With Guests
Can you imagine owning a club as prestigious as Studio 54? Well, Steve Rubell didn’t have to imagine because he really was the owner, and he took full advantage of the opportunity to socialize with high-rollers in between other owner responsibilities.
On this particular night, Robin Platzer captured Steve Rubell as he spent time with famous actress Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal. Judging by Farrah’s facial expression, it seems as though she’s ready to move on to the next conversation. At least Ryan O’Neal seems engaged!
Studio 54 Doesn’t Appear to Have an Age Limit
While Studio 54 was often the site of unsavory behavior, there were still instances when young guests would walk through the doors. Just look at this picture of Brooke Shields, who started her modeling career when she was only a child!
Also in the picture, captured by Lynn Goldsmith, is Debbie Harry, the singer from Blondie, and another young friend. We can’t be certain whether the ties around the youngsters' necks make them look older or as though they are ready for school - but obviously, no one asked them for their ID when they arrived!
Timeless Musicians Hit the Club
There are a few singers from the 70s and 80s that have stood the test of time, earning more and more fame as the years roll by. Rod Stewart and Tina Turner are two of them, and here they are pictured at Studio 54 together.
While both singers have aged since Robin Platzer took this photograph at Studio 54, there are a few details that have stayed the same. Such as Rod Stewart’s grand hairstyle and Tina Turner’s notable cheekbones! Of course, Rod Stewart’s ex-wife, Alana Stewart, also made an appearance.