41 years ago today, sex, drugs and Rock & Roll became flesh in the hills of upstate New York at Woodstock. The music and arts fair featured 33 acts, close to a half a million audience members and marked the pinnacle of the hippie movement. Rain storms, mud slides, food shortages and a serious lack of working spot-a-potties didn’t stop the show either. Everything that could have gone wrong logistically did, but that didn’t stop the massive crowd from living up to everything for which the flower power stood.
However, it wasn’t long after that Altamont provided the death blow to the summer of love and Timothy Leary’s children turned off, tuned out and went back to school.
Woodstock is seen as one of the few peaceful events of the time nestled inside the politics of the Vietnam War and the horror of the Kent State shootings, a study in civil obedience against a backdrop of intolerance, fighting and upheaval. It’s also no more than a blurb in history for many, as most reading this piece probably hadn’t even been born at the time of Woodstock, but we aren’t as disconnected as you may think.
The artists who performed at Woodstock have legacies with varying degrees of importance in music’s big picture. Some didn’t fare too well commercially after the 60’s, but there are a few who have never been forgotten and probably never will be. Their music can be found in a myriad of places, including Hip-Hop.
So get your samples game up folks. Rap can have its own personal Woodstock with whispers from most of the original artists. All you have to do is dig through the crates.
Santana was practically unknown to the East Coast when they played at Woodstock. After their 7 song set, almost every New Yorker knew their name. “Fried Neckbones” pleased the crowd that day and returned years later thanks to Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre.
Santana – “Fried Neckbones”
Snoop Dog – “Murder Was The Case (DeathAfterVisualizingEternity)”
Joe Cocker was another relatively unknown artist who built a sizable fan base after Woodstock. He may have not performed “Woman To Woman” at the concert, but that didn’t stop Dr. Dre from picking it up to show California some proper love.
Joe Cocker – “Woman to Woman”
2Pac – “California Love”
Everyone knew who Sly and The Family Stone were. You couldn’t miss the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi gender ensemble. And as great as they always were live, many believe Woodstock was their best performance ever. Ask Slaughterhouse. They might just agree.
Sly and The Family Stone – “I Want To Take You Higher”
Slaughterhouse feat. MOP – “Woodstock Hood Hop”
Jefferson Airplane were the total hippie package and probably the best reflection of the audience that played that weekend. The drug fueled psychedelia they played has been sampled by artists over and over again including Black Sheep.
Jefferson Airplane – “Today”
Black Sheep – “Similak Child”
Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the first big bands to sign up to play Woodstock, hence giving other successful artists a reason to participate. Their 11 song set started in the middle of the night when many of the attendees were sleep, but that didnt stop Ice Cube from recognizing their fresh.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Commotion”
Ice Cube – “I Wanna Kill Sam”
Janis Joplin was one of the biggest names at Woodstock but she was at the very beginning of embarking on a solo career after leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company. This performance sealed her solo star deal and must have made Jim Jones, T.I. and Bun B big fans.
Janis Joplin – “Cry Baby”
Jim Jones feat. T.I. and Bun B – “End of the Road”
Woodstock closed with the incomparable Jimi Hendrix. Most of the revelers had left and the remaining were spent, but Hendrix still squeezed out his version of the National Anthem, a performance that is counted as one of the best guitar solos in history. I’m sure Fat Joe respects that and appreciates Hendrix giving him a personalized track in the form of “Hey Joe.”
Jimi Hendrix – “Hey Joe”
Fat Joe – “Joey Don’t Do It”