Original Booklet Notes, "The Hurricane Story," for MCA's Jimi Hendrix :Woodstock CD.

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While hoards of hired hands raced to build the stage, Jimi moved into a rented house near Yasgur's farm, not far from the northern shore of New York City's fresh water supply - the 8,000 acre Ashokan Reservoir. Back in June Jimi's management had signed a lease on the big eight-bedroom stone house at the end of Taver Hollow Road, just outside the village of Shokan. A rag-tag assembly of Hendrix friends and musicians took up residence and formed the "creative commune."

Tinker St. Cinema

A guitarist friend named Larry Lee joined Billy Cox at the house. They waited for Jimi to return from a Morocco vacation. Hendrix got back to the commune in early August. As the festival drew near he rehearsed new tunes. Occasionally he test-ran his numbers during jams with local players at Woodstock's Tinker Street Cinema. One of the songs Jimi developed during this period was a tumultuous warpath instrumental titled Peace In Mississippi.

During a summer interview for Nancy Carter's UCLA master thesis paper, Hendrix described the ideal setting for his music. "There's a lotta riots and so forth that's still gonna happen in the States," he said, "and anywhere else for that matter. So therefore, in the hottest parts of the country they should allow groups to play in an outdoor way. I know that sounds suicidal, but it's not at all, 'matter of fact it's the best way to do anything. Bring only special groups though, certain groups, because there's a lot of groups that's tryin' to keep harmony amongst people. Music is a universal language anyway, and if it was respected properly it would have a way to reach these people. I think it should be brought outside, almost like the Evangelists, a gathering like that."

San Jose Pop Festival, May '69

Congregational fervor inspired by his music caused Jimi to refer to concerts as the "Electric Church." "It's just a belief I have," he told Dick Cavett that summer. "We do use electric guitars, everything is electrified nowadays. So therefore the belief comes in through electricity to the people. We plan for our sound to go inside the soul of the person, actually, and see if they can awaken some kind of thing in their mind, 'cause there are so many sleeping people."

Blues According To Jimi were preached mostly within Electric Church concert halls. But the open-air festivals were special gatherings that he called "Sky Church." "We're going to play mostly outside," he said, "places that hold a lot of people. It'll be like a Sky Church sort of thing. You can get all your answers through music anyway, and the best way is through open air. The idea is what we're going to get across, the idea of people really listening to music over the sky."

Hendrix had already headlined three landmark festivals with the Experience in 1969. In June the largest gathering to date happened in L.A. when 150,000 people turned out for the Newport Pop Festival at Devonshire Downs in Northridge. One week later another 50,000 fans showed up in Mile High Stadium for the Denver Pop Festival. Both of those 3-day events were seriously marred by violence as thousands of ticketless gate-crashers battled with cops.

Newport Pop Festival, June '69

In May, at a more tranquil weekend gathering of 20,000 in the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds for the San Jose Pop Festival, Jimi mesmerized the crowd with a supernatural set. Our music is part of blues," he told San Jose reporters, "based on blues anyway. I call it Electric Church Music. It's a very hard and harsh and primitive sound, not necessarily good or bad or stoned. You get the feeling that you're going to get something out of it if you let your mind flow with it. It should be played outside where 100,000 people can get together; the Grand Canyon or Central Park. That's where an Electric Church is supposed to belong. There should be no barriers to this type of thing."

Woodstock's "barriers" consisted of hurricane fencing intended to encircle a mile perimeter around the stage. But as Ronna Elliot, Public Relations liaison for Ventures, recalls, "Max Yasgur was running a number about the cows. The cows, if they were upset, would not give milk and Max would lose business. And the cows would surely be upset if the fences were up. So this $21,000 worth of fencing never got up in time because people arrived there three days before. There were the cows and there were the people, and the fencing went out the window."

On the afternoon of Thursday, August 14, Woodstock's 60-foot wide, 70-foot long stage was ready, but the last minute move from Wallkill to Bethel left no time to build ticket booths. "Tickets were being handled over in Roberts' office," explained Lang. "I just assumed that they were handling the booths, but they were never put in place." The few scraggly barbed-wire restraints that had been set up were quickly dismantled by the Motherfuckers - a notorious New York acid street gang. Twenty-four hours before showtime found a hundred-thousand hippies camped out in the bowl.

By Friday morning traffic around Bethel was at a standstill. Cars were jammed along roads for 15-miles in all directions. Of more than a million freeks in the vicinity, only 40 percent would make it to the site. Crowds formed hour-long lines to use overflowing johns. It took two-hours of standing in queues to use pay phones, and the wait to get water was 45-minutes. Ventures had no choice but to declare Woodstock a free festival and hope to recoup losses with a film and record deal.

The tribes continued to gather. Bethel's 2300 residents were overrun by a spectacle of biblical proportions. 1969 was a time when kids made "radical statements" just wearing bell-bottom jeans. Elder Americans stared with angry wonder at boys with long hair. Like early Christians in Rome, Woodstock Nation surveyed their numbers and grasped the correctness of this defection from mainstream ideals.