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

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Amidst threats of thunderstorms, Richie Havens began the music at 5:07 p.m.

Richie recalls,"The fact that those of us with acoustic instruments could be set up quickly was the only reason why we went on first." Following him to the stage on Friday were (in order:)Country Joe McDonald, John Sebastian, Incredible String Band, Sweetwater, Tim Hardin, Bert Sommer, Ravi Shankar, Melanie, Arlo Guthrie, and Joan Baez.

Sprinkles turned to showers around midnight as warm thunderstorms blew in. There were no lights to shine on the audience after the music stopped. Rather than get up for a long trek to the johns without hope of finding a way back to friends in the dark, many campers simply fertilized the field while five inches of rain fell in the space of three hours.

But the dampness at Woodstock was nothing compared to the deluge brewing in the South on Friday night. All along the Florida panhandle storm-warning flags went up as Hurricane Camille blew across Cuba and headed into the Gulf of Mexico. The Evil Wind headed for the Mississippi Delta, racing towards the birthplace of the blues, aimed at the origins of rock 'n' roll. The roots of Woodstock were in Mississippi. As this weekend progressed, both roots and fruits of blues became covered in mud. With winds howling at 115 miles per hour, Camille was already the worst hurricane in half a century.

By Saturday, the rains over Yasgur's farm had transformed People's Hill into a slippery slope. An aerial photo of what authorities called a "disaster area" appeared on the front page of the New York Times. The three-inch-deep black silt was the consistency of brownie mix and smelled like hashish. It was mud that made you itch. But the media couldn't see the rain's improbable effect. A spirit of concern and gentleness washed over the soaked crowd. Their shared discomfort and crisis-driven bonding inspired communal regard on the farm.

One thing I recall about Woodstock that I've never seen reported anywhere is the number 1 hit song on the radio during that week in August 1969: Get Together by The Youngbloods. The song is a plea for social harmony and brotherly love in a troubled time. All of those hundreds of thousands of cars driving to Woodstock that week, as well as all of the thousands of transister radios carried onto the festival grounds, were all blaring out that hit song during the turmoil that became Woodstock. I'm certain that the tune itself exerted a profound influence of gentleness on the mood of that rain soaked crowd and the determined avoidance of violence the resulted. It was as if they were all under the influence of a pacifist spell spun by The Youngbloods.

Get Together by The Youngbloods - Number 1 Hit Song During Woodstock
August 1969

A similar thing happened two years earlier during the Monterey Pop Festival. In many ways Monterey was the direct precedent prototype for Woodstock. In fact, most of the public had only recently become familiar with Monterey just four months prior to Woodstock when the film Monterey Pop by D.A. Pennebaker was released in theaters nationwide during the spring of 1969. The three-day Monterey Festival happened just north of San Francisco - the "Hippie Capital" of the world - at the height of the "Summer Of Love" in June 1967. The peak advertisement for the hordes of youth making a pilgramage to the "Hashbury" was the hit song San Francisco by Scott McKenzie. Like The Youngblood's Get Together at Woodstock, McKenzie's San Francisco set the tone that permeated the proceedings at Monterey.

San Francisco by Scott McKenzie - Number 1 Song During Monterey
"Summer Of Love" - June 1967 - Can you spot the groovy shots of Jimi in the crowd?

The effect of Monterey Pop on Woodstock is overlooked in all accounts I've read about the 1969 phenomenon at Yasgur's farm. Lost to history today, except for those still alive who recall it, is the fact that, by the summer of 1969 an intense nostalgia had set in for the watershed Summer Of Love that happened two years earlier. That peak in June 1967, of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles, followed by Scott McKenzie's San Francisco, and the Monterey Pop Festival on the summer solstice, had become landmark icons of a new consciousness among counterculture youth. By the time of Woodstock, the Summer Of Love had faded away through the violence and riots that permeatd 1968. The Golden Age of Hippie had become a brief moment in our collective memory, never to be experienced again, except at Woodstock, the communal rise of consciousness surfaced once more, captured and summed up with The Youngblood's Get Together. The feeling of that song pacified whatever complaints the cold, wet, hungry crowds at Woodstock might have acted out had they not heard Get Together throughout the weekend, reminding us of cause for celebration.

One other correlation between Monterey and Woodstock is worth noting. As mentioned above, the Monterey Pop Festival became known to most people during the spring of 1969 when the movie about the festival was playing in theaters nationwide.

Scenes From Monterey (June 1967)
- the Precedent For Woodstock (August 1969)

Jimi Hendrix "Killing floor" - Clip - Zycopolis... by Zycopolis

The Woodstock Album

Tops the Charts in July 1970

A similar thing happened with Woodstock. In the months following Woodstock, as in the months following Monterey, there were magazine articles that covered these festivals, but it wasn't until the movies came out about them that a mass audience came to understand and celebrate what the events represent. In that sense, the real anniversary of Woodstock is April and May 1970 (the Oscar winning movie was released in theaters at the end of March 1970 and remained a hit through the summer). In April 1970, the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young version of Woodstock (written by Joni Mitchell) was the number 1 song nationwide while the Woodstock movie was playing in theaters. Then the 3-album set of songs from the festival topped the charts during July 1970.

The significance of this, regarding Jimi, is that it represents the point of his furthest penetration into mainstream world culture, to the awareness of average people everywhere, in 1970 and into the future, because, of all the acts that played at Woodstock, history has claimed Hendrix as the poster boy for that seminal event. The caveat and cruel irony is that, in the summer of 1970, at the height of his Woodstock triumph, with his new Band Of Gypsys album near the top of the charts, Jimi dies in London, forever searing the memories of that generation who witnessed their Golden Calf become Sacrificial Lamb. The effect left by this Woodstock convergence is that it was never really, after that, possible to explain to his generation the unknown significance of Jimi. All of his contemporary audience and detractors were singularly manipulated with disinformation opinions about him for decades to come.

"Throughout the seventies and eighties the need to deny the impact of the sixties
took on something of the flavor of a mass obsession."
– Terrence McKenna

These Dark Ages of Denial, as McKenna observed "throughout the seventies and eighties," had at its forefront core a repulsion against psychedelic Woodstock consciousness, and Jimi in particular is the titular tip of their target. Conversations about Hendrix during this period were pretty much all variations on a subliminal relief with which people insisted he caused his own death, with an unsaid pleased "told-you-so" satisfaction that implies he deserved it, while they had the "sense" to give up or avoid such psychic experiments. They just short circuited under the weight and complexity of what it all means, pulled the security blankets over their heads, and then exiled that entire category of thought, banished out of their thoughts forever after, and to this day heap abuse on anyone who intrudes into their complacency with those old unwanted snuffed-out memories. They raced to bury-the-hatchet of disoriented awareness and by force-of-will forget those disturbing glimpses at futility that so many of them once underwent while on acid. It's all today just a bad dream from youth, long gone and over with, a closed book, like Jimi, and they intend to keep it that way, by any means that conceals it...

"There's so many tight-lipped ideas and laws around, and people put themselves in uniforms so tightly, that it's almost impossible to break out of that. Subconsciously, what these people are doing, they're killin' off all these little flashes they have, cutting off the idea of wanting to understand. They forgot, didn't believe, or just snuffed the feelings or thoughts off to continue with their crazy soul. They don't have the patience to really check out what's happenin' through music, theater and science. It’s like a spaceship. If a spaceship came down and you know nothin’ about it, the first thing you’re going to think about is shooting it. In other words, you get negative in the first place, which is not really the natural way of thinking. It’s like shooting at a flying saucer as it tries to land without giving the occupants a chance to identify themselves." - Jimi

"Woodstock" Became a Global Phenomenon When
This Movie & Song Topped the Charts In April 1970

In the early 1970s a nostalgia for 1969 came to replace the nostalgia for 1967's Summer Of Love that was commonly felt at Woodstock. Forever after, Joni Mitchell's Woodstock song about the festival came to sum-up that landmark gathering. But for those who were actualy at the event in August 1969, the real "Woodstock Song" will always be Get Together by The Youngbloods.

Back at Yasgur's farm, rainless Saturday concerts brought a euphoric peak as participants grooved to the music of (in order:) Quill, Keef Hartley Band, Santana, Mountain, Canned Heat, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone, the Who, and the Jefferson Airplane.

Meanwhile, Michael Lang took a trip to Dylan's nearby hideaway in hopes of persuading his hero to play. Dylan was scheduled to leave for England to headline the Isle Of Wight Festival, but those plans were delayed when his son fell ill over the Woodstock weekend.

On Sunday morning lines of exhausted freeks streamed from Yasgur's farm long before an afternoon thunderstorm triggered the big migration. Chants of "NO RAIN!" did little to calm the skies over White Lake.

And in the Gulf Of Mexico, Camille hovered, now swollen to monster-proportions.

The music at Woodstock continued straight through Sunday and into Monday morning, interrupted only by the heavy rains. People who remained heard (in order:) Joe Cocker, a speech from Max Yasgur, Country Joe & the Fish, a lecture by Swami Satchidananda, Ten Years After, The Band, Blood Sweat & Tears, Johnny Winter, CSNY, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and Sha Na Na.

Michael Lang later wrote, "Jimi Hendrix wanted to close the show because usually the headliner does close the show. His manager, Michael Jeffery, insisted. I said, 'Listen, it's not like that. They're all headliners. Why don't you go on around midnight?' Jeffery said no, Hendrix had to close the show; so I said, 'Okay. You got it,' even though I knew it was not really a great spot to have, waiting up all night and knowing many of the people would have left already. On Monday morning, Hendrix did play an incredible set, but by the time he got to the stage there were only about 60,000 people left."

Shortly past 8 p.m. on Sunday a caravan of cars brought Jimi's band to Yasgur's farm. "No one knew if he would get to go on that night," recalled sound engineer Eddie Kramer, "because the circular stage had broken during the day, and the band changeovers had been taking too long." Jimi's musicians were shown to a shelter to wait.

"Hendrix was in a farm shack," reports Leslie Aday, an aide to Bob Dylan's manager, "but he was the only artist who didn't have to crowd into the tents backstage...I could see that Hendrix was ill, dosed, I'm afraid, by drinking the water backstage. He seemed really sick, or really high, and was sweating bullets. I was feeding him vitamin C, fruit, and having him suck on lemon slices. As we sat there, he seemed nervous and didn't think he could pull it off."

At one point Jimi took a trip to the medical tent. "We didn't know who he was," remembers middle-aged Nurse Sanderson. "Just a black man laying on the stretcher. Then everybody started saying, 'Hey, isn't that Jimi Hendrix?' There was a big stir about it. He lay on the stretcher for about 30 minutes before roadies hauled him out."

By the middle of the night Jimi felt well enough to visit the stage. He and Mitch listened to old friends Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young test run their new group. Neil Young recalls "meeting Jimi in a pick-up truck at an airport, about ten miles from the site, when we came in. We came in on these chartered planes, and we were riding around in this stolen pick-up truck with Hendrix and these people - I remember that more than the show. I think stealing a pick-up truck with Jimi Hendrix was one of the high points of my life. Absolutely the best electric guitar player that ever lived."