Woodstock: The Bottom Line

Jimi-Hendrix-Woodstock

Woodstock may have turned out to be just a mere music festival, but it turned into a signal moment in pop culture only by accident.  Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong that August weekend in 1969, did.  But the music was great and the crowd- which swelled to an astounding 400,000 to 500,000 people – was even better.

Originally the festival was to be a moneymaking deal – however we all know what happened when it became a “free” event as the fences fell.  You can see how promoters figured they’d make a fortune, when you take a look at what the top Woodstock performers were paid:

Jimi Hendrix (and his jammin’ buddies) – $18,000

Blood, Sweat and Tears – $15,000

Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival – $10,000

Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane – $7,500

Sly & the Family Stone – $7,000

Canned Heat – $6,500

The Who – $6,250

Richie Havens – $6,000

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Arlo Guthrie – $5,000

Ravi Shankar – $4,500

Johnny Winter – $3,750

Ten Years After – $3,250

Grateful Dead, Country Joe  & the Fish – $2,500

And the list goes all the way down to the band Quill, which earned union scale: $375.  You can take a look and wonder why someone like Canned Heat could command more than some of the others below them on the list; well, they had a couple of Top 20 singles in 1969, while CSNY at that time had yet to release its first album.

Consider, though, the impact that Woodstock made on many of the artists’ careers.  CSNY may have earned peanuts in 1969 but just five years later they were the top-grossing live act in the country, earning about $10 million for a 24-city tour.  Some of the others you don’t see on the list, those who made less than $2,500: acts like Santana and Joe Cocker, also got a huge boost from Woodstock.  In fact, for many of these people it was the defining moment of their careers … while a few others would fade away into the mists of obscurity.

Woodstock will be celebrated at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on the original festival grounds with the Heroes of Woodstock performance on August 15, however there are many more celebrations planned through the summer and into the fall.  Check the excellent website Woodstockstory.com for a complete lineup of events.

MP3: “Soul Sacrifice” (live at Woodstock) by Santana

MP3: “Theme For An Imaginary Western (live at Woodstock) by Mountain

Woodstock.com

4 Responses to “Woodstock: The Bottom Line”

  1. dkpresents Says:

    Richie Havens was an absolute bargain at $6K…

  2. Win a Woodstock special limited edition white Stratocaster guitar and Collector’s Edition Woodstock DVD and listen to RADIO WOODSTOCK 69 which features only music from the original Woodstock era (1967-1971) and RADIO WOODSTOCK with music from the original Woodstock era to today’s artists who reflect the spirit of Woodstock. Go to http://www.woodstockuniverse.com for details.

    Peace, love, music,
    RFWoodstock
    rfwoodstock@gmail.com

  3. brad pressley Says:

    Hi..could you tell me where this original list is published? I would love to see the whole list. Thank you

  4. I got my info from Rock Of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll, by Ken Tucker. You can get it from Amazon.com here. That book was published in 1986 and the figures correspond to those I’ve seen in other places but check out new books on Woodstock by Michael Lang and others … surely those numbers have changed! Ah, memory.

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