Woodstock 50th Anniversary: 10 Facts about the Iconic 1969 Counterculture Festival

Today (August 15) marks the 50th anniversary of legendary music festival Woodstock. The three-day festival was host to performers such as Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Ravi Shankar, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead, and is considered the pinnacle of the "summer of love" culture of the late 1960s.

Newsweek has searched the Internet and picked out unbelievable facts about the festival in celebration. If you're keen to relive the festival, you can look at pictures and videos from the event: Woodstock 50th Anniversary: Videos, Images of Jimi Hendrix and Santana Performing

woodstock 50 anniversary santana
Mexican-born guitarist Carlos Santana (right) and bassist David Brown perform with the group Santana at the Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, New York. Tucker Ransom/Hulton Archive / Getty Images

1. Did you know that the Woodstock festival wasn't actually held in Woodstock itself? It was held in Bethel, New York, on August 15 to August 18, after the organizers couldn't get a site close to the town and plans to host in Wallkill fell through. It's named as a tribute to Bob Dylan, who was living in Woodstock at the time.

2. On Saturday morning, the audience picked up garbage from across the festival site as it was becoming overrun with rubbish. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the sound system came on at 8:00 a.m. and said: "Within 15 minutes we're going to be distributing these bags to everybody to help clear up."

3. Governor Nelson Rockefeller declared the festival a disaster area, and he intended to send in the National Guard and remove the entire audience. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, urgent negotiations took place with the governor's staff, which helped his decision to assist the festival with a field hospital and medical teams from the U.S. Army.

4. Not everyone who attended Woodstock got to see Jimi Hendrix's performance, including his interpretation of "The Star-Spangled Banner." His set began on Monday morning after a lot of the audience had already left. Some estimates say only 30,000 people were remaining in the audience.

5. The land where the festival was held was owned by local dairy farmer Max Yasgur. The farmer, who was a conservative and pro-Vietnam War, leased 600 acres of land for $75,000, according to TIME. However, even though he played a big part in Woodstock, he was sued for $35,000 by a neighboring farm for damages caused by the festival. He also wasn't well-liked by the rest of his community. According to an article by The New York Times, the farmer was issued with threats to "burn him out."

6. According to Britannica, Woodstock sold around $1.4 million in tickets, however, this figure is debatable. Advanced tickets cost $18 and tickets "on the door" were $24, with around 186,000 tickets sold meaning that the organizers should have taken $3.24 million. Archived documents show that Jimi Hendrix was paid the most out of all the artists for his performance, $18,000.

7. The first act to perform was Richie Havens, however, he was not the original opening act. According to Britannica, circumstance had a lot to do with it as by the afternoon of the first day, all roads within a 20-mile radius of Woodstock were blocked and the organizers had to summon up to 16 helicopters. This stopped acts getting to the festival. Further, by the first night of the festival, electricity was still not connected to the stage so the organizers decided to open with acoustic acts. Havens was the only act ready to perform as he had gotten into an available helicopter.

8. According to TIME, there were two confirmed deaths and two confirmed births during Woodstock. However, the babies born during the festival have never been identified, though one of the doctors who delivered a Woodstock baby believes he met them again as an adult.

9. There have been anniversary festivals since the original Woodstock in 1969, celebrating 10 years, 20 years, 25 years, 30 years and 40 years. Woodstock 1999 was tarred with news of sexual assault and rape allegations, violence and looting, according to Rolling Stone, making it famous for all the wrong reasons.

10. A planned Woodstock 50 celebration this year was canceled. According to Bloomberg, the festival was originally going to take place in Watkins Glen, New York. However, due to financial difficulties and planning permits not being granted, the organizers tried to save the event by moving it to Merriweather Post Pavilion, Maryland. They even collaborated with HeadCount to encourage voting. However, it wasn't to be, with co-founder of the festival Michael Lang saying: "Due to conflicting radius issues in the D.C. area many acts were unable to participate and others passed for their own reasons.

"Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount's critical mission to get out the vote before the next election. We thank the artists, fans and partners who stood by us even in the face of adversity," he concluded.

Woodstock 50th Anniversary: 10 Facts about the Iconic 1969 Counterculture Festival | U.S.