The Woodstock that could have been.

The thread about CCR reminded me that I recently read that CCR had played at Woodstock although I didn’t recall them from the movie or album. This turned out to be right.

I came across this site which has rosters and playlists but also had this fascinating stuff at the bottom:

*Cancelled Acts

Jeff Beck Group (The band broke up in July, forcing cancellation)
Iron Butterfly (Stuck at the airport, their manager demanded helicopters and special arrangements just for them. Were wired back and told, as impolitely as Western Union would allow, “to get lost”, but in other ‘words’.)
Joni Mitchell (Joni’s agent put her on “The Dick Cavett Show” instead)
Lighthouse (Feared that it would be a “bad scene”.)
Ethan Brown (Arrested for LSD three days before the event.)
Declined Invitations

The Beatles (John Lennon said he couldn’t get them together)
Led Zeppelin (Got a higher paying gig at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in New Jersey that weekend)
Bob Dylan (Turned it down because of his disgust of the hippies hanging around his house)
The Byrds (Turned it down because of a melee during their performance at the first Atlanta International Pop Festival, held at the Atlanta International Raceway on July 4 and July 5, 1969)
Tommy James & the Shondells (Turned it down because of being misinformed about the size and scope of the event)
Jethro Tull (Turned it down because they thought it wouldn’t be a big deal.)
The Moody Blues were included in the original posters as performers, but backed out after taking a gig in Paris on the same weekend.
Spirit (they had other shows planned and did not want to back out of their commitments; not knowing how big that Woodstock would ultimately become)
Mind Garage (Declined because they thought it wouldn’t be a big deal and had a higher paying gig elsewhere)*

Bet their are some regrets even today amongst that lot.

The Who almost did not play, they wanted to get paid before they started their set and they did get their check.

… but we still had Sha Na Na!

The latest “deluxe” DVD sets of Woodstock have “Born on the Bayou” “I’ve Put a Spell on You” and “Keep on Chooglin’”. John wasn’t happy with their performance–or with the crowd (mellowed out from just seeing The Dead). Fogerty didn’t allow that footage to be included in the original movie.

When I researched their non appearance in the movie I found this quote from John Fogerty :

We didn’t do very well at Woodstock because of the time segment and also because we followed the Grateful Dead, therefore everybody was asleep…It seemed like we didn’t go on until 2:00 am. The Dead went on and pulled their usual shenanigans…Even though in my mind we made the leap into superstardom that weekend, you’d never know it from the footage. All that does is show us in a poor light at a time when we were the number one band in the world. Why should we show ourselves that way? So I prevailed.

Add Janis Ian to the list. She had an article in Performing Songwriter magazine titled Monumental Mistakes

Mistake # 3
The scenario: A four-way phone conversation in the mid-to-later sixties.
The players: Myself and the afore-mentioned manager and agents, plus one amateur concert promoter.
My situation: Total fatigue, brought on by two years of touring, during which I also managed to write, arrange, and record four albums, get through 10th grade,
and live through my parent’s divorce.
The issue at hand: Whether to accept headlining one night of a three-day music festival no one’s ever heard of…
The discussion: Promoter: “This festival is going to be the biggest thing ever! A real chance for the Love Generation to congregate together and show the whole world what we’re about!”
Agent: “You don’t have a site. You don’t have any confirmed performers. You don’t have any transportation. You don’t have any advertising.”
The promoter: “None of that matters! It’s all cool.”
The manager: “My artist is only sixteen; she can’t go wandering around in the mud for three days.”
The artist: “Don’t you think this peace and love thing is getting a little out of hand?”
The decision: Pass. How important can one festival be?
The result: Woodstock.
The consequences: I’m not in the film. I’m not in the books. I didn’t get to pal around with Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, or any of those other Love Generation icons. And they re-filmed most of the performances, so I could have looked great even after three days in the mud.
What I’d do now: Ignore the fatigue and treat the whole thing like a camping trip.
My current take: Maybe the old saying is right: “If you can remember the sixties, you weren’t really there.” Maybe I really was there, and just too stoned to
know it.

I read Michael Lang’s book, and he is very kind to virtually all the performers except the Dead. They insisted on re-wiring the entire sound system, messing up the carefully wrought grounding system and the weight of all their amps broke the stage turntable making all stage changes take much longer. That would have been OK if they hadn’t also turned in a shitty performance.

The grounding was the real fuck up. Bob Weir kept getting shocked by his guitar. He said it was like playing with barbed wire for strings.

The Dick Cavett Show taped on Monday - after the festival would have been over. Joni Mitchell said she wanted to go to Woodstock, but almost a week before the festival began, the huge crowd was already amassing. Her agent insisted she skip the festival because she’d never get back in time to do the show, and told her that appearing on a national TV show was much more important than playing a festival in some backwater hick town.

Adding insult to injury, Mitchell’s friends Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the members of Jefferson Airplane not only made it out of the festival by Monday, but the Cavett show producers quickly booked both bands on the same show, which turned into a jam band free-for-all. So Mitchell missed out at appearing at Woodstock, AND she got upstaged at the show she skipped the festival to appear on.

But she did go on to write the song that summed up the festival.

Michael Lang wanted to close the festival by having Roy Rogers come out and sign “Happy Trails” to the television genetation. He turned them down (source: Pete Fornatale. “Back to the Garden”, page 265).