The Woodstock Festival, which took place August 15-18, 1969, came at a critical time in America. All in the same month, we landed on the moon, celebrated peace and love at the Woodstock festival, and were horrified by the Manson murders. Like “Jailhouse Rock”, it captures an important moment in rock history, as well as the country’s history.
While the movie was three hours long and the soundtrack album was an expensive three-LP set, both were big hits, and it was probably one of the first times major studios saw the power of a rock soundtrack as a secondary source of income. (This was also the start of the use of rock music on the soundtracks of major Hollywood films like “Easy Rider.”)
Yet, as Warner executive Fred Weintraub recalled in the book “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls,” no one at the studio was in favor of “Woodstock.” The studio had done a bunch of rock festival films, they all fell for it, why would this one be a hit? The studio finally gave in and the film was made over $30 million worldwide.
“Woodstock” was edited from over 120 miles of yardage. The film not only captured a significant event in the late 60s, but also documented numerous live performances by artists such as The Who, Sly and the Family Stone, Santana, and more. (One of the film’s most legendary performances, Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was captured as the festival drew to a close).