In late 1969, Jimi Hendrix wrote a poem celebrating Woodstock, saying with words what his music had in August: "500,000 halos outshined the mud and history. We washed and drank in God's tears of joy. And for once, and for everyone, the truth was not still a mystery.”
― Michael Lang, The Road to Woodstock
Masses are always breeding grounds of psychic epidemics.
~ Carl Jung
I just received a commission from Hard Rock Corp. to do a life size sculpture for the Athens Greece Hard Rock. This totals my sculptures with Hard Rock to eleven sculptures world-wide. “I was asked to create pieces that celebrate both peace and music,” describes Gesso. “I always seem to go back to Woodstock in my mind to draw inspiration for Hard Rock works. It was a time of prolific music and to this day the single most profound event in the history of music. Joni Mitchell said, “Woodstock was a spark of beauty” where half-a-million kids “saw that they were part of a greater organism.” “Four days of music… half a million people… rain, and the rest is history.” Conceived as “Three Days of Peace and Music,” Woodstock was a product of a partnership between John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang. Their idea was to make enough money from the event to build a recording studio near the arty New York town of Woodstock. When they couldn’t find an appropriate venue in the town itself, the promoters decided to hold the festival on a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York some 50 miles from Woodstock–owned by Max Yasgur.
By the time the weekend of the festival arrived, the group had sold a total of 186,000 tickets and expected no more than 200,000 people to show up. By Friday night, however, thousands of eager early arrivals were pushing against the entrance gates. Fearing they could not control the crowds, the promoters made the decision to open the concert to everyone, free of charge. Close to half a million people attended Woodstock, jamming the roads around Bethel with eight miles of traffic.
Soaked by rain and wallowing in the muddy mess of Yasgur’s fields, young fans best described as “hippies” euphorically took in the performances of acts like Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Who performed in the early morning hours of August 17, with Roger Daltrey belting out “See Me, Feel Me,” from the now-classic album Tommy just as the sun began to rise. The most memorable moment of the concert for many fans was the closing performance by Jimi Hendrix, who gave a rambling, rocking solo guitar performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Yet, in tune with the idealistic hopes of the 1960s, Woodstock satisfied most attendees. There was a sense of social harmony, which, with the quality of music, and the overwhelming mass of people helped to make it one of the enduring events of the century.
Thanks Hard Rock for the opportunity to create another unique sculpture embodying the nature of artistic expression….