Woodstock Part II
It was 1994- yeah that’s right not 1969, but 1994. It was Woodstock 2.0 that I will always so fondly remember (I was way too young for the first one and way too old for the third). Actually, I don’t remember as much as I’d like to have remembered but fortunately I had a camera in my hands the whole time so I’m able to look back on the pictures and think, “wow looks like I had a really good time.”
Three Is Company
I was still fairly young in the photography business at the ripe age of 30 and I was very excited to be at such a huge event- especially one where I had a media pass and was accompanied by two of my best friends on the planet. My oldest friend in the world I’d known then for 40 years was writing articles for a national entertainment magazine called People Today and I was their staff photographer.
Add in one of our closest friends, Barry who was a high-powered attorney attorney from Coral Springs Florida and you had yourself a really good time. My best friend and I both had media credentials but Barry (who has since passed away) was a civilian and even though he didn’t have a media credential he brought a lanyard and threw his thick wallet over the top of it to signify that he had enough money to buy his way into any place that we could go… He was right about that.
I was also working for a newswire service called LGI that was owned by Lynn Goldsmith a famous rock ‘n’ roll photographer. She was able to get me even better access than the regular media simply because I worked for her agency.
Taking Photos Of Woodstock 2.0
I found myself on the top of lighting towers and shooting aerial photos over the top of 300,000 people. I also had the ability to go backstage and shoot all the press conferences. I was able to be in the front row to watch Aerosmith, Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers close out the show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. I also saw as an amazing performance by Bob Dylan.
I was given the chance to photograph some of that biggest up-and-coming bands as well, like Green Day, Porno for Pyros and Blind Melon. It was cool to watch these groups early on in their careers.
The festival took place in Saugerties, New York which was the original (holy ground) site of the first Woodstock in 1969. This alone made it an unbelievable experience, but Barry and his affinity towards peyote and psychedelics added an extra flare to the opportunity of capturing such an incredible three day event.
The Mud People
The thing that stood out above everything else was the people. They called them the mud people- that’s right… 300,000 folks are either naked or half naked covered in mud for three straight days. It was a sight to behold. There were so many pictures that qualified as ‘life magazine” style images. The photos were iconic and at the same time erotic.
It was so weird because you would just see someone in the crowd who you thought, “wow she is so attractive” and there might’ve been guys circling around her trying to gain her interest. All you could do was simply fall in love from afar with a girl you would never meet and you would never see again.
The Woodstock Love Fest
It was three days of love, peace and music. There were no reported arrests and no reported fights or incidents that I knew of. I later read somewhere that there were several babies born on the grounds over the weekend and as I said when I described the lack of any kind of conflict, it was one of the most peaceful events I’ve ever attended with over 300,000 people.
At one point I found myself gazing across the crowd from atop of the photographers platform and all of a sudden there was Barry, amongst the mud people looking straight at me and I could not hear him but I could read his lips. He was saying, “how ya doin? How ya doin?” over and over and at that moment I remembered taking a hit of acid. I was tripping my balls off! Porno for Pyros were singing the song ‘We’d Make Great Pets’ and they had fire eating transvestites on roller skates on stage. Defiantly one of the most memorable times of my life… I think.