Don't Feel Bad If You Missed Woodstock: These Guys Did, Too

Friday, August 21, 2009

Last weekend the media was ALL about Woodstock - former hippies, now in their late 50s/early 60s, reminiscing about the event, correspondents reporting live from Max Yasgur's picturesque farm, and surprisingly non-hazy recollections from some of the performers still alive who were there. What I kept thinking about, however, were the big name bands and performers of the time who were NOT there. That isn't to say that the lineup still wasn't sensational. Woodstock had lots of marquee acts to be sure - The Who, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Arlo Guthrie - I could go on and on. But where were The Doors, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, and so many countless others? Here's a list of the acts that were invited or considered, but for one reason or another never made it to Bethel, NY:

The Doors were a last-minute cancellation; the reason why is believed to be because Jim Morrison disliked playing for very large outdoor crowds.

Led Zeppelin turned down an invitation to play, believing they'd be reduced to being "just another band on the bill."

Bob Dylan was supposed to play, but canceled when his son became sick. He lived near the originally planned site and his residence was starting to attract a crowd.

Joni Mitchell canceled at the advice of her manager because she was already booked for "The Dick Cavett Show."

Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson didn't want to "spend the weekend in a field full of unwashed hippies."

Tommy James and the Shondells passed on the invitation since it hardly sounded like the music event of the century at the time. James later said that their secretary called them and said, "Yeah listen, there's this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field." The band later kicked themselves, not realizing the mark the event was to make on history.

The Byrds were burned out on the outdoor music festival scene and declined, later regretting it.

The Moody Blues were already booked to play in Paris.

The Beatles, the holy grail of 60s bands, were actually invited - in fact, John Lennon was all for it, but 1969 being the beginning of the end of the Beatles, he couldn't get the others to agree to it. Lennon offered to play with the Plastic Ono Band instead but the promoters declined (apparently, Yoko's wailing wasn't up to snuff for the event.)

The Rolling Stones were never asked to play.

Simon and Garfunkel were invited, but were "too busy" to accept.

To be fair, Woodstock promoters had a difficult time attracting big names to the event. It wasn't until Creedence Clearwater Revival agreed to play for the fee of $10,000 did other recognizable acts jump on board. No one could also ever predict what a phenomenon the three days turned out to be. And, would any of these groups have possibly added to the already spectacular event? It's unlikely...Woodstock was more about the coming together of so many people in one space and actually getting along. The music was just an added bonus. Still, one does wonder...


  1. thats cool! yeah i always wondered how they decided who played at woodstock and who didnt. "theres a pig farmer that wants you to play in his field"...of course thats not going to go off well

  2. oh wow I tell ya Woodstock is one event I wish I'd been alive for. Janis, Joe Cocker and Jimi are probably my favourites for that concert.


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