Following the 'Summer of Love,' and the 'Spring of Death,' 1969 was the triumphant apex of the Hippie generation. By this time, the war in Viet Nam had reached an all-time low in the popularity ratings, Richard Nixon was showing his true colours, Canada was enthralled with Trudeaumania, and the Beatles announced their break-up.
The summer saw hippies, flower children, and many others all heading to upstate New York, in August to attend a 3 day celebration of music and love on a farm owned by Max Yasgur. The event was to become known as "Woodstock," because it was originally scheduled to happen in that town, near the rehearsal home of The Band, formerly Bob Dylan's back-up musicians. Woodstock was the most epitomizing event of the '60s... 500,000 people showed up and tuned in together... Dropping acid, smoking marijuana, grooving to the sounds of their favourite bands and single artists, as well as many new acts. Crosby, Stills and Nash made their second public appearance at Woodstock.
Despite the over-crowding, bad weather,traffic jams, and in some cases, claustrophobia, the event was unparalleled. There were no fights, no stabbings, shootings, nor vandalism. Only two deaths were reported.... One reported drug overdose, and one as a result of one of the clean-up tractors running over a young man who was sleeping on the ground, muddy and inside a dirty sleeping bag. There were also a couple of births... Undoubtedly there were MANY births a few months later! :-)
For me, 1969 was the beginning of my musical career and a time when the music I loved was expressing itself in a way my senses could not even begin to comprehend. Led Zeppelin, Cream, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and oh, so many more, many of whom had appeared at Woodstock were also flooding the radio waves with their fiery assault on the world. I listened enraptured as song after song left me weak and speechless with its spell. It was to be several years before I could begin to realize how pivotal this time really was. But I spent that year in the greatest of euphoria. I had my music, my freedom (in a relative sense) and my youth was still unspent. I can remember the smells of the rural countryside, feel the heat of a summer sun, I can still see the smiles on the faces of my friends as we gathered at the local hang-outs or swimming holes. The world had yet to play its jokes on us or to deal its tragic cards to those who played a little too recklessly.
In my opinion, 1969 was the greatest year of my life. I was fourteen years old; ready to fall in love and to experience the rest of my life from an adult perspective. High school was just a year away as that summer ended and with it, real life was about to close in and teach us all some very nasty lessons.