MY INCREDIBLE, AMAZING, AND BIZARRE WOODSTOCK ADVENTURE 1969!

June 14, 2009

posta

When my friend, the Father Of Woodstock, Artie Kornfeld invited me to the festival in 1969, I thought it was going to be a great picnic, I wasn’t expecting a life changing experience!

Back in 1967 my wife Sheilah was working at Mercury records as a secretary to Artie Kornfield (“Pied Piper”, “Dead Man’s Curve”) We hung out a lot with Artie and his wife Linda. When we got divorced I got the dog and she got the Kornfelds!

Then one day Sheilah calls me up to tell me that she’s working with Artie again. It seems that he and his partner Michael Lang are putting on a music and art festival at the end of August in upstate NY at a place called Woodstock, and she’s his personal assistant. It sounds a bit disorganized, but I don’t say anything, if anyone can pull it together, they can.

It’s 3 hours before Allan Rinde and Rick Bolsom, from Mercury Records,  Lita Eliscu a freelance writer (Rolling Stone), Cookie the groupie, and I are scheduled to go up to the Woodstock Music and Art festival. Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang, are having serious troubles getting permits and have to change locations to Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, NY, at the last minute. Unfortunately, I’m having serious problems of my own, I can’t score any grass to take to the event!

As a last resort I call my friend Heather MacRae, who’s currently starring in the smash hit, “Hair” On Broadway. She must know someone in the “Hippie” cast who can help us out. She leaves our names at the backstage door with a note to go upstairs to see her friends, James Rado and Gerome Ragni, who co-wrote the musical.

When we walk into Rado and Ragni’s dressing room, they look at Allan and me suspiciously, with cameras hanging around our necks, and tape recorders dangling from our shoulders. I laugh and nervously explain that we’re not cops or from the press trying to get a story, and show them our Woodstock press pass. Fortunately they believe us and when we tell them our “predicament”, they sell us a “lid” from their personal stash (at cost) and hand us a couple of capsules of mescaline for free, in the spirit of “Peace and Love”. We thank them and go to the garage to pick up Allan’s Oldsmobile Cutlass, and our friends, then head we head off for our weekend adventure.”

“Let The Sun Shine…Let The Sun Shine In…The Sun Shine In!”

The festival gets off to a great start with a set by Ritchie Havens, and then it starts to rain … and rain … and rain. There’s a buzz already that this is going to be a historic event. The press tent is alive with anticipation of seeing the artists and people behind the scenes.

I’m skeptical when I hear that a lawyer is taking over as head of Columbia Records, until I meet Clive Davis awash in the rain, the mud, and the good vibrations. How cool it is for the head of a record company to be out here “roughing it” like this with his artists!

Although my friends and I have warm, dry accommodations, food, water, and plenty of intoxicants, a half a million other people who are also here have to rough it in the mud and the rain! We run into a completely soaked (and delightfully stoned) Artie Kornfeld, The Father Of Woodstock, who tells us that thousands of people are crashing the gates, and Woodstock has become a free concert! Starry eyed and drooling, he turns around and melts back into the crowd.
Thousands of people are still pouring in after midnight and I warn my friends that we were probably going to be in the middle of a riot between the “haves” and the “have nots!”

I knew that this whole “Peace and Love” thing could blowup in a minute … but no one is listening to me as they slowly passed the bong around. I don’t know if it’s my paranoia of “Drug Crazed Hippies” rushing the motel or my fear of getting my new Fry boots dirty … I just knew I had to get the hell outa’ there!

After being at Woodstock less than 24 hours, I say goodbye to my friends and decide to hitchhike back to the city. I’m 27 yeas old but, hitchhiking is something I never tried before. At the side of an on ramp, I see Vince Aletti, writer for the Village Voice, who I know from the press parties I crash. He has his thumb out and looks pretty discouraged. This is his first time hitchhiking, too … but I act like a veteran and convince him that if we put on great big smiles, and act sincere … we’re bound to get a ride! In less than 10 minutes we’re picked up by a guy in an old Chevy wagon, who happens to be going all the way into the city! Just like the guys who rode the rails and became “Boxcar Buddies”, Vince and I had a shared experience that went “without a hitch”, so to speak, “Hitchhiking pals” for the rest of our lives!

Finally, I’m back in my apartment, thankful to be away from all of those people … I don’t believe all those people … Damn! It’s still early, so I pack my duffel bag and grab a subway out to Coney Island, stopping only long enough to swallow a little capsule Rado and Ragni, had given me. I don’t know why, but the rest of the day is magical! I feel so much love for Everyone I run into. I don’t even notice that I’m surrounded by a million people on the beach … twice as many as there was at Woodstock … but now … somehow I don’t care!”


Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne from my new book, , “I DID IT FOR A SONG”  

Copyright 2012 by Artie Wayne

WHILE FIGHTING LARGE CORPORATIONS WHO ARE TRYING TO KEEP ROYALTIES AWAY ME AND THOUSANDS OF OTHER ARTISTS, SONGWRITERS AND PUBLISHERSMY ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME IS FROM THE SALE OF MY BOOK. ” I DID IT FOR A SONG”, WITH OVER 100 STORIES FROM THE MUSIC BUSINESS OF THE ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. I HOPE YOU’LL CONSIDER BUYING ONE DIRECTLY FROM ME THROUGH PAYPAL FOR ONLY $9.99 AT  artiewayne@gmail.com OR BY CHECK TO…ARTIE WAYNE  P.O. BOX 1105, DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA 92240

THANKS AND REGARDS, ARTIE WAYNE https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/celebrating-two-million-views-today-on-artie-wayne-on-the-web/

TO READ SOME OF THE AMAZING AND INSPIRING COMMENTS  CLICK  HERE

“SPIDER-MANN” IN TOP PHOTO CREATED BY PHIL X. MILSTEIN!

To reach Artie Kornfeld: http://artiekornfeld-woodstock.com/

Special thanks to Phil X. Milstein for the enhanced Woodstock poster he made!

BACK TO ARTIE WAYNE ON THE WEB! https://artiewayne.wordpress.com

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13 Responses to “MY INCREDIBLE, AMAZING, AND BIZARRE WOODSTOCK ADVENTURE 1969!”


  1. So you were there??? Lots of my friends were but I din’t make it, I was in Nashville and not far behind the “trend” I probably caught up with you very soon as fast as “things” were going” thanks for the great website and Music memories. It takes me back to times that were kinda hard to remember some of them!!!Wonder why? Vikki Sallee, short hair to long hair and long dresses and patches on my jeans and funny looking eyes. sound familiar? lol!!!

  2. Country Paul Says:

    Ah, the missed opportunity….

    My band, Benefit Street (rather progressive in our orientation), was playing at a Top 40 club that week, so we wrote off the idea of going. The nightbefore Woodstock was schweduled to begin, however, we were fired from the club – we weren’t Top 40 enough! Some of us thought we should try to get there anyway, even though we didn’t have tickets (not knowing how irrelevant that would be); but the radio was saying that traffic was a zoo, people were walking in ten miles, etc., and we decided to blow it off – for better or worse.

    We did console ourselves with combustibles, of course! (And the next gig, out on Block Island, RI, turned out to be incredible good….)

  3. Jay Traynor Says:

    Artie;
    I worked with Artie Kornfeld too. I actually I worked for Woodstock Ventures and handled tickets & selling outlets for the concert. The night before I drove to Boston and picked up boxes of front gate tickets for the concert. When I got there I said ” Here’s the tickets, where do you want them”? One of the office workers said,”Forget it. There’s no front gate, it’s a free concert”.So all my hard work went up in smoke. Not cannabis!
    Also the first night I was back stage with my blues group “Great Jones”. Richie Havens or somebody was having a hard time getting to the stage area by helicopter. They needed an act to fill in. “Oh boy I thought here’s our chance to play the concert and become famous. Unlucky for us John Sebastien was hanging around and he went on instead. I’ll never forgive him.
    I also beat out Artie for a lead singer audition for the Mystics. Artie and I both had the same manager back them a man names Jim Gribble. I stopped by the office and Artie was sitting on the couch. I said what’s going on. Artie said they’re auditioning for a new lead singer for the Mystics, (Hushabye fame).
    Artie was last but he encouraged me to tryout. I then became last and got the lead job. Thank you Artie for your encouragement without it I wouldn’t have tried it!
    I must have met Sheilah at the Woodstock offices.
    Then before Woodstock Artie produced the Cowsills hits for those who don’t know

  4. Jay Traynor Says:

    Oh by the Way,
    Hello Artie Wayne.
    I now perform with Jay Siegel and he says Hello too.

  5. Joe Nelson Says:

    Hi Artie,

    I was five years old in August, 1969, and didn’t smoke cannibas. Still don’t. Many times I’ve wondered what things would have been like had I been born ten years earlier, as I always looked at the wonder weed with suspicion. Today we party with our kids. What a difference forty years makes.

    Rock on,
    Joe
    (trying to repair the damages…)

  6. Dave Weston Says:

    Hey Artie,

    I as 26 and playing in various bands in the UK at the time of Woodstock and only ever got to see the movie but it was a wonderful life changing event nonetheless… grew up with most of the bands and Artists and still sing their songs today… Amazing stuff

    Hope you are well,

    Dave!

  7. lou rotondo Says:

    HEL ATRIE YOU’VE GOT SOME GREAT STORIE…ALSO TRACK RECORD. IT’S FUNNY THAT YOU WERE WITH JIM GRIBBLE ALONG WITH JAY I WAS IN THE SAME STABLE WITH THE PASSIONS. DON’T KNOW WHY WE NEVER CROSSED PATHS?
    AND NOW WE ARE IN CONTACT WITH EACH OTHER.
    HAVE A GREAT DAY

  8. John Braheny Says:

    Great story, artie. Lots of good stories about those who didn’t go too. I was actually visiting my in-laws on Long Beach Island NJ with my first wife, Elaine, who was very pregnant with our son, Mike. We were excited about going til we started to see the news reports of miles of cars backed up on the impassable roads. We figured it would be to risky for Elaine to have to walk that far and who knew what kind of medical services were available if she had problems. We were actually glad we didn’t go – kinda!

  9. Karen Roy Says:

    Great recollection Artie!
    All the ‘shoulda woulda coulda’ stories are fun, too.

    Don’t you just hate it when you ‘should’ all over yourself? !

  10. Karen Roy Says:

    Who was it that said ‘if you remember the 60s then you weren’t there’?


  11. Loved your story, Artie. I was 12 and getting ready for the joys and heartaches of 8th grade in Skokie, Ill. Mercury of course used to based in Chicago, assume Sheilah was employed in their NYC office??!! Other than maybe a few pictures in Life magazine or in the dailies my first real “experience” of Woodstock was when I finally saw Michael Wadleigh’s astounding documentary on its re-release in 1977 or so. What a delight to hear these wild tales from the folks like you who were there to make the 60s happen!! Best, Bobster

  12. Bill Dyckns Says:

    I was just back from Nam stationed in D.C. I was supposed to go. (Glad I didn’t..would have extended my “stay” in the Army) I was assigned as QC that weekend 2 days before the planned departure. I had already been turned on to all the bands though via “Montery Pop” I saw at The Biograph and I had been to a concert in Philly B.B. King, Santana, Joe Cocker and Janis Joplin for the outrageous ticket price of $7.00. It was the “First Annual Philadelphia Rock Festival” held at the Civic Center. I don’t recall there being a second one.


  13. Love your writing ! And the scruples with your new boots 🙂 A real feel…. magic. Ahh Woodstock. How we love and thank all the people. Love and light Heidi


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