Top 5 Woodstock 1969 Performances

Published: August 15, 2022  |  Heidi

Today in Music History: Woodstock begins

Today in 1969, “Three Days Of Peace & Music,” also known as The Woodstock Music & Arts Festival, began at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. More than 400,000 people attended and thirty-two acts performed including Joan Baez, Santana, Grateful Dead, CCR, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, The Band, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Jimi Hendrix.

Here are my favourite Woodstock performances:

Woodstock Music Festival Poster
woodstock 1969 poster

5. Creedence Clearwater Revival- I Put a Spell on You

Written by original shock rocker Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1956, ‘I Put A Spell On You’ is steeped in all things blues and that little something supernatural that makes the Southern states’ bayous so deliciously creepy. In 1969, California rockers Creedence Clearwater Revival breathed new life into this creepy classic when they performed it at Woodstock that summer; in the dark with the sweltering New York heat just beginning to creep in during the wee hours of the morning, surely this soulful performance of ‘I Put A Spell On You was nothing short of supernatural!

4. Janis Joplin - Summertime

One of the most anticipated acts to play at Woodstock, Janis was completely overwhelmed by the size of the audience. As a result, Janis spent most of the day backstage getting fairly ripped, and consequently was not in the best shape by the time she took the stage at 2:00 am on Sunday morning.

3. Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit

The first night of the groundbreaking festival was headlined by Jefferson Airplane whose set has flown under the radar somewhat after the spectacle that Jimi Hendrix caused the very same year. However, this footage of the band performing ‘White Rabbit’ is spinetingling.

2. Santana - Soul Sacrifice

Part of the reason Santana’s performance at Woodstock is so famous is because of the story behind it. Santana actually believed the guitar he was playing was a snake. Carlos expected that he would most likely get on stage at 3am. So, there he was stuck at Woodstock when Jerry Garcia said, “Carlos, take this!” The drug of choice at Woodstock was LSD (ACID). Carlos popped it in his mouth and soon after he started tripping out.

1. Jimi Hendrix - Star Spangled Banner

One of the most enigmatic performances of the weekend came when Hendrix rolled out an unexpected, distorted rendition of the US national anthem. This was Hendrix’s way of kicking back at the idea of military power being the only thing that is great about America and, through the use of just his instrument, he managed to evoke the opposite feeling of what the anthem was intended to cause and is one of the great political statements in the music history.