The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, held from Aug. 15-18, 1969, wasn’t the first big outdoor music concert. Monterey Pop in California in 1967 had featured major performers such as Otis Redding and the Grateful Dead. It wasn’t the last large outdoor concert either. Just several weeks later, many of the rock icons who played at Woodstock performed at the Isle of Wight Festival in England.
For whatever reason, the concert in upstate New York (actually in Bethel, 43 miles from Woodstock itself) seemed to encapsulate the zeitgeist of the 1960s and define a generation and the counterculture of the time.
Some people view Woodstock through rose-colored glasses, and think of the event as “3 days of peace and music” (actually four) as advertised on the promotional poster and the dawning of an aquarian age. Some look askance at what unfolded; they recall chaos, mud, traffic, and unfettered drug use. It was all captured for posterity in the documentary “Woodstock,” which is one of the better — but not the best — concert films. These are the greatest concert films of all time.
People of a certain generation all know who was there. Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and The Who were some of the luminaries among the 32 acts at Woodstock. These are the 100 most popular rock bands of all time. However, a list of those who weren’t there, for whatever reason, would be just as interesting. 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of artists who never got to Woodstock.
Promoters Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts hoped to include Bob Dylan, the Doors, the Byrds, and several others, in the show. The (then) recently formed Led Zeppelin was on a very successful tour and was invited to appear as well. Invitations were also extended to progressive rock acts such as the Moody Blues, Procol Harum, and Jethro Tull. Lang even considered having the singing cowboy Roy Rogers close the show with his signature song, “Happy Trails.”
In the end, many acts did not appear for various reasons, but it didn’t seem to hurt their careers. Dylan, the Doors, the Byrds, and Led Zeppelin were eventually inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Moody Blues, Procol Harum, and Jethro Tull achieved fame in the next decade by taking the rock genre in a more progressive direction.