Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Woodstock was so difficult to get to, Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young arrived in a stolen truck

From a radio interview program "On The Record" by Mary Turner in 1979, Neil was asked about what he remembered of Woodstock:

Young: "One of things I remember about Woodstock was trying to get there to play. As it turns out, the charter plane I was on with Jimi Hendrix flew into the wrong airport. We were supposed to be picked by a helicopter. The roads were jammed and there was nobody at the airport, so we had no way to get to the concert.

So we're standing at the airport with Melvin Belli [an attorney] trying to figure out what to do. And Melvin Belli steals this pickup truck parked at the airport.

So it's the three of us in this stolen pickup truck trying to get to the Woodstock concert to play -- Jimi, Melvin and me.


Jimi signed a contract to headline the Woodstock festival for $18,000; he would also be paid $12,000 for appearing in the film. While this fee was considerably less than what Hendrix was paid for festivals, it was still higher than any other act at Woodstock.

Jimi was scheduled to climax the three-day Woodstock festival on Sunday night.

 By Friday afternoon, it became clear that Woodstock, held on a dairy farm, was no ordinary festival. From their mansion 12 miles away, the musicians watched television reports as events unfolded. More than 800,000 fans attempted to make the pilgrimage by car to rural upstate New York, causing a 20-mile traffic jam in all directions.

 Many concert-goers abandoned their cars on the freeway and hiked in. Another 200,000 were turned away. By the time the concert opened on Friday evening with Richie Havens, fans had torn down the barriers and more than 400,000 people streamed in. Over the next two days, many musicians gave defining performances, notably Joe Cocker, Country Joe and The Fish, Jefferson Airplane, Mountain, Sly and The Family Stone, Alvin Lee with Ten Years After, and The Who.

By Sunday morning, traveling by car from the Shokan mansion to the festival site was deemed too difficult, so organizers arranged for Jimi and his band to take a helicopter from a local airport. When the musicians arrived for their flight, they were told that the rainstorm had made it impossible for anyone to fly out. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were also stranded. Hendrix’ roadie Gerry Stickells was finally able to “borrow” someone’s truck to drive the musicians to the venue. “Stealing a pickup truck with Hendrix is one of the high points of my life,” Neil Young would later claim.


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