Whatever happened to….?

A look back at the Woodstock acts…what are they doing now?

Posted: Friday, July 24, 2009

History was made on August 15, 1969 when the Woodstock festival and concert was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in the town of Bethel. During the often rainy weekend, 32 of the best-known musicians of the time appeared in front of nearly half-a-million concert goers.

It is widely regarded as one of the greatest moments in popular music history and was listed on Rolling Stone's 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll. What are these musical legends are up to now? We found out! Hudson Valley Life has compiled a musical time line of everyone who played at Woodstock in the order that they performed. Read about what changes have occurred in their lives since that historical weekend! Many are making a return visit to Bethel Woods!

Friday, August 15, 1969

Richie Havens: Havens is still performing and is on a United States concert tour this summer, including a return visit on August 14, at Bethel Woods, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock! www.richiehavens.com

Country Joe McDonald:
McDonald lives in California and performs at many events in the state each year. He performed at the ‘94 Woodstock concert. He will also be at Bethel Woods in August. www.countryjoe.com

John B. Sebastian: Best-known as founder of The Lovin' Spoonful, a band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Sebastian is touring around the United States and will be coming back to Bethel Woods on October 2.  www.johnbsebastian.com


Swami Satchadinanda: Gave the invocation for the festival. She was known as ‘Woodstock’s Guru’ and died in 2002 at the age of 87.

The Incredible String Band: The band built a considerable following, especially within British counter-culture before splitting up in 1974. The members of the group are considered musical pioneers in psych folk and, by integrating a very wide variety of traditional music forms and instruments, in the development of world music. In 1999, the group reformed and continued to perform until 2006. Two of the three members, Heron and Palmer, are currently on tour in Europe. http://www.theincrediblestringband.com/wwwroot/index.htm

Bert Sommer: Had a hit with the song ‘We're All Playing in the Same Band." He played Woof in the original Broadway production of Hair, as well as Flatbush of Kaptain Kool and the Kongs on The Krofft Supershow in 1976 (he did not reprise the role in the second season). His last performance was in Troy on June 11, 1990 with his friend Johnny Rabb. He died in Troy, New York on July 23, 1990, after a long battle with respiratory illness. www.bertsommer.com

Sweetwater: Sweetwater pioneered the psychedelic rock/classical fusion style that was popularized by Jefferson Airplane, to be regarded as the archetype ‘60s sound’. From 1968 to 1969, the band toured with The Doors. They were also one of the opening acts for Eric Burdon & The Animals in 1968. The original members of the band were Nancy Nevins (lead vocals), August Burns (cello), Albert Moore (flute/backing vocals), Alan Malarowitz (drums), Elpidio Cobian (conga drums), Alex Del Zoppo (keyboards) and Fred Herrera (bass).

In December 1969, singer Nancy Nevins was severely injured in a car accident, where she suffered brain damage for a number of years following the collision and permanent damage to one of her vocal cords. The group reunited for Woodstock '94 with three original members - Nevins, Herrera and Del Zoppo. August Burns died in the 80s, Alan Malarowitz was killed in a car crash in 1981, Albert Moore died of pneumonia in 1994. Elpedio Cobian works as a film statist. In 2005, Sweetwater released three of their albums on CD. www.sweetwaterband.com

Tim Hardin: In 1973, Hardin appeared on stage with Harry Chapin as part of Chapin's concert in Potsdam, New York. During the following years, Hardin moved between England and the U.S. His heroin addiction took control of his life by the time his last album, Nine, was released in the UK in 1973. He sold his writers' rights in the late 70s. He died of a heroin and morphine overdose in 1980 at the age of 39.

Ravi Shankar: Shankar is a great grandfather and still performs a few times each year. www.ravishankar.org

Melanie Safka: The inspiration for her signature song "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" apparently came from the Woodstock audience lighting candles during her set. In 1970, Melanie was the only artist to brave the court injunction banning the Powder Ridge Rock Festival, playing for the crowd on a homemade stage powered by Mister Softee trucks.

Shortly following this performance, Melanie played at the Strawberry Fields music festival, held from August 7-9, 1970 at Mosport Racetrack, Ontario, Canada. She also performed at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 where she was introduced by Keith Moon and received four standing ovations. Melanie was the artist who sang to herald in the summer solstice at Glastonbury Fayre (later the Glastonbury Festival) in England in June 1971.After leaving Buddah Records because they insisted that she produce albums on demand, Melanie formed her own label, Neighborhood Records, in 1971 with her producer/husband Peter Schekeryk.

In 1972, it was on the Neighborhood label that Melanie had her biggest American number one hit with the novelty-sounding "Brand New Key" (often referred to as "The Roller Skate Song"). "Brand New Key" sold over three million copies worldwide and was featured in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights. In 2007, Melanie was invited by Jarvis Cocker to perform at the Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Her sold-out performance received critical acclaim. The concert was filmed for a DVD entitled Melanie: For One Night Only which was released in October 2007. Melanie Safka continues to tour across the United States and Europe. www.melaniesmusic.com

Arlo Guthrie: Arlo Guthrie continues to perform and will be returning to Bethel Woods on August 22.  www.arlo.net

Joan Baez: Baez has performed publicly for over 50 years, released over 30 albums and recorded songs in at least eight languages. She is considered a folk singer, although her music strayed from folk considerably after the 1960s, encompassing everything from rock and pop to country and gospel. Baez continues to perform throughout the United States and Europe. www.joanbaez.com


Saturday, August 16, 1969

Quill: Quill broke up shortly after Woodstock.

The Keef Hartley Band: In 2007, Hartley released an autobiography which includes his perspective of Woodstock. He has also released podcasts.

Santana: In the following years, the members of the group changed frequently for a number of reasons. From 1971 to 1972, there was a brief separation between the group and Santana. Santana himself rarely sings in his songs despite being the leader of the band and recent hits have been frequently accompanied by a guest singer, rather than the band members. In 1998, the group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with Carlos Santana, Jose Chepito Areas, David Brown, Mike Carabello, Gregg Rolie and Michael Shrieve being honored. Santana will be performing in Las Vegas in September. www.santana.com

Mountain: The band broke up in 1972, reformed two years later, and have since reconvened and resumed performing and recording. Mountain remains popular in some circles despite having fallen out of the mainstream during the 70s. They were influential during the development of hard rock and are considered a forerunner to heavy metal music. Their hit song "Mississippi Queen" became a radio hit and is something of a rock standard. VH1 ranked Mountain number 98 on its 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Mountain will be performing at Bethel Woods on August 15, the same day they performed in Woodstock 40 years ago. www.mountaintheband.com

Canned Heat: They are participating in a 2009 tour of the United States that includes a concert at Bethel Woods on August 15.  www.cannedheatmusic.com

Grateful Dead: The fans of the Grateful Dead, some of whom followed the band from concert to concert for years, are known as "Deadheads"; they are renowned for their dedication to the band's music. Many fans referred to the band simply as "the Dead". As of 2003, the remaining band members who had been touring under the name "The Other Ones" changed their official group name to "The Dead". Deadheads continue to use that nickname to refer to all versions of the band.

The Grateful Dead's musical influences varied widely; in concert recordings or on record albums one can hear psychedelic rock, blues, rock and roll, country-western, bluegrass, country-rock, and improvisational jazz. These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead "the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world." They were ranked 55th in the issue "The Greatest Artists of all Time" by Rolling Stone magazine.
The Grateful Dead continue to perform in the United States. Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia, considered the frontman of the group, died August 9, 1995. www.dead.net

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Creedence Clearwater Revival re-released their albums on CD in 2008. www.creedence-online.net

Janis Joplin: Joplin was a pioneer in the male-dominated rock music scene of the late 1960s, influencing generations of musicians to come. The 1979 film The Rose was loosely based on Joplin's life. In the late 1990s, the musical play Love, Janis was created with input from Janis' younger sister Laura, plus Big Brother guitarist Sam Andrew, with an aim to take it to Off Broadway. It opened in 2001 to acclaim and packed houses and it was held over several times.

The demanding role of the singing Janis attracting rock vocalists from relative unknowns to pop stars Laura Branigan (1957-2004) and Beth Hart. A national tour followed. In 1988, the Janis Joplin Memorial, with an original bronze, multi-image sculpture of Joplin by Douglas Clark, was dedicated in Port Arthur, Texas.

Joplin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Gospel according to Janis, a biographical film starring Zooey Deschanel as Joplin has a 2010 projected release date. Janus
Joplin died in 1970 at the age of 27. www.officialjanis.com

Sly and the Family Stone: Originally active from 1966 to 1983, with varied lineups, the band was pivotal in the development of soul, funk, and psychedelic music. Headed by singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone, and containing several of his family members and friends, the band was the first major American rock band to have an integrated lineup in both race and gender. Brothers Sly and singer/guitarist Freddie Stone combined their bands (Sly & the Stoners and Freddie & the Stone Souls) at the end of 1966.

Sly and Freddie Stone, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, drummer Gregg Errico, saxophonist Jerry Martini, and bassist Larry Graham completed the original lineup; Sly and Freddie's sister, singer/keyboardist Rose Stone, joined within a year, creating the lineup that is best known. This collective recorded five Top 10 hits and four groundbreaking albums, which greatly influenced the sound of American pop music, soul, R&B, funk, and hip hop music. In the preface of his 1998 book, For the Record: Sly and the Family Stone: An Oral History, Joel Selvin sums up the importance of Sly & the Family Stone's influence on African American music by stating "there are two types of black music: black music before Sly Stone, and black music after Sly Stone

"The band was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Sly and the family Stone performed in a reunion tour in 2007. As of 2008, Sly & the Family Stone reunited for a series of shows beginning with several dates at the House of Blues in Anaheim and West Hollywood, California. www.slystone.com

The Who: After many successes musically, and various breakups and makeups, The Who is still going strong. They recently completed a tour in Australia and New Zealand. www.thewho.com



Sunday, August 17, 1969

Jefferson Airplane: Jefferson Airplane released a 40th Anniversary of Woodstock album in the UK. www.jeffersonairplane.com

Joe Cocker: Cocker continues to perform in the US. www.cocker.com

Max Yasgur: Yasgur was the owner of the dairy farm where the Woodstock Festival was held. He died in 1973.

Country Joe and the Fish- Barry Melton “The Fish” has been touring the US and Europe in 2009.

Ten Years After: Front man Alvin Lee has been playing and recording under his own name. In 2004, the other band members replaced him with Joe Gooch and recorded the album Now. Lee is currently in a band called The Breakers. www.tenyearsafter.com

The Band: In January 2007, a tribute album, entitled Endless Highway: The Music of The Band, was released which included contributions by My Morning Jacket, Death Cab for Cutie, Gomez, Guster, Bruce Hornsby, Jack Johnson and ALO, Leanne Womack, The Allman Brothers Band, Blues Traveler, Jakob Dylan, and Rosanne Cash and others.

Blood, Sweat and Tears: Blood, Sweat and Tears are currently touring the United States. www.bloodsweatandtears.com

Johnny Winter:  Winter continues to perform on tour in the US. www.johnnywinter.net

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: Crosby, Stills and Nash (minus Young) continue to perform and tour the US and Europe. www.crosbystillsnash.com



Monday, August 18, 1964


The Paul Butterfield Blues Band: Paul Butterfield died in 1987 at the age of 42.


Sha Na Na: When the group performed at Woodstock, it was only their seventh public performance and they were the only group at Woodstock without a record deal. They were signed immediately afterward and released more than 25 albums with worldwide sales of more than $20 million. The group taped 97 episodes of the Sha Na Na music variety show from 1977 to 1981 that were also seen in worldwide syndication.

The shows, which featured Sha Na Na's music plus the group in comedy skits with special guests, further established the group's credentials as a part of the landscape of rock and roll America. The group appeared in the 1979 movie musical Grease, as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers, and contributed to the original music score with six Sha Na Na versions of rock classics and one original song, “Sandy,” co-written by Screamin’ Scott Simon, sung by John Travolta. Sha Na Na is touring starting in September. www.shanana.com

Jimi Hendrix: Widely considered to be the greatest guitarist in the history of rock music by other musicians and commentators in the industry and one of the most important and influential musicians of his era across a range of genres. Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards in his lifetime, and was posthumously awarded many more, including an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

An English Heritage blue plaque was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and Rolling Stone named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.

He was also the first person inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame. Early on September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died in London under circumstances which have never been fully explained. He had spent the latter part of the evening before at a party and was picked up by girlfriend Monika Dannemann and driven to her flat at the Samarkand Hotel, 22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill. According to the estimated time of death, from autopsy data and statements by friends about the evening of September 17, he would have died within a few hours after midnight, though no precise estimate was made at the original inquest. www.jimihendrix.com




Although this famous 1969 concert was held in the town of Bethel, its spiritual home was, and always will be, Woodstock. Today, Woodstock is as colorful as ever, with funky little shops, a vibrant music and arts scene, cozy places to stay overnight, and some terrific restaurants so check it out.


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