Luther King, Jr., the turbulent presidential election of 1968, and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. The times seemed to reflect the tension in music. The Rolling Stones’ controversial “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Street Fighting Man” were banned in many radio markets for fear their songs would lead to more violence. 74 Many blamed rock and roll music as the cause of violence and increased drug use among the youth culture.
Texas Academic Pentathlon Fine Arts Resource Guide 2018-2019 36 Woodstock Toward the end of the decade, music festivals that were intended to promote peace, love, and great music, took place across America as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom. Not all the festivals were well planned to accommodate the large crowds and the safety of the audience. In August 1969, the wide-ranging music genres and music lovers converged at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in New York for one of the most famous musical events of the 1960s. The festival, billed as “three days of peace, music, and love,” was held in a large pasture in Bethel, New York. For three days, four hundred thousand people listened to the top thirty-two bands of the day as well as unknown bands who gained fame because of Woodstock. The organizers of the festival planned an incredible music lineup of well-known artists and some bands that would become popular because of their exposure at Woodstock. The first day showcased folk and world music. Artists such as Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie took the stage in front of hundreds of thousands of fans. The second day featured San Francisco-based musicians. Among the bands that performed to the ever-growing crowds of people were Country Joe McDonald, Canned Heat, The Grateful Dead, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. A relatively unknown Latin-based group, Santana, played a set that “electrified the crowd” and gained national attention. 75 Music Selection #8: “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock On the last day of the festival, as the crowds began to thin out, guitarist Jimi Hendrix took the stage. The most noted part of his two-hour performance was his riff on “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Hendrix’s innovative and advanced guitar skills were a combination of music and noise. As he began to play “The Star-Spangled Banner,” drums added depth to Hendrix’s straight- forward guitar. As he reached the part of the song where the words would have been “rockets’ red glare, he moved a note up and then down suggesting munitions as they cruised and whistled through the air. Hendrix played a series of notes on the lower strings that sounded like explosions. After the section was finished, Hendrix returned to the melody. 76 The crowd at the original Woodstock festival in Bethel, New York, in August 1969. Photo: AFP
Texas Academic Pentathlon Fine Arts Resource Guide 2018-2019 37 Hendrix’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was included in a rockumentary that featured his solo. The film, Woodstock, was released in 1970 and became the sixth highest grossing film that year. The soundtrack from Woodstock was the top-selling album for four weeks in 1970.
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- John F. Kennedy, Texas Academic Pentathlon Fine Arts