Pete on Woodstock
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 15 14:25:44 UTC 2009
This comes from a Rolling Stone interview published May 14, 1970 and, as far as I can find, is Pete's first published comments on the Woodstock Festival while it was relatively fresh in his mind:
What didn't you like about Woodstock?
Quite honestly, I mean knock for knock, everything Abbie Hoffman said was very fair. Because I did hit him, he must have felt it for a couple of months after. I didn't like Woodstock for one reason because I took my wife and the baby, and you know when women are pregnant they go through a whole thing where if they get in a crowd they freak out. Well, I was kind of like that, paternally, people coming up to me — "You're going to Woodstock? You're crazy. Turn back, go home, there's millions of people there, the food's poisonous and the water . . ." Well, I immediately got into an incredible state and I rejected everyone. I wouldn't talk to anyone. And I was telling really nice people like Richie Havens to fuck off and things like that. And it just got to a point where when we finally did get out of the helicopter and the helicopter never arrived and we eventually got in a queue of cars it took about six hours to get there. Well, we got there and then
we waited another ten hours in the mud; the first cup of coffee I had had acid in it. I could fucking taste it. I took one sip and threw it away because I really can't play if I'm tripping. Can't trip if I'm playing, as it happens. Like I thought I was going to be up by the time the trip had gone through, it was only a little trip, you know, a very bad one incidentally, but I mean it's just a little thing, went up/down in the space of say three or four hours. But there was another six hours to wait before we got on the stage and we got there at eight o'clock at night.
And people came up and said "It's all right for you fucking rock groups, flying in by helicopter," but we had to walk a mile through the mud from the car, then we got there and just started to pick up vibes that were just great. I must admit if you went out of the section where the musicians were, forgot that you were there to work, it was great, but every now and then you'd think, "I'm part of the sideshow, I'm selling the soft drinks here" — No one else was doing his fucking job — no one was supplying water, no one was cleaning the lavatories, no one was supplying food. But the groups played. I know that's what people were there for, but it's a whole trip.
People picked on the Who as the group to criticize because you demanded money, is that right?
That was because we were leaving the morning after, you see. I expected this as we were fucking asking for it. They were giving us such a lot of bullshit. This geezer said, "I invited you to play as a friend and now all this distrust," and we said, "Look, man, we've come from England to play your shows specially. We want our fucking money. Want to take it back and spend it. You know, we're in debt." And they said, "Well it's very difficult." They had to get a bank manager in the middle of the night to sign a check. So we did it, and then everyone else started to do it. They said, "What's the trouble?" So we said, "We just got our money, it's all cool." So Creedence did it, Grateful Dead did it, Santana did it, all the bands that were on that night tried it on. We went and the Jefferson Airplane came up and said, "Did you get your money in advance?" So we said, "Yeah and you should," so they said, "We already have. Paid six months ago."
Everyone felt it wasn't the spirit of the thing to ask for money.
Oh yeah, I mean in a way it wasn't the thing. Oh fucking hell, Woodstock wasn't what rock's about, not as far as I'm concerned. When the sun came up I just didn't believe it. I was giving a little prayer, you know, I was saying, "Look this is a disaster, we're playing and Abbie Hoffman and company are spreading their peculiar vibes about and I've done the wrong thing," and the vibes were well down. Tommy wasn't getting to anyone. Sly and the Family Stone had just whipped everyone into a frenzy and then kind of walked off. Everyone was just silent and then we went on and all the bad vibes, and all the photographers all over the stage. I had to kick about ten photographers off the stage to get on.
By this time I was just about awake. We were just listening to the music and all of a sudden, bang! The fucking sun comes up! It was just incredible. I really felt we didn't deserve it, in a way. We put out such bad, bad vibes. But like it started for that bit and then we went into "Summertime Blues," "Shaking All Over," "My Generation," and as we finished it was daytime. And it was just incredible. We just walked off, got in the car and went back to the hotel. It was fucking fantastic. Still, if people offer us festivals now, we say no before we say yes.
-Brian in Atlanta
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