Woodstock – a disaster

Here is another Woodstock anniversary quote from the ‘Inside Looking Out’ book, given to us by Clive Selwood a long time record company man who was by now running Elektra Records in the UK and having great success with records like Judy Collins ‘Amazing Grace’, Love ‘Forever Changes’ and The Doors ‘Light My Fire’. He went to Woodstock with his boss Jac Holzman and Judy Collins:

I spent the night in Judy Collins’ bedroom, but so did several of us at the time because there was no room at the inn. It was a disaster. The approach to it was extraordinary because cars were just littering the road. People just stopped their cars in the middle of the highway and walked the rest of the way. It was extraordinary; it looked like a bomb had hit the place. And when we got there of course it poured with rain and nobody could get to or from the site, so the locals were charging $5 for a loaf of bread and $5 for a pint of milk, which is fairly extortionate. The bands could only get in by helicopter and there was no room at the inn; we had virtually the only rooms. And in this time of peace and love and brotherhood, I watched members of two of the biggest bands at the time scrapping it out, duking it out on the floor because they’d both been booked into the same room, so they just took to fisticuffs.

Everybody hated Woodstock, absolutely hated it; absolutely. And then when the movie came out a year or so later those same people were saying, hey man, what a trip. And I’d say to them, but you hated it; well no man. Just propaganda; but it was awful. I remember, because I was reporting also for Radio One at the time with a Uher tape recorder and wrote for the Melody Maker, and reported it as being a disaster. One of the things I remember, there was a terrible smell there too; an absolutely awful smell. I was standing some way from the site, because you couldn’t get close to it, looking over a barred country gate, and Jac Holzman came up behind me with his big patrician nose, did a loud sniff and said, sounds like the Lord’s laid a fart. Which is a unique expression, but fairly apposite at the time; it did smell really bad. So as I said, we spent the night with Judy watching old Marlene Dietrich movies on telly. Not very glamorous.