This report airs Dateline Sunday, August 9, 7 p.m. The full hour will not be available online due to rights restrictions.
It was billed as three days of peace and music, but to many who went, Woodstock was much more. Being part of the weekend that defined a generation would change the trajectories of their lives.
Patrick Colucci: I decided at Woodstock that I wouldn't live a lie.
Greg Walter: That sense of community that I got out of Woodstock… it gave me the sense that what I was doing was correct.
A lot of things went wrong over those three days. But what makes Woodstock the most memorable concert in rock history, even 40 years later, is what went right. How on 600 acres of rolling farmland, a disparate collection of drifters and lovers, students and seekers came together to create something new.
Greg Walter: We were really a nation. We were a community. We were a tribe.
Duke Devlin: They read from the stage you know, the New York Daily News, ‘Hippies Mired in a Sea of Mud.’ "The New York Daily News man, they're talking about us."
At a time when the nation was grappling with the civil rights struggle and the war in Vietnam, Woodstock made headlines across the country. And it still resonates today. The director's cut of the documentary “Woodstock,” released this summer, is the fastest selling concert dvd in history. Why do we still care so much about Woodstock?
The Woodstock Music and Arts Festival was organized by a group of young entrepreneurs hoping ticket sales for a mass concert could finance a recording studio they wanted to build.
They'd need plenty of help to make it happen. One person they turned to: a young mother – and “earth” mother - named Lisa Law.
In the late 1960's, Lisa and her husband Tom had been traveling the West with a mobile extended family known as the Hog Farm Commune, often stopping at mass outdoor concerts like the Human Be-In San Francisco and the Monterey Pop Festival.
Lisa Law: Now my husband and I had built a teepee in 1967. And we would set it up at various festivals. And we took care of anybody that was on drugs that was having a problem. So, it was–became, "The Trip Tent," and people would come in there and sit around the fire and it was like a womb.
But Lisa had more traditional maternal instincts too.
Lisa Law: We came to Santa Fe to have our first baby, Pilar.
The rest of her life was anything but traditional. The Laws shared a vegetable garden, chores, even child care responsibilities with a group of families. Woodstock organizers asked Lisa, Tom and the Hog Farm to lend their expertise preparing food for large groups, and caring for people on drug trips.
Lisa Law: We were ready for anything, always. So we just took it on. That was our job.
So Lisa came across the country to Woodstock, with a small movie camera to document it all. She was seven months pregnant, carting around her toddler daughter, and raring to go.
Lisa Law: Having a baby and being pregnant does not slow me down. It did not slow me down. My children are an extension of me. And so I have no problem doing things with them attached to me.
Lisa, her family and the crew from the Hog Farm arrived at the site and got down to business.
Lisa approached the Woodstock organizers with a demand.
Lisa Law: I need $3,000 to go into town to buy the food. So, he gave me $3,000 and I commandeered a truck and I bought 1,500 pounds of bulgur wheat, 1,500 pounds of rolled oats, 200 boxes of 25 pounds of currants, wheat germ, I bought 160,000 paper plates, a Jade Buddha to bless our kitchen…
Video: Back to Woodstock: Greg A few hundred yards from the Hog Farm compound, a teenager named Greg Walter was helping build the Woodstock arts and crafts pavilion.
Greg Walter: It was a job that anyone would want. You could get 10,000 applicants to work at this music festival. It's amazing.
Before Woodstock, Greg hadn't considered himself part of the counterculture-– far from it.
Greg grew up in a conventional suburban family in Cornwall, New York. He hadn't rebelled against his parents or much of anything. But in 1969, that started to change.
Greg Walter: When you turned 18 at the time, you were supposed to register for the draft. The principal of the high school called me in and already had the papers all prepared for me. I ended up getting my draft card.
He'd seen the images from Vietnam on the nightly news, of course. Now he started paying closer attention. Greg decided he opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam. With a church youth group, he went to his first anti-war demonstrations.
Greg Walter: We weren't real radicals or anything. We just were trying to make our voices heard.
As he got more involved with the protest movement, Greg fell in love with the music that was transfixing American youth.
Greg Walter: The music was one thing that our generation really felt was theirs. It wasn't coming from someone else. We were creating it, we controlled it.
What drew Greg Walter to Woodstock was the musical acts that were signed on, artists like Janis Joplin, Richie Havens, and the band called ’The Band.’
Levon Helm: In 1969, we had just signed a recording agreement with Capitol Records.
Levon Helm, drummer and singer in The Band was a natural fit for the festival. He and his bandmates were already living in the Catskill Mountains north of New York City, in the little town of Woodstock, New York.
Levon Helm: A lotta the people here play music anyway. So, you know, you go into the gas station, the guy that's helpin' you fill your car up, he may be the best banjo picker around. You know, so people around here have always celebrated music.
The band's first album, Music from Big Pink, was named after their house in Woodstock. Their song “The Weight,” was featured in the 1969 movie “Easy Rider.” The song, the movie and The Band found a strong cult following. It was in the midst of that first brush with stardom that The Band accepted the invitation to play the festival being planned in their own neighborhood. They didn’t know the details about Woodstock, but they knew it was going to be big.
Levon Helm: Well, there hadn't been anything like that except maybe a couple things out in California they had had a couple big music events. Everybody kinda realized that for the east coast, it was a first.
Greg Walter: I felt the momentum leading up to the festival. And I felt it was going to be almost overwhelming.
But in upstate New York, the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival almost didn't happen at all. Residents of the town of Woodstock had rejected the idea of the concert from the start, fearing it would bring too much noise, traffic and attention to their quiet town. So organizers had moved the event to the tiny town of Walkill. But just weeks before the scheduled event, the citizens there revoked the permit necessary for an outdoor festival.
Elliot Tiber: They were afraid of–of a cultural group of–hippies and musicians and people who may or may not have been smoking marijuana to be in their town.
Elliot Tiber helped his parents run the El Monaco, a dilapidated motel not far from Walkill. As president of the chamber of commerce in the town of Bethel, just down the road, Elliot could issue permits for outdoor events.
Elliot Tiber: For 10 years, I had a music festival, a music and arts festival of my own at the El Monaco on the lawn. And what that was, is I had an LP record player and I played my favorites. Judy Garland was always number one.
Elliot was gay in a time when people didn't talk openly about sexual orientation. In June of 1969, he'd been at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, when patrons fought back against police brutality–touching off the modern gay rights movement. Back at his parents’ motel, Elliot decided it was time to make his mark. He called the Woodstock organizers out of the blue.
Elliot Tiber: I said “I have a permit for the festival." "Permit? What do you mean a permit?" "A permit for a music and art festival."
Elliot brought the organizers to meet Max Yazgur, a local dairy farmer who agreed to rent out his property for the music festival. When word got out, many locals were furious.
Elliot Tiber: The first thing they did was surround my place and threaten to–burn us down and all that. "We don't want hippies, we don't want homosexuals we don't want drug ad–we don't want any of that stuff here.”
But Elliot Tiber didn't scare easily. He rented out rooms at the El Monaco to Woodstock organizers, saving the motel from bankruptcy, and sold Woodstock tickets at the front desk.
Elliot Tiber: The lines were–were–a mile long to our office to buy tickets.
The Woodstock Music and Arts Festival was going forward, alright. And a lot more people than the town of Bethel had ever seen were on their way.
Patrick Colucci: The trip to Woodstock
Patrick Colucci: I mean that was some trip.
Patrick Colucci's journey to Woodstock started at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Queens where he was studying to be a Catholic Priest.
Patrick Colucci: Things were not working out quite the way I had expected at this point in my life. There was a lot going on in my head.
Patrick had begun to question his calling. Watching news of the anti-war and civil rights movements, he wondered whether a life in the church would leave him too sheltered.
Patrick Colucci: I felt that Christ himself had rolled around in the mud with the common man. And I felt that that's what I should do.
So on his summer break, Patrick decided to drive his old Honda to the festival everyone was talking about. He was driving behind Maria Calvitto, a seventeen year old girl he'd met recently at a party.
Patrick Colucci: She said, "I'm goin' up with a bunch of friends. If you wanna follow our car, you're welcome to do so."
Soon after they started off, traffic slowed to a crawl.
Patrick Colucci: I noticed the door opened in the car in front of me and Maria got out and she walked towards me wearing jeans, she had no shoes on, and very long straight hair and just a lovely sight so she hopped on the bike, I cranked it up and we rode down the side of the road together.
Duke Devlin: I was out there, I was out there, I was doing my thing.
Duke Devlin, a wandering hippy with no fixed address, travelled to Woodstock the same way he went everywhere— hitchhiking in cars, vans and old painted school busses.
Duke Devlin: Psychedelic colors and different things like that you know, didn't wanna be yellow. We weren't going to school, man.
They were going to a place with no rules and no authorities–Duke hadn't even bothered to buy a ticket to hear his rock and roll heroes.
Duke Devlin: I loved The Band man, I loved The Band.
Duke Devlin: “The Weight,” “The Weight.” Come on, “The Weight” drives me up a wall man. Are you kidding? Yeah.
After days crammed in strangers vehicles, Duke approached the Woodstock site.
Duke Devlin: "Hey man, which way's the festival?" "Oh, I think it's that way, man."
Patrick Colucci: Waves of people were coming by. They were just comin' in waves.
EverettPearsall: We all knew there was gonna be this - music festival. But I don't think the state police realized just how many people were going to be there.
Everett Pearsallwas a state trooper who was called in to help with the spreading crisis.
EverettPearsall: Oh the traffic was horrendous, you know those are all little two lane roads up there and you know people–a lot of people when they couldn't get through they would just leave the car. There were cars parked all over, I mean I'm talking five miles from the place six miles from the place.
Lisa Law: Can you imagine walking all that way with your bags and leaving your car out in the middle of no place, right? I mean it was amazing what was happening.
Elliot Tiber: A sea of humanity. Of colorful clothes. Friendliness and flowers, everybody's giving everyone flowers, it was a big party.
Duke Devlin: These people around here never saw a purple feather in their life, you know. And people can started come down the road looking–dressed really weird, man, you know what I mean?
Lisa Law: I walked over to where–
The people were arriving on the main road behind the stage, I couldn't believe my eyes. There were thousands and thousands of people–it blew my mind. And I said, "Ah hah, we have prepared for these people. We are prepared."
Radio: Cars are being abandoned on highways leading to the festival and festival organizers have called for all vehicles heading for the event to turn back home.
By Friday August 15th, the first official day of Woodstock, plans for the concert were in disarray.
Greg Walter: No one was really sure if we were gonna get shut down by the government, if the P.A. was actually going to work, if the performers were actually gonna get on stage. Chaos is really the only word I can get.
Amidst the chaos, seminary student Patrick Colucci and his new friend Maria realized they had no clue how to find Maria's friends who had started the trip with her. So the two of them walked together down the sloping field to the main stage just as the first performance of Woodstock got underway.
Patrick Colucci: Richie Havens was on stage. I stood there with Maria. And a moment in time crystallized for me. The sun had come through the clouds. I turn. I see Maria, beautiful young girl. And I see 300,000 unsupervised kids. And I look up to Heaven and I said, "God, it doesn't get better than this, does it?"
Elliot Tiber: I thought he was singing it to me. Because suddenly I was free.
From his family's motel nearby, Elliot Tiber could hear the music ringing across the lake.
Elliot Tiber: It was my chance to be free for the first time in my life, totally free.
Greg Walter (singing): Freedom, freedom.
For the moment, Greg Walter–newly registered for the draft–put aside his worries about Vietnam.
Greg Walter : It was, like, freedom. We can do what we want to do.
Can I have your attention? Alright. Listen. From now on, the Woodstock festival is a free concert.
Greg Walter: From now on, the festival was going to be free. And I'm gettin' tingles just thinkin' about it right now.
Duke Devlin figured he'd been right all along. Why worry about tickets? Why worry about anything? While others struggled to stake out space near the stage, Duke wandered all over.
DukeDevlin: I wasn't plopped. I wasn't plopped. Some people plopped. I'm not a plopper, you know what I mean? I'm a mover and a groover.
Late Friday it started to pour. Duke didn't worry about that either.
Duke Devlin: You know, if you go on a picnic, then you talk about weather, you know what I mean? I mean, you know, “Oh, it's raining, we'll cancel the picnic 'cause you know,” – I mean, this wasn't–this wasn't a picnic. We're all wet. So what? You're wet. She's wet. He's wet. We're wet.
Patrick Colucci: The rain was that very heavy type of summer rain you know? It just came down like bullets. And it came down intensely. A hundred years of cow manure came to the surface. The smell was sort of like a mixture of–poop and hashish, if I–if I had to put a–definition to it.
But huddled close to Maria, listening to the music of Joan Baez, Patrick wasn't missing the comforts of home or the church. He realized he didn't want to be anywhere else.
Patrick Colucci: I mean, here I am with this gorgeous girl, you know. And I'm with this people that are like minded. The weather was really inconsequential.
Patrick and Maria and about 400,000 other young people slept out in the open that night. They awoke to bright sunshine.
Greg Walter: On Saturday, things really started to come together. And it was, to coin a phrase from the time, do your own thing. And some people were swimming naked in the lake, and other people were off camping.
Duke Devlin: The nudity was–more or less, like to–to shock people, you know. It was–it was–it wasn't to shock each other. It was to shock other people.
But as the crowd frollicked, other problems were developing...there weren't enough portable toilets to serve hundreds of thousands of people...friends and family got separated–before the age of cell phones, it wasn't easy finding each other...and concession stands all around the concert site had run out of food.
Patrick Colucci: A little bit of–despair or concern. "What are we gonna do? We're exposed. We have nothing. We just have each other. We're–w–what's gonna happen to my bike?"
Lisa Law: Woodstock had become a disaster area. You have thousands and thousands of cars lining the streets. Hundreds of thousands of people walking around. You have a few outhouses.
Lisa Law: You have people that have come there for one day that are stuck there for three days. Everybody had to figure out in this disaster area how they're gonna survive.
Leni Binder: They were announcing it all over the radios. They were saying that, you know, there's not enough food to go around.
Leni Binder was a young mother who lived in a town near the Woodstock site.
Leni Binder: So I bought as many breads as I could find. As much peanut butter, jelly.
She made hundreds of sandwiches and had them delivered to the festival.
Leni Binder: I'm a Jewish mother. If somebody's hungry, I try to feed them.
But a few hundred sandwiches made by locals and tossed out to the crowd weren't going to feed a half a million hungry hippies. Lisa Law and her Hog Harm crew had been cooking up massive amounts of vegetables, omelets and granola about a half mile from the main stage, but most of the audience didn't know about it yet.
Lisa Law: It's the only time I got to make my announcement which was, with the microphone, "Anybody who's hungry can come across to the forest on the other side, the Hog Farm'll feed you."
Lisa and her team served up hot meals, while her toddler Pilar played with other Hog Farm babies.
Duke Devlin: The Hog Farm brought back everything back to me about the community type living. The real deal was here, you know what I mean?
Duke was especially impressed by the commune's work as the de facto security operation for the festival. They called themselves the “please” force.
Duke Devlin: P-L-E-A-S-E “please” department.
As for real police, they kept their presence low key.
Everett Pearsall: We weren't really looking to enforce all the drug laws either. I mean, you know, if you wanted–you–you know, if you wanted to–to arrest people for marijuana, well, I'm sure it was there. I mean, it–it's not a question where–where you–we saw it and just ignored it. It was a just a question you didn't look for it, you know.
Elliot Tiber remembers the police officer who gave him a ride from the El Monaco to the Woodstock grounds.
Elliot Tiber: He said, "Take a break. Get on my motorcycle." Took me to the grounds and I took a look at Max's farm. The last time I saw it was empty with cows. And now I saw a half million people, a sea of humanity. I–it overwhelmed my senses.
Elliot Tiber: Some kids offered me acid. I was with a couple overnight in a Volkswagen bus. I don't remember anything about what we did. Nothing.
Duke Devlin: I was into the drug scene. I wanna get to the edge as far as I can without falling off. Forty years ago there wasn't today's level of public awareness about just how dangerous drugs can be.
Patrick Colucci: You couldn't–you couldn't breathe the air without gettin' high. There were–every conceivable drug was bein' passed along like on a human conveyor belt.
Hundreds of thousands of kids, even some of the performers on stage, partaking in what seemed like unlimited supplies of pot and LSD.
Patrick Colucci: The brown acid that is circulating around us is not specifically too good. Uh, it's suggested that you do stay away from that. Of course, it is your own trip, so be my guest.
Greg Walter: I could hear people really losin' it. I mean, just freakin' out.
It became part of Greg's job to assist concert goers who were having bad drug trips.
Greg Walter: They'd do acid and just sort of lose it.
Some drug users were taken to an onsite medical center. One died of an overdose. But for less serious cases, Lisa Law's trip tents were ready and waiting.
Lisa Law: We took care of them. Let's say like this, "So–what's your name?" "Bob." "Well, Bob, you've taken some psychedelic drug it'll–it'll wear off. And you're gonna be okay." "Okay." Once they're inside of a trip tent, there's not all this distraction on their trip and they can actually finish their trip inside the trip tent. But, when they'd get up to leave, they were told, "See that guy coming in here who's looked like you did a couple hours ago? Now it's your turn to take care of them."
For Patrick Colucci, the immaculate conception seminary felt further and further away. The priests he studied with would never have approved of his growing feelings towards Maria Calvitto. And they would have been horrified by his decision to experiment with LSD.
Video: Back to Woodstock: Patrick and Maria
Patrick Colucci:I was a product of the times. And I did indulge a little bit. And–Saturday I think I got a little carried away. I think some of us got caught up with some stuff that was pretty potent.
Patrick made his way to the Hog Farm compound where he was comforted with warm food and kind words. In the shelter of the trip tent, he fell fast asleep.
Patrick Colucci: I remember waking up at around–at night. And all of a sudden, Sly and the Family Stone come on with white fringe jackets and their brass instruments and just blew the place away. Strobe lights were hitting the audience. 500,000 kids were standing up, "Gotta get higher,"
Duke Devlin: "Gonna take you higher," you know, higher. It was like fitting, ya know?
Patrick Colucci: The Woodstock nation was born with that song, as far as I'm concerned. And for–for the first time in my life, I really felt that I belonged. And I belonged to that group.
Patrick Colucci: There was a lot of kindness that I witnessed.
Elliot Tiber: I knew then there were more of us then of them, the haters, versus the lovers.
By Sunday morning, four or five hundred thousand individuals had coalesced into what they say felt like a tribe–the Woodstock nation.
Greg Walter: I think that's why we had, as far as I know, almost zero amount of hostility as far as fights and theft. People realized the only way we were gonna get through that weekend was to be cool and to help your neighbor. Pass it on, as they said.
PatrickColucci: We went to a guy who had a tent. And–I asked, "Could we–you know, can we share the tent with you?" And he says, "Yeah, take it for a half hour. But then I gotta let somebody else in.”
Lisa Law: So many people were volunteering to do anything.
Lisa had signed up to help out at Woodstock. But by Sunday she says, it seemed like half the crowd was tying on red strips of fabric to designate themselves as volunteers.
Lisa Law: If you find somebody that's willing to help out a little, and you put an armband on 'em see, you are now part of a security force. You–you are a helper now. That person turns around and has a job. And they go and they help out.
The positive vibes were spreading so wide that even a state trooper stationed outside the concert site could feel them.
Everett Pearsall: There were no problems. It was a different time back then.
Greg Walter: There were so many of us that had a common value system, a common idealism.
For Greg Walter–eighteen and recently registered for the draft–being enveloped in a crowd that vocally shared his opposition to the war in Vietnam was a revelation.
Greg Walter: That empowered me. I–I realized the–the movement was far bigger than I ever could have imagined it would be.
PatrickColucci: We were becoming something more than the sum of our parts.
For Patrick Colucci, who'd been planning all his life to be a catholic priest, the transformation that took place at Woodstock wasn't just political: he was falling in love.
Patrick Colucci: It brought up emotions in me that I had never felt before. We were immediately attracted to each other. And–we–I guess we did what–what all attracted people did in those days.
At the El Monaco motel, down the road from the concert site, Elliot Tiber was feeling the Woodstock freedom too. Right in front of his parents, he kissed a man.
Elliot Tiber: I thought there'd be thunder and lightning. Mother just went away and started doing laundry, my father used a lawn mower. They couldn't deal with that. But, they didn't say a word.
But Elliot says coming out to his parents was eclipsed by something even bigger–the pride he felt for his role in making Woodstock happen.
Elliot Tiber: I said, "I did all of this?" My dad said that too. He was crying and he said, "Look, from nothing in the empty parking lot, look what you did." And gave me a hug. Only time in his life he ever gave me a hug.
Meanwhile, by the Woodstock main stage, one last night of music was just getting underway.
LevonHelm: We got there, we had to take a helicopter in. But we got to the festival ground and just as we got there the sky broke open and it came about a four hour thunderstorm. We were supposed to go on around dark and we finally got to the stage around 2 in the mornin. The–the crowd was–they had a mind of their own, you know? It looked like a jubilant party. You know, I didn't see anybody cryin' or–or wishin' they weren't there.
Duke Devlin: It was talking our talk. You know–and take the load off Fannie, you know, and then–then put the–you know, put the–put the load right on me, you know. I'll carry your load, man, you know.
The sun rose on Monday morning to the strains of Jimi Hendrix on guitar–the final performance of Woodstock weekend.
Juma Sultan: In music, you have–innovators and imitators. He was an innovator.
Juma Sultan was a percussionist in Hendrix's band. That's him on the left.
We didn't know we were gonna play the star spangled banner. That was totally adlib. That was totally improvisational, it was never rehearsed. He just said “Play.” I think that it meant that we were all Americans and we were happy to be in a free country where we could express ourselves.
Duke Devlin: That morning in this encampment that's like smoldering after this great weekend, man, to hear Jimi Hendrix play the Star Spangled Banner was–blow you away, number one to the sun, man, yeah. It was cool.
The only thing left was cleaning up the mess–it took organizers more than a week and cost 100 thousand dollars. And then, the long trek home.
Patrick Colucci and Maria Calvitto never did find the friends she'd set off with that weekend. Before Patrick and Maria parted, he'd told her of his decision: he was going to return to the seminary.
Patrick Colucci: My monsignor, my parish, my parents, everybody's countin' on me to do this.
Patrick Colucci: I hopped on the bike, went back to school. I tried to forget about her. I put on my vestments. Took my missile out. I kept turning the pages. Every second or third page, I'd see Maria's face.
After a lifetime preparing for the priesthood, 72 hours at Woodstock had created a conflict for Patrick that he didn't know how to resolve.
In the fall of ‘69, Greg Walter enrolled at Orange County Community College, a move which deferred his military service. But college just didn't suit him.
Greg Walter: There was too much going on. There was thousands of people traveling around. The–the entire counterculture was so active. So I threw all caution to the wind. Quit college. And shortly thereafter, lost my 2-S deferment; became 1-A. Which means you'll eligible for induction into the military.
He got his induction notice the next year.
Greg chose not to report for duty. He moved to Europe, then Canada, evading the draft and facing prison time if he returned to the U.S.
Greg Walter: Definitely the sense of community that I got out of seeing that gathering at Woodstock, it probably gave me more faith that what I was doing was correct.
He didn't return to the U.S. until 1977, when Vietnam draft evaders received a pardon from President Jimmy Carter.
Lisa Law went back to the counterculture life in New Mexico. And that's where she stayed. Her photos of the 1960's have been displayed at galleries around the world. Her work providing food and comfort at Woodstock made her a celebrity in hippy circles.
Lisa Law: I drive my bus in the summer of love hippy dippy parade in Santa Fe.
Lisa says her Woodstock memories are with her every day. And she's passed them on to her children. Her daughter Pilar, just a toddler in 1969, says her three days at the festival set a course for her life.
Pilar Law: Being part of something that spread a whole new consciousness around the world. When you've been shown that love works, you stick with it.
Back in conservative upstate New York, Leni Binder was surely never part of the counterculture. Today she serves on the county legislature–as a Republican. But she fought to get a monument placed on the Woodstock site. And she says the role she played at the concert was a defining moment in her career.
LeniBinder: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If I'm Googled in posterity, that's what will come up. It's nice to have–posterity remember you one way or another.
Elliot Tiber's Woodstock story is also headed for posterity.
Sound from “Taking Woodstock” movie clip: Can you connect me to something called Woodstock ventures?
Ang Lee's new film "Taking Woodstock" is based on Elliot's life.
Sound from “Taking Woodstock” movie clip: A permit? Cool.
But perhaps no one stayed more connected to Woodstock than quintessential hippy Duke Devlin. He certainly didn't plan it.
Duke Devlin: I had no intentions of staying here. I had no intentions. You know, I–I had no intentions of having intentions even, you know what I mean? I just did.
Duke found himself lingering in Bethel. He worked at a farmer's market. And he served as a sort of hippie ambassador, giving free tours of the field where the festival took place. Then, last year he was hired by curators at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts–a concert space and museum right on the Woodstock site. Duke serves as an ad hoc historian.
Duke Devlin: They paid me money, you know. I mean, I would do it for a pack of Twinkies and a Yoo-Hoo. It's like going back to hitchhiking. Everybody walks on the side. It's a new adventure.
But some things have changed since Duke's days on the road.
Duke Devlin: I don't do drugs and I don't drink. Let's talk about Jimmy Hendrix and Janice Joplin. One year after Woodstock both of them were deceased. You know, the king and the queen of the culture, you might as well say. It was kind of a wake-up call to a lot of us.
40 years after the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, Duke says he knows all too well how much time has passed.
Duke Devlin: Woodstock is like a capsule. I–I could put it in my pocket, you know what I mean? And now I can go all my life but every now and then, I open up my pocket up, you know, and let out a little Woodstock.
Levon Helm, former singer and drummer of one of the most revered groups of the 60s and 70s, keeps a little bit of Woodstock in his pocket too.
Levon Helm: I went to the festival, and–and–ended up one of those people that didn't go home. I st–stayed right in town, and–I've never regretted it. I love Woodstock. America's music town.
But as for taking part of a three day gathering that defined a generation?
Levon Helm: So what? Big deal.
The Band broke up eight years after Woodstock, amidst bitter arguments over credits and money. Levon battled throat cancer for years. But then last year he released a solo album, Dirt Farmer, which won a Grammy Award. The follow up, Electric Dirt came out this summer.
When he's not on tour, Levon holds intimate, exuberant concerts, he calls them “rambles,” every Saturday night in his barn in Woodstock.
Levon Helm: It's been a hell of a good ride. You know, for me, it's–it's nothin' but a celebration to once again be able to–to make music with everybody.
The generation who didn't trust anyone over 30 is closer to 60 now…some clung tightly to the counterculture. But most chose the more conventional nine to five world. Patrick Colucci works at a car dealership in Pennsylvania now, but he says the transformation he went through at Woodstock changed him forever. He ended his quest for the priesthood in the fall of 1969. And as for Maria Calvitto–the long haired high school student he shared that unforgettable weekend with–Patrick married her in 1970, less than a year after Woodstock.
Patrick Colucci: I think the three days at Woodstock had the most impact on my life out of anything I've ever experienced. It's where I met my soul mate. It's where everything came to a head.
Maria Calvitto: It just–it was a terrific experience. I don't think that will ever happen again. It was just unbelievable.
Patrick Colucci: The values that I took from the experience will always be with me. And to this very day the mud of Woodstock still squishes between my toes.
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