It’s one of the most legendary rock concerts ever performed on Earth. The original Woodstock Music Festival, almost 55 years ago in August of 1969, was attended by some half a million people who were treated to a lineup that’s risen to the status of legend over the ensuing decades.
Today,Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift with cheap seats in the $200+ range make about $4 million per show.I can remember paying $10 to see major concerts at Red Rocks.I saw Bruce and the E-Street band forunder $15 there.
Documents from the Woodstock archives show how much the bands were all paid for their performances.
The figures are somewhat startling to read, particularly in the current era when top level headliners can command millions of dollars for engagements at rock festivals that are on one level or another emulating the format pioneered by Woodstock back in 1969.The figures, reported by various outlets over the years, show how much each artist was paid, and it’s a far cry from the seven-figure numbers that comparable performers at the top of their games would earn at a similar event today.
The show’s top earner, somewhat fittingly, was Jimi Hendrix, who raked in $18,000 for his performance, a bargain considering it’s one of the most famous and iconic concert performances in all of history.
The show’s second-highest earner, to the tune of $15,000, is a little bit more of a head-scratcher given the other names on the bill: jazz-rock combo Blood, Sweat & Tears. Taking up third place is singer-songwriter Joan Baez, who earned $10,000. Here’s alisting of some of the acts at Woodstock ‘69 and what they earned to be there:
Creedence CCR– $10,000
The Band – $7,500
Janis Joplin – $7,500
Jefferson Airplane – $7,500
Sly and the Family Stone – $7,000
Canned Heat – $6,500
The Who – $6,250
Richie Havens – $6,000
Arlo Guthrie – $5,000
Crosby, Stills, Nash– $5,000
Country Joe and the Fish – $2,500
The Grateful Dead – $2,500
Joe Cocker – $1,375
Santana – $750
Iron Butterfly, the psychedelic rock group best known for their song “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” were no-shows at the concert, but they were purportedly set to be one of its top earners, with $5,000 plus another $5,000 for the band’s “light show.”
According to rock lore, they were stuck at nearby LaGuardia Airport when their management demanded that festival organizers arrange for them to be shuttled directly to the stage via helicopter. In a book on the Woodstock festival, production coordinator John Morris claims to have sent the following response via telegram (note of the first letter of each line).
“For reasons I can’t go into / Until you are here / Clarifying your situation / Knowing you are having problems / You will have to find / Other transportation / Unless you plan not to come.”