Boisdale Life Magazine (Issue 18) - Page 32

In 1969, John Lennon
and Yoko Ono staged
Bed-Ins for Peace
(above); and 400,000
people swamped the
Woodstock festival
(opposite), where Jimi
Hendrix stole the
show (right)
or the Rolling Stones, things took
the most tragic of turns when the
band’s founder, Brian Jones, was found dead in his Sussex
swimming pool. It was less than a month since the band had
fired him, during the ‘Let It Bleed’ recording sessions, for his
heavy drug use and erratic behaviour.
It was hardly uphill from there. The Stones closed out the
year at the Altamont festival, held at the Altamont Speedway
in Northern California and intended to be a West Coast
Woodstock. It became infamous for the four deaths that took
place during the festival, including an 18-year-old student
stabbed during the Stones’ performance by one of the Hell’s
Angels inexplicably hired to act as security. It was one of the
darkest moments in the history of rock and roll, and marked the
final death knell of Sixties flower power idealism.
As for Abbey Road, recorded during an intense two-month
period in the summer of 1969, perhaps the most surprising
thing is that it ever got made at all. As Lennon’s Bed-Ins
demonstrated, the Beatles had become the most famous men
in the world. In only seven years, they’d created a breathtaking
body of work, but it had taken its toll, especially the aborted
back-to-basics Get Back album of 1968. Both professionally and
personally, they were heading in different directions.
The Get Back sessions were later salvaged, stitched together
and released in 1970 as Let It Be. But Abbey Road stands as the
Beatles’ final recording – a temporary truce that papered over
the cracks between them. Yoko Ono’s constant presence in the
studio is still cited by fans as one of the main reasons behind
At the definitive
live music event of
the 1960s, the
Woodstock festival,
food and water ran
out, forcing the
Army to airlift
supplies to the site
At the end of June, the Jimi Hendrix
Experience played their last show
together at the Denver Pop Festival. Six
weeks later, Hendrix formed a new
group, Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, in time
to take the final spot at the definitive live
music event of the 1960s: the Woodstock
festival. Billed as “an Aquarian
Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, it
took place at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy
farm in Bethel, New York, 43 miles from
Woodstock itself. Bad organisation saw
the site overrun by 400,000 people –
twice the number expected. Roads were
impassable and food and water ran out
almost immediately, forcing the Army to
airlift supplies to the site.
Hendrix grabbed music headlines
despite not coming on stage until 8am on
the last day of the festival. The show
climaxed with his distorted, feedbackdrenched performance of ‘The StarSpangled Banner’, which he described as
“a sonic portrayal of war”. The New York
Post’s pop critic, Al Aronowitz, called it
“the most electrifying moment of
Woodstock, and probably the single
greatest moment of the Sixties.”

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