Jim Marshall’s Iconic Photos from the 1969 Woodstock Festival

Santana, Jerry Garcia, The Who, Hippies in the Mud, and More

The most over-the-top festival for social impact, size of crowd, quality of vibe, and quantity of mud, plus nausea-inducing porta-potties, was the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair. It was held on 600 or so acres leased from Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near Bethel, New York (more than 40 miles southwest of Woodstock, New York; I guess the “Bethel Festival” just didn’t have the right ring to it). The Woodstock festival was three days of cultural and musical experimentation, melded with a very, very heavy dose of, well, doses.

Jim Marshall’s outpouring of work from the original Woodstock festival was prodigious. His images capture what it was like to be there from all perspectives—onstage, offstage, behind the scenes. He was reportedly a dervish of nonstop shooting until he collapsed in a heap backstage sometime during day three.

On assignment for Newsweek, Jim seemed to bring an extra focus to capturing the energy of the crowd, including his incredibly striking shot of the technicolor masses. Jim said he had to climb up one of the huge lighting scaffolds bracketing the stage to get this bird’s-eye view, taken with a wide angle “fish-eye” lens. This shot was used as the centerpiece of the live three-album set Woodstock: The Original Soundtrack and More, released in 1970. Jim was a bit afraid of heights, but he had been dosed with acid by the Grateful Dead earlier in the day, and that was the only way he had the guts to climb up on the stanchion and get this now world-famous shot.

 

Jerry Garcia backstage at the Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969 Bethel, New York. 1969 © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Richie Havens opening the Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York. 1969 © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Pete Townshend of the Who performing at the Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York. 1969 © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

The Who, Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York. 1969 © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

 

Jefferson Airplane, Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York. 1969 © Jim Marshall Photography LLC Sly Stone, Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC. Crowds at the Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969 © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Carlos Santana onstage, with Bill Graham crouching behind a speaker, Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Crowds at the Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

State police, Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Crowds at the Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

People covered in mud, Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Dancing couple, featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine, Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Jim Marshall at the Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Jim Marshall at the Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Bird’s-eye view with a fish-eye lens and a filter of Carlos Santana on stage at the Woodstock Festival (used as the centerpiece of the live three-album set Woodstock: The Original Soundtrack and More), Bethel, NY, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

 

Santana performing at Woodstock, Bethel, New York, 1969. © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

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Photos and text are from Jim Marshall: Show Me the Picture by Amelia Davis, published by Chronicle Books 2019.

Michelle Margetts
Michelle Margetts
As an award-winning SF State journalism student, Michelle came to interview Jim for a magazine assignment in 1984 and got way more than she bargained for . . . a crazed May-December relationship, a crash course in journalistic ethics and standards, intense creative inspiration, unflagging emotional support and, some might say, a grand obsession. Michelle is a proficient writer/blogger, web editor, social-media expert, copywriter, copyeditor, project manager and grant writer. She helped compile Jim Marshall: Show Me The Picture.





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