by Elissa Blattman, Project Assistant
Today marks the 44th anniversary of the first day of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair that was held on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York from August 15-18, 1969. Overall, 10 women performed on the main stage at the festival, in front of the over 400,000 people in attendance. This week’s Throwback Thursday post celebrates four of those women who have stood out over time as symbols of the Woodstock generation.
1. Melanie (took the stage around 11:00pm, Friday, August 15)
When Melanie Safka got the Woodstock gig, it was not because she was a mega star. In fact, she had only performed in small coffee shops around Greenwich Village and was basically unknown as a musician outside of that neighborhood. She worked in the same office building as the Woodstock organizers and asked if she could play. Out of the 32 acts to grace the Woodstock stage, Melanie, John Sebastian, and Country Joe McDonald (his first set sans the Fish), were the only ones to perform solo.
By the time Melanie walked off the Woodstock stage, she had become an instant celebrity. She seemed to the masses to embody the flower child ideal and her music resonated with the crowd who sat through her performance in the rain. During her set, candles and cigarette lighters were raised up in the air, illuminating the crowd, which was supposedly the first time an audience at a concert had done that. Seeing that site inspired Melanie to write one of her most famous songs, “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).” The year after Woodstock, five major music publications named her Female Vocalist of the Year. Some of her other hits include, “Brand New Key,” “Beautiful People,” which she sang at Woodstock, and her cover of “Ruby Tuesday.” Throughout her more than 40 years making music, Melanie has sold over 80 million records. She continues to tour. Read the rest of this entry »