Monday, August 17, 2009

Riding Shotgun in the Sky: an Alternative Woodstock

On Friday we opened the anniversary of the Woodstock weekend with some of the best bands to have played in Bethel 40 years ago. Today, we close it with our alternative Woodstock - the bands that turned it down. Retrospectively, you can only say 'ooops'.

Could Woodstock have been even better? You judge...

Led Zeppelin - Dazed and Confused (Led Zeppelin, 1969)

The call to turn down Woodstock came from Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant, who wanted them to instead focus on their own headlining tour. Their debut album was still only a few months old and they were in the middle of what was proving to a successful tour making their name in North America. Woodstock seemed like a distraction, and they spent the weekend in New Jersey instead.

Jethro Tull - Living In The Past (Living In The Past, 1972)

Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson apparently claimed that he didn't want to spend his weekend "in a field of hippies", at which point the idea to skip Woodstock seems like a pretty strong one. But given their later history of playing festivals, it's not entirely clear if this was the real reason they stayed away, of if, like so many others, the young band - still very much in their formative stage and trying to capitalise on the success of this single - didn't know what they were missing.

The Moody Blues - Ride My See-Saw (In Search of the Lost Chord, 1968)

The Moody Blues, very much in their psychedelic stage following the release of In Search of the Lost Child and with To Our Children's Children's Children on the way, got as far as appearing on the promotional posters for Woodstock, but instead chose to play in Paris that weekend.

Spirit - Fresh Garbage (Spirit, 1968)

File Spirit under the list of bands who didn't think Woodstock would be all that big. Nevermind, guys...

Bob Dylan - Blowin' In The Wind (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, 1963)

Dylan, a Woodstock resident by this time, was just emerging from his lengthy hibernation after the 1966 motorcycle accident when the festival rolled around. He talked to organisers about a potential slot, but ultimately pulled out when his son fell ill.

The Byrds - Wasn't Born To Follow (The Notorious Byrd Brothers, 1968)

Former member David Crosby may have been on hand with Stills, Nash & Young, but the Byrds never considered accepting an invite to play, put off by the lack of pay for performers and claiming to be burned out by the festival scene.

The Doors - Strange Days (Strange Days, 1968)

The Doors, who would have been one of the biggest names on the bill, were booked to play until a late cancellation. Drummer John Desmore went of his own accord.

Joni Mitchell - Woodstock (Ladies of the Canyon, 1970)

Joni Mitchell penned the last anthem of that weekend, but was never there. 'Woodstock' is said to voice her frustration at missing the event because her manager insisted she keep a booking on the Dick Cavett Show. Good work, Mr Manager.

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