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Today Marks the 45th Anniversary of Woodstock; Graham Nash, CCR's Doug Clifford Share Memories of the Fest

Image courtesy of GAB Archive/Redferns (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of GAB Archive/Redferns (via ABC News Radio)

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the start of the most famous rock festival in history -- the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.  The extravaganza, which took place in Bethel, New York,  ran from August 15 to the morning of August 18, 1969.  It was one of the defining events of the decade -- bringing together an estimated 400,000 people for a weekend of peace, love, drugs and, of course, rock 'n' roll.

Among the many artists who performed at Woodstock were Jimi Hendrix ; Crosby, Stills & Nash ; The Who ; Santana ; Jefferson Airplane ; Janis Joplin ; Sly and the Family Stone ; The Grateful Dead ; Joe Cocker ; Richie Havens ; The Band ; Creedence Clearwater Revival ; Joan Baez ; Ten Years After ; Canned Heat ; and Country Joe and the Fish .

Crosby, Stills & Nash, which had just welcomed Neil Young into its lineup at the time, had only played one other show before Woodstock.  Graham Nash tells ABC News Radio the band's nervousness before the show had nothing to do with the size of the crowd.

"What did make us kind of apprehensive was the fact that all our peers were standing on the side of the stage waiting to see if this band could do it," he explains.  "There's The Band, and there's the Airplane, and there's our friends, and there's John Sebastian , and there's Richie [Havens], and they're all watching us, seeing if we can do it."

Nash also says he nearly didn't make it to the show.  "The back tail rotor of the helicopter I was in stopped working and, of course, the body of the helicopter started to spin in opposition to the rotation of the blades," he remembers. "Fortunately it was only about 15, 20 feet from the ground, and [the pilot] managed to thud us down there."

Creedence Clearwater Revival drummer Doug "Cosmo" Clifford was impressed by the communal vibe at Woodstock.

"You could really feel the energy there.  I mean, it made the hair on my arms stand up," he tells ABC News Radio.  "The worst of conditions for people and in an overcrowded situation -- wet, cold, no potable water, no real facilities, no food -- but everyone just shared what they had with strangers and decided to make the best of it, and that just doesn't happen.  And it happened at Woodstock, for sure." 

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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