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Woodstock 69 rite of passage for 'Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young'

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:11s - Published
Woodstock 69 rite of passage for 'Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young'

Woodstock 69 rite of passage for 'Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young'

Graham Nash recalls 'thousands and thousands of people, fires, rain, mud, candles, people, murmuring, sound' at Woodstock.

Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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Musicians often remember the first time they took to the stage but for Graham Nash, it was his band's second public performance that stands out as the most unforgettable.

Nash was a member of British band 'The Hollies' and the folk supergroup 'Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young'.

The latter had only just added Neil Young to their line-up when they made their second live performance in front of hundreds of thousands of people at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

Fifty years on from the iconic event, Nash remembers the scenes that opened up in front of their eyes as he and his band members arrived at the festival site in a helicopter.

"Thousands and thousands of people.

Fires, rain, mud, candles, people, murmuring, sound.

It was unbelievable," he said, adding that his bandmate David Crosby likened the view to "an encampment of the Macedonian Army'.

He was equally impressed with the welcome he received as he touched the ground.

"And my first memory of being there with my feet on the ground is a smiling John Sebastian in his tie-dye suit coming towards us with a giant joint in his hand that was already lit." The rest of his memories of the event are "hazy", however, the British-born singer-songwriter said.

"You know events like, like the size of something like Woodstock, things get very hazy, they get very hazy if you're straight.

They get incredibly hazy if you are high.

And that's what we were," he said, adding that the group had been most concerned about what other performers would make of their show.

Neil Young's participation in the Woodstock performance is not widely known, Nash said.

"A lot of people don't think that Neil (Young) was at Woodstock, but he actually was.

He just, he just decided that he didn't want to be filmed," Nash said.

"But of course, me and David and Stephen didn't find that out until after the show, but, hey, such is life," he added.

CSNY had been rehearsing for weeks ahead of their performance and after Young joined the group.

At their insistence, their managers David Geffen and Elliot Roberts arranged for the band to play one show before Woodstock.

Their only performance prior to the festival date was held at Auditorium Theater in Chicago.

Nash said the experience he had gained with 'The Hollies', Crosby with 'The Byrds' and Stephen Stills and Neil Young with 'Buffalo Springfield' helped them face the huge crowd.

"What you do, kind of, is concentrate on the first, you know, twenty or so rows that you can actually see, you know, and then try and project knowing that, you know, the 300, 400,000th person can hear you just as well as the people in the front row," he said.

The singer said the band very quickly realized they were witnessing something unique.

"It was obvious that something very special was going on.

And we realized that at that moment that, yes, this is going to be an event that is going to be spoken about with many, many, years to come," he said.

The three-day festival was held at a farm at Bethel Woods, in New York's Catskills mountains, August 15-18, 1969.

(Production: Parul Gupta)




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