Pine Nuts: Where were you when Woodstock opened 44 years ago?

McAvoy Layne

Creedence Clearwater Revival drummer Doug Clifford “Cozmo” and bass player Stu Cook formerly resided at the Lake of the Sky.

We would see them at the post office and wonder what it must have been like to be a headliner at Woodstock with a 3 a.m. start time. Creedence was the first act to sign a Woodstock contract, so how did they get a 3 a.m. start time?

Who knows, maybe they asked for it. The $10,000 they received, split four ways after paying grips, probably paid for gas.

I was living at the north end of Kauai at the time and had no idea of what was happening at the south end of Kauai much less in New York.

All I heard was that Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were vacationing at the Hanalei Hotel, and to the embarrassment of the staff, “were fighting like jungle cats.”

Like most of us old enough to remember, I watched the movie that came from Woodstock and felt privileged to be privy to the event billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music” without having to be there.

Delivering a baby in the mud was not something I could have facilitated.

Still, I recognized that the Age of Aquarius was upon us, as a half million young people came together to signal the emergence of humanitarianism without prejudice.

Richie Havens officially opened Woodstock 44 years ago Thursday. He was helicoptered in when the scheduled opening act, Sweetwater, got bogged down in Woodstock traffic.

Following Haven’s epic opening Swami Satchidananda, the Indian spiritual teacher known best for his book on hatha yoga, gave the invocation, and the tone and tenor were set. On came Sweetwater with “Oh Happy Day.”

Bert Sommer gave us “America,” followed by Tim Hardin with “You Upset the Grace of Living When You Lie.”

Ravi Shankar played through the rain. Then along came Melanie Safka with “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Arlo Guthrie with “Amazing Grace,” Joan Baez at 1 a.m. while six months pregnant, with “We Shall Overcome,” and that’s just the first day.

I see I am quickly running out of space so I will list the artists and try to refrain from listing my favorite songs … Quill, Country Joe McDonald, Santana, John B. Sebastian, The Incredible String Band, Canned Heat, Mountain, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Country Joe and the Fish, Ten Years After, The Band, Johnny Winter, Blood Sweat & Tears, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sha-Na-Na, and the grand finale, Jimi Hendrix, with the longest set of this amazing event, to include “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady.”

Richie Havens’ ashes will be scattered by plane over the opening site on Sunday. A concert featuring Jose Feliciano, John Hammond and John Sebastian will follow. Havens died of a massive heart attack in April at age 72.

The fact that we landed on the moon in 1969, and that the Jets won the Super Bowl and the Mets won the World Series was upstaged by a dramatic musical event that changed the world’s cultural landscape … Woodstock.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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