In 1969, a festival would change the history of festivals, guitar history, and music. Woodstock, the king of festivals, took place August 15–18, 1969 on a farm ground located in Bethel, New York. It was an event organized by four main people who were actually not at all experienced in organizing events, yet they came to organize one of history’s most favorable, loved, and well-known festival of music and art. This festival was to have some of the, at the time, latest and most well-known bands such as The Who, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane. Very few tickets were actually purchased, but almost 400,000 people showed up, getting themselves a “free entry”. This was possible due to the fact that they had poor-to-no-security at all. Even though it had rained and turned the farm ground into a mud ground, people still remained to enjoy themselves in the concert. It is said that this is possibly due to the fact that the vast majority of the crowd had been under the influence of psychedelics and marijuana.
On this heavily impacting music festival, a now world renowned artist rose to fame farther than that of San Fransisco Bay Area. This artist as we all know him now is Carlos Santana.
According to interviews he participated in after the festival, it said that he was offered LSD right before going on stage. The reason he had agreed to take it according to him was “because everyone was on it and I had 6–8 hours before jumping on stage to perform.” He thought that it was enough time to “come down from the trip”. He explains that as soon as he took it, not many seconds passed by when he was already heavily under the influence. As soon as this occurred, they told him he was up next to perform. He immediately felt that he could not play in those circumstances but also could not let pass the opportunity of a lifetime to play in front of such a huge crowd and it being his main ticket to make it into the industry. So he went for it.
When he began to play he confesses to us that the guitar neck turned into a ferocious snake that he had to tame. When watching the live performance, one can really see Santana making intense facial expressions when playing his guitar making it seem as if he really is struggling to tame that snake. He kept saying in his head “Please God, let me stay in tune, let me stay on time and I will never do this again.”
Despite the fact that Santana was not at all a known band to play at the 1969 Woodstock music festival, and that they did not have the advantage of having the audience knowing their songs to “vibe” to them or fully engage in their performance, they blew the audience away and had the crowds cheering and connecting with them. After this performance, Santana took off and is the popular and world renowned artist/band we know today.
I truly believe that Carlos Santana opened up the road for many Hispanic musicians and guitarists, breaking the standard mold of what artists mainly were expected to be in the late 60’s and 70’s. His takeoff truly sounds like any musician’s nightmare, but I am definitely glad that it went well. Things happen for a reason, he needed to share his music with the rest of the world.