When it comes to concerts and festivals, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair is highly regarded as one of the best in history. The August 1969 festival drew in about half a million people to watch iconic musicians, such as Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Joe Cocker.
With those huge names, it makes one wonder what kind of booking fee it took to get them to play Woodstock. Nowadays, it can take up to a million dollars to book popular artists. But, according to archived documents, Woodstock artists didn’t make quite as much as today’s musicians, regardless of their talent.
Blood, Sweat & Tears – $15,000
On day three of Woodstock, the contemporary jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears took the stage. They played songs from their first two albums, beginning with “More And More Just One Smile,” and ending with “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.”
Ironically, this band was only founded a few years before Woodstock in 1967. Since the band was so new, it’s interesting that they received the second-largest sum for playing at the festival, earning $15,000 for their involvement.
Janis Joplin – $7,500
During her time as a performer, Janis Joplin was known for her bluesy sounding voice and stage presence, something female artists have emulated over the years. And it was Joplin’s historical set during Woodstock that helped artists and non-artists begin to redefine female liberation in the United States.
Without knowing it, she helped shape an entire generation during the “Free Love” movement. With her rising popularity, the blues singer had a nice payday for playing at Woodstock. Joplin left the festival a nice $7,500 richer.
The Who – $6,250
For the rock band, the Who, the time between 1968 and 71 was pivotal. They were finding their sound, becoming a powerhouse, and releasing their rock opera Tommy. But when it came to their time performing at Woodstock, the band has very few good things to say, no matter how much money they were paid to play.
For one, the band waited in the stage wings until the early morning hours to play. So, already in a foul mood and playing to a bunch of “muddy hippies,” the band left the festival with not-so-fond memories and $6,250.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – $10,000
Since the Woodstock festival quickly lost hope of keeping any sort of schedule, Creedence Clearwater Revival didn’t end up going on until after midnight on August 17, 1969. They played an hour-long set, including popular songs such as “Proud Mary” and “Green River.” Both of which are now classics!
Being a highly-popular Southern rock band, despite their San Francisco, California, roots, Creedence Clearwater Revival was given top-dollar to play at the festival. After playing their set, the four members of the band walked away with a total of $10,000.
Richie Havens – $6,000
If you’re not familiar with the same, Richie Havens was a singer and songwriter who is categorized as being a folk, blues, and soul artist. He first came on the scene with his first single in 1967, with his rise to fame coming in 1969 during his Woodstock performance.
Havens was the opener of the entire festival, a performance that quickly gave him widespread notice. According to the artist, he had no clue he would be the first performer. He wound up playing for three hours, earning multiple encores. Needless to say, he earned his $6,000 for being there and making history!
Jimi Hendrix – $18,000
In 1969, guitarist Jimi Hendrix walked out on the Woodstock stage and played an uninterrupted set that lasted almost two hours, the longest set of his career. His last melody became iconic and included a solo performance of The Star-Spangled Banner, a version that became symbolic during the 60s and 70s.
Hendrix was one of the main reasons people flocked to Woodstock. So, it’s no wonder the guitarist racked in the most money for his involvement. He earned $18,000 for his performance.
Arlo Guthrie – $5,000
Arlo Guthrie’s performance of “Coming into Los Angeles” with the psychedelic ending is still considered to be one of the more memorable moments of the Woodstock music festival. Well, that, and the 18 minute and 34-second “story” called “Alice’s Restaurant,” which protested the Vietnam War.
Ironically, both of the songs were never played on the radio, with the first being banned and the second deemed too long for a normal song slot. But he was able to play them at the festival, and the folk singer walked away with $5,000.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – $5,000
For the folk-rock quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, playing on the Woodstock stage was one of the scarier moments of their professional career. They were a new band, only ever having played in front of an audience one other time!
But with the festival and the subsequent film immortalizing the event, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young boosted in popularity, gaining more visibility along with fans. Interestingly, even though they weren’t that well-known, the supergroup walked away with $5,000 for playing at Woodstock.
Grateful Dead – $2,500
Unfortunately, for the rock band The Grateful Dead, their set didn’t necessarily go as planned. It was raining, the stage was flooded with both the elements and people, and the band was getting shocked each time the strummed their guitars.
On the second day of the festival, they played from 10:30 pm to midnight, praying the stage wouldn’t collapse. Even so, singer and guitarist Jerry Garcia said, “The weekend was great!” And their bad set didn’t stop the band from getting paid $2,500 so that probably lifted their spirits a bit!
Jefferson Airplane – $7,500
Coming out of San Francisco was the bluesy psychedelic group Jefferson Airplane, playing 13 songs on Sunday morning of the Woodstock music festival. And even though they were playing a set for pretty much a sea of sleeping people, singer Marty Balin recalled the time being a lot of fun.
During an interview with Best Classic Bands, Balin said, “It was a muddy mess at times. I remember it being something really spectacular for me, the stage and the lights at night and the performances.” At the end of the weekend, the band Jefferson Airplane walked out of the muddy Woodstock field with $7,500.
Country Joe & The Fish – $2,500
Before making it to the stage at Woodstock, Southern California-born band Country Joe and the Fish started out playing in coffee houses. Quickly the band became a staple in the blues and country music scene in Berkley, California, making their way to being showcased in the Woodstock documentary.
Their song “Fixin’ to Die Rag,” along with a certain cheer that started with an “F” was put smack dab in the middle of the film, much to the band’s pleasure. After everything was said and done of the 1969 festival, Country Joe & The Fish left Woodstock $2,500 richer.
Blood, Sweat & Tears – $15,000
The jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears formed in New York back in 1967, and with their interesting combination of brass and rock instruments, people quickly became infatuated. When they made their way onto the Woodstock stage in August of 1969, they played ten songs and didn’t take one moment for granted.
Singer David Clayton-Thomas, said, “When you’re on stage in front of six hundred and fifty thousand people, you just know that this is a momentous event and probably will never happen again, and it never did.” Being one of the headliners, the band walked away with the second-highest payout of $15,000.
Santana – $750
For the band Santana, having their manager Bill Graham help organize the Woodstock festival was their way of getting on the bill. And a good thing, too, because their 45-minute set on the second day of the festival is what shot them to worldwide fame.
Carlos Santana remembered the experience fondly, saying, “I saw a lot of people coming together, sharing and having a great time. If that was out of control, then America needs to lose control at least once a week.” But because the band was so new to the scene, they were paid a low sum of $750 for their performance.
Joe Cocker – $1,375
In 1969, Joe Cocker was still a relatively new name in the music scene. But the Englishman was quickly building a fan-base during the time, playing bigger and bigger venues. One music studies professor said it best, saying Cocker “became the music” when he played.
Although his set on the last day of Woodstock was predominately covers, it was a turning point in his career. But Cocker, being humble about the experience, has said, “Were we epic? I dunno.” Regardless of how epic the performance may or may not have been, Cocker left the venue with $1,375 for his performance.
Joan Baez – $10,000
Singer Joan Baez was one of the acts to perform at Woodstock on the first day of the festival. Going on at one in the morning, Baez was six months pregnant and without her husband, who was, at the time, locked up in a Texas prison for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War.
During an interview with Rolling Stone, Baez talked of how proud she was of her husband, saying, “he already had a very, very good hunger strike going with 42 federal prisoners, none of who were draft people.” The pregnant singer doesn’t really remember walking on stage, but she does remember walking away with $10,000.
Quill – $375
Quill is a rock band that came out of the Northeast United States in the late 1960s. As such, they didn’t land a great place on the Woodstock bill. But they were invited, and that was good enough for the new group.
The band played a 40-minute set in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 400,000 people. But, barbecue of their slot, they missed an opportunity to be in the film Woodstock, showcasing what happened during the ’69 festival. Due to the band’s relative newness and lack of fan base before Woodstock, they were paid the least out of anyone, earning $375.
Keef Hartley Band – $500
Keith “Keef” Hartley was the drummer and bandleader of Keef Hartley. After a short solo career, the Englishman put together the Keef Hartley (Big) Band, the group that wound up playing their rock and roll, jazz, and blues-inspired music on the second day of the Woodstock festival.
Vocalist Miller Anderson recalled the band being nervous, saying, “we were standing at the side of the stage waiting to play when the guy went up to announce the band that was on before us…Santana…we just stood on the side and said ‘oh Jesus, we’re on next!’” But for an unknown band, they played an unforgettable show, walking away with $500.
Tim Hardin – $2,000
Oregon-born folk musician Tim Hardin played the first day of Woodstock. Unfortunately, the tortured artist had an issue with stage fright, which translated over to his performance. Even so, audience members loved his live performance of “If I Were a Carpenter,” one of his hit singles.
Typically, he performed as a solo artist, but for Woodstock, he brought out all the stops, being backed by a full band. His time on stage is best described as “an erratic set.” Nevertheless, the guitarist left the festival having been paid $2,000 for his performance.
Ravi Shankar – $4,500
Ravi Shankar, a sitar player, took the stage at Woodstock on Friday and was the second act to play in the infamous rain that would be an iconic factor of the festival. Accompanied by Maya Kulkarni on the tamboura and Ustad Alla Rakha on the tabla, the trio had a short 35-minute set.
Their defining moment was a furious improvisation at the end of “Evening Raga” between the sitar and tabla, something that made the crowd go wild. At the end of the day, Ravi Shankar was paid $4,500 for his performance at the festival.
Sweetwater – $1,250
Sweetwater was a rock band formed in Los Angeles that played in local coffee shops before being signed to a big label. They are considered to be the early developers of the psychedelic rock-fusion sound. And in 1969, they were asked to bring their unique sound to Woodstock as the opening act.
Unfortunately for the band, they got stuck in traffic, and Richie Havens was given the opening slot. Sweetwater finally arrived by helicopter, becoming the first band to perform on the Woodstock stage. They left the festival, being paid $1,250.