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John Bonham Fan

Why did they not play at woodstock

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"We were asked to do Woodstock and Atlantic were very keen, and so was our US promoter, Frank Barcelona. I said no because at Woodstock we'd have just been another band on the bill." -- Peter Grant

It's understood (or inferred) they were invited, so taken at face value, this is the reason. Yes, they did play a number of festivals that summer where they were one of many bands on the bill, but I don't think there was anything to suggest beforehand this particular event was going to go down in history as the definitive rock festival. Were it not for the film (and tragic deaths of Joplin & Hendrix) it arguably would not have, so I think criticism of Peter's decision not to perform is unfair.

Led Zeppelin performed at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, NJ the weekend of the Woodstock Festival (on Sat, 8/16/69). Other bands that declined an invitation to perform at Woodstock for various personal and professional reasons were:

The Doors

Jehtro Tull

The Byrds

Tommy James & the Shondells

Bob Dylan

The Moody Blues

http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Edited by SteveAJones

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Thank you for solving this question that has eluded me for such a long time. Thanks for clearing that up for me. And also, where did you find that quote from peter grant?

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Thank you for solving this question that has eluded me for such a long time. Thanks for clearing that up for me. And also, where did you find that quote from peter grant?

Peter's quote is published in Dave Lewis book 'Led Zeppelin: The Concert File' (1997).

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Were it not for the film (and tragic deaths of Joplin & Hendrix) it arguably would not have, so I think criticism of Peter's decision not to perform is unfair.

That's a good point......one that never occurred to me.

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It didn't do them any harm...I think this was probably a pretty good decision by Peter Grant.

Suppose they had come on just before the rainstorm, for example?

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Yes, Peter Grant would not allow Led Zeppelin to play in the rain. One incident occured while peter was managing another band, before Led Zeppelin. It was raining and one of the musicians was eltrocuted. He would never make the same mistake again.

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: Led Zeppelin performed at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, NJ the weekend of the Woodstock Festival (on Sat, 8/16/69)"

I recently saw a show that had the biggest of certain items in the world. The largest pipe organ is in the convention hall in Atlantic City, NJ. I thought to myself as I was watching it how cool would it be to hear JPJ jamming on that!!! One of the stacks were like forty feet tall or someting crazy like that. Wonder if they ever played there?

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I'm thinking that most, if not all, the rock festivals Led Zeppelin played in 1969 were already established with a past history. Please tell me if I'm wrong. So my assumption for Peter Grant's 'no vote' is based on that. If Woodstock had had a history I bet they would've played. Also, with as many people that showed up; estimates ran about 1/2 million, way more than anticipated, it's mark would've still been made. There was much unique about the festival but of course the film was most likely the cementing element for it's continued legacy. My guess is that there may have been some regret over not being there by the bands who turned it down.

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I'm thinking that most, if not all, the rock festivals Led Zeppelin played in 1969 were already established with a past history. Please tell me if I'm wrong. So my assumption for Peter Grant's 'no vote' is based on that. If Woodstock had had a history I bet they would've played. Also, with as many people that showed up; estimates ran about 1/2 million, way more than anticipated, it's mark would've still been made. There was much unique about the festival but of course the film was most likely the cementing element for it's continued legacy. My guess is that there may have been some regret over not being there by the bands who turned it down.

I think that pretty much every band that was asked to play, but couldn't, regretted it. Grant's story is more of the same type of language used throughout the band's history to throw people off the band's true intentions. Of which, making money and getting the sole spotlight was the chief goal. Which, by the way, proved to work in their favor and blow any need to have played Woodstock out of the water.

I find it much more likely that Grant probably wasn't going to get enough money to play at the festival. According to other reports regarding the festival, not everyone got paid top-dollar to play. And, with so many of the big names that had already signed on to play Woodstock (CCR, Who, Hendrix), Zeppelin would've run the risk of being overshadowed by the other more-veteran rock bands already there. Worrying about your boys not getting their time in the spotlight is a little bit different than casually saying that he didn't want them to be "just another band" on the bill.

Keep in mind that the Summer of 69 tour for Zep was 40+ dates, with only 7-8 of them played at festivals. So, it's not as if they were still a "struggling" unknown touring act who needed the festivals for exposure. The majority of that tour's gigs were at clubs and larger venues where they were sure to sell-out, which included their first headlining arena shows, like the Anaheim Convention Center and the San Diego Sports Arena. The festivals that they did play at were pretty much loaded with lesser bands than them, or were filled with acts from blues or jazz backgrounds. So, they had a much better chance of sticking out as something "different" and exciting in those lineups.

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I agree with nearly everything you've said here cookieshoes. The only thing I'd have reservations about was the fact that at several of those festivals they DID DO in 1969, they also played along other big name acts, and they weren't always The Headliner. Take The Texas Pop Festival for instance. They played early Saturday morning (late Friday night) and the festival concluded on Monday. At that festival was Janis Joplin, 10 Years After, Sly and the Family Stone among other fairly big name acts. I firmly believe at least some of the reason Grant turned down Woodstock was it had NO history. And you're right about the money issue, I believe it was ONLY The Who who received there money before performing at that they demanded a much larger amount than others agreed to. I'd like to hear what the members of Led Zeppelin truly thought about missing that festival. I know Jimmy was NOT going to miss the Newport Jazz Festival as he saw THAT as a very prestigious event even though it hadn't been known for Rock music prior to 1969.

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I have seen elsewhere that bands were required to not play within a certain radius, say a hundred miles, of the festival site within a two week window of the event. At that time LZ had several area shows, which meant they would've had to cancel something like 5 shows. The fee they would have been paid would not cover the lost reveneues. The Who received an exemption because they had already completed their summer touring dates and were back in England. They would only come on the condition that they be able to play another gig in the area to make the trip across the pond worth their time. Townshend was practically coerced into doing Woodstock, he didn't want anything to do with the festival. They were pluuged into the lineup with the Airplane at the first Tanglewood rock event, Tanglewood being the summer home of the Boston Pop events. The Airplane were able to do this because it was a Bill Graham event, he helped secure talent for Woodstock.

I forget exactly where I read this, but it always made a lot of sense to me as to LZ being absent from Woodstock. Would've been great to see Jeff Beck appear there with Stewart and Wood in tow too, they were signed but broke up prior to.

Edited by whofan

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The Who received an exemption because they had already completed their summer touring dates and were back in England. They would only come on the condition that they be able to play another gig in the area to make the trip across the pond worth their time. Townshend was practically coerced into doing Woodstock, he didn't want anything to do with the festival.

And then Abbie Hoffman comes onstage during their set and Pete wallops him with his guitar!! :lol: Pete was just looking for a good excuse to let out his anger! ;)

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I recently saw a show that had the biggest of certain items in the world. The largest pipe organ is in the convention hall in Atlantic City, NJ. I thought to myself as I was watching it how cool would it be to hear JPJ jamming on that!!! One of the stacks were like forty feet tall or someting crazy like that. Wonder if they ever played there?

No, Led Zeppelin never performed in Atlantic City. The organ JPJ plays in TSRTS is at the Alexandra Palace in London:

http://www.allypallyorgan.org.uk/organ.php

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I have seen elsewhere that bands were required to not play within a certain radius, say a hundred miles, of the festival site within a two week window of the event. I forget exactly where I read this, but it always made a lot of sense to me as to LZ being absent from Woodstock.

I'm skeptical of any such provision for the Woodtock Festival in August 1969. Here's Santana's contract:

santanacont.gif

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Great find of Santana's contract Steve. I'd sure thought I remembered that The Who were the only band to be paid upfront, but reading this contract for Santana it say's 50% to be paid by July 11, 1969 and the balance prior to their performance. So I seem to be wrong about my memories. I'd also thought I remember The Who getting $3,000, which is twice what Santana's contract shows. Soul Sacrifice was a major feature in the film and ran much longer than 3 minutes (the limit of exposure according to the above contract), so I wonder if Santana got extra royalties.

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I think that pretty much every band that was asked to play, but couldn't, regretted it. Grant's story is more of the same type of language used throughout the band's history to throw people off the band's true intentions. Of which, making money and getting the sole spotlight was the chief goal. Which, by the way, proved to work in their favor and blow any need to have played Woodstock out of the water.

I'd say you could argue that in retrospect not being accoicated with Woodstock way well have helped there popularity in the following years, espeically by the mid/late 70's.

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Great find of Santana's contract Steve. I'd sure thought I remembered that The Who were the only band to be paid upfront, but reading this contract for Santana it say's 50% to be paid by July 11, 1969 and the balance prior to their performance. So I seem to be wrong about my memories. I'd also thought I remember The Who getting $3,000, which is twice what Santana's contract shows. Soul Sacrifice was a major feature in the film and ran much longer than 3 minutes (the limit of exposure according to the above contract), so I wonder if Santana got extra royalties.

And Jimi Hendrix was paid a lot more than $3k (either $10k or $25k IIRC).

As far as the not playing within a certain radius, didn't Joe Cocker play somewhere near Woodstock that weekend too?

It was probably just a quick decision made by Peter Grant as to not having LZ play at Woodstock... for all the reasons given above. Not playing in the rain was something that came about in later years. That wasn't an issue yet for them.

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I'm thinking that most, if not all, the rock festivals Led Zeppelin played in 1969 were already established with a past history. Please tell me if I'm wrong.

The Seattle Pop Festival was a one time only festival, and never established before the one Festival in 1969. I don't know why the cancelled it after one year. The 1969 Seattle Pop Festival had a great line up!

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After I posted my initial comment I realized I'd not researched my memories too closely. The Texas Pop Festival was a one-time event as well. And I didn't realize Hendrix was paid more than The Who. Oh well, too many joints at that time blurred my recalling talents. I just loved Woodstock even if I view it, and the time, through rose-tinted glasses. I'm just happy I was able to attend some historical concerts and festivals of the time. :D

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On 12/30/2009 at 10:34 AM, dazedjeffy said:

 

And Jimi Hendrix was paid a lot more than $3k (either $10k or $25k IIRC).

 

As far as the not playing within a certain radius, didn't Joe Cocker play somewhere near Woodstock that weekend too?

 

It was probably just a quick decision made by Peter Grant as to not having LZ play at Woodstock... for all the reasons given above. Not playing in the rain was something that came about in later years. That wasn't an issue yet for them.

Cocker opened for Zep at Asbury Park NJ then flew up to Woodstock.

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7 hours ago, bishlap said:

Cocker opened for Zep at Asbury Park NJ then flew up to Woodstock.

Must've been surreal for Page, hearing his own guitar riffs played by the opening band.

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On 12/22/2009 at 9:43 PM, John Bonham Fan said:

I was wondering if anyone could tell me the reasons why led zeppelin did not perform at the woodstock festival in 1969.

Because they were playing in the round at Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Ct   :-)

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When you look at the History of Zeppelin shows, a lot of times they played with lesser known bands in the Late 77’ tour in Oakland,  Judas Priest was new band and some say they blew Zeppelin off the stage. Then Knebworth line up was terrible, they did ask a young Dire straight band to play but declined for some reason. Probably because of the rumors of Zeppelin that swirled around the band. 

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1 hour ago, strombringer101 said:

Probably because of the rumors of Zeppelin that swirled around the band. 

Didn't Peter Grant introduce himself to Bob Dylan; saying something like I'm Peter Grant, manager for Led Zeppelin and Dylan responded by saying don't come to me with your problems or something similar....

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