Before it became a cultural phenomenon, Woodstock was a financial catastrophe. This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary upstate New York music festival, which organizers allege has left them in debt to $1.3 million — or almost $9 million in today’s currency. However, they eventually made a profit years later, thanks to record and movie ticket sales.
More basic issues, including transportation congestion and a lack of sanitation and food for a projected 400,000 attendees, were overlooked by Woodstock organizers. As a result, many spectators arrived at the three-day event without paying the $18 admission charge (approximately $125 today). Thus, festival organizers had even less money than expected to pay Woodstock’s musicians, some of whom had reportedly requested an advance pay rate double their typical rate.
How much did artists earn at Woodstock in 1969? According to generally accepted sources that have a long history, the amounts differed substantially and can be traced to an old article in Variety. For example, Jimi Hendrix, who headlined Woodstock, was paid more than 20 times as much as Carlos Santana, another guitar hero.
To ensure their inclusion on the bill, Woodstock’s organizers were ready to pay a premium for well-known artists like Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Jefferson Airplane. In the months preceding Woodstock, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, John Lennon, and Bob Dylan turned down the opportunity to perform. Woodstock organizers are said to have obtained an emergency loan from a local bank to get Jimi Hendrix to the stage. If you also need a loan, you may get it from PaydayChampion.
Here’s a look back at the inaugural Woodstock event in 1969 and a look at the current richest rock stars, and how much the artists were paid.
$10,000 for Jimi Hendrix’s ashes
Axis: Bold as Love,” “Electric Ladyland,” and “Are You Experienced” were all among Jimi Hendrix’s top-five U.S. albums released in the two years leading up to Woodstock. The latter peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard charts in late 1968 and remained there for 40 weeks.
That Jimi Hendrix was named the top headliner at Woodstock in 1969 and received the highest salary of any performer is logical. Hendrix was born $18,000 for his performance during Woodstock, which worked out to almost $125,000 in 2017.
Jimi Hendrix’s contract also provided that no one could perform after him at Woodstock. He didn’t take the stage until the morning of Monday, August 18, 1969, until the morning of Monday, August 18th, day four of the three-day festival. It was too late to see Jimi Hendrix play “The Star-Spangled Banner.” For his performance at Woodstock, he received just one Grammy nomination and didn’t win.
$15 000 for the album “Blood, Sweat, and Tears.”
It was a fantastic year for Blood, Sweat & Tears, who scored a No. 1 album and a No. 1 single with “Spinning Wheel” in 1969. Hence the second-highest payment of $15,000 (equal to $105,000 now) to Blood, Sweat & Tears at Woodstock.
Each Joan Baez and Creedence Clearwater Revival will get $10,000 for their respective performances.
Folk singer and activist Joan Baez took the stage at 3 a.m. on the first night of Woodstock six months into her pregnancy. She subsequently revealed to the New York Times that she was very self-conscious, suffered from stage fright, and had no idea what songs to perform.
As Baez said, “Not everyone knows who I am, and my music is not rock ‘n’ roll,” she didn’t belong in upstate New York. “I was one of the few political activists at Woodstock.” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” a famous hymn, and Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” were among the tunes Baez performed.
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s setlist for Woodstock includes songs like “Born on a Bayou,” “Suzie Q,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Proud Mary,” which are still heard on the radio today. This summer, it took until CCR’s whole 50-year performance at “Live at Woodstock” to be published as an album after the band’s turbulent breakup in the early 1970s.
Even in today’s dollars, Joan Baez and Creedence Clearwater Revival were among the top-earning artists at Woodstock. Celebrity Net Worth estimates John Fogerty’s net worth at $70 million and Joan Baez’s at $11 million.
Jefferson Airplane, The Band, and Janis Joplin each received $7,500.
In the next tier, some of the biggest names in music from the late 1960s received $7,500 apiece (about $52,000 today). One may argue that Janis Joplin’s first performance at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 was her breaking point, and two years later, at Woodstock, she sang crowd favorites like “Piece of My Heart” and “Ball & Chain.” Both Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix died from drug overdoses a little over a year after Woodstock.
“The Weight” and frequent appearances as Bob Dylan’s band made The Band a household name in the area where the event was taking place. In Rolling Stone, 20 years after Woodstock, The Band’s Robbie Robertson remarked, “It was difficult to get a sense of the vibe after three days of people being pounded by weather and music.” “Concertgoers were treated to a relaxing, acoustic performance of mountain music. The timing was perfect for us since we were only a few miles away from Woodstock at the time.”
“Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit” had reached No. 10 on the charts when Jefferson Airplane, a famous 1960s San Francisco psychedelic rock band, performed at Woodstock. The Starship, fronted by Grace Slick in the 1980s, had smash pop songs like “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” in their repertoire. Celebrity Net Worth estimates that Grace Slick’s net worth is presently about $20 million.
Between $6,000 and $7,000 is the estimated value of Richie Havens, Sly & the Family Stone, Canned Heat, and the Who as artists.
It was meant to be the festival’s opening performance, but Sweetwater was stuck in traffic when it was scheduled to begin. As an early arrival from New York City, Richie Havens and his band played as the opening act on Friday night, following a quick helicopter ride to land near the stage. Throughout his three-plus-hour set, Havens played a variety of songs, including some by the Beatles and his famous improvisation “Freedom.”
While other Woodstock bands received claimed bonuses ranging from $6,000 to $7,000 (about $42,000 to $49,000 in today’s dollars), That is the most well-known. There is some dispute as to whether or not The Who’s manager was paid $11,200 before the band’s performance at Woodstock. According to Roger Daltrey of The Who, a 14-hour wait backstage and a 5 a.m. show at 5 a.m. forced the band to pay upfront.
For Daltrey, Woodstock “wasn’t peace and love,” according to a recent New York Times interview. “Promoter compensation was demanded by enraged attendees. We needed to get compensated or we wouldn’t be able to return home.”
“Tommy,” the 1969 rock opera by the British band, was still a significant hit in 2010 when they were asked to play at the Super Bowl halftime show, and they are now working on a new album that will be released in 2019. Woodstock musicians Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend’s net worth is estimated at $85 million and $105 million, respectively, making them probably the wealthiest Woodstock artists still alive today.
Five thousand dollars each goes to Arlo Guthrie (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young).
At Woodstock, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young played in front of a large crowd for the second time. In the spring of 1969, Neil Young was asked to join David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash, who had recently published their first album. Due to Neil Young’s refusal to let his performance be recorded, Crosby, Stills & Nash were forced to play the whole set acoustically, beginning with their epic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”
Arlo Guthrie, Woody Guthrie’s son, was barely 19 years old when he performed at Woodstock. Guthrie later said that he had been drinking a lot of champagne backstage on the first night of the event since no food and no other beverages were available. The Woodstock organizers then asked that Guthrie plays on the first night. At the top of the mountain, “Richie Havens is playing for hours.” There is no one else, and you have to play right now,” they told him.
Arlo Guthrie and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were paid $5,000 and $35,000, respectively, for their performances at Woodstock. After decades of success as a solo artist and as the leader of various bands outside of CSNY, Neil Young is now the group’s richest member, with a fortune of $65 million.
The Grateful Dead received a check for $2,500.
It’s safe to say that The Grateful Dead is synonymous with the counterculture and the sort of people that flocked to Woodstock in the late 1960s. Band members admit the Grateful Dead’s performance at Woodstock, which had just five songs held in the pouring rain, failed.
I was the conduit for the energy on the wet stage. I was in command. As a result, it almost fatal touched my microphone or instrument. “The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir revealed this to Rolling Stone magazine. “It was perhaps our worst performance ever.
$700 is the price Santana will take.
They are two of the most noteworthy performers in this group because of how little they were paid. After Joe Cocker’s iconic version of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends,” the atmosphere at Woodstock was perfectly captured.
In today’s dollars, that’s less than a quarter of what Jimi Hendrix received for his Woodstock performance, but it was money well spent for Carlos Santana. Carlos Santana was high on mescaline when the band took the stage Saturday afternoon. They have blown everyone away with outstanding performances of classics like “Evil Ways” and “Soul Sacrifice.”
Three decades after Woodstock, Carlos Santana produced the album “Supernatural,” which included Lauryn Hill, Eric Clapton, and Rob Thomas in cooperation. One of the most popular songs is “Smooth,” a collaboration between Santana and Thomas. Santana won several Grammy Awards in 1999 for “Smooth.” Santana, who is 72, has a fortune estimated at $50 million.