Believe it or not, cowboy star Roy Rogers was supposed to close Woodstock with a rendition of "Happy Trails."
Thank our lucky stars he declined, because the world got Jimi Hendrix instead.
Hendrix — who reportedly did not sleep for the entire three days of the festival — hit the stage at 9 am on Monday, August 18, 1969, and performed for two hours. His set included the cultural bombast of his warlike version of the "Star Spangled Banner," which you can see below...
Here are some fun facts about Hendrix's Woodstock appearance (thanks to Hendrix scholar Joel Brattin):
• Hendrix's group — which he called Gypsy Suns and Rainbows, or "a band of Gypsys" — was a temporary lineup. He only performed with these musicians twice more after Woodstock.
• This was the only Hendrix band that included a co-guitarist, Larry Lee. Believe it or not, Lee was not just comping behind the master. He played some solos and sang lead vocals on two numbers.
• The Woodstock set was the only major performance Hendrix performed in the morning hours.
• Hendrix was offered the midnight slot, but declined in order to close the show. One wonders if he knew the significance of the event, and wanted a potentially "historic" time slot?
• The audience for the Hendrix set was less than half the 500,000 people listening at the festival's peak. It's estimated that "only" 200,000 fans watched Hendrix close the show.
• The famous version of "The Star Spangled Banner" was not a separate performance. It was actually part of a 30+ minute medley that also included "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and "Purple Haze."
• Woodstock was NOT the first time Hendrix played "The Star Spangled Banner" — though it was obviously the most important and iconic instance. In fact, there are approximately 50 live recordings of Hendrix performing the national anthem, with versions ranging from little more than a minute to more than six minutes. The Woodstock version clocked in at 3:46.
• Hendrix performed a rare encore at Woodstock, opting to come back and play "Hey Joe."
Here's the full Woodstock set:
- Message to Love
- Getting My Heart Back Together Again > Hear My Train a-Comin'
- Spanish Castle Magic
- Red House
- Lover Man
- Foxy Lady
- Beginning > Jam Back at the House
- Gypsy Woman
- Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
- Stepping Stone
- Star Spangled Banner
- Purple Haze
- Woodstock Improvisation
- Villanova Junction
- Hey Joe