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Watch Dick Cavett Debrief Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Jefferson Airplane after the 1969 Woodstock Festival

Stephen Stills (left) and David Crosby of the group Crosby, Stills, & Nash performs on stage at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival, Bethel, New York, August 17, 1969.
Stephen Stills (left) and David Crosby performing at the Woodstock festival in 1969 (Image credit: Fotos International/Getty Image)

On this day in 1969, Dick Cavett's "Woodstock show" aired on American television. Filmed the previous day just hours after the Woodstock festival drew to a close, this historic episode features Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills – all of whom dropped in to perform and talk music following “the strangest thing that’s ever happened in the world.”

“We have two people who just happen to be passing through the studio looking for a payphone that works in New York,” says Dick Cavett. “They are Stephen Stills and David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.” 

Still reeling from the spectacle of the Woodstock festival he played earlier that morning, Stephen Stills walks on camera and carefully places down his Martin D-28 acoustic guitar, the festival mud barely dry on his trousers.

Stephen Stills of the group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performs on stage at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival, 1969

Stephen Stills performing at the Woodstock festival in 1969 (Image credit: Fotos International/Getty Images)

Jimi Hendrix was due to appear on the same show, however, following the guitarist’s late appearance at the Woodstock festival he was unable to attend.

“Where do you suppose Hendrix is?” asks Dick Cavett. “Asleep!” comes the answer. “He finished sometime about ten [o’clock],” adds Crosby.

Though Mitchell did not play at the Woodstock festival (she was invited but her manager advised her not to!) the now famous Dick Cavett “Woodstock show” was her television debut. Inspired by the stories regaled to her by boyfriend Graham Nash, Mitchell penned the song “Woodstock” which appeared on her 1970 album Ladies of the Canyon.

That same year, a cover version of “Woodstock” was recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for their Déjà Vu album, while the song became a number one hit for Matthews Southern Comfort in the UK.

Grace Slick

Grace Slick (Image credit: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

While this episode of The Dick Cavett Show is famous for being Joni Mitchell’s first TV appearance, it is equally infamous for being the first time the F-bomb was dropped on American TV as Jefferson Airplane sing, “Up against the wall motherfucker!” during their live rendition of “We Can Be Together.”

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab)Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.