Woodstock Bands & Performers: Where Are They Now?

The lineup for Woodstock 1969 is unmistakable. Some of the most well known artists of the era and in history graced the stage of the legendary festival. That was 40 years ago. Many Woodstock enthusiasts are wondering what their beloved Woodstock bands have been up to since the seminal festival. Some artists have been buried beneath the sands of time, while some are still making music and keeping the ideals of the sixties alive. Below is a list of the original Woodstock lineup and what they’ve been up to for the last 40 years.

the band

The Band

The Band broke up for good in 1999 after the deaths of members Rick Danko and Richard Manuel; Danko from what is said to be drug related health problems, and Manuel a suicide. Guitarist Robbie Robertson last performed at Eric Clapton’s 2007 Crossroads tour and is known for his role in the film industry. Levon Helm tours with his own band and is touring with the Heroes of Woodstock festival. Garth Hudson is a session keyboard player and a member of a band by the name of The Best!

canned heat

Canned Heat

Founding members of Canned Heat Alan Wilson and Bob Hite died in 1970 and 1981 respectively. Wilson from a drug overdose and Hite of a heart attack. “Fito” De la Perra is the only original member with the band and is still touring with musicians Barry Levenson, Greg Kage, and Dale Spalding. Guitarist Harvey Mandel and bassist Larry Taylor left the band in 1970 to join John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Mandel is with Canned Heat for their 2009 tour, while Taylor is a current member of the band Hollywood Blue Flames and also tours with Tom Waits.

joan baez

Joan Baez

The beautiful Joan Baez has always had strong feelings of anti-war. After protesting the Vietnam war in the Woodstock era, she extended her activism to more common social strife such as gay rights, poverty, the environment, and of course, the Iraq war. Baez continues to make music and most recently appeared at 50th Newport Folk Festival.

blood sweat&tears

Blood Sweat & Tears

Frontman Steve Katz who has been on and off as the singer for the band currently tours as a solo act. Drummer Bobby Colomby owns a talent agency in California. Bassist Jim Fielder is a member of Neil Sedaka’s backing band. And the talented Dick Halligan performs and composes jazz music. Trumpet player for Blood Sweat & Tears Lew Soloff plays with the Manhattan Jazz Quintet.

Butterfield Blues Band

Butterfield Blues Band

Not long after Woodstock 1969, the Butterfield Blues Band fractured and Paul Butterfield continued as a solo act until 1987 when he died of a drug and alcohol induced heart attack. David Sanborn who played sax for the Blues band has had a successful career as a composer and performer. Guitarist Buzz Feiten is now part of The Rascals and is also a session guitarist.

Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker has had a wildly successful career ever since Woodstock 1969. Appearing at Woodstock 1994, he was one of the few original Woodstock acts to appear at the concert. His career spans over 20 albums and a film appearance in Across the Universe as the lead singer on a Beatles hit. Cocker has a large North American tour planned for 2009 and an album release planned for 2010.

Country Joe and the Fish

Country Joe and the Fish

Country Joe McDonald still tours as a solo act and will headline the Heroes of Woodstock tour. Barry “The Fish” Melton became a founding member of The Dinosaurs, and studied law while he was on the road. He is currently the Public Defender of Yolo County, California and tours with The Dinosaurs from time to time.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival

After Creedence Clearwater Revival fractured in 1972 soon after Woodstock and brothers John and Tom Fogerty both pursued solo careers. Tom died of AIDS as a result of a blood transfusion in 1990 and John continues to tour and release albums, including an expected release in 2009. Stu Cook and Doug Clifford formed the band Creedence Clearwater Revisited; they are still active with the band and play the band’s old material.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Neil Young had joined the ranks of David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills just before the Woodstock performance. Since the festival, there have been numerous configurations of the artists, all of which have been met with success. The lineup usually consists of CSN with the Y joining up occasionally. CSN is currently experiencing musical success, while Young is still enjoying an incredibly successful music career.

Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead

Keyboardist Ron McKernan died in 1973 of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and frontman Jerry Garcia of a heart attack induced by drug addiction, weight problems, and sleep apnea. Surviving members Bob Weir (guitar), bassist Phil Lesh, drummer Bill Drutzmann, drummer Mickey Hart, and keyboardist Tom Constanten have all experienced solo careers as well as side projects after the split of the Grateful Dead. Most recently, Weir, Lesh, Kreutzmann, and Hart are touring as The Dead, while Constanten is touring on the Heroes of Woodstock.

Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie has experienced success in many different forms of art since the Woodstock 1969 performance including film and television appearances and a children’s book. He released his 27th album in 2008 and continues to tour write songs pertaining to the topic of social injustice.

Keef Hartley

Keef Hartley

Keef Hartley faded into obscurity after 1975. He resurfaced in 2007 when his autobiography was released, but left the music business to open a cabinet-making business. The man who began his career as a replacement to Ringo Starr for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes includes the Woodstock 1969 performance (and the cabinet industry) in his ghost written autobiography.

Tim Hardin

Tim Hardin

At one time, Tim Hardin was seen as having great potential for his songwriting ability. After his Woodstock performance where he sung his hit “If I Were a Carpenter”, he released three more albums which saw little success. His outputs in songwriting decrease even more dramatically after these albums which were likely a circumstance of his drug addiction. Hardin died in 1980 after an overdose of heroin and morphine.

Richie Havens

Richie Havens

Best known for being the opening act at Woodstock 1969, Richie Havens became an international star that hasn’t slowed down since the festival. He is responsible for over 25 albums and was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Havens continues to tour and release albums. Most recently he performed at the Woodstock Tribute festival in Ramsey, NJ.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

Quite possibly the most famous act at the original Woodstock festival, Jimi Hendrix died just a year after the performance. His death, which was deemed a suicide, is surrounded by many suspicious circumstances and holes in the stories of those close to him during the time before his death. His bassist Billy Cox became a solo session artist, Juma Sultan (congas) recorded with a number of jazz artists, and percussionist Jerry Velez works as an event producer and music director. Band mates Larry Lee (guitar/vocals) died in 2007, and Mitch Mitchell (drums) died in 2008.

Incredible String Band

Incredible String Band

After the Scottish folk outfit broke up in 1974, Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer began embarking on solo careers. Williamson has released 47 albums and published a novel, books of poetry, and a few books on Celtic history. Palmer was around for the revival of the Incredible String Band from 1999-2006 and has been in and out of music. The remaining members Rose Simpson and Licorice McKechnie left the music business after the band’s initial breakup.

Jefferson Airplane

Jefferson Airplane

Vocalist of Jefferson Airplane Marty Balin is still part of the music business and performing with the newest form of the band called Jefferson Starship. Grace Slick retired from the music game in 1988 and began a career as an artist and painter. Guitarist and vocalist Paul Kantner still performs with Starship. Jorma Kaukonen (guitar/vocals) and bassist Jack Casaday formed Hot Tuna and continue to tour. Nicky Hopkins (piano) performed as a session pianist until his death in 1994 due to surgery complications, and Drummer Spencer Dryden who was in an out of music died of colon cancer in 2005.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin

Another member of the 27 club, Janis Joplin‘s career also didn’t expand far beyond her performance at Woodstock 1969. She lived for a little longer than a year after Woodstock and was in and out of drug and alcohol. She died of a heroin overdose in 1970.

Melanie

Melanie

Melanie has enjoyed a successful music career after the Woodstock festival and has 33 albums released. She still tours occasionally and writes music. She was recently invited by Jarvis Cocker to perform at the Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Her performance sold out and she had undeniably earned her place next to Joan Baez as a female folk icon.

Mountain

Mountain

Leslie West has formed and reformed the band over the years and also continues to perform as a solo artist. Felix Pappalardi became a record producer until he was shot and killed by his wife. N.D. Smart was replaced by Corky Laing on drums after Woodstock and went to work with Todd Rundgren as well as Ian & Sylvia. Steve Knight became a member of the Town Board in the town of Woodstock.

Quill

Quill

Quite possibly the least well known band at the festival, Quill was sort of the local band of Woodstock. Although one of the crowd favorites, they did not appear in the legendary Woodstock documentary and thus remained popular in their neck of the woods only. They disbanded shortly after Woodstock.

 Santana

Santana

Santana may have experience the most success from appearing at the seminal Woodstock 1969. Carlos Santana has guided the band through over 30 years of music and many different lineups. Original members Gregg Rolie became a founding member of Journey and drummer Michael Shrieve went on to work with many other rock acts and is part of a jazz group. Bassist David Brown died in 2000 of liver and kidney failure.

John Sebastian

John Sebastian

A former member of The Lovin’ Spoonful, John Sebastian was not initially on the bill to appear at Woodstock 1969, but when a staff member recognized him in the crowd during “Country Joe” McDonald’s set, he was asked to perform. Since Woodstock, Sebastian has focused on writing music for film and television as well as instructional videos for guitar students.

Sha Na Na

Sha Na Na

The oddballs of the festival represented sort of a throwback which was far from rock and roll. They went on to appear in the hit movie Grease and had their own TV show from 1977-1982. The band is still active in 2009 and has a collection of over 21 albums. Donny York and Jocko Marcellino are the only two original members that remain in the group.

Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar

The sitar virtuoso gained massive amounts of popularity with the collaboration of Beatle George Harrison. Before playing Woodstock he also performed at the Monterey Pop Festival which was organized by Michael Lang, who would go on to co-create Woodstock 1969. After Woodstock, Ravi Shankar has released over 35 albums and is the father to singer Norah Jones.

Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone

Appearing at Woodstock 1969 after its fourth album, Sly and the Family stone’s performance is still regarded as one of their best live shows. Drugs became a problem for the band and they disbanded in 1975. Sly went on to make a few albums which never really caught on, Freddie wrote and produced music and is now a minister, Sister Rosie worked as a session singer, and Sister Vet fronts the Sly and the Family Stone tribute band simply known as Family Stone.

Bert Sommer

Bert Sommer

The Broadway star turned blues artists is best known for his single “We’re All Playing in the Same Band”. After the release of four albums during the years of 1969 to 1977, Bert Sommer died of respiratory disease in 1990.

Sweetwater

Sweetwater

A band laced with tragedy, Sweetwater was one of the more popular acts prior to the start of the Woodstock festival. They were a heavy influence on Jefferson Airplane, and adopted some of the styles that Airplane popularized. A car accident stripped the band of their frontwoman Nancy Nevins as she sustained brain and vocal cord injuries. This stopped the band’s progress altogether. Drummer Alan Malarowitz died in an auto accident in 1981 and Albert Moore (flute/vocals) died of pneumonia in 1994.

The Who

The Who

The Who is another one of those bands whose popularity extends far past the Woodstock festival, and not many of their members being alive to enjoy it. Legendary drummer Keith Moon died of a drug overdose at age 32, while Bassist John “The Ox” Entwistle died of a heart attack in 2002. The remaining members, vocalist Roger Daltrey, and guitarist Pete Townshend still claim The Who moniker and have toured with replacement musicians throughout the years. They continue to tour on and off.

Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter was a rookie musician during the time of Woodstock 1969 and managed to woo the crowd. He became a producer and produced Muddy Water’s last three albums which ended up being Grammy winning material. He continues to write and produce music and is responsible for 24 albums and continues to tour, although recent health problems have slowed him down a bit.

Looking at the number of drug-related deaths in the list, one could not help but wonder if the Internet, where they could have read helpful reviews of New Creation rehab center and other types of addiction treatment, already existed at the time.