Rock Stars Compare Live Aid with Woodstock
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The Woodstock rock festival 16 years ago wasn’t slick and clean like the weekend Live Aid mega-concert that rocked the world, but both showed music has a heart and a purpose, say two rock stars who were at both.
″The principle of what happened at Woodstock and what happened here is the same, to help humanity,″ Carlos Santana, leader of a l0-member group that bears his name, said after Saturday’s 16-hour concert which electronically linked stadiums in Philadelphia and London.
″Woodstock was one of the first concerts to tell the world we didn’t see eye to eye with what was going down with the system. It brought our people out of Vietnam.
″Live Aid is focused on putting food into stomachs of people. Woodstock was to stop the war.″
Woodstock was a joyful musical happening while Live Aid, in raising millions of dollars to fight starvation in Africa, was musicians helping others, said Grace Slick of Jefferson Starship, formerly Jefferson Airplane. She didn’t sing at Live Aid but participated as an introduction host.
″People can enjoy themselves and somebody benefits from it,″ she said. ″Woodstock was largely entertainment, just us doing it, us enjoying it; and Live Aid is for starving people.″
Santana, now 37, said the Woodstock crowd and performers ″were of a total different consciousness.″
″Live Aid is more helping, while the other was more music conscious with the idea to show the world that people could get together, without violence, to do good.″
Woodstock, held on a 40-acre farm hillside in upstate New York, ran continuously for three days despite rain and mud, and attracted more than 450,000 people.
On Saturday, with 61 of the world’s biggest rock acts performing simultaneously in two big stadiums 3,000 miles apart, 162,000 watched in person while an estimated 1.5 billion more heard the music on television and radio in 150 countries.
In both places the fans who came and cheered and applauded were about the same, predominantly in their teens and twenties, and supportive of the cause.
At Woodstock, the drug culture flourished openly and hundreds were treated for overdoses or ″bad trips.″
In Philadelphia, nearly all those who required medical treatment suffered heat prostration because of humid weather and temperatures that reached close to 100 on the packed stadium field.
Another difference between the two events was organization.
″The way Live Aid ran was with Japanese efficiency, very smooth,″ Santana said. ″At Woodstock, it was haphazard, no time schedules.″
″Woodstock was chaos. I’m not that kind of outdoors person, and going to the bathroom in the woods doesn’t appeal to me an awful lot,″ said Ms. Slick. ″In Philadelphia you can walk here and there. The cameras worked, everything worked.″
″Woodstock was a giant, genuine party. No one knew what to expect, including the people running it, but there was a sense that everyone wanted to share the experience with each other,″ said Don Fass, who covers rock music events for a New York broadcasting network.
″The majority at Woodstock were middle-class kids, not on drugs, just like those who came to Philadelphia,″ he added.
At Woodstock, fans hiked miles through woods and fields to get to the secluded farm and slept in the pasture and under trees. At Philadelphia, concertgoers could take the subway.
Singer-activist Joan Baez sang at Woodstock and opened the American end of Live Aid.
″This is your Woodstock, and it’s long overdue,″ she told the rock fans of the ’80s.
Then she sang ″Amazing Grace,″ a song she performed at Woodstock, and asked the fans to sing with her because ″this is the largest audience you’ll ever have in your life, two billion people.″