Jay-Z is to headline one of the woodstock 50 Music and Arts Fair shows this summer, as a plethora of top music stars have been announced for the exciting festival to mark the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock event. Running between 16th and 18th August, the vibrant celebration of music will also include major acts such as American rock bands Dead & Company – formed from members of Grateful Dead – and The Killers, besides the Black Keys and Canned Heat.

Watkins Glen in New York will be the venue for music fans to head to like the likes of Miley Cyrus, Chance the Rapper and veteran star Santana are also set to feature at the events, as the commemorative festival bursts into life this summer. Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant is also on the bill, an interesting choice given that the 70-year-old’s former band declined an opportunity to perform at the 1969 event. It truly represents an eclectic line-up with various music genres being showcased and something to appeal to all the generations.

Original Woodstock event in 1969

The original Woodstock event was billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music" back in August 1969, although in truth the musical celebration was interrupted by several heavy rain delays that ultimately extended it into a fourth day on August 18th. Despite the somewhat unseasonal rainy weather, more than 400,000 people flocked to the festival held on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in the Catskill Mountains, northwest of New York City as one of the pivotal moments in popular music history unravelled before their eyes and delighted their ears.

Part of the history of rock and roll

Thirty-two acts performed at the original outdoor gig, which features in Rolling Stone’s “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll”, such was its undoubted impact at the time on those fortunate enough to see it live. Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock” was released in 1970, drawing on her then-boyfriend Graham Nash’s (of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame) recollections after he had played at the event. Mitchell herself is commonly quoted as commenting that “Woodstock was a spark of beauty,” despite not being able to attend in person herself.

Jimi Hendrix provided the finale

Rock guitar genius Jimi Hendrix brought the 1969 ‘peace and love’ event to a fitting close, after more than three days of uplifting entertainment that had featured major stars of the era including Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Who and Jefferson Airplane. For many, it represented a rare opportunity to see Hendrix perform live and some fans remained on site into the fourth day, just to catch a glimpse of the rock megastar.

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