Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the original Woodstock festival, which took place from August 15 to the early morning of August 18, 1969, in Bethel, New York.
One of the many memorable performances at the event came courtesy of Santana, who took the stage on Saturday, August 16, at about 2 p.m. Guitarist Carlos Santana has famously admitted that he was under the influence of hallucinogens during the group’s set, and he tells ABC Radio that among his most vivid memories from the fest was the calming influence another rock legend had on him that day.
“What I remember is, basically, looking at Jerry Garcia‘s face, and he had a beautiful beatific smile,” Carlos recalls. “Like, ‘It’s OK. It’s all right. It’s gonna be all right.’ And so I didn’t panic.”
Reflecting on the performance, and his altered state of consciousness that day, Carlos says, “It was very challenging to play in front of 550,000 people…under the…not under, but over the frequency of mescaline, peyote or mushrooms, whatever I took. But what I remember is Jerry Garcia’s face and his eyes smiling, because he’s the one that gave it to me.”
Meanwhile, Santana drummer Michael Shrieve tells ABC Radio that that day was “magical,” and feels that his band gave “a performance for the ages.”
Shrieve notes that when Santana played at Woodstock, the band’s debut album hadn’t been released yet, “so nobody was familiar with any of our music, so we had to win them over as a brand-new band.”
He adds, “I think when you consider that, with an audience that size, that’s no easy task for a band that nobody knows to win them over. And the fact that we did that is really something I’m proud of.”
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