Baron Wolman was Rolling Stone magazine’s first photographer, working with stars such as Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and all the greats of the day. In 1969 he was on the road photographing music festivals around the USA on assignment for Rolling Stone magazine when word started to trickle through about a major musical event happening in upstate New York. Joining the long traffic jams, Wolman made it to Woodstock, along with, ultimately, hundreds of thousands of other people.
The thing to remember about the 1960s, even near the end in ’69 was that everything was totally different, the behavior was new and unexpected. Plus, the 1960s were simply wildly photogenic in every way imaginable. The changes that were taking place in the heads of the people were visually manifested. I mean, how could you not take pictures?
His latest book, Woodstock, (Reel Art Press) is filled with Wolman’s photos of the atmosphere and events occurring around and beside the live bands at this, the most famous music festival of all time. Revisiting his contact sheets for the first time in years, he was pleasantly surprised to find he had enough rich material to complete a book dedicated this time not to the musicians but to the crowds.
“Woodstock” is beautifully printed, with rich blacks and lush gold tone. It includes a foreword by Carlos Santana and features an extensive Q&A with Baron Wolman and Woodstock creator, Michael Lang.
There’s a great bookstore edition but it also comes in a limited edition version that includes a print of these chilling cows, and an actual, rare, original Woodstock admission ticket!
No one could have predicted the enduring influence of the Woodstock experience. Yes, the bands were first rate and there were many of them. And the setting… was picture perfect and tranquil, a bucolic setting for relaxing with friends and listening to music and getting high. But in unexpected ways, Woodstock became more than a concert for all of us. I ended up spending most of my time out in the wild with the crowd because what was happening ‘out there’ was just too interesting not to explore.
Woodstock showed the world how things could have been, and for this reason it’s important that we never forget this experience, this place, this time, this dream that came true, if only for three days…
Read more about “The Fotobaron” and follow him on Twitter @BaronWolman
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