Robbie Robertson On What Is Was Like Playing Woodstock

November 5, 2019

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)


When The Band took the stage at Woodstock, Robbie Robertson was concerned. Not only was their musc vastly different than what they thought the crowd wanted to hear, but they had only played a handful of shows together as a group.

Robertson was speaking about his Woodstock experience with Billboard and took readers inside the scene.

"When we went to play at Woodstock, we played on the last night. It just got dark. Couldn't have been a better time to go on. More people than there had been at the whole festival. This was the highlight of the festival. The crowd out there, they wanted to get crazy. They want to rock. They were muddy and down and dirty," he said.

As if that wasn't enough, add in the fact that you're playing for 500,000 people. Intimidating? Yeah, Robinson would admit that.

"The band had hardly played any concerts as The Band and we were going out in front of a half-a-million people and going out to play music that we recorded on Music From Big Pink. We go out there and people are taking their shirts off, and arms in the air, and hooting and drinking and taking drugs, and we go out and start to play, and everything just went [makes whooshing sound] like this," Robertson said.

The performance could have gone South, but Robertson described a scene that was exactrly the opposite. "A stillness came out over the crowd. It was like we were singing hymns. All of this madness and wildness and everything just settled down into this kind of Zen experience," he said.


Related: Robbie Robertson to Lead All-Star Tribute to The Band's 'Last Waltz'