Photo: Jimi Hendrix: Live at Woodstock
Date: August 18, 1969
This photo is a clear representation of the mood and aura of the 1960s in America. During a time in which civil unrest was rampant, and young boys were being shipped off to meaningless wars, music and free love became the counter-culture. As people began to strike back against the status quo, a new splinter group emerged, the Hippies. Believing in the ideas of total liberty, freedom of expression and hatred for “The Man,” hippies began to populate America. And on August 15, 1969, high in the New York Catskills a concert for “3 days of peace and music” was created, and exploded.
As over 400,000 people poured into the small festival grounds everyday, the importance of the event came clear. This Woodstock festival was becoming one of the biggest moments of both musical history, and the counterculture movement.
The most influential act of the festival took place on August 18, 1969 when Jimi Hendrix, a young black, left-handed guitarist took the stage. After christening his set with the Star-Spangled Banner he unleashed a flurry of rock and roll music that rocked the hearts of half a million people.
My photo is important for many reasons. Of course Woodstock was a grand event from beginning the end, but the photo that captures a young black man being applauded by 400,000 people for his breadth and talent shows the acceptance that most Americans had trouble finding in the 1960s. Furthermore, Hendrix holding up the peace sign to the crowd is both an emotional and powerful signal. He stands with everyone against all violence and terror, and in that single moment everyone at Woodstock is united. This photo may not be world famous, or impressive to many people, but to me it shows how music can overcome all controversy and break down any wall, especially when someone shreds the Star-Spangled Banner