Here's How Much Artists Got Paid to Play Woodstock in 1969

Here's How Much Artists Got Paid to Play Woodstock in 1969

Three days of peace and music at Woodstock in 1969 paid pretty well if you were atop the bill of performers.

Contrary to what many believe about the iconic music festival and flashpoint in rock and roll history, the legends who performed over that long weekend did not offer their talents for free. 

The festival famously drew about half a million people to a farm in upstate New York between August 15 and 18, 1969. Many of the performers on its bill went on to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame careers, sparked by their participation on the festival. 

Archived documents reveal how much each act got paid for their time. 

Rock god Jimi Hendrix, who was among the biggest rock stars in the world at the time, was paid $18,000 to headline the weekend. For context, $18,000 in 1969 had the same buying power as nearly $125,000 in 2018. 

That's a good number, and after Hendrix paid his band, crew and management, you'd think he would get a nice check for himself. 

But by contrast, the biggest acts in music nowadays routinely cost promoters over $500,000 to book.

When you think about it that way, the services of Hendrix and his band came at quite a bargain.

Blood, Sweat and Tears was reportedly the second highest-paid, pulling in $15,000 — while Joan Baez and Creedence Clearwater Revival got $10,000 a piece. 

Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane got $7,500 each. Sly and the Family Stone got $7,000 and The Who got $6,250.

Folk icon Arlo Guthrie and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young earned $5,000 each.

Interestingly enough, three of Woodstock's most fondly remembered performances were by some of the festival's lowest paid acts. 

The Grateful Dead, which would go on to become synonymous with large outdoor music festivals, was paid $2,500. 

Joe Cocker got about $1,375.

Santana, which performed about two weeks prior to the release of its self-titled debut album, got paid $750. In 2018 terms, that's about $5,200.  

Photo: Getty Images

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