I arrived at a farmer's field to park my VW late Friday afternoon. That day was to feature the acoustic groups like Joan B. and Richie Havens. I slept aftrer the long drive from Maryland and by early next morning the fences were down - the concert was free (I had no tickets anyway)
I had already been to several concerts and knew to be self contained. I had some money (no use here) and two big boxes of kitchen matches wrapped in a baggie.
The Saturday afternoon highlight in the bright sunlight was the driving percussion and guitar of a California group no one around me ever heard of called Santana. The late afternoon rain was captured well by the movie.
Some observations not on the film - long time between acts, Grateful Dead were most disappointing - wet equpment, arugments between members of group, interruptions by Abbie Hoffman and more. Most over rated act - Sly & Family Stone - one number got people up but it was not a 'funk' crowd not time.
Late night acts in order of memory - C S N & Y, Janis, Airplane - crashed from fatigue and recovery time for drugs. By this time I had positioned myself about 75 yards from stage and just left of center to best receive sound in anticipation of Jimi.
The matches were a big hit. After the rains, the damp settled in and I had to only source of fire for lighting smokes (he, he) within a 1000 yard radius. I sampled every pot, hashish, hash oil, opium and anything combustible that could be found in the USA that week. Had my own vitamin 'A' which I began taking Sunday night to stay up for Jimmi. I saw Jimi having an overdose on 'cid playing air guitar to every electric group behind the stage.
Jimi finally came on after Sha Na Na Monday morning. High tide for the crowd was on Saturday afternoon at about 400,000 maybe twice that many passed through the place - New York folks thought it best to leave to get to work Monday morn - Ha!
Jimi playing with Band of Gypsies had a wall of 35 Marshall amps behind him (I counted) and he turned them up, all the way. It was so loud as to be physical, the hair on my arms stood up from the electric charge around the stage (I was too close) while the mountains across the valley acted as a reverb. My missing wife had walked back the 6 miles to the car and later told me when he came on, it sounded like a big stereo was turned up in a small room even from that distance.
The crowd was down to only 50,000 or so die hards and me! Wet but happy.
Often overlooked and rarely heard on tapes is the seamless transtion from the opening tune "Star Spangled Banner' into Purple Haze by holding the final Banner note a long 20 or more seconds with some twisting and stretching of that final note then slamming down the lead notes and chord for Purple Haze (hum this in your mind and you can appreciate it better) - - It elevated all who were there.
I saw Jimi four times in my life but that transitional will always be the best moment. His stage demeanor was special too. Most groups were overwhelmed by the even and crowd size - a lot of Golly Gee reactions (Arlo, C,S,N,Y, and most others) but Jimi simpley said "We meet again!" and told us the show was offically over but he would stay and jam a bit and maybe we would like to stay a bit longer. He introduced the Gypsies and began.
The main reason it worked so well was the reassuring voice of 'Wavy Gravy' otherwise panic or chaos might have set in at several points.
I have many more observations of interest to some - I even have the nearly complete set of mostly unedited performances in original order with only minor gaps for the whole event - around 35 hours of music. PM me if interested - its in MP3 format - I am willing to burn a copy to someone willing to pass it on - the Ol' Rancher is now on dial up