Woodstock

In this Aug. 16, 1969, file photo, grass and leaf huts are used as makeshift living quarters for some of the attendees at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival at White Lake in Bethel, N.Y. Timing alone ensures that the Woodstock music festival and Charles Manson murders will be joined in memory. But the apex of peace and love and the abyss of pitiless violence were born out of similar drives as old as the U.S. itself.

Five years ago John Fogerty brought his “1969” tour to the South Okanagan Events Centre. Before playing a two-and-a-half hour show, it began with a 15-minute video detailing the historic events of the year 1969 which, among them included some incredibly cool music.

At first, the crowd groaned, but the mini-doc was so well researched, everyone was mesmerized within moments.

Now, here we are 50 years later and this newspaper is regularly running news features on the historic events from 1969.

My recollections are vague, being only three years old. I really only remember Bert and Ernie and the baker who fell down the stairs on “Sesame Street.”

Musically, The Beatles split up, holding their famous rooftop concert and later crossing Abbey Road for what would become, arguably, the most-famous album cover of all-time.

Led Zeppelin released its first two albums, a cartoon band had the No. 1 single of the year (“Sugar Sugar” by The Archies), Elvis Presley reached No. 1 for the final time (“Suspicious Minds”), CCR began its string of five No. 2 hits (without going to No. 1) and Jim Morrison was put on trial for 16 days for exposing his junk on stage at a concert in Miami.

Then there was Woodstock, which officially concluded 50 years ago today with a two hour, 10 minute set by Jimi Hendrix and the Gypsy Sun & the Rainbows. Most of the concert-goers had gone home — they had enough. Or maybe it was Jimi’s opening act, Sha Na Na that scared them away.

Although many have tried to clone Woodstock, it will never happen again. It was a fluke.

With the Vietnam War still in full swing, there were protests ... lots of them. Woodstock was about peace, love and a ton of drugs.

The Stonewall Riots sparked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement on a night when the cops in New York City didn’t have anything better to do.

America won the space race being the first to put a man on the moon.

Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, Richard Nixon was sworn in as America’s 37th president and Golda Meir became the first female prime minister of Israel.

Major League Baseball came to Montreal and in the fall classic, the New York Mets beat the Baltimore Orioles in five games in what was the greatest World Series upset ever.

Joe Namath was most valuable player of Super Bowl III. The Habs won the Stanley Cup in an era when Canadian teams won Stanley Cups.

Wal-Mart incorporated, the first Wendy’s restaurant was opened.

“Sesame Street” debuted, along with two other great new shows — “The Brady Bunch” and “Scooby Doo.”

There were the awful Charles Manson “family” murders and Chappaquiddick, which Teddy Kennedy escaped nearly unscathed.

Foreshadowing the future, 1969 is recognized as the year the internet was invented when a four-node network of universities was connected.

There was the first recorded case of AIDS/HIV when St. Louis teenager, Robert R. died of the disease.

And Bruce Lee appeared in his first film “Marlowe,” with James Garner.

We’re now living in strange times but 1969 still remains the most significant news year of my lifetime.

If time travel was possible, I’d love to be a print journalist in 1969.

James Miller is valley editor of Okanagan Newspaper Group. Email: james.miller@ok.bc.ca.