The First Days of Woodstock

Photographer Baron Wolman documented the hippie love fest for Rolling Stone magazine.

This article originally appeared on VICE Spain

Between 1967 and 1970, Baron Wolman worked as the Chief Photographer forRolling Stone magazine, capturing artists like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead. During his tenure, he was also tasked with documenting the first Woodstock festival for the magazine.

Last week, Wolman visited Madrid for an exhibition of his Woodstock work at the Caja Mágica gallery. I grabbed the opportunity to ask the photographer a few questions about that time in his life.

VICE: What do you remember best from that first Woodstock festival?
Baron Wolman: Well, I mostly remember that life was more fun and less complicated in those days, and the festival reflected that spirit of "live and let live". The festival itself was a unique event for people who love music. It was just a string of memorable moments – from the second Richie Havens opened.

What was it like to work there?
I took photos, hundreds of photos. I can't remember how many rolls of film I went through, but it was dozens. In those times, bands were a lot more approachable and spontaneous – they didn't have an army of managers and PR people following them around. You could just walk up to them and take their picture. My job was so easy, I just did whatever I felt like.

Which band or artist that performed then, do you remember most fondly?
Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix was the king of Woodstock.

And who was your favourite to photograph?
Again, definitely Jimi Hendrix. He handled his guitar like it was a snake. But to be honest, the best part of working as a photographer at Woodstock was photographing the audience. Something like that will never happen again.

What was the audience like back then?
They were great: they only thought about drinking, smoking and making love. I didn't witness a single fight during those days, and if there has ever been a true representation of freedom, I think it was Woodstock. That's where the hippie movement was born, and I think that's where it died too.

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