Richie Havens was the first musician to step onto the stage, and Jimi Hendrix was the final performer to trod on the wooden flooring at the legendary Woodstock concert.
In between, 30 other rock and roll, folk, country, and blues acts, ranging from Joan Baez to Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young to The Who, and Joe Cocker to the Grateful Dead, played on the same 8,000-square-foot platform over the three days that comprised what is considered the greatest music festival of all time.
And then, after the 500,000 people who descended on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in the town of Bethel, New York from August 15-18, 1969, left to go their merry ways, the wooden stage – the very focal point of the mega-event – basically disappeared.
The original stage flooring has been found in an abandoned field near a bungalow colony. Steve Gold, together with partners Dave Marks and Randy Garcia, are offering a limited number of pieces of the stage flooring for sale to the public, through their company Peace of Stage, LLC, www.peaceofstage.com.
“There was only one main stage at Woodstock, and when you consider who stepped on that stage during the 60 most defining hours in music history, this is nothing short of hallowed wood,” declared Mr. Gold, who is the founding partner of Peace of Stage, LLC. “So, whether you are a Rock and Roller like me, who was there or who lived through it, a Millennial who continues to be influenced by the music and artists who headlined the show, or you are somewhere in between, you can now own a piece of what is the most iconic work of construction in the annals of music.”
Mr. Gold recalled that he actually got to touch the stage – about five weeks after the concert. His then girlfriend’s father drove up to the bungalow colony he owned and “since I was at the colony visiting her, he asked me if I would help him unload the wood panels in his truck. As we were unloading, he told me the wood panels were the actual Woodstock stage. He had just bought it from the Woodstock site at Yasgur’s Farm, where many of the festival’s infrastructures were being sold. Little did I know that, almost 50 years later, those words from my girlfriend’s dad would still be embedded in my mind.”
Yet, in the intervening years, the stage floor panels remained at that upstate location, where they were used for a time as a paddleball court. Then the bungalow colony was sold and the wood was just left where it was standing. Over the years, it became engulfed by weeds.
About two years ago, when rumors of a 50th Anniversary Woodstock concert began to swirl, Mr. Gold began thinking back to the original Woodstock stage. His interest was instinctive, his professional career has included stints as a concert promoter, entertainment marketing executive, a managing executive of The Saint, home of the famed Fillmore East and what was once the largest dance club in New York City, and executive director of the Palladium.
A trip upstate with a friend ensued but his recollections of the panels’ last location were not exact. So, they began walking through the overgrown weeds and in the distance, they spotted a structure. Mr. Gold immediately realized he had found the “magical focal point of Woodstock, the hallowed stage,” still in its upright paddleball court form.
“We removed several panels to look for stage markings we had seen in hundreds of festival pictures and the Woodstock movie to identify it was the real deal,” Mr. Gold recounted. “I knew it had to be because of the Weyerhaeuser (lumber company) logos etched into the stage floor panels and because of the distinctively-colored paint splatters.”
To make sure, they took some of the panels to Wood Science Consulting, a wood science and consulting company specializing in the engineering uses of wood and wood-based products. And after much testing, the wood was authenticated as the original flooring of the Woodstock stage.
Peace of Stage is making a limited number of uniquely designed framed pieces available for sale to the general public through peaceofwoodstockstage.com. Peace of Stage also sells small glass bottles of stage sawdust, called “Stardust for Peace” in honor of the Joni Mitchell song “Woodstock,” as well as peace sign pendants made from small stage remnants.
“Woodstock was magic. The stage is central to that magic, the only thing that is really real and remains from the concert site,” said Mr. Gold. “It’s the Holy Grail of music!”
He explained that prices for pieces of the Woodstock stage vary, depending on size (or collectible). The “Treehugger Frame” costs $319 and comes with a four-square-inch piece of stage, and the 50th Anniversary Acrylic Frame costs $99 and includes a piece of the stage. The Stardust for Peace bottles of stage sawdust cost $19.69, while the Peace Pendants go for $99.
All Peace of Stage Collectibles include Letters of Authenticity from Wood Science Consulting, as well as from Robin Gray, the daughter of Alex Gray, who initially purchased the stage flooring from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. All items come with tamper-proof holograms.
Some of the proceeds from the Stardust for Peace bottles will be donated to charities benefitting Vietnam veterans, the homeless and the hungry, and gun law reform efforts established by families of mass shooting victims.