Woodstock's 40th Draws Geezers, Maybe Sex and Drugs Too

Photo: Ten Years after is playing 40 years later and Country Joe McDonald will be there: "Give me an O-L-D."

It's the 40th anniversary of Woodstock and they ought to be offering senior citizen discounts.

Ten Years After is playing 40 years later and Country Joe McDonald will be headlining: "Give me an O, give me an L, give me a D."

In 1969, an estimated 400,000 music lovers descended on Yasgur's farm in Bethel, N.Y. -- now hallowed ground for hippies -- creating the most celebrated rock festival of all time.

VIDEO: What Is the Legacy of Woodstock?
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Despite food shortages, overflowing port-a-potties and torrential rain, Woodstock became a symbol for an entire generation -- peace, love, beads and a lot of good music and drugs.

Some of the musical heroes of that drug-infused era have returned for the Aug. 14-16 retro concerts -- Richie Havens, Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat and Big Brother and the Holding Company, among others -- but nearly all are pushing 70.

Gone are rock gods Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, who long ago died of overdoses.

Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead is dead, as are The Who's bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. The band's guitarist Pete Townshend, 64, after years of "Tommy Can You Hear Me?" is mostly deaf.

David Crosby, 68, had a liver transplant and former band mates Neil Young and Stephen Stills, 64, have survived brain and prostate cancer, respectively.

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Today, concert goers will not roll around in the mud hoping a neighbor will pass around a bowl of brown rice. Rather, 4,500 aging rockers will sit in plush seats in a covered amphitheater with access to public toilets and concession stands selling hamburgers and hot dogs.

Most of the 15,000 who have bought tickets for the "Heroes of Woodstock" concert [some will sit on the lawn] will arrive in their hybrids and Subaru wagons rather than in psychedelically painted VW buses.

Drugs are not allowed, but some promoting the anniversary confide there may be those who "have their own little experience" at the hillside monument erected on the original site.

Any free love will likely happen at new nearby hotels like the local Marriott, which are already booked for the entire weekend.

Returning Woodstock characters like Wavy Gravy, now 73, admit they are "fast approaching official geezerhood."

Hippie From Springsteen's Hometown

But the flower children who flocked to Woodstock in 1969 aren't withering on the vine. Though most say they don't get high anymore -- except in the metaphorical sense -- the spirit of Woodstock left an indelible mark on their lives.

"I don't feel like I'm old," said Marc Gellman, 57 and a psychologist from the University of Miami who will trek back to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts this weekend. "I was politically active then and I remain politically active today."

Gellman was a long-haired 17-year-old from Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, N.J., when he and a friend ordered tickets by mail for the three-day rock fest.

He had railed against the Vietnam War and laws that made draft-eligible 18-year-olds wait until 21 to vote.

"I was a young hippie with peace symbols on my car," said Gellman, who managed to avoid being drafted, despite a draft lottery number of 28. "I had to be part of the scene."

The teens set off in Gellman's car and headed up the New York Thruway just a month after getting his driver's license.

What he found was a "great lab to observe masses of people" sharing food and hand-rolled joints and consuming "vast amounts of drugs."

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