Woodstock Nation: What Created Famous Mud-Filled Festival

Generation X and Y may think Woodstock was just about the sex, drugs and rock and roll, but to our parents' generation, it was far more.

For them, Woodstock was a chance to let their freak flags fly, their hair grow long, and perhaps most important of all, define themselves as a generation that didn't want anything to do with the values of their uptight, middle-class elders.

Today, this self-described Woodstock nation has morphed into the very beings they rebelled against during that August weekend in 1969: Straight-shooting, buttoned-down, stressed-out parents.

VIDEO: What Is the Legacy of Woodstock?

But on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, it doesn't seem to matter what they've become in the four decades since they stormed upstate New York for a three-day music festival that stunned the nation.

After all, they're the ones, and not us, who wear the badge of honor that comes with being a part of the most spontaneous and successful outdoor festival in American history.

VIDEO: 40 year anniversary of Woodstock festival

"People were delightfully shocked if they were related to Woodstock, and absolutely horrified by it if they were anti-hippie," said Pete Fornatale, the author of "Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock," and a long-time disc jockey who began his career in the music business three weeks before Woodstock.

"These kids who went to Woodstock in 1969 didn't know how different they were from everyone else and how like-minded they were with each other until that weekend," Fornatale told ABCNews.com. "They came for the music, but found something much larger than the music in those three days."

"And that was their own power in their own numbers, and they turned it into a celebration -- a celebration with minimum violence, even in the harshest of conditions," said Fornatale.

The idea for Woodstock was born six months prior to the festival by friends Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld, who had dreams of building a recording studio in upstate New York to cater to musicians who were growing tired of city life in Manhattan.

Max Yasgur's Farm

Lang and Kornfeld joined forces with John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, two budding entrepreneurs, and together the four men -- all in their 20s -- decided to put on a music festival to raise money that would fund the construction of the recording studio.

"And the rest, as they say, was history," said Joel Makower, author of "Woodstock: The Oral History."

When the original Wallkill, N.Y., location set for the festival fell through just a month before the concert was set to begin because of problems with local zoning laws, the concert promoters secured an alternate venue, Max Yasgur's farm in nearby Bethel, N.Y.

The four planners realized that relocating the event would turn out to be the least of their problems. The profit-making scheme, dubbed "Woodstock Ventures," quickly turned into a free concert when the number of attendees grew by hundreds of thousands, far more than the planners had anticipated and enough to turn the New York Thruway into a parking lot.

Nearly half a million people showed up to see 32 bands -- including the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who -- perform from Aug. 15 to Aug 17, 1969.

"Word spread quickly and you had all these people coming and causing traffic jams that paralyzed miles of highway which meant nobody was able to bring in extra food or medicine or supplies," said Makower. "People were crowded, it was hot and humid and then it rained and rained and rained."

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