Here's How Much All The Performers At The Original Woodstock Were Paid: From Jimi Hendrix To Janis Joplin And The Grateful Dead

By on July 27, 2023 in ArticlesHow Much Does

It's one of the most legendary rock concerts ever performed on Earth. The original Woodstock Music Festival, almost 55 years ago in August of 1969, was attended by some half a million people who were treated to a lineup that's risen to the status of legend over the ensuing decades. The Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Jefferson Airplane, Ravi Shankar, and, most famously, Jimi Hendrix, all performed at the festival, and documents from the Woodstock archives show how much they were all paid for their performances.

The figures are somewhat startling to read, particularly in the current era when top level headliners can command millions of dollars for engagements at rock festivals that are on one level or another emulating the format pioneered by Woodstock back in 1969. The figures, reported by various outlets over the years, show how much each artist was paid, and it's a far cry from the six and seven-figure numbers that comparable performers at the top of their games would earn at a similar event today.

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The show's top earner, somewhat fittingly, was Jimi Hendrix, who raked in $18,000 for his performance, a bargain considering it's one of the most famous and iconic concert performances in all of history. The show's second-highest earner, to the tune of $15,000, is a little bit more of a head-scratcher given the other names on the bill: jazz-rock combo Blood, Sweat & Tears. Taking up third place is singer-songwriter Joan Baez, who earned $10,000. Here's a full listing of the acts at Woodstock '69 and what they earned to be there:

1. Jimi Hendrix – $18,000

2. Blood, Sweat and Tears – $15,000

3. Joan Baez – $10,000

4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – $10,000

5. The Band – $7,500

6. Janis Joplin – $7,500

7. Jefferson Airplane – $7,500

8. Sly and the Family Stone – $7,000

9. Canned Heat – $6,500

10. The Who – $6,250

11. Richie Havens – $6,000

12. Arlo Guthrie – $5,000

13. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – $5,000

14. Ravi Shankar – $4,500

15. Johnny Winter – $3,750

16. Ten Years After – $3,250

17. Country Joe and the Fish – $2,500

18. The Grateful Dead – $2,500

19. The Incredible String Band – $2,250

20. Mountain – $2,000

21. Tim Hardin – $2,000

22. Joe Cocker – $1,375

23. Sweetwater – $1,250

24. John B. Sebastian – $1,000

25. Melanie – $750

26. Santana – $750

27. Sha Na Na – $700

28. Keef Hartley – $500

29. Quill – $375

Iron Butterfly, the psychedelic rock group best known for their song "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," were no-shows at the concert, but they were purportedly set to be one of its top earners, with $5,000 plus another $5,000 for the band's "light show." According to rock lore, they were stuck at nearby LaGuardia Airport when their management demanded that festival organizers arrange for them to be shuttled directly to the stage via helicopter. In a book on the Woodstock festival, production coordinator John Morris claims to have sent the following response via telegram (take a note of the first letter of each line):

"For reasons I can't go into / Until you are here / Clarifying your situation / Knowing you are having problems / You will have to find / Other transportation / Unless you plan not to come."

That telegram robbed Woodstock attendees of the spectacle of Iron Butterfly taking the stage by chopper, and departing the same way afterwards, but it also saved the Woodstock payroll a total of ten grand.

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