Once Upon a Time in 1969
It’s August 15, 1969, and Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm in upstate New York sees an estimated 500,000 people on a psychedelic pilgrimage to attend a 3-day music festival called Woodstock. The four event organizers are all under 27 years old, and in over their heads. They are vastly under prepared for what was supposed to be only 50,000 (paying) attendees. The highways are jammed. The police have started turning away people trying to stop the flood of long-hairs from turning their small town community into the next Haight-Ashbury district. Through sheer will of the universe neither rain, mud, traffic, nor bad LSD, could stop this festival from turning into one of the single greatest events in music history.
When you hear the word Woodstock several images come to mind: Jimi Hendrix wearing a bandana, hippies prancing in a field, peace symbols, and Volkswagen. Mainly one in particular, a 1963 VW Type 2 Mircobus called the Light Bus sporting a one of kind paint job by Bob Hieronimus, that unintentionally became a symbol for Woodstock and the entire generation who was there to witness it.
The story of the Light Bus is that it was suppose to be a tour bus for the Baltimore based band called Light.
The Light Bus
They wanted a tour bus that captured the attention and hired Bob Hieronimus in 1968 to paint their ’63 Van. Even though Light was not one of the many musical acts hired to play at Woodstock they still wanted to go and took the Light Bust with them. Upon arriving the police stopped them. In order to avoid being turned away they told police that the van was an art piece meant to be an exhibition for the show. That was the only thing that got them through.
During those three days the people of Woodstock turned the Light Bus into a celebrity. Everybody loved it, and for good reason. The vivid colors perfectly captured the spirit of what the event was all about. Plus, it probably looked “Farrr out, man” while under the influence of LSD and magic mushrooms. Reporters from Life Magazine and Rolling Stone took photos of it and turn it into a symbol. Sadly, the band Light broke up shortly after 1969 and the original Light Bus vanished to an unknown fate.
Since that event one cannot see a VW Bus without thinking Hippy Van. August 2019 will mark the 50 anniversary of Woodstock and recently a very creative way to celebrate has just been unveiled. Bob Hieronimus, and his team, have finished painting a replica Light bus that was restored by Volkswagen. As the saying goes, history repeats itself. The 1963 Type 2 van sports a far out spectrum of color that invokes positive energy to anyone who lays eyes on it.
Volkswagen plans on touring the bus this year across the country with the finish line being the 50th anniversary of Woodstock in Bethel, New York.
After Woostock finally ended the 4 event organizers: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, and Mike Lang, ended up with an estimated debt over $1 million dollars and 70 lawsuits. Even after the success of the film about Woodstock managed to absorb most of the financial burden the debt was still around $100,000. There is a lesson in that – never host a party because you’ll always end up with a mess to clean up.