Monday, March 16, 2009

The Woodstock Death Count

Well, the 40th anniversary of Woodstock is coming up this summer. As I said in a prior post, I hope they let the anniversary just quietly pass. But, something tells me that someone is going to see potential $$$ and try to hold a Woodstock 2009 and it will be a f***ed up mess again.

Anyway, I found this article interesting for those of you who remember Woodstock 1969.

This might be a tad morbid, but that’s the way it goes sometimes…

A friend recently sent me an email containing a link to a news story about the death of a 1960s musician. Well, he was probably a musician later in life as well, but was most famous during the ‘60s.

I cranked off a reply that was something along these lines: “Huh. Wonder how many of the original Woodstock performers are dead now? Forty percent?”

Turns out the musician in the article hadn’t even performed at the festival. I was mistaken, but still curious about the Woodstock Death Count. I did some Google searches, and came up with nothing. Nobody, it seemed, was keeping a running tally.

And so, once again, it’s been left to me to crunch the numbers. First it was Deadwood, and now Woodstock. It’s a heavy burden I carry, my friends.

Here are the results of my exhaustive research:
DAY ONE Friday, August 15, 1969

Richie Havens: alive

Swami Satchidananda: dead

Sweetwater: 4 alive, 3 dead
Nancy Nevins: alive
Alex Del Zoppo: alive
Fred Herrera: alive
August Burns: dead
Alan Malarowitz: dead
Elpidio “Pete” Cobian: alive
Albert Moore: dead

Incredible String Band: 4 alive
Mike Heron: alive
Robin Williamson: alive
Christina “Licorice” McKechnie: alive
Rose Simpson: alive

Bert Sommer: dead

Tim Hardin: dead

Ravi Shankar: alive

Melanie: alive

Arlo Guthrie: alive

Joan Baez: alive

19 performers: 13 alive, 6 dead
Death percentage (Day 1): 32%

The first day has taken the biggest hit, percentage-wise. There were only nineteen performers, since the festival didn’t start until Friday evening, but almost a third of them have passed through the big beaded curtain in the sky. Sweetwater alone has three deceased members, and are tied with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band for the most by any band at Woodstock.
DAY TWO Saturday, August 16, 1969

Quill: 5 alive
Jon Cole: alive
Dan Cole: alive
Roger North: alive
Normman Rogers: alive
Phil Thayer: alive

Keef Hartley Band: 4 alive, 1 dead
Keef Hartley: alive
Miller Anderson: alive
Jimmy Jewell: alive
Henry Lowther: alive
Gary Thain: dead

Country Joe McDonald: alive

John Sebastian: alive

Santana: 5 alive, 1 dead
Carlos Santana: alive
Gregg Rolie: alive
Jose “Chepito” Areas: alive
Mike Carabello: alive
Michael Shrieve: alive
David Brown: dead

Canned Heat: 3 alive, 2 dead
Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson: dead
Bob “The Bear” Hite: dead
Harvey “The Snake” Mandel: alive
Larry “The Mole” Taylor: alive
Adolpho “Fito” de la Parra: alive

Mountain: 3 alive, 1 dead
Leslie West: alive
Felix Pappalardi: dead
Norman D. Smart II: alive
Steve Knight: alive

Janis Joplin: dead

Grateful Dead: 5 alive, 2 dead
Jerry Garcia: dead
Bob Weir: alive
Bill Kreutzmann: alive
Mickey Hart: alive
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan: dead
Tom Constanten: alive
Phil Lesh: alive

Creedence Clearwater Revival: 3 alive, 1 dead
John Fogerty: alive
Tom Fogerty: dead
Doug “Cosmo” Clifford: alive
Stu Cook: alive

Sly and the Family Stone: 7 alive
Sly Stone: alive
Freddie Stone: alive
Greg Errico: alive
Larry Graham: alive
Jerry Martini: alive
Cynthia Robinson: alive
Rosie Stone: alive

The Who: 2 alive, 2 dead
Roger Daltry: alive
Pete Townshend: alive
John Entwistle: dead
Keith Moon: dead

Jefferson Airplane: 5 alive, 2 dead
Marty Balin: alive
Grace Slick: alive
Paul Kantner: alive
Jorma Kaukonen: alive
Jack Casady: alive
Spencer Dryden: dead
Nicky Hopkins: dead

57 performers: 44 alive, 13 dead
Death percentage (Day 2): 23%

Thirteen performers from the second day are now dead, the biggest number by far. However, a whopping fifty-seven people took the stage on Saturday.

The Who have lost 50% of their members, the highest of any band at the festival. Canned Heat, the Grateful Dead, and the Jefferson Airplane are each down two, as well. But all seven members of Sly and the Family Stone are still kicking. And I find that to be fairly amazing, if you want to know the truth.
DAY THREE Sunday, August 17, 1969

Joe Cocker: alive

Country Joe & The Fish: 5 alive
Country Joe McDonald: alive
Barry “The Fish” Melton: alive
Greg “Duke” Dewey: alive
Mark Kapner: alive
Doug Metzler: alive

Ten Years After: 4 alive
Alvin Lee: alive
Leo Lyons: alive
Chick Churchill: alive
Ric Lee: alive

The Band: 3 alive, 2 dead
Robbie Robertson: alive
Rick Danko: dead
Levon Helm: alive
Garth Hudson: alive
Richard Manuel: dead

Blood, Sweat, and Tears: 9 alive
David Clayton-Thomas: alive
Bobby Colomby: alive
Jim Fielder: alive
Dick Halligan: alive
Jerry Hyman: alive
Steve Katz: alive
Fred Lipsius: alive
Lew Soloff: alive
Chuck Winfield: alive

Johnny Winter: alive

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: 6 alive
David Crosby: alive
Graham Nash: alive
Stephen Stills: alive
Neil Young: alive
Greg Reeves: alive
Dallas Taylor: alive

Paul Butterfield Blues Band: 7 alive, 3 dead
Paul Butterfield: dead
Howard “Buzzy” Feiten: alive
Rod Hicks: alive
Ted Harris: alive
Phillip Wilson: dead
Steve Madaio: alive
Keith Johnson: alive
David Sanborn: alive
Trevor Lawrence: alive
Gene Dinwiddie: dead

Sha-Na-Na: 12 alive
Joe Witkin: alive
Jocko Marcellino: alive
Donald “Donny” York: alive
Rob Leonard: alive
Alan Cooper: alive
Frederick “Dennis” Greene: alive
Dave Garrett: alive
Richard “Ritchie” Joffe: alive
Scott Powell: alive
Henry Gross: alive
Bruce Clarke III: alive
Elliot Cahn: alive

Jimi Hendrix: dead

54 performers: 48 alive, 6 dead
Death percentage (Day 3): 11%

Sha-Na-Na(?!), Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band filled the stage with performers. Why is it necessary to have a dozen people in your band? Doesn’t that seem a bit excessive? In any case, the death percentage for the final day of Woodstock is probably lower than that of my high school graduating class — even though it included high profile artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Rick Danko. Nicely done, Day Three!

And that brings us to the answer of my original question:

130 total performers: 105 alive, 25 dead
Total Woodstock death percentage: 19%

My inner-sensors told me the final number would be much higher; I would’ve bet good money the bottom-line would be closer to 35 or 40 percent. After all, it’s been four decades since the festival took place, and these are… musicians we’re talking about. The fact that only 19% of Woodstock performers have said “Goodnight Tokyo!,” is a pleasant surprise.

I spent considerable time researching this information, and believe it to be accurate. However, if you find an error, please let me know and I’ll fix it. I will attempt to keep a running tally, as well. So, check the Big Pie Chart of Death often!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting accounting of a historic event, as time marches on, if you update this please consider adding the date (at least year) each one died

grimm reminders of my own age,

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