Who’s Still Around for Woodstock 50?

Who Might Still Be Able to Unite for Woodstock’s 50th Anniversary?

I asked this question on Quora: What acts from the original Woodstock might still be available for the 50th Anniversary festival, in their 1969 lineups?”

I got a lot of answers that missed the mark, like “The Who,” who are only half the Who they once were. So I decided to look into this myself.

There is, of course, a Woodstock Wiki, which tries to organize all the performers, set lists, and other details of the event. One of the things you discover is that many of the musical selections were either not recorded or filmed, or are lost. Some can only be confirmed if someone in the audience had a portable cassette recorder.

Anyway, let’s start with the performers who were billed as solo acts. I know a lot of the had backing bands, but let’s face it. If Janis Joplin isn’t available, the Full Tilt Boogie Band isn’t going to be invited.

All living artists are presented with their ages as of August 2019.

Solo Artists, still living

The backing musicians who appeared onstage with these solo folkies have proven most difficult to confirm their current status. But it is at least worth noting that only two of the surviving solo performers appeared with any backup.

  • Joan Baez (78)
    • Backing Musicians: Richard Festinger (71) – guitar. Jeffrey Shurtleff (74: Facebook) – vocals, guitar
  • Arlo Guthrie (72)
    • Backing Musicians: Bob Arkin (?) – bass (younger brother of Alan Arkin, interviewed in the New York Times in 2014); Paul Motian (d. 2011, age 80) – drums; John Pilla (d. 1988?) – guitar
  • Country Joe McDonald (77) (played one set solo and one with the Fish)
  • Melanie Safka (72)
  • John B. Sebastian (75)

Solo Artists, deceased

  • Joe Cocker (d. 2014, age 70)
  • Tim Hardin (d. 1980, age 39)
  • Richie Havens (d. 2013, age 72)
  • Jimi Hendrix (d. 1970, age 27)
  • Janis Joplin (d. 1970, age 27)
  • Ravi Shankar (d. 2012, age 92)
  • Bert Sommer (d. 1990, age 41)
  • Johnny Winter (d. 2014, age 70) (some of his set included brother Edgar Winter, who will be 72)

Groups Who Are All Alive

Country Joe & the Fish

  • “Country” Joe McDonald (77) – guitar, harmonica, vocals
  • Barry “The Fish” Melton (72) – guitar, kazoo, vocals
  • Greg “Duke” Dewey (71) – drums
  • Mark Kapner – (?) keyboards, organ (Facebook page still active)
  • Doug Metzler (?) – bass

Crosby, Still, Nash & Young

  • Stephen Stills (74) – guitar, vocals, organ, piano, percussion
  • David Crosby (77) – guitar, vocals
  • Graham Nash (77) – guitar, vocals, organ, percussion
  • Neil Young (73) – guitar, vocals, organ, piano

We will make note of their backing musicians, although by my own criteria, they would not count as part of the actual “band”

  • Greg Reeves (64) – bass
  • Dallas Taylor (d. 2015, age 66) – drums

At age 14, Greg Reeves would be considered the youngest person on stage at Woodstock. At that time he was known to carry a fake driver’s license, procured by Rick James, showing him to be 19, though that was a common practice for underage musicians.

The Incredible String Band

  • Mike Heron (76) – guitar, vocals
  • Robin Williamson (75) – guitar, piano, violin, vocals
  • Christina “Licorice” McKechnie ? (73) – percussion, vocals
  • Rose Simpson (age unknown) – bass, recorder, vocals, percussion

It appears Ms. McKechnie has not been seen by friends or former bandmates since 1990. Every few years, though, some fan has engaged a private detective to locate her, and to learn that she is alive and well, and merely wants to “hide in plain sight.”

Groups with Deceased Members

The Band

  • Robbie Robertson (76) – guitar, vocals
  • Rick Danko (d. 1999, age 55) – bass, vocals
  • Levon Helm (d. 2012, age 71) – drums, vocals, mandolin
  • Garth Hudson (82) – organ, piano, clavinet, synthesizer, saxophone
  • Richard Manuel (d. 1986, age 42) – piano, organ, vocals, drums

Blood, Sweat & Tears

  • David Clayton-Thomas (77) – vocals
  • Bobby Colomby (75) – drums
  • Jim Fielder (72) – bass
  • Dick Halligan (75) – keyboards, trombone, flute
  • Jerry Hyman (72) – trombone, recorder
  • Steve Katz (74) – guitar, harmonica, vocals
  • Fred Lipsius (76) – alto sax, piano
  • Lew Soloff (d. 2015, age 71) – trumpet, flugelhorn
  • Chuck Winfield (76) (status unconfirmed) – trumpet, flugelhorn

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

  • Paul Butterfield (d. 1987, age 44) – vocals, harmonica and flute
  • Howard “Buzzy” Feiten (70) – guitar
  • Rod Hicks (d. 2013, age 71) – bass
  • Ted Harris (?) – keyboards
  • Phillip Wilson (d. 1992, age 50) – drums and vocals
  • Steve Madaio (d. 2019, age 70) – trumpet and percussion
  • Keith Johnson (?) – trumpet and percussion (a comment on the Woodstock Whisperer blog indicates he is still kicking as of November 2018)
  • David Sanborn (74) – alto saxophone and percussion
  • Trevor Lawrence (?) – baritone saxophone and percussion (Well-traveled session baritone sax man, last posted to his Facebook page in Feb. 2019)
  • Gene Dinwiddie (d. 2002, age 65) – tenor saxophone, percussion and vocals

Canned Heat

  • Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson (d. 1970, age 27) – guitar, harmonica, vocals
  • Bob “The Bear” Hite (d. 1981, age 38) – vocals, harmonica
  • Harvey “The Snake” Mandel (74) – guitar
  • Larry “The Mole” Taylor (77) – bass
  • Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra (73) – drums

Creedence Clearwater Revival

  • John Fogerty (74) – vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Tom Fogerty (d. 1990, age 48) – rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Doug “Cosmo” Clifford (74) – drums
  • Stu Cook (74) – bass, keyboard

The Grateful Dead

  • Jerry Garcia (d. 1995, age 53) – guitar, vocals
  • Bob Weir (71) – guitar, vocals
  • Bill Kreutzmann (73) – drums and percussion
  • Mickey Hart (75) – drums and percussion
  • Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (d. 1973, age 27) – keyboards, harmonica, congas, vocals
  • Tom Constanten (74) – keyboards, vocals
  • Phil Lesh (78) – bass

Jefferson Airplane

  • Marty Balin (d. 2018, age 76) – vocals, tambourine, maracas
  • Grace Slick (79) – vocals. tambourine, maracas
  • Paul Kantner (d. 2016, age 74) – guitar, vocals
  • Jorma Kaukonen (78) – guitar, vocals
  • Jack Casady (75) – bass
  • Spencer Dryden (d. 2005, age 77) – drums
  • Nicky Hopkins (d. 1994, age 50) – piano

Keef Hartley Band

  • Keef Hartley (d. 2011, age 67) – drums
  • Miller Anderson (74) – guitar, vocals
  • Jimmy Jewell ? (74) – saxophone
  • Henry Lowther (78) – trumpet, violin
  • Gary Thain (d. 1975, age 27) – bass

Mountain

  • Leslie West (73) – guitar, vocals
  • Felix Pappalardi (d. 1983, age 43) – bass, vocals
  • Norman D. Smart II (72) – drums
  • Steve Knight (d. 2013, age 77) – keyboards

Quill

  • Jon Cole – Bass, vocal
  • Dan Cole – Vocals
  • Roger North – drums
  • Norman Rogers – Guitar, vocals
  • Phil Thayer ? – Keyboard

Santana

  • Carlos Santana (72) – guitar, vocals, maracas, cowbell
  • Gregg Rolie (72) – vocals, keyboards
  • Jose “Chepito” Areas (73) – percussion, trumpet
  • Mike Carabello (71) – congas
  • Michael Shrieve (70) – drums
  • David Brown (d. 2000, age 52) – bass

Sha Na Na

  • Joe Witkin (? birthday not given) – keyboards and vocals
  • Jocko Marcellino (69) – drums
  • Donald “Donny” York (?-current vocalist) – vocals
  • Rob Leonard (? currently a forensic linguist) – vocals
  • Alan Cooper (? Biblical scholar) – vocals
  • Frederick “Dennis” Greene (d. 2015, age 66) – vocals
  • Dave Garrett (? as of 2016) – vocals
  • Richard “Richie” Joffe (? as of 2016, lawyer) – vocals
  • Scott Powell (71, orthopedic surgeon) – vocals 
  • Henry Gross (68) – guitar
  • Bruce Clarke III (? Literature Professor) – bass guitar
  • Elliot Cahn – rhythm guitar and vocals

Sha Na Na was started with a group of Columbia University students, and continues to perform was an ever-changing roster. As the list above shows, many of the member went on to much higher pursuits. Many of the current and former members are still able to gather for anniversary shows. Yes, Henry Gross had the one-hit wonder “Shannon” in 1977.

Sly & the Family Stone

  • Sly Stone (76) – vocals, keyboard, harmonica
  • Rose Stone (74) – vocals, keyboards
  • Freddie Stone (72) – vocals, guitar
  • Cynthia Robinson (d. 2015, age 71) – trumpet
  • Greg Errico (70) – drums 
  • Larry Graham (72) – bass
  • Jerry Martini (75) – saxophone

Sweetwater

  • Nancy Nevins (70) – Lead vocal
  • Alex del Zoppo – Keyboards
  • Fred Herrera – Bass
  • Elpidio “Pete” Cobian – Congas
  • August Burns – cello
  • Alan Malarowitz – Drums
  • Albert Moore – Flute

Ten Years After

  • Alvin Lee (d. 2013, age 68) – guitar, vocals
  • Leo Lyons (75) – bass
  • Chick Churchill (73) – organ
  • Ric Lee (73) – drums

The Who

  • Roger Daltrey (75) – vocals
  • Pete Townshend (74) – guitar, vocals
  • John Entwistle (d. 2002, age 57) – bass, vocals
  • Keith Moon (d. 1978, age 32) – drums

That’s about 135 people who took to the stage to sing or play an instrument nearly 50 years ago. Of those, 42 are confirmed to have passed away. That does seem like an average mortality rate for people born mostly in the 1940s. Consider that many of these performers would have spent a large portion of their youth indulging in the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and long stretches on the road. The fact that only five of these had joined the “Dead at 27 club” seems to be indicative that they tried to take better care of themselves than was previously imagined.

It seems the most obscure band, even after 50 years, remains Quill. Very little information is available about the members’ whereabouts today. They were the first act on stage after noon on Saturday, August 16. Technical difficulties meant there was no sync track with the film cameras, so they did not appear in the movie or on the records. Their single album is not available in iTunes, where I am trying to drive some affiliate traffic through links above. But I bet you’re curious, so here a listing for the album on Discogs, which includes a YouTube of the LP in its entirety

Sweetwater is perhaps the better known of the “lost” Woodstock bands. A California psychedelic band with jazz leanings and members who played flute and cello, their career was derailed when lead singer Nancy Nevins was several injured in a car accident. Her recovery took several years, during which the band kind of petered away. The were the subject of a docudrama on VH1 in 1999.

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