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Are you tired of hearing how awe-inspiring the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was 50 years ago for 400,000 lucky hippies in Bethel, New York? Imagine how the people of 1969 felt—specifically the millions who couldn’t go. Yet, in the age before YouTube and social media, the rest of America did catch Woodstock fever—weeks, months, even a year or more later—and they made stars out of many of the performers. By 1970, not only was the Woodstock movie dominating the box office, but the soundtrack album and a constellation of Woodstock stars were crushing the Billboard charts.
This month’s Hit Parade offers a new take on Woodstock. To understand its legacy, you have to look at the charts long after August 1969. Chris Molanphy counts down 10 acts—some of them music legends, some of them short-lived hit-makers—who were materially boosted by the festival, from a guy hanging out backstage who got shoved onstage by desperate show organizers, to the band who loathed the whole experience yet saw their albums reach new chart heights, to the young man who arrived with no discography but kicked off one of the longest hit-making careers in rock history.
Chris Molanphy, a pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia, and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts, and shaped your memories forever.