The Surprising Reason Billy Joel Was Not A Fan Of Woodstock

Many people consider the Woodstock music festival to be the climax of the 1960s counterculture movement. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, between the days of August 15-18, 1969, around 500,000 people gathered to listen to the star musicians of the era. The festival became famous for its peaceful environment among the concertgoers, in spite of the lack of food, sanitation, and being overcrowded. Then again, when legendary musicians such as The Who, Santana, Joan Baez and Jimi Hendrix are just a few of the performers at the festival, as told by Woodstock, attendees were probably too focused on the talent on stage to fight or complain. Either that, or they were high as a kite.

Ironically, one of the greatest musicians of his generation attended the legendary festival as a concertgoer, long before he released any music, and he despised the concert. Before he was the "Piano Man" or any sort of big-shot, Billy Joel decided to hop on his motorcycle and ride to upstate New York to listen to his favorite performers play. Instead, he found the atmosphere so unappealing, he left before the festival was even over.

Billy Joel did not like the lack of bathrooms

As CBC explains, the outdoor concert was only supposed to have around 50,000 attendees. Understandably, when a concert instead has around half a million individuals, necessary supplies will run short. In a 2019 interview for Entertainment Weekly, Joel discussed his Woodstock experience. As Joel explained, he attended the festival hoping to see The Who and Jimi Hendrix. Unfortunately, neither act would perform until the third and fourth days, with Hendrix concluding the festival, Woodstock reports. By that time, the young Joel had reached his final straw.

Joel explained he had issues with the sanitation of the festival, saying, "after a day and a half with no real toilet facilities ... what am I, a bear? I have to go in the woods? There was a lot of mud and people were smoking a lot of pot and taking a lot of acid." History says widespread drug use was a major reason for the lack of violence and anger at the festival. Joel, however, wasn't using at Woodstock. Instead, Joel said he just had a few drinks because, according to Ultimate Classic Rock, he was more focused on the music.

Joel saw Santana and Country Joe and the Fish

While not staying for the entirety of Woodstock and missing out on a chance to see Jimi Hendrix, Billy Joel was able to see another virtuoso guitar player. In his interview with Entertainment Weekly, Joel recalled seeing Santana the first day he arrived at the festival. According to Woodstock, Santana performed on Saturday, the second day of the festival, in the afternoon. Ironically, both Joel (above, left) and Carlos Santana (above, right; Herbie Hancock, center) would receive the Kennedy Center Honors in 2013, Billboard reports.

Joel stayed until the third day of the festival, meaning he did get to listen to The Who. Because of delays, the band did not perform until the early morning of Sunday. Joel stayed long enough on Sunday to hear Joe Cocker and Jefferson Airplane, but was rather put off by Country Joe and the Fish. He told Howard Stern (quoted by The Hollywood Reporter) he did not like the group's song, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die-Rag." Joel said of the song, "I don't like somebody telling me how to think." Joel would leave the festival soon afterward, missing Jimi Hendrix closing out Woodstock Monday morning, a decision he still regrets.