My dad played Woodstock. And then his band was forgotten


Written by:


Most people speak of the 1969 Woodstock Festival fondly. Not my family. I don’t remember anyone ever speaking about it at all. My father played the 1969 Woodstock festival with his brother and their band, Quill, then because of seemingly outside circumstances, disbanded shortly afterwards. My dad buried what little he remembered under cynicism, the same kind that criticized and gave “advice,” usually skewing towards the negative, especially about my art, fashion, and musical choices. I didn’t understand why. He had been a musician and artist. What was the beef? I wasn’t about to ask him though, and I sure wasn’t as curious about his glimmering lurch on the precipice of fame as I could’ve been.

I’d found a Quill album in a used record store in the early aughts and thought it was pretty catchy. I didn’t understand why they didn’t make a bigger deal about it. I found myself humming their tunes and thought it was sad my dad never found creative success after Woodstock; I judged him and thought surely I would do better. But somewhere along the line, I noticed I too seemed to have problems at finish lines. Did growing up under the shadow of his loss affect me more than I knew?

Quill had been destined for – if not stardom – then at least a career in music, opening up for huge acts almost immediately in their short three-year tenure. So how did they get as far as Woodstock – a break any musician would have died for – then walk away as if it never happened? And how does one play a gig of that magnitude and cultural significance, only to be unremembered, unphotographed, and unfilmed? Quill defied the odds by vanishing in front of a half a million people. Even from their own histories and memory. As my Uncle Dan, Quill frontman, put it decades later, “Who wants to talk about failure?”

After a brief brush with Michael Lang in 2006, I hoped that maybe he would let me interview him for a documentary I’d always wanted to do on Quill. When we met to talk, it became quickly apparent that I didn’t know much about Quill or Woodstock, hadn’t read Michael’s book, hadn’t researched he or his partners, and could literally care less about hippies. I’d lived through them and didn’t trust them. They hadn’t taken care of their kids. They hadn’t taken care of me. Pretty soon after, Michael stopped answering my phone calls. It must’ve been obvious I didn’t have a great relationship with my dad and might as well have had “f*** you dad” tattooed across my forehead. Just the kind of immature filmmaker every celebrity wants to get involved with. So, newly humbled and with a growing awareness of how little I knew – and how odd it was that I knew so little – I started my solo hunt for anything Quill in earnest.

Around 2011, a 30-second silent film segment of Quill onstage at Woodstock emerged, revealing that familiar endless sea of heads we now know as Woodstock, my dad at the mic in front of them. Another scene of Quill kept appearing and disappearing on Youtube, a bootleg rip from the Pennebaker film, “Woodstock Diary,” but only showed Quill clapping woodblocks

together and bobbing their heads to a tribal jam. Between the silent footage and the Pennebaker film – the only two moving relics I could find on Quill – their music was eerily lost.


SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals get started now.



The story goes that Quill was signed in late ‘69 by Atlantic’s then-new subsidiary, Cotillion, directly after the festival. But not having made it into the now famous 1970 Woodstock film, their self-produced, freshman LP got shelved. Their two-record deal foundered – this after passing up a more lucrative deal with EMI – and when nothing happened with their album, my father – needing to make ends meet, and feeling inadequate – quit the band, never to find success anywhere. If only they had made the film, perhaps he would’ve had an easier life. I would’ve had an easier life. The stakes were personal for me. I wanted to know what happened. Michael Wadleigh (director of Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Love) and crew were right up there on stage filming Quill. Deceased rock photographer Jim Marshall’s great black and white photograph of a shirtless, bell-bottomed Wadleigh shows him crouched below my Uncle Dan with his Eclair lens trained straight up at Dan’s face. The evidence screamed there had to be more footage.

The band’s Wikipedia homepage explained Quill’s omission from the movie as: they “had indeed been filmed, but a glitch caused the audio and film not to be synchronized properly. This rendered the footage unusable for the film that made so many acts into household names.” And yet, after the smallest bit of research, picking up Dale Bell’s Woodstock account, I read there was no sync for any of the festival acts. A couple of interviews later with Michael Wadleigh and Jeanne Field (camera assistant), this was corroborated. The whole thing had been synched by eye. Were Quill being lied to?

Over the course of years researching this mystery, I tracked down pieces of the long lost Quill performance footage, flew my dad and bandmates to Bethel Woods to screen it for them, filmed their reactions, compiled miles of transcribed interviews, and ferreted out inconsistencies in the story. If you’re patient – and we’re lucky – you may one day see a documentary on both Quill and the circumstances surrounding their rock n’ roll mystery.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


More from MediaFeed:
Every single act that played the original Woodstock


For many baby boomers, the Woodstock music festival represents a seminal moment, defining the music and culture of the generation. For music lovers, it was a goldmine. The Who. Jefferson Airplane. Janis Joplin. Joan Baez. Jimi Hendrix. They and dozens of other acts – some you’ve heard of and others, perhaps not – braved the rain and mud and played for 400,000 revelers over four days.


Two years ago, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the event, which took place Aug. 15 – 18, 1969, in Bethel, New York, a 2019 book set the record straight about facts and myths about Woodstock and even included new photos.


Woodstock: 50 Years of Peace and Music” by Daniel Bukszpan lists every act, and tells their stories (which we’ve excerpted with permission here), as well as those of the organizers, fans and much more.


Click through to see exactly who performed and learn a little bit about each one of them, along with the songs they played.


Roberta Becker


Before Woodstock, Richie Havens was an established recording artist with several albums to his credit. Woodstock delineated a dividing line in his career, with one side clearly marked “before” and the other marked “after.”


Set List:

  • From the Prison
  • Get Together
  • From the Prison (Reprise)
  • The Minstrel from Gault
  • I’m a Stranger Here
  • High Flying Bird
  • I Can’t Make It Anymore
  • With a Little Help from My Friends
  • Handsome Johnny
  • Strawberry Fields Forever
  • Hey
  • Jude
  • Freedom (Motherless Child)


Wikimedia Commons / Eluhim-William Morris Agency-management


Sweetwater was the first full band to perform at Woodstock. They were supposed to open the festival, but they were stuck in the famously impassable traffic, so their slot went to Richie Havens. They ultimately reached the festival grounds via one of the sixteen helicopters that Woodstock Ventures had hired to bypass the traffic.


Set List

  • Motherless Child
  • Look Out
  • For Pete’s Sake
  • Day Song What’s Wrong
  • Crystal Spider Two Worlds
  • Why Oh Why
  • Let the Sunshine In
  • Oh Happy Day


Sweetwater / Alex DelZoppo


Swami Satchidananda was an Indian yogi and religious instructor who gave the opening invocation at Woodstock, after the first two artists had performed.


Wikimedia Commons / Nationaal Archief


Bert Sommer, the fourth act to perform at Woodstock, remains obscure to this day, despite appearing before thousands of people at an event that’s still famous half a century later. It wasn’t because of his performance. YouTube is full of footage that attests to its pristine grace. The audience loved him, too.


Set List:

  • Jennifer
  • The Road to Travel
  • I Wondered Where You’d Be
  • She’s Gone
  • Things Are Going My Way
  • And When It’s Over
  • Jeanette
  • America
  • A Note That Read
  • Smile


Mark A. Gore


Even if you don’t know Tim Hardin’s name, you know at least one song that he wrote. His career as a singer and songwriter never reached great commercial heights, and he died in obscurity. But he wrote songs that became hits for other artists and which have remained favorites for the last half-century. These include ‘If I Were a Carpenter,’ which was recorded by fellow Woodstock alumnus Joan Baez.


Set List:

  • How Can We Hang on to a Dream?
  • Susan
  • If I Were a Carpenter
  • Reason to Believe
  • You Upset the Grace of Living When You Lie
  • Speak Like a Child
  • Snow White Lady Blue on My Ceiling
  • Simple Song of Freedom
  • Misty Roses




Ravi Shankar was an unequaled master of the sitar. To this day, he remains one of the only Indian musicians that Western audiences know by name.


Set List:

  • Raga Puriya-Dhanashri
  • Gat in Sawarital
  • Tabla Solo in Jhaptal
  • Raga Manj Kmahaj (Alap, Jor, Dhun in Kaharwa Tal)


Wikimedia Commons / Markgoff2972


Melanie, whose full name is Melanie Safka, performed at Woodstock on Friday, August 15. She had released one album, 1968’s Born to Be.


Set List:

  • Close to It All
  • Momma Momma
  • Beautiful People
  • Animal Crackers
  • Mr. Tambourine Man
  • Tuning My Guitar
  • Birthday of the Sun


Wikimedia Commons / William Morris Agency


Arlo Guthrie is a direct descendant of folkie royalty. His father was Woody Guthrie, the man who wrote “This Land Is Your Land,” and who remains one of the most significant artists in the history of American music.


Set List:

  • Coming into Los Angeles
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Walking Down the Line
  • Arlo Speech: Exodus
  • Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep
  • Every Hand in the Land
  • Amazing Grace



Wikimedia Commons / Shelka04


Joan Baez was the last act to perform at Woodstock on Friday, August 15. According to almost everyone who saw her, she was the perfect person for the job.


Set List:

  • Oh Happy Day
  • The Last Thing on My Mind
  • I Shall Be Released
  • No Expectations
  • Joe Hill
  • Sweet Sir Galahad
  • Hickory Wind
  • Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man
  • I Live One Day at a Time
  • Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South
  • Let Me Wrap You in My Warm and Tender Love
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
  • We Shall Overcome


Wikimedia Commons / Nationaal Archief


Quill was founded by brothers Jon and Dan Cole in 1967. The group, whose music was somewhat similar to early Alice Cooper, played the northeastern US circuit, hitting New York and New England many times over.


Set List:

  • They Live the Life
  • That’s How I Eat
  • Driftin’
  • Waitin’ for You


Public Domain


The second performer on Saturday, August 16, was Country Joe McDonald. He has the distinction of being the only person to perform at Woodstock twice — first by himself and the second time with his band, Country Joe & the Fish.


Set List:

  • Janis
  • Donovan’s Reef
  • Heartaches by the Number
  • Ring of Fire
  • Tennessee Stud
  • Rockin’ Round the World
  • Flying High
  • I Seen a Rocket
  • The Fish Cheer
  • I-Feel-Like-I’m- Fixin’-to-Die Rag


Gail Hayssen


Santana was Woodstock’s true breakout star. The overwhelming consensus on the part of the audience, the band, and the festival organizers was that this appearance turned them into a major act, overnight.


Set List:

  • Waiting
  • Evil Ways
  • You Just Don’t Care
  • Savor
  • Jingo
  • Persuasion
  • Soul Sacrifice
  • Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries


Wikimedia Commons / Chris Hakkens


John Sebastian’s songs are part of the fabric of American music. He wrote ‘Do You Believe in Magic?’ and ‘Summer in the City,’ songs that he recorded with his original group, the Lovin’ Spoonful, and also “Welcome Back,” the theme song to the 1970s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.


Set List:

  • How Have You Been
  • Rainbows All over Your Blues
  • I Had a Dream
  • Darlin’ Be Home Soon
  • Younger Generation


Gail Hayssen


The Keef Hartley Band was formed by British drummer Keith Hartley, who regularly performed in a Native American headdress and face paint. Before Woodstock, his most high-profile gig was as a member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, which he left at Mayall’s urging to found his own group.


Set List:

  • Spanish Fly
  • She’s Gone
  • Too Much Thinkin’
  • Believe in You
  • Rock Me Baby
  • Sinnin’ for You
  • Leaving Trunk
  • Just to Cry
  • Sinnin’ for You (Reprise)


Courtesy Image


The Incredible String Band was a group from Scotland, formed in 1965 by Mike Heron, Clive Palmer, and Robin Williamson. Their music was categorized as folk, mostly because they played acoustic instruments, but their sound was more sophisticated and esoteric than anything that got lumped in with the label.


Set List:

  • Invocation
  • The Letter
  • Gather Round
  • This Moment
  • Come with Me
  • When You Find out Who You Are


Mark A. Gore


Canned Heat was formed in Los Angeles in 1965, and by 1969, they had become very familiar with the festival circuit. So familiar, in fact, that bassist Larry Taylor said he didn’t think that Woodstock would be any different from any of the other festivals that they had already played.


Set List:

  • I’m Her Man
  • Going up the Country
  • A Change Is Gonna Come
  • Leaving This Town
  • Too Many Drivers at the Wheel
  • I Know My Baby
  • Woodstock Boogie
  • On the Road Again


Wikimedia Commons / Skip Taylor Productions / Liberty Records


When Mountain performed at Woodstock on August 16, it was the fourth time they had ever played together in front of an audience.


Set List:

  • Blood of the Sun
  • Stormy Monday
  • Theme for an Imaginary Western
  • Long Red
  • For Yasgur’s Farm
  • Beside the Sea
  • Waiting to Take You Away
  • Dreams of Milk and Honey
  • Guitar Solo
  • Blind Man
  • Dirty Shoes Blues
  • Southbound Train


Courtesy Image


If anyone should have performed brilliantly at Woodstock, it was the Grateful Dead. No band better personified the ethos of the hippie movement, and no band was better positioned to connect with thousands of people on acid. In reality, there were huge struggles just to get them onstage, and once they got there, it wasn’t worth it.


Set List:

  • St. Stephen
  • Mama Tried
  • Dark Star
  • High Time
  • Turn on Your Lovelight



Wikimedia Commons / Warner Bros. Records


Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the most popular bands of the 1960s. They hailed from the San Francisco Bay Area but stayed away from the region’s trademark psychedelic jams. Instead, they focused on the three-minute single, and they were masters of the form.


Set List:

  • Born on the Bayou
  • Green River
  • Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)
  • Commotion
  • Bootleg
  • Bad Moon Rising
  • Proud Mary
  • I Put a Spell on You
  • The Night Time Is the Right Time
  • Keep on Chooglin’
  • Suzie Q


Wikimedia Commons / Fantasy Records


As a woman in the rock and roll boys’ club, Janis Joplin enjoyed an assured place in history the moment that she stepped into the ring. But it wouldn’t have amounted to much more than a footnote fifty years later if she couldn’t sing, and Janis Joplin, quite frankly, could sing.


Set List:

  • Raise Your Hand
  • As Good as You’ve Been to This World
  • To Love Somebody
  • Summertime
  • Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)
  • Kozmic Blues
  • Can’t Turn You Loose
  • Work Me, Lord
  • Piece of My Heart
  • Ball and Chain


Wikimedia Commons / Ashley Famous Agency / Albert B. Grossman


“If I had to pick one act that had the most dramatic musical set, it would be Sly,'” said [Woodstock booker] Michael Lang. “He just took everybody with him on a trip to church.”


Set List:

  • M’Lady
  • Sing a Simple Song
  • You Can Make It If You Try
  • Everyday People
  • Dance to the Music
  • Music Lover
  • I Want to Take You Higher
  • Love City
  • Stand!


Flickr / Jonas Nockert


“If you asked me for the single greatest moment that I have ever had as a concertgoer, it was the Who performing Tommy while the sun came up,” said audience member Don Stark, who was seventeen years old at the time.


Set List:

  • Heaven and Hell
  • Can’t Explain
  • It’s a Boy
  • 1921
  • Amazing Journey
  • Sparks
  • Eyesight to the Blind (The Hawker)
  • Christmas
  • Acid Queen
  • Pinball Wizard
  • Do You Think It’s Alright?
  • Fiddle About
  • There’s a Doctor
  • Go to the Mirror
  • Smash the Mirror
  • I’m Free
  • Tommy’s Holiday Camp
  • We’re Not Gonna Take It
  • See Me, Feel Me
  • Summertime Blues
  • Shakin’ All Over
  • My Generation
  • Naked Eye


Wikimedia Commons / Heinrich Klaffs


Michael Lang said that the first band that he booked to perform at Woodstock was Jefferson Airplane. With the exception of the Grateful Dead, it’s hard to think of a band more closely identified with the San Francisco sound.


Set List:

  • The Other Side of This Life
  • Somebody to Love
  • 3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds
  • Won’t You Try
  • Saturday Afternoon
  • Eskimo Blue Day
  • Plastic Fantastic Lover
  • Wooden Ships
  • Uncle Sam Blues
  • Volunteers
  • The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil
  • Come Back Baby
  • White Rabbit
  • The House at Pooneil Corners

Jefferson Airplane by (None)

Woodstock’s third and final day began at two o’clock in the after- noon with a performance by Joe Cocker. Artie Kornfeld said that he was instrumental in getting him added to the bill.


Set List:

  • Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring [with the Grease Band]
  • 40,000 Headmen [with the Grease Band]
  • Dear Landlord
  • Something’s Coming On
  • Do I Still Figure in Your Life?
  • Feelin’ Alright
  • Just Like a Woman
  • Let’s Go Get Stoned
  • I Don’t Need No Doctor
  • I Shall Be Released
  • Hitchcock Railway
  • Something to Say
  • With a Little Help from My Friends


Wikimedia Commons / A & M Records


Country Joe McDonald had already performed at Woodstock on Saturday, but he still had his scheduled gig with the rest of his band to play. That took place on Sunday, several hours after Joe Cocker’s appearance, which had been followed by pounding rain.


Set List:

  • Rock & Soul Music
  • (Thing Called) Love
  • Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
  • Sing, Sing, Sing
  • Summer Dresses
  • Friend, Lover, Woman, Wife
  • Silver and Gold
  • Maria
  • The Love Machine
  • Ever Since You Told Me That You Love Me (I’m a Nut)
  • Short Jam (instrumental)
  • Crystal Blues
  • Rock & Soul Music (Reprise)
  • The Fish Cheer
  • I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag


Wikimedia Commons / Vanguard Records


Ten Years After was led by guitarist Alvin Lee, who played a signature Gibson ES-335. He never became as famous as fellow guitar-slinging Englishmen Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck, but it certainly wasn’t because he wasn’t good enough. Just watch him perform the first ten seconds of ‘I’m Going Home’ in the Woodstock documentary, and you can’t escape the conclusion that he could really play.


Set List:

  • Spoonful
  • Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
  • Hobbit
  • I Can’t Keep from Crying Sometimes
  • Help Me
  • I’m Going Home


Wikimedia Commons / Deram / London Records


The Band started as the backing group of rockabilly artist Ronnie Hawkins. They split from him in 1964, and one year later, they were backing Bob Dylan. They relocated with him to Saugerties, New York, and in 1967 they recorded the songs that would eventually see release as Dylan’s The Basement Tapes.


Set List:

  • Chest Fever
  • Don’t Do It
  • Tears of Rage
  • We Can Talk
  • Long Black Veil
  • Don’t You Tell Henry
  • Ain’t No More Cane on the Brazos
  • This Wheel’s on Fire
  • I Shall Be Released
  • The Weight
  • Loving You Is Sweeter than Ever


Wikimedia Commons / Heinrich Klaffs


Woodstock may have been cursed with a lack of food and an unfortunate toilet situation, but one thing was in abundant supply — electric guitar players. One of the many who performed that weekend was Johnny Winter.


Set List:

  • Mama, Talk to Your Daughter
  • Leland Mississippi Blues
  • Mean Town Blues
  • You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now
  • Mean Mistreater
  • I Can’t Stand It
  • Tobacco Road
  • Tell the Truth
  • Johnny B. Goode


Wikimedia Commons / Bob Sanderson


Blood, Sweat & Tears was formed in 1967 by multi-instrumentalist A Kooper. He left after the recording of their debut album due to ‘creative differences.’ His departure could have been fatal to the band, but instead they drafted Canadian singer David Clayton-Thomas, who sang on their self-titled second album, and everything fell into place. When they went onstage at Woodstock at 1:30 on Monday morning, they had the number one album in the country.


Set List:

  • More and More
  • Just One Smile
  • Something’s Coming On
  • More Than You’ll Ever Know
  • Spinning Wheel
  • Sometimes in Winter
  • Smiling Phases
  • God Bless the Child
  • And When I Die
  • You’ve Made Me So Very Happy


Wikimedia Commons / Columbia Records


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young went onstage at Woodstock at 3 on Monday morning, August 18. Actually, Crosby, Stills & Nash did. It’s complicated.


Set List:

  • Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
  • Blackbird
  • Helplessly Hoping
  • Guinevere
  • Marrakesh Express
  • 4 + 20
  • Mr. Soul
  • I’m Wonderin’
  • You Don’t Have to Cry
  • Pre-Road Downs
  • Long Time Gone
  • Bluebird Revisited
  • Sea of Madness
  • Wooden Ships
  • Find the Cost of Freedom
  • 49 Bye-Byes


Wikimedia Commons / Creative Management Associates / Atlantic Records


Paul Butterfield was a Chicago native. His family exposed him to blues music at an early age, and he quickly got hooked on it. Luckily, his father knew some of the local scene’s most legendary musicians, which allowed the teenaged Butterfield to immerse himself in the music and culture, up close and personal.


Set List:

  • Born Under a Bad Sign
  • No Amount of Loving
  • Driftin’ and Driftin’
  • Morning Sunrise
  • All in a Day
  • Love March
  • Everything’s Gonna
  • Be Alright


Wikimedia Commons / Rtsanderson


Of all the artists who performed at Woodstock, the most anachronistic had to be Sha Na Na. Wearing leather jackets, gold lamé, and pompadours worthy of Arthur Fonzarelli, they performed ’50s doo wop in an act that was equal parts homage and parody, and it had to be a bizarre sight on a sleep-deprived Monday morning as the LSD was wearing off.


Set List:

  • Get a Job
  • Come Go with Me
  • Silhouettes
  • Teen Angel
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Wipe Out
  • Blue Moon
  • (Who Wrote) The Book of Love
  • Little Darling
  • At the Hop
  • Duke of Earl
  • Get a Job (Reprise)



Wikimedia Commons / William Morris Agency


When Jimi Hendrix accepted the offer to headline Woodstock, taking the stage at nine o’clock on Monday morning was probably not what he had in mind. But after hours of rain delays, technical delays, and other problems, that’s exactly what happened, so when the rest of the world was starting its workweek with coffee and doughnuts, he was bringing the festival to a close.


Set List:

  • Message to Love
  • Getting My Heart Back Together Again
  • Hear My Train a-Comin’
  • Spanish Castle Magic
  • Red House
  • Mastermind
  • Lover Man
  • Foxy Lady
  • Beginning
  • Jam Back at the House
  • Izabella
  • Gypsy Woman
  • Fire
  • Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
  • Stepping Stone
  • The Star-Spangled Banner
  • Purple Haze
  • Woodstock Improvisation
  • Villanova Junction
  • Hey Joe


Excerpts from the book Woodstock: 50 Years of Peace and Music (Copyright © 2019 by Hourglass Press llc. Text copyright © 2019 by Daniel Bukszpan – An Imagine Book, Published by Charlesbridge.) are republished here with permission. 

This article was produced and syndicated by


Wikimedia Commons / Hannu Lindroos / Lehtikuva





Featured Image Credit: