Forty years ago, LIFE's photographers and reporters were on the scene when half a million young people -- "lured by music, the country and some strange kind of magic" -- came together on a dairy farm in upstate New York.
From Aug. 15-18 of 1969, they created a colorful, amazingly functional community whose ideals would reverberate for much longer than those three days. To celebrate the anniversary of Woodstock, here are photos from the festival -- shots that evoke its spirit of peace, love, music, and mud.
The jammed road to Woodstock, wrote LIFE columnist Barry Farrell in a special edition of the magazine, was "like a Day-Glo Ganges cutting through the safe billiard green of Archie and Jughead's America." (Photo: Life Magazine)
Artist Paul Foster, a member of author Ken Kesey's psychedelic troupe, is quite a vision in his winged top hat, striped jacket, patchwork jumpsuit, and flip-flops. Walking behind him: the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. (Photo: Bill Eppridge / Life Magazine)
The huge crowd, looking towards the large yellow tents, during the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. (Photo: John Dominis / Life Magazine)
Robin Hallock, stands leaning against cables wearing many different beaded necklaces. (Photo: Bill Eppridge / Life Magazine)
Unidentified man seated with two young boys in front of a wildly painted schoolbus, during the Woodstock Music Art Fest. (Photo: Life Magazine)
Among the legendary acts that rocked the crowd until dawn: The Who, the Band, Janis Joplin, and Sly and the Family Stone. "From the fringes of the crowd, the stage looked like a pearl at the bottom of a pond, a circle of light fired down from towers as big as missile gantries," wrote LIFE's Barry Farrell. (Photo: Life Magazine)
LINK: The LIFE Magazine photo archive on Google