The crowd enjoyed ten hours of rainy silence between Joan Baez closing day one, the “folk” day at Woodstock, and Quill opening the more rock-oriented Saturday performances. They kicked off a day that would see Santana, Mountain, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, The Who, and Jefferson Airplane kick out the jams. So why is this the first you’ve heard of Quill?
Quill was the brainchild of Boston brothers Jon and Dan Cole. Their club show was legendary throughout the Northeast for its audience participation, and they were known for upstaging headliners like The Who when they came to town. Woodstock producer Michael Lang caught them jamming with Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix at a New York City club and liked what he heard. He hired the band not only to perform at the festival but also to do a short “goodwill tour” of area prisons and mental institutions just prior to Woodstock.
Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun caught wind of Quill’s potential and signed them to Cotillion, the label that later released the Woodstock soundtrack. Hendrix, Woodstock, a label deal. What a fairy tale story.
Unfortunately their good luck ran out just before they hit the Woodstock stage that Saturday afternoon. Filmmaker Michael Wadleigh’s cameras somehow lost sync during Quill’s four song set, rendering the footage useless for what would become his Academy Award winning documentary of the festival. Compounding their problems, the brothers insisted on self-producing their debut album, which inevitably went nowhere. The original line-up split shortly thereafter, though Dan Cole recorded a second, unreleased album with essentially a new band bearing the same name.
Here is Quill’s Woodstock set list along with where you can find official releases of their performance:
- They Live The Life (Woodstock -40 Years On: Back To Yasgur’s Farm (CD)
- That’s How I Eat (Woodstock -40 Years On: Back To Yasgur’s Farm (CD)
- Waitin’ For You (Woodstock Diary 1969 (DVD))
Your official Woodstock soundtrack count to date: 33
Update: On August 2, 2019, Rhino Records released Woodstock – Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive and changed the game forever. With exception to two Hendrix tracks and one Sha Na Na cut, the massive box set contains complete sets from every Woodstock artist—even those long believed lost or never recorded.
Here is Quill‘s set as it appears on the Back to the Garden archive, including announcements, etc.:
1. John Morris – “Wave, funny little man”
2. THEY LIVE THE LIFE
3. THAT’S HOW I EAT
4. Hugh Romney & John Morris – “Kiss those guys if they start punching somebody”
6. Unknown – “We’re over at the Hog Farm, and we have tons of food”
7. WAITING FOR YOU